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No Reserve Survivor: 1980 Chevrolet Impala

At first blush, 1980 seems like yesterday to me, that is until I give it due consideration and realize that it was actually 43 long years ago and a ton of things have changed since then. And one of those big changes is that station wagons, such as this 1980 Chevrolet Impala are a thing of the past and have been for some time. It wasn’t long after this Chevy rolled off of the Janesville, Wisconsin assembly line that the SUV craze took off and it has never looked back. I would consider this 79K mile example to be a survivor as it is in original, and non-modified condition. Located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, this suburban staple is available, here on eBay for an opening bid of $4,500.

Chevy’s Impala still sold reasonably well in ’80 with 99K finding first-time garages (there was better action with the similar Caprice – 137K copies) but the Impala station wagon put up middling numbers with only 6,700 units. The sixth generation of the Impala (’77 – ’85) generated big overall numbers but the station wagon version seems less frequently encountered today than those from the fourth-gen (’65-’70). Of course, those fourth-gen cars were produced in titanic proportions, and in spite of the age difference, that probably has something to do with it.

This wagon is powered by a 120 net HP, 267 CI V8 engine which the seller refers to as, a “strong V8 w/ auto trans, easy to drive, DRIVES, STOPS FINE“. I have read, and been told by actual owners, quite a bit about what is considered one of Chevrolet’s most star-crossed small-block engines, and “strong” is not a descriptor that I have encountered often. Actually, my recollection is that this engine (’79-’82) was known for broken camshafts, prematurely worn blocks, and general malaise power-wise somewhat due to its equal-sized bore and stroke configuration, as opposed to the small block’s general oversquare architecture. Just something to think about…Beyond that, there is a new fuel tank installed and the engine compartment gets points for cleanliness.

There’s no denying the exterior’s condition – this wagon shows quite well. The Light Blue Metallic finish, ubiquitous on Chevies back in this era, looks to have lost some of its luster but it is still very presentable. There are no observable issues with the chrome bumpers (though the front bumper filler may need help), or the stainless trim. This car presents a very familiar, conservative visual.

Inside is typical for the austereness inherent in this generation of Impala. There are blue vinyl upholstered seats that look fine, worn, dirty cut-pile carpet, and a cheap plastic instrument panel with a silly Joan Claybrook-inspired 85 MPH speedometer. Most notable is the degradation that has occurred to the plastic upholstery panels in the cargo area – typical for GM wagons from this era – it’s all pretty much as expected. Two further considerations, the A/C needs to be charged and the speedometer is intermittently on the fritz.

One of this car’s best features is the soundness of the underside. It may be from New Jersey but it doesn’t look as if it ever experienced a N.J. winter and the seller does claim, “never in snow conditions“. I like old station wagons and prefer them, conceptually, over a modern SUV and especially over a pointless CUV. Would I want this example? Probably not, I’d hold out for an older generation but with no bid tendered so far, this Impala may end up ultimately going on the cheap, right?


  1. ClassicP

    I’m sorry but this car deserves something more than 120hp to move it along. Different times.

    Like 14
  2. Rixx56 Member

    Purchased a similar ’77 from a banker friend.
    Did what it was supposed to do very well. It
    had the 305, I think, but ran good. This could
    be an inexpensive alternative to a pickup. It’s
    likely I’d abuse it in that capacity. A 350/350
    combo makes this much more practical, tho
    it’ll work just fine as is.

    Like 7
  3. Stan

    Huge sleeper potential here. With new hi-po driveline. Love the reference to Claybrook lol. Good write up Jim 🙌

    Like 3
  4. Robert Levins

    I really like this wagon – for what it is . For me now, I think I’ll hold out for a Caprice Classic , with a larger engine. To me , if you’re going to buy a classic car sometimes it pays to look for what you like. This 1980 Impala wagon definitely has some life left in it and it would make a great car for a small family that needs a people hauler. 350ci V-8 ‘s were still available in 1980. The fuel economy was and is still acceptable. This 267ci V-8 will work OK for a light load. About the only “endearing feature” on this car is the “Tilt Wheel “. Good luck. Great article.

    Like 5
  5. Big C

    I had an ’85 Caprice wagon the exact same color as this one. Bought it in the early ’90’s for $150! 305-4v, Barely any rust, and a super clean velour interior. But, the company that had it, hauled meat in it, with the back seats folded down. I bought it in early spring, by summer she was ripe! It took me all summer to get rid of that smell. Good times..

    Like 5
  6. Bama

    You can tell whoever ordered this wagon new cheaped out. Vinyl seats and that anemic 267, probably the worst small block Chevy ever built. They were weak in the Malibu, just can’t see one lugging this heavy car around. It would be a good candidate for a 350 or 400 swap, or better yet, a 454. Probably whoever buys this will be a carpenter or painter that needs a cheap work vehicle but doesn’t want a van.

    Like 5
    • Chris Cornetto

      But worst at 79k the metric 200 Trans that likely lurks in this unit is probably on life support or near death…

      Like 5
  7. FrankD Member

    An LS swap and a few suspension part with a set of wheels.

    Like 5
  8. Chris Cornetto

    SCOTTY!!… I need that POWER….YOU DON’T HAVE IT Captain…..I’m giving her all shes got..forget I 20 in Atlanta with this one…..or the Jersey Turnpike for that matter.

    Like 3
  9. zen

    I never heard of that engine, I’m sure it’s a dog. Clean car, though, I hope it finds a good home.

    Like 5
  10. Anthony Gaby

    Seems like a lot of negativity towards a decent looking car from 1980…Good luck on finding a full sized station wagon for the price…$70 k for an Escalade…

    Like 7
  11. M. C. S.

    I have actually always wanted an Impala (or the equivalent Poniac or Oldsmobile) of this generation.

    I just always thought that they were really neat-looking cars, and a rarity to see on the road when I was growing up (I was born in ’94). Not my DREAM car, but still super cool.

    I have similar feelings for the Ford Fairmont.

    Though I would want one with a 6-cylinder (I’d rather have mileage than performance), and a manual transmission.

    Like 4
  12. Darkmayhem

    I had a 79 same color but it had a 350 and a 3 speed automatic . I drove it all over America with 4 kids pulling a pop up with a turtle on top. It was a great car.

    Like 1
  13. Tbone

    Sold for 5327. Way better price than a new SUV

    Like 1

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