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Our Cars--1975 Chevy Impala

1975Impala4Not wanting to miss out on the big car nostalgia, I'll wow you with tales of one of the greatest beasts to ever cruise the open road. I first received my 4-door 1975 Chevy Impala when I was still in high school, but it had always been in the family. The car originally was my great grandmother's, but she had wanted a smaller and newer car (a Ford Taurus was her choice), and my family needed something to replace our dying Pontiac Ventura.

When we got the car, I was not yet of driving age, but I had already begun to love cars. The first week we got it, my dad and I took it to my grandfather's automotive shop and proceeded to give it a tune-up, some top-end work (head work, rings, pistons etc.), removal of all things limiting horsepower, and then added air shocks to the rear-end. It also got new brakes and a free-flowing exhaust. It went from Granny's grocery-getter to a pretty wicked towing machine in just one short weekend. We figured that 350 V-8 put out roughly 275 horsepower when we were all done with it. Not a ton of power, but a huge upgrade over the estimated 145 horsepower it sported when stock, and enough to get the barge really moving when you wanted it to.

When we got the Impala, it didn't have a ton of miles on it, something like 45K, in spite of it being 13 years old at that point. It had always lived in a garage and had always been well-maintained. And it was an awesome color--burnt orange. You couldn't miss this thing going down the road; it was huge and orange. And it didn't have a ding, dent, or rust spot on it. By the time I got it in 1991, there were a few surface rust spots; and when we got rid of it in 1995 we were thankful the car was burnt orange so it was less obvious that the rust spots outnumbered the paint spots.

And when I say this car was huge, I'm not kidding. I used to tell my friends it was as large as a Suburban. They didn't believe me. So I parked next to one one day, and we got out and measured.  My car was a mere 1/2 inch shorter. And as Rob wrote in the Mercury article, when people saw it coming, they got out of the way.

1975Impala2 This beautiful Impala eventually became mine when my mother basically refused to continue driving it because of its size. I was driving a Volkswagen Rabbit at that point, and we swapped cars. I never looked back. I immediately became the "all time driver" with my friends, because we could take two of their cars or just mine. You could fit a lot of bodies on those two bench seats. And the trunk was cavernous--large enough for a grown man to lay in without any discomfort whatsoever, which came in handy when I started getting into car stereos.

Towards the end of the car's life, it became my stereo Frankenstein.  I went so far as to cut a hole in the rear deck and installed a 12-inch sub firing off the rear window so I could share my love for music with the surrounding world. With some stiffening, deadening and sealing of the trunk, it actually sounded pretty good!  I eventually had a total of seven other speakers (the odd one being a center channel) running off a couple of amps to fill in the rest of the sound.

Perhaps my favorite Impala memory was just how reliable it was. I lived in South Dakota and never kept the car in a garage. It didn't matter how cold it got--negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit and lower!--it always started, and that was before synthetic oils. It went through snow like a champ, with the only drawback being there was no way to stop it if the roads were slick; it weighed 4,200 pounds empty. You'd throw it in neutral and say a prayer, and look for something large and not alive to hit, if it came to that.

1975Impala3 You also didn't get much feedback from the road, unless riding on pillows is feedback. Because of its size and heft, the body roll was pretty absurd--so you didn't dare do anything that involved speed and quick turns at the same time. And because of its length, parking was always interesting to say the least, and U-turns were major undertakings. But the car still rode great with the speedometer pegged at 100 mph. It did, however, get a little spooky at 125 mph, as measured by a friend's speedometer. Yes, the stupidity of youth.

This car got me through high school and into college. I drove it once straight through from Cimarron, N.M., to Sioux Falls S.D., stopping for nothing but gas in August heat. It never complained, though it blew a water pump the very next day. I put a muffler in it once by hand on a driveway in Colorado in the middle of a hail storm, because when the back side of the old muffler blew off it nearly started a fire ion my back-seat floor, which was filled with nearly everything I owned. When I eventually emptied the car, I found a bottle of Quaker State oil that had been sitting where the heat of the exhaust was coming up, and that bottle was badly mis-shapen by the heat.

I took that car through the mountains and across the plains. We towed with it, we went off-road with it, and did just about everything else imaginable to kill that car, yet it ran like a champ. The odometer passed 200K and then just died one day. We figure we put another 25K on beyond that.

1975Impala1 We were never able to kill that car. In 1995 I replaced it with a 1988 Chevy S-10 (which is still my daily driver). The car sat for a period in front of my parents' house seeing little use through 1996, but by that point it was an eyesore. The rust was everywhere, and there wasn't a fluid that it didn't leak. But it still always started. 

We sold the body to a local guy looking for a body for Enduro racing. Apparently he got three races out of that body, and considering most bodies only last one race that is saying something. The engine still lives in my dad's garage, waiting to be refreshed and dropped into a new home. I keep hoping that I'll find a '71-76 Impala garaged somewhere with a great body and a blown engine. A guy can dream, can't he?

--Big Chris

Note from Chris Hafner: Big Chris couldn't find many photos of his own Impala, so only the fourth and last shot is of his own, beloved orange jalopy. It's surprisingly hard to find a good image of a 1975 four-door Impala. The second image is from How Stuff Works, the third from Flickr user Abdulrhman Ghassan Rammal,,and the top photo is a shattered '74 Impala on sale at Sunman Ford Supply. Act fast, or I'll beat you to it!

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And I'd be happy to buy another one even today!

Wanna see how strong these cars are made? They seem to be the last ones running at all the demolition derbies I've seen.

Nice story!

That Car Guy: Only because Chrysler C-bodies are banned in most demo derbies. :P They win so badly that most places don't even allow them.

I had a bud named "Bro" that had a '71 Camaro and a '73 Impala. The Camaro had a blown engine, and the tranny was damaged in the Impala. One day, with only the basic of tools, a barn, and a come-along, we removed both drivetrains, put the good engine & tranny together, got it into the Camaro, and had it running just by Miller Time.

We would have rather put it all back into the Impala, but the Camaro's transmission wasn't long enough for the Impala. :(

I'm the cooler. :-)

I saw this guy that has a project 1977 Chevy Impala, so far he swapped the engine with a LT-1 from a 1996 Chevy Impala SS, along with anti-lock brakes. I seen it on Impala Forums.

Thanks for the homage to big iron. I had a 75 caprice classic for a few years. It was a beauty after I had it painted. One could almost stretch out in the backseat for a nap. After putting over 100k on it, I sold it to my brother, who promptly crashed it into a semi. I'm sure the car saved his life.

to the owner of the 75! are you still looking for a good impala?
i have a friend who has one,looking to sell it with out the engine.
he has a boarded and stroked big block chev in it know 509! works well and the car looks great! email me at stanbar@hotmail if you are interested!

There is one 1973 Impala outside a certain garage in Karachi. I doubt if the body is all original and it needs an engine that you already have Chris.

i looking for a 1975 chevy impala front left corner marker ? if any one haves one or both please e-mail me tell me a reasonable price it's for my borthers car i have the net he does not thats why ? thank you cranken36@yahoo.com

I bought a red '75 Impala back when I was 20 years old in 1990 for $500 from a neighbor. He was the second owner and except for rust around the front license plate holder, it was super clean. Red four door with black vinyl top and 75,000 miles.

That summer, I raided yard sales picking up eight tracks, since the car had a factory eight track player.
The faster you drove, the faster the music played. My friends would laugh because the bench seat was full of eight tracks.

Worked in NYC for a year and drove it 120 miles every weekday to and from the city.
I made out in that car, made videos with that car ( was in video production ) Even slept and stood on the hood of that car. ( and I weight around 230lbs )

I eventually had to replaced the hoses and the heater core. The door locks went on some of the doors and no one could figure how to fix 'em. ( so it was either leave the door locked or unlocked permanently )

The car became stuck during the 'Storm of the Century" in '93 and I burned out the reverse gear.. so after that I couldn't park the car anywhere I couldn't drive straight out of. Eventually had to grow up and sold it for $150.00

But I never got that much value or fun out of a car,ever.

I've always loved big American cars. It's too bad they had to downsize by the late 70s, early 80s. If the govt wants cars with good gas mileage (20mpgs or better), have the manufacturers offer diesel engines, just do us a favour, and make sure the engines are well built.

The downsized [by mid 80's no one called them small anymore] RWD big cars [1977-96] were better and still solid cars. The big Detroit cars were reliable, that's why older generations loved them. Just that gas mileage and handling became priorites for later generations.

I was talking to my dad tonight about this car, and he said that after the body was sold that it survived 3 demolition derbies for sure, and we're pretty sure it was entered in a 4th. You couldn't kill that big ole boat!

--Big Chris

Dude i had a four door 76 impala, and a two door 75. Me being a car freak i came across a something else. So i got rid of the four door. I missed it right after that. Everybody whined to me why i didnt tell them about it. Anyway those cars runs beautifully to me. I'll get back if i see one i think youll grab. They starting to get notice. expensive

Just bought one of those 1975 four door beasts a week ago, At first glance I thought it was a joke. It had rust dripping from the trim, a broken grill, and the previous owners covered the gorgeous blue with a horrible house paint tan. I was mistaken, when i got in it the interior condition and quality suprised me instantly... the engine started right up and runs strong. It needs some body work that i plan on tending to very soon, some chrome and some paint and it will be everything i always looked for in a car. Im def. a proud owner of a 75 Impala =D

-James

I am locking 1971 or 1980 chevy caprice or impala bad engine or good no problem

I want to know the price I build a project

my phone number 954 687 4734

1971 0r1987 chevy or caprice I need for project northern auto repair 1130 n.e 5 ave fort lauderdale fl

IM LOOKING TO BUY A 1970-75 IMPALA 863-801-6287 PLEASE CALL

How much are you selling it for call 7042423007 also can drive it home that day

i'm looking to buy a 4dr 1975 impala call me at 985 381 7338ask for pine

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