Chevrolet Impala Generation 3

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Chevrolet Impala Generation 3

Chevrolet Impala SS

Chevrolet Impala Generation 3

1961 - 1964
230 L6 / 283, 327, 409, 427 V8
230 - 360 bhp
3/4 spd man / 2 spd auto
Top Speed:
106 mph
Number Built:
4 star
Chevrolet Impala Generation 3
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4

The Top Of The Range Chevrolet

In the US the Impala was the top car in the Chevrolet range. It was available as a four-door sedan and sport sedan, a sport coupe and convertible (both available with Super Sport equipment like bucket seats, heavy-duty coils, floor shift, and six and nine-passenger station wagons. In 1961 it was restyled on the existing GM B platform - the new body styling was more trim and boxy than the 19581960 models. Sport Coupe models featured a "bubbleback" roof line style for '61, and a unique model, the 2-door pillared sedan, was available for 1961 only. It was rarely ordered and a scarce collectible today. The rare Super Sport (SS) option debuted for 1961.

This was also the last year the top station wagon model would bear the Nomad name. The 1962 model featured new "C" pillar styling for all models except the 4-door hardtop. Sport Coupe models now featured the "convertible roof" styling, shared with other GM "B" full-size hardtop coupes. This style proved extremely popular, and contributed to the desirability of the 19621964 Impalas as collectibles. The "overhang" roof style of the sedans was replaced with a more attractive, wider "C" pillar with wraparound rear window.

For most of the range of models you were offered two standard engines, the 230 140 bhp or the 283 cu. in. 195 bhp, which was the engine fitted to the Australian Bel Air and Pontiac productions. Or, if you really wanted to leave rubber marks, you specify the 327 cu in (250bhp), the 327 (300), or one of three Turbo-Fire 409 cu. in. fire-breathing monsters delivering, variously, 340 brake, 400, and 425 bhp. You could choose three-speed or four-speed gearboxes, overdrive or automatic, change your final drive ratio, and in the case of the 409 engines, you could specify gearbox ratios. The Beach Boys produced a hit single, "409," referring to the Chevy, which became an iconic song for these cars.

Right Hand Drive Models in Australia

If you really let your head go, you could add a limited-slip rear end, power-adjusting seats, full air-conditioning, heavy duty clutch, temperature-controlled fan, and something called "heavy-duty Delcotrons." And you would rest happy that no more than 4500 others could possibly have an identical car. Although not assembled in Australia, some car dealerships such as Jan Woelders from Queensland brought in Right-Hand-Drive models, typically the four-door pillarless hardtop equipped with the 195 bhp V8. This was because the factory production of right-hand drive Impalas was mostly confined to this model, and a changeover of steering was expensive and time-consuming.

Over the Bel Air, the Impala had a full-length "Impala" inscribed rubbing strip low on its flanks, flasher rear end treatment and the badges. Most of those brought into Australia came fitted with power steering, power brakes, tinted glass, two-speed wipers, washers, two-posiltiotn rear vision mirror, and white-wall tyres. In 1963, all this would set you back almost £3000. They were usually imported with the 3.08 to 1 US rear axle, whereas the Australian Bel Air used a 3.55 to 1 end. Otherwise, the mechanicals were the same.

On the road, you could wind down the windows flush into the door sills, and the tinted rear and front glass as standard kit helped with the Aussie summer sun. All the glass would re-erect into neat rubber and alloy guides, although you could still detect the faint hiss of air at high speed. The new roof styling of the 1963 cars included slightly squarer wing treatment which helped to make the Impala one of the prettiest US cars going. And you could always tell it was an Impala that had just passed you because the full-width rear panel was finished in a silver alloy paint.

Inside the Impala

Impalas again featured premium interior appointments, plusher seats, and more chrome trim outside, including a full-width aluminium-and-chrome panel to house the triple-unit taillight assembly. Super Sport (SS) models featured that panel in a special engine-turned aluminium, which was also used to fill the side mouldings, making the SS more distinctive in appearance. Impala also gains the top station wagon after the Chevrolet Nomad is gone. Upholstery was in buttoned pvc and woven fabric inserts that helped locate passengers a bit better than the 'glossy leather of the 1962 Australian Bel Air. There was a 17 inch steering wheel with the horn ring fashioned to represent drilled alloy spokes, tufted carpet, coat hooks over the rear doors, pvc headlining and stainless steel stripping ever the head sills.

The windscreen carried a thrice-deeper band of tinting across its upper eighth to keep the sun off your thighs. Each door carried long armrests incorporating the door handles. The rear window shelf sloped gently downward toward the interior so that everything slid off it into the back seat. Surprisingly, in this price range, there was no heater/demister or central armrest; however, the two "pull" fresh air vents in the front were admirable, and at least the rear armrests had the ashtrays built into their middles. Instruments were embedded in inches-deep padding, made even more remarkable by the fact that tihe huge sun-visors, thin and sharp, were poised at the precise angle to take off the top of your head in a smash.

The only dials were the horizontal speedometer, including an odometer graduated in tenths, temperature gauge, fuel gauge, and - in front of the passenger - electric clock with sweep second hand. Below them, flanking the steering column and looking a little lonely in the expanse of pressed metal, was a cigar lighter, ignition lock, wiper/washer switch, and headlight switch, which included panel rheostat and the roof light off-on switch. The transmission selector quadrant relied vainly on the instrument panel or its reflected lighting, and owners have told us that in no time at all, you would start selecting gears by feel. The handbrake was a little too far away under the right-hand side of the dashboard,. There were natty little winders for the quarter-vents. There was a rubber mat inset into the carpet under the driver's feet, and the transmission hump, while almost two feet wide, did not make a third front-seat passenger uncomfortable. The overall standard of finish was good and attractive, without being exceptional or garish.

Behind the Wheel

While Americans would have been well used to the feeling behind the wheel, for most Australians the view forward was akin to looking out from the Captain's Bridge of an aircraft carrier landing deck, stretching away into the horizon. At 5.5 turns from lock to lock, the power-assisted steering was light as a feather. It retained a little road feel, but the servo removed the last vestige of castor action, so that you had to put on and take off lock with equal energy. Nonetheless, the steering was reasonably accurate, although the heavily-knurled wheel was set a little too high and slightly too close for the six-foot driver.

Acceleration was only mild up to 40 mph, when cam and torque came in with a bang. Standing quarters to the order of 17-18 seconds were the norm. The two-speed transmission in drive changed up from low to drive at 52 mph on full throttle on the 3.55 rear axle the Australian Bel Air put this point at 63 mph. However, the transmission could be held in low to valve crash at 65. Changes - even kick-downs at over 50 mph - were always smooth, with some slight slip. On the highway, and although illegal, the Impala could cruise all day at between 75 and 80 mph without effort. With coils all round, the ride was exceptional on all types of surface, apart from the faint "mushing" effect on undulations that either caught the suspension out of its rhythm or matched the wheelbase. We believe most Australian bound Impalas came fitted with American "US Royal" tyres, that were designed to reduce road noise.

On the road the Impala understeered, but never offensively. In fact, at the risk of being disbarred from the Better British Car Club, I will say that it was possible to put up quite rapid point-to-point times in the Impala. Once I had adjusted ifJhe indirectness of the steering, I could use the ample power available to shove the big car through most corners on the right lin|e. When over-exuberance got the Impala sideways, it came back into shape quite readily, except for a tendency by the driver ito put on a little too much opposite lock Certainly, the amount of body roll kept the passengers moving about in fast corners, but I had a lot more confidence in the overall handling qualities of the Impala ithan in some other American oars. At high speed the brakes could be vague, and at low speeds they tended to snath. But at least they did not fade as much as the previous model Impala and Bel Air. Due to reliability problems, the optional Turboglide automatic transmission was discontinued, leaving Powerglide the only automatic transmission available until 1965.

1963 Impalas

Among collectors, the 1963 Impala is the most popular for its body style, though it was almost mechanically identical to the 1962 model. The 1963 Impala's distinctive body style has crisp lines with pointed front and rear fenders which emphasize the long, low style of car design popular in the early 1960s. The rear taillight panel was aluminium, and was surrounded by a chrome border with the engine-turned surface on SS models. Engine choice were similar to 1962, with the small-block 283-cubic-inch (4.6 litre) and 327-cubic-inch (5.4 litre) V8s the most popular choices. The Sport Sedan featured a new, creased roof line that proved popular. A new "coved" instrument panel was good-looking, but replaced the temperature gauge with "idiot lights" for hot and cold engine conditions. An optional factory tachometer was built into the dash, just above the steering wheel. It was rarely ordered, but gave the Super Sport models an extra feel of sportiness.

For 1964, the Impala was slightly restyled, reverting to a more rounded, softer look. The signature taillight assembly had an "upside-down U" shaped aluminium trim strip above the taillights, but the lights themselves were surrounded by a body-colored panel. The 409-cubic-inch (6.7 litre) returned as the big-block option, as well as the 2X4 carburettor setup for the 425 horsepower motors. SS models continued to feature the engine-turned aluminium trim. Rooflines were carried over from 1963 unchanged. Back-up lights were standard.

Chevrolet Impala Generation 3 Quick Specifications

Engine: Choices for 1962 settled down, the 348-cubic-inch (5.7 litre) V8 discontinued and replaced by the 340 brake horsepower (250 kW) 409-cubic-inch (6.7 litre), which could be ordered with any transmission. The small-block 283 was enlarged to 327 cubic inches (5.4 litre), which added more engine choices for small-block fans; Eight, V-formation; Bore and stroke - 3.875 in toy 3.0 in.; Cubic Capacity - 4623 cc; Compression ratio - 9.25 to 1; valves - Pushrod, overhead; Carburettor - Rochester, twin barrel, downdraught; Power at rpm - 195 at 4800; Torque - 285 lb/ft at 2400 rpm.
RHD: Right hand drive cars were made at GM's Oshawa plant in Canada and often shipped overseas in kit form for assembly in South Africa and New Zealand. The Right-Hand-Drive cars – Chevy or equivalent Pontiac (built on Chevrolet frames and using Chevy engines in Canada)– all used a RHD version of the LHD 1961 Pontiac dashboard.
Transmission: Two-speed automatic, column quadrant
Suspension: Front - Independent, coils, anti-roll bar; Rear - Semi-floating axle, coils; Dampers - Wylie-Monroe telescopic.
Steering: Recirculating ball, power assisted; Turns, lock to lock - 5.5; Turning Circle - 44 ft 2 in.
Brakes: Drums, servo assisted
Dimensions: Wheelbase - 9 ft 11 in; Length - 17 ft 5 in; Track front - 5 ft 0i in; Track rear - 4 ft 111 in; Width - 6 ft 7 in; Height 4 ft 7.5 in.
Tyres: Size 7.50 by 14
Weight: Kerb 31 cwt
Performance: Top Speed - 106 mph; Maximum Speed in Gears: Low 52 mph; Drive 105.5 mph; Acceleration: Standing quarter mile: 18 sec; 0 to 30 mph - 4.5 sec; 0 to 40 mph - 6.4 sec; 0 to 50 mph - 8.6 sec; 0 to 60 mph - 11.5 sec; 0 to 70 mph - 15.1 sec; 20 to 40 mph - 4.3 sec; 30 to 50 mph - 4.0 sec; 40 to 60 mph - 5.4 sec; 0 to 60 16.1 sec; Fuel Consumption - 16.25 mpg; Price including tax: A£2940 in 1963.
1964 Chev Impala
1963 Chev Impala

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