Chevrolet Impala Generation 5
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The Impala remained Chevrolet's top-selling model with the fifth generation. A high-performance big block V8 was still available in the form of the Turbo-Jet 454, which produced 365 hp in 1971
, but power decreased as the years went along. The 1971
redesigned B-body would be the largest car ever offered by Chevrolet. The hardtop Sport Coupe continued to be offered; it was a smoothly sloped semi-fastback reminiscent of the 1961
A three-speed manual transmission remained standard at the beginning of the year, but in the spring of 1971
all V8-equipped full-size GM cars got Turbo Hydra-Matic as standard equipment. Interestingly, Powerglide
remained optionally available for six-cylinder cars until the 1973
models. The 1972
model introduced a grille which extended below the bumper. Powertrains consisted of mostly V8 engines. The 250 inline six was standard; the 350 2bbl V8 became the standard engine from 1973
– 1976, with 350 cubic inches (5.7 litre), 400 cubic inches (6.6 litre), 402 cubic inches (6.6 litre) (through 1972
) or 454 cubic inches (7.4 litre).
However, the long-familiar OHV six-cylinder Turbo Thrift engine continued to be standard on Sport Coupe and four-door pillared sedan models through the end of the 1972
model year. The best-selling body style was the Custom Coupe. Beginning in 1972
, all engines were designed to run on unleaded gasoline. 1972
saw the last Impala convertible; it sold 6,456 copies, placing fourth with just under 9 percent of the market, right behind the Corvette 6,508, ahead of the Mustang's 6,401.
Chevrolets featured a larger, shock-absorbing front bumper due to new federal mandates which required 5-mile-per-hour (8.0 km/h) impact protection. New taillights were mounted in the (still) conventional rear bumper. This was the first year of the Caprice Classic convertible. Tweaks to the suspension and frame gave better roadability, according to Chevrolet general manager John Z. DeLorean
Steering wheels and instrument panels were color-keyed to interior colors, as opposed to the matte black used in 1971
. In 1974
, the rear bumper was redesigned with shock absorbers to meet the upgraded standards and new tail lights were featured. The front end was also freshened as in previous years, with a new grille and headlight bezels, a new header panel, and a bumper with a drop down centre section.
The marker lights moved back up beside the headlamps once again. This was the only year of the 1971
models the Impala had a different front end design than the Caprice Classic, as other years used either a grille insert or previous year Caprice front to distinguish the two. The rooflines of the Impala coupes were also revised. For 1974
the Custom Coupe was no longer a hardtop, with large fixed rear quarter glass and a thick B-pillar. The Sport Coupe, still a pillar-less hardtop, now used larger roll-down quarter glass like that of the 1971
Custom Coupe, and had a narrower, fastback style, flat back window. Sedans used carryover body shells from previous years.
Impala Spirit of America
A limited-edition Spirit of America package was offered in 1974
on Sport Coupe models; primarily an appearance package, it featured white or blue body paint, a white full vinyl top, white upholstery with red or blue trim, color-keyed seat belts and floormats, special wheel covers, optional white rally wheels, sports-styled dual remote outside rear view mirrors, a vinyl body side moulding insert, and red pin-striping. Special fender and dashboard badges announced the package to passers-by and passengers. Chevy also offered Nova and Vega Spirit of America versions as well. The 1975
Impala used a 1974
carried-over Caprice front end, with a grille insert and emblem change.
The Caprice model was revised with a new front end with a swept back style header panel with recessed headlight buckets, a new hood, and new fenders. Also in 1975 upholstery, door panels and the dashboard were revised as were the radio and climate control graphics. Speedometers read up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), and added kilometers per hour. 1975
officially debuted a High Energy or HEI Ignition system, however it was installed on some 1974
cars as a clandestine option. Catalytic converters were also introduced as were several new options, including an Econominder gauge package, intermittent wipers, and a divided 50–50 bench seat with passenger-side recliner (with a choice of sport cloth or vinyl trim). This was the final year of the full-size Chevrolet convertible.
A Landau model available for 1975
models featured a landau vinyl roof (with a chrome band across the roof), a choice of special paint colors, sports-styled dual remote outside rearview mirrors, color-keyed wheel covers, a vinyl bodyside moulding insert, and pin-striping. Inside were color-keyed seat belts and floormats. Fender and dashboard emblems rounded out the package. The 2-door hardtop model (dubbed the "Sport Coupe") was discontinued after 1975
, leaving redesigned Custom Coupe, with its wide "B" pillar and fixed rear window, the only 2-door Impala available in 1976
. This body style had been introduced for the 1974
model year, a precursor to Detroit's complete abandonment of pillarless body styles before the end of the Seventies. 1976
Impalas used a previous year Caprice nose, with a new "egg crate" grille insert. The Impala had round headlamps while the Caprice used the new quad rectangular ones.