One Family Survivor: 1978 Chevrolet Impala

When I saw this listing for a 1978 Chevrolet Impala Base, I was curious just how “base” it really was. How base is it? As base as it gets! I first thought this car was missing its wheel covers, but the more I look at it the more I think maybe it never had any. Although this car definitely needs some work, it is being sold by the original owner’s son-in-law who acquired it from the original owner’s estate. This Impala has 52,475 original miles and would be an excellent canvas for a restoration or custom build. Find it here on eBay in Michigan for $3,250 with the option to make an offer. 

The interior of this Impala is very, very clean. The original owner evidently took really good care of this car until possibly he couldn’t anymore at which point it sat. Everything is intact and original, except maybe the radio bezel. It is possible, based on the kick panels, that the green plastic has faded to blue. Though not the most appealing color, this Impala is clean and rust-free. Conveniently, there is no carpet so the floors can be seen to be solid. At first, I was wondering why the carpet in a low-mileage car would’ve been removed. Then it occurred to me that this car is such a stripped down base model, it may not have come with any! However, the seller states in the ad “I have done all the mechanical work and now the interior needs finishing,” which implies perhaps someone started doing a mild restoration and removed the carpet.

Under the hood sits a 250 cubic inch Chevrolet inline six. Truthfully, I did not know that the 250 was offered as an option in these cars as they are usually found equipped with at least a small V8.  The six cylinder is part of the base model “options” as is the lack of A/C! As with many Chevrolet products of this era (I’m looking at you, square-bodies!) the large engine bay is capable of dwarfing even a V8, so the inline six appears especially small in this Impala. This car is running, has new brakes, a new battery, new exhaust, new tires, new suspension, and many other new safety-related parts.

Though it is perched oddly atop jack stands in all of the photos, this Impala is rust-free and in great restorable condition. Though this car may not be desirable now, for someone who likes odd vehicles of this era, a total base model like this could be just the car they need! If cleaned up and somewhat restored, an unusual car like this could draw quite a crowd. Because base models were typically fleet vehicles, they saw quite a lot of use, and subsequently good condition base model vehicles are an uncommon sight. Would you fix this up as it is? Or use it as a blank canvas?


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  1. Brian

    It appears to have had rugs in 2015, based on the eBay picture…

    • jdjonesdr

      I’m with you. Not as “Base” as the seller would like us to believe. Also missing the step plates (or whatever you call them) that would hold down the carpeting.
      I’m pretty sure it didn’t come with that light blue dash plate either.

      • Benjamin

        I had one of these years back, that blue is factory. The fade that way. Mine was just about the sister to this, But I had a 305. Tough as coffin nails. Put 3different b body front ends on it due to deer, and one semi who couldn’t drive.

  2. Alan

    I always loved the downsized Full size GM b bodies. Last year I bought All original 1977 Pontiac Bonneville Landau Coupe Non Brougham version. Brown ext and cream color landau top with beige cloth interior. Has All original 8K miles. 350 4B power windows , tilt steering , factory AC , factory AM / FM radio with all books and original owners manual. A true Survivor ! Oh the asking price was 12K I paid 11K

  3. flmikey

    The work he (or she) has done to it is worth the 3K they are asking for it…very nice find, and I believe the bargain of the month!

    Like 1

    demo derby

  5. JW

    Back when this car was new it would have been considered a tightwad old man’s work and hit the bar after work car, the extra doors were for hauling his drunken buddies home. Wouldn’t be a bad car to make trips to Home Depot for anything but lumber or even the local pick & pull then use it for anything to save miles on your main vehicles.

    Like 1
  6. Steve

    1. Even “base” model cars would have “dog dish” aka “poverty caps” on the wheels.

    2. The green interior pieces did not fade to blue. The dash had probably been replaced due to sun damage to the original, and the radio bezel broken at some time.

    3. The 250 six wasn’t an “optional” engine. It was the base engien for this car.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      1. Yes
      2. Yes
      3. Yes

    • Fuelish Pursuits

      Had an 81 more-door with the same color interior. Can confirm the kick panels faded to a color that might photograph as blue. Can’t comment on the radio bezel — mine was black with a faux wood grain strip.

      First car I drove, first car I wrecked, first car I painted, first car I put a motor in, first car I, uh, well…. Miss that car.

  7. DrinkinGasoline

    Hopefully, it’s on jack stands to prevent tire flat spots.
    The Dog Dish hub caps are a dime a dozen.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      Not so much anymore with so many people building vintage police cars.

      Like 1
  8. JimmyJ

    The coupes are ok but this sedan does nothing for me…
    I agree with AMXSTEVE demo derby

    Like 1
  9. nessy

    Confusing.. So which is it? An original well cared for car or a project that has sat too long? Oh, that 6 was standard and common, the hubcaps are off, all new American built cars had hubcaps standard by this time and the carpets must have been trashed. They could have at least washed the bomb. 3250 buy it now? No thanks and I really like this era GM body style but not this one. It’s just not worth the time and money you would have to put in this car.

    • DweezilAZ

      Not if one is going to buy it and keep it and likes base model cars. If it’s to be a Chip Foose re-do, of course not.

  10. Reid Hall

    H’mm l can’t do anything with 4doors ,but these car’s seen to be popular with the black, and Hispanic community, in my area.Price is a little high for me,but this probably was a roach car at one point. My Dad bought a used car one time ,that had some bug issues, these cars do exist and that chevelle wagon /standard chevy truck engine , doesn’t look factory to me .But if matching numbers check out it could be. But on the other hand who in there right mind puts on Ford blue paint on a valve cover, l don’t know.

  11. mike D

    I believe this to be just the run of the mill ” base” Impala , my dad was known to get the cheapest stripped car available , this would be one like he would get .. when he purchased our ” new” 67 Ranch Wagon ( in 67) when he was told it had a radio, he said ” I don’t want a radio” was told it came standard, and that was that, I guess ( was young at the time)

    Like 1
  12. Rustytech Member

    Even the lowest level Impala, or police package would have had rubber flooring over the floors. If This were a 2 door I’d be tempted. I have always liked the rear glass on those. I would like to do an SS package build as a what if project.

  13. Rodney

    Of all the cars available in the world, I cannot imagine anyone choosing this car to restore unless your entire childhood and adolescent memory bank is full with only this car. First car driven, first kiss in the front seat, more action in the back seat, drove to parents and grandparents funerals, etc. Otherwise, this feels like a sandwich you ate forty years ago….
    What sandwich, you ask, I have no idea either…

  14. dan

    mine had a 4.3L V8, yes small v8

  15. Luke Fitzgerald

    3k? – 300.

  16. Denny B

    After reading all the well written comments, and remembering how many of these Impala sedans were destroyed in cop shows and movies, in the 80’s and 90’s…
    I would advise this seller to drag it to the local Pick and Pull, and let go of the sentiment. I always felt the Impala name on these base models, was a total insult to the Impala name…
    They made great Taxi and Law enforcement vehicles though, and I’m pretty sure, this one was not built with any of those amenities…

  17. allen

    If it were basic,basic it would have vinyl seats not cloth.

  18. Duane

    I’d have to make it a hot rod. LS/T56 swap. Leave the outside as is (new paint and dog dish hub caps) but make the interior leather bucket seats, Auto Meter gauges, nice sound system.

  19. Guy

    Has anyone else notice the date on the photos Nov. 18 2015 almost 2 years old alot can happen to that car in those two years? Am I right?

    • Rodney

      Yes, hopefully the earth swallowed it whole and spits out the useful parts.

      Four jack stands.

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