Rare Bucket Seat Survivor: 1970 Chevrolet Impala

Here’s one of the all-time favorite four-door models, a 1970 Chevrolet Impala sedan. Some Barn Finds research indicates that Impalas with two doors are the favorites, and with the exception of a few station wagons that have surfaced, the four-door versions have been a non-event. Considering that the four-door variant was the more popular seller, one would think more of those would have survived. Not the case, however, as they were considered inferior from a collectability perspective. That being the case, it’s fortuitous to come across this four-door sedan, located in Franklinton, North Carolina, and available, here on craigslist for $9,000. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

By 1970, the fourth generation Impala (’65 to ’70) was coming to a close. While not the sales juggernaut that the “B” body Chevy had been in prior years, it still sold quite well with about 978K copies, of all body styles and trims, finding new owners. Most notable for the ’70 model year was the absence of the famed “SS” trim level. The last SS produced was the small volume ’69 SS427 variant. It was the end of the line for the performance-inspired Impala, along with SS type options like a four-speed manual transmission, bucket seats, and a center console. The big car had grown up completely; it was up to the Camaro, Nova, and Chevelle to take on the more sporting aspects of bowtie motoring.

Also of note for 1970, was the new 400 CI, 265 gross HP V8 engine which this Impala possesses. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying image but the seller assures prospective buyers that this is “a great driving car” with 60K miles on its original, numbers matching engine. The 400 was a derivative of the small-block motor, similar to the 350, but with different internal cooling architecture. While never a powerhouse, the 400 did produce significant torque which is desirable in a six-passenger, full-sized sedan. It occupied a space needed to compete with the 390 CI, V8 powered Ford Galaxie, and the 383 CI engine equipped Plymouth Fury. This motor, which is equipped with a Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission, gets this Impala “ready for a road trip”, as the listing claims.

Here’s the remarkable thing about this Impala, and the seller makes no mention of it. It is a bucket seat, center console equipped sedan. This arrangement was never offered on a four-door “B” body Chevrolet prior to this time, and as stated at the outset, it wasn’t offered on any “B” body Chevy in ’70. So, how did he do that? Well it’s not tough, you just pinch the parts from a ’68 or ’69 model. The console is definitely the same one used in a ’68 Impala SS or any ’69 coupe where it was still an option, and Chevrolet strato-bucket seats can be plucked from a variety of models. The vinyl seat material pattern even matches the rest of the interior. Well done! Besides the custom bucket seat/center console touch, this A/C equipped interior is magnificent, it is in perfect nick and appears to need nothing.

The exterior is a perfect match for the interior – it is like new! The Autumn Gold lacquer finish (assuming that it is original) is still quite strong with lots of depth and a notable reflection. The black vinyl roof covering has escaped the scourge of weather and father time, it appears to be in perfect condition. The body integrity is what really caught my attention. The 1970 “B” body, along with its very similar ’69 predecessor, are known as rust magnets, the lower end of the front fenders, and the lower portion of the quarters behind the rear wheels, in particular. The front fenders were adversely affected by Chevrolet’s “flush and dry” cowling system that was supposed to drain moisture away and dry it with air moving downward through the cowl. Instead, they were more like “clog and flush” as they would back up, trap moisture and rot from the inside out. I lived the life with my ’69! Throw in a little road salt, and you’d be fender-flapping in the breeze inside of about five years. But I digress, this ’70 sedan is having none of that nonsense and is very sound. The rally wheels are a nice touch too. And while they could have been added at any time, they were an available option on all ’70 “B” bodies and these appear to have the correct width and offset.

This Impala sedan is one of the finest I have encountered in a long time. It’s actually one of the few four-door sedans spied too. Take this Chevy’s superior condition, throw in the most unique, probably a one-of-one interior in existence, and you have a very fine and desirable example. The price doesn’t seem out of line either. What do you think, two doors too many or just right the way it is?

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  1. 370zpp

    Just the idea of a “four door Impala” is not exactly an exciting prospect to me.
    But, this is a very nice car. Period.

    Like 8
  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    I bet the rallyees and the parts store tach are add ons – but the floor shift and buckets have always been there –

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      The author is right, there was no bucket seat option listed for 1970. There would need to be a picture of the trim tag if someone wanted to claim it came from the factory in this configuration. Regardless, it’s a nice addition and turns what would be a mundane interior into something interesting.

      Steve R

      Like 10
    • Will Fox

      Couldn’t be Luke. Chevy never even offered the buckets/console automatic for sedans. It’s a nice add-on, but not factory correct.

      Like 4
  3. B Boisvert

    I actually have no bias towards a 2 or 4 door. This is a well kept example with plenty of desirability for me. I have a ’79 4 door example that gets plenty of looks and compliments on a daily basis. This would be one of those cars that looks better in person than in a photo. If the price is right, jump on this one!

    Like 11
  4. TimS

    It may not be a rocket, but on today’s roads it would definitely look like a muscle car. Nice family/buddies cruiser.

    Like 5
  5. Classic Steel

    I had a 70 impala vert needing minor parts.
    I junked one the same color that looked just like this four door for the bumpers and a couple items under the hood. It drive home for its last run in 98 and then parted it out.
    The dog house was repurposed but the rest went behind an old barn and crushed later.

    This one looks okey for a four door😉

    Like 1
  6. DrillnFill

    This generation Impala takes to 4 doors with a much better look than some other makes (I love Roadrunners/Satellites but you ever see a 4-door Satellite? Yuck!)
    The two extra doors don’t bother me on this car at all, they blend right in.It’s gorgeous. If it runs strong with no rust this is a buy.

    Like 6
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    I came across this while doing a search for a Dodge Dakota.
    I hate it when the list multiple vehicles at the bottom of the ad.

    Like 2
  8. Bob S

    Usually when you see an interior conversion like this, it looks like a hack job, tip of the hat to the person that did this!! I would proudly show up in this to any car show/cruise in with this, awesome ride as is!!

    Like 8
  9. Joe Haska

    As a past member and president, of the 4-doors haters club, what do you think?
    Its all good man, if you understand there is a big price difference, love it or hate it.

  10. Ken Jennings

    Nice to see some four doors for a change. I really like them just as well as the others. This one seems especially nice.

    Like 8
  11. hooligan68

    I always thought a big old 4 door would be a pretty cool alternative to a big Benz or BMW. Throw some suspension bits at it, some big brakes and pump up the power a bit and you’d have a sweet ride you could drive the hell out of. Bonus, you wouldn’t see another one like it.

    Like 4
  12. Stevieg

    Whoever converted this to buckets & floor shift did a great job!
    I currently have a 1970 BelAir sedan. Same body as this. I wish mine looked half as nice as this.
    This bucket seat conversion wouldn’t work as well on the plain, flat seats in my BelAir. Just wouldn’t look right.

    Like 3
  13. art

    GM did a terrific job with the 1969 and 1970 Impala four door sedan, rarely ever executed as slick as the four door hardtops. These look so sharp and in some ways, better than the hardtop. The color combo is fantastic.
    I wish manufacturers would bring back these older, vibrant color palettes. Personally, I’m so tired of 7 or 8 shades of black, gray, and dark dreary colors available with perhaps three different interiors, they mandate, based on the paint color you select.
    Regardless, that’s one sharp Impala that will get many stares wherever it rolls.

    Like 9
  14. Dave

    While the small-block 400 would live on to power trucks, it was no match for the 396 of the era. That said, did Chevy produce a big-block version for Highway Patrol markets? Ohio ran big Plymouths until 1974, when 454 Impalas became the car of choice.

    Like 2
  15. Lynn Dockey Member

    NC’s laws are a bit different than most states when it comes to car titles and salvage vehicles

  16. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. I’ve seen 1970 Impalas before, but never a 4 door sedans before, and sure as hell never with bucket seats or centre console. It’s rare to see an original survivor. I love original daily drivers. I hope whoever buys this enjoys it and takes care of it. :)

  17. Major Thom

    Pretty much already established this one ain’t an “original survivor”.

    Like 1
  18. Curtis

    My first car was a 69 Impala 4 door so I guess I have a soft spot for these cars. But I can attest to the rust issues these usually suffered from. I would jump on this one in a minute if I had the cash. And those small block 400’s were built for torque but they can be warmed up nicely.

    Like 1
  19. Bob C.

    Kind of surprised it isn’t a hardtop, being so equipped.

  20. steve

    Install a 700R4 with Holly FI, and this is the perfect family ride.

    Like 2
  21. Tarzan 1153

    If I remember correctly, a friend of mine had a 70 Impala with a 402 big block. The way you could tell the difference between small block and big block was the color in the 400 emblem on the fender, white was small block 400 and red was a big block 402, he had a big block.

    Like 2
    • Jeff D

      I can attest to 400 emblems being on the fenders and a “396” now displacing 402 cubic inches on a 70 Impala. I can’t confirm or refute the color designation. It was owned by a widow (don’t know if she or her late husband originally picked out the car) that had be coming to this full service station since new. The main mechanic called me over to see the all orange V8. And it definitely was a big block Chevy. He knew I was a car enthusiast and he pointed out the motor and 400 emblems being not what I would have thought. Several low mileage cars were being serviced at one of the last true Full Service Stations in Springfield, MO by 1991. I have also read all SS396’s were actually 402’s in 70 as Chevy kept the name SS396 due to name recognition.

  22. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    My dad bought a new 70 Impala Custom that looked just like this, except that it was a hardtop. 400 small block, one of those that just seemed to have been put together right, always ready to go. His had the factory mag hubcaps, but in 15 inch. I’ve casually looked for years for a set of 15″, have a couple of sets of 14″, but have never seen any more 15″s. I took my driver’s license test in it. As a side note, for our high school driver’s Ed classes, we drove a new Monte Carlo, and a 3/4 ton 2 wheel drive 4 speed pickup. We went to the schools athletic practice field where we had to back a trailer into a marked parking spot. I had been working on farms for a few years so it wasn’t really new, but it kind of weeded out the kids that didn’t have any practice.

    Like 2

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