1958 was a year of recession, and many carmakers had to cut production costs, but Chevrolet doubled down and offered a special trim level for the Bel Air, namely Impala, which was available as a convertible or a hardtop coupe.
Even though it was based on the Bel Air, it looked different, and, due to its success, the carmaker decided to split the Bel Air and create a new lineup: the Impala.
In 1958, General Motors had its 50th anniversary and decided to create special versions for the brands in its portfolio. The Impala was created as the top version for the Bel Air, and it was available either as a convertible or a Sport Coupe. It featured quad-headlights at the front and looked similar to the Bel Air up to the A-pillars. Yet, the greenhouse was shorter, and the rear deck longer than the rest of the Bel Air models. In addition, its deeply sculptured rear fenders marked a departure from the large fin tails of other American cars from that era. Finally, at the back, the Impala sported three taillights, while the rest of the Bel Air featured just two, or one for the station wagon version.
Inside, Chevrolet installed a taller instrument panel than the rest of the dashboard. It was fitted with a speedometer and a few gauges. In the middle of the dash panel, the Impala sported a radio and the controls for the ventilation system. At the front, the cabin featured a bench seat with individual adjustments for the seatbacks. At the same time, in the rear, the carmaker installed a bench for two with a center armrest.
Under the hood, the Bel Air Impala received a choice of two engines with various power outputs, depending on the carburetor system. The top version was fitted with the newly introduced 5.7-liter V8 fed by three two-barrel carburetors that offered 280 hp. There were 125,480 1958 model-year coupes produced.