Older Restoration: 1958 Chevrolet Impala

There are some movies where the cars are as much the stars as the Hollywood A-Listers who get paid all the money. One of those is the 1973 classic “American Graffiti.” For those who have seen the movie, several cars will instantly spring to mind as the stars. One is the yellow 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe driven by John Milner, while another is the 1958 Impala that found itself at various times with Steve Bolander and Terry “Toad” Fields behind the wheel. If you love American Graffiti as much as I do, you have the chance to secure your own slice of its spirit by parking this Impala in your driveway. It is located in Sparrows Point, Maryland, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $27,289, which takes it past the reserve.

The seller has listed the Impala for a friend, and he doesn’t supply much information or many decent photos. However, he refers to it as an older restoration, and while I could spot some surface corrosion on the underside, I couldn’t see any penetrating rust. The panels look clean, which means that we’re off to a promising start. Somebody has installed a Continental Kit, one of those features that people seem to love or hate. I don’t mind it, but even if potential buyers aren’t a fan, removing it and substituting a standard bumper would not be difficult. The Arctic White paint still shines impressively, although it has developed a few flaws and issues over the years. It appears that it has begun to lift on the back edge of the trunk lid, which might suggest that the preparation in this area during the restoration wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. There are also some primed areas on the roof on both sides, suggesting that the owner might have found some additional problems to address. When I see something like that, it makes me wonder whether there might be more issues waiting to raise their ugly head. These paint problems and the blurry photos would make an in-person inspection essential in a case like this. The trim is in good order, and there are no apparent problems with the glass.

Lifting the hood reveals this Impala to be equipped with a 348ci V8, a two-speed Powerglide transmission, and power steering. This big-block should be producing around 250hp, which is enough to fire the Impala through the ¼ mile in 17.3 seconds. If that isn’t fast enough for potential buyers, the owner has left a little something in the trunk that might unleash a few additional ponies. He includes a full Tri-Power setup in the sale, and with this installed and properly tuned, that 348 should be churning out at least 280hp. That’s enough to slash the ET to 16.4 seconds, which would be a welcome improvement. For buyers interested in instant gratification, the news could be positive. It isn’t clear whether this classic is roadworthy, but the seller says it runs and drives. The question of roadworthiness could be another to raise with the seller, and it is encouraging that he seems to be approachable and willing to field inquiries from genuine parties.

If the buyer is interested in recreating their slice of American Graffiti, they would have to change the interior trim. One of the movie’s great lines is when a character named Debbie looks inside the car and says, “I just love tuck-and-roll upholstery.” However, if the buyer is more concerned with originality, this interior presents pretty well. The tri-color cloth and vinyl seat upholstery show no evidence of significant wear, and the dash presents well. The bottoms of the door trims are slightly wrinkled, but they should stretch back into shape. The padding on the dash could be wrinkled, but the poor photo quality makes it impossible to be sure. One item that definitely needs replacing is the carpet. It looks old and tired, and the rest of the interior would be lifted if the buyer spent $200 to rectify this problem.

If you were to buy this 1958 Impala, would you restore it to its factory-fresh state, or would the lure of an American Graffiti clone be enough to tempt you? I admit that I am generally not a fan of those types of builds, but I would find that idea almost too tempting to resist. There’s no question that fitting the Tri-Power setup would unleash some welcome additional power, and this one deviation from factory specifications could be the catalyst for such a build. Which way would you jump?

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Comments

  1. doone

    Nice looking unit, but I’m always leery of a seller that’s “listing it for a friend”.

    Like 7
    • Terrry

      ..and takes just a few crappy pictures

      Like 6
  2. JImmyinTEXAS

    I drove three 58s during my teen years. One totaled when I ran a yield sign and a Toyota of some flavor crashed into the side. One the engine blew up and one burned oil so badly I couldn’t afford oil and gas at 18 cents a gallon, so I chose gas, and another one bit the dust. All those years and as many as I have seen I have never seen chrome trim like that going down the side of the car. Interesting looking but It looks pretty busy to me.

    Like 5
    • tiger66

      Chrome looks stock to me and matches the ’58 brochure. Maybe it just stands out more in these photos.

      Like 3
      • SMS

        On my phone the primer spots looked like odd trim.

  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    At least he covered up the license plate……

    Like 3
  4. SMS

    I prefer drivers and less flashy cars in general, but, to me this is one of the best looking cars from the big three. If it were mine it would have the extra molding removed and restored to how it came from the factory. Well not totally factory. I saw one white with a little bit of pearl. It sang to me how fun it would be to have the kids and my lady in it going for an ice cream.

    Have never seen anyone improve on the looks of this car other than the color.

    Like 1
    • chuck dickinson

      What extra molding?? The only items that are non-original to a 58 Impala are the skirts (not available, except aftermarket), and the c.kit is a repro, not an original (chrome ring vs. painted ring). If someone thinks any of the moldings are not original, then they’ve never seen a 58 Bel-Air OR an Impala!

      Like 5
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Ditch the continental kit, paint the panels that need it, stick that tripower setup on it and put a factory 4 speed in it. That would make the first one of these that I ever got a chance to drive. Good looking and fast.

    Like 4
  6. Steve Clinton

    Sadly, the Chevrolet design that time has forgotten, IMHO.

    Like 3
  7. Bick Banter

    Needs tuck n’ roll upholstery.

    Like 1
  8. Jeff58

    Neighbor had one when I was a kid, I remember the continental kit on it and thought it was kinda neat / weird.

    Like 1
  9. wcshook

    In my time of reading Barn Finds, I don’t think I have ever read anybody posting what I am going to post. I think adding Lake pipes and keeping the continental kit would be cool. Back in my model car building days, Lake pipes were rather common.

    Like 6
  10. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I had a 58 Impala back in the early 70’s. It had candy apple red metal flaked paint with tick n roll red metal flaked interior covered in plastic. It had the 348 dual 4 bbl carbs with three speed on the floor with overdrive. No continental kit. I loved that car.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  11. Dale Stevens

    Get rid of continental kit and the skirts and I would love to have it

    Like 5
    • CaCarDude

      @ Dale, That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the pics of this Impala, it just does not do the car justice to see it with all the big goofy add on doo dads. Back in my senior year of HS (66) my best friend then had a ’58 Impala in the factory copper color, it had the 348 4 bbl 3 spd on floor set up and in its day was still a beast to reckon with.
      Back then you could pick up a decent nice driver like this for $300-400. Yes the good old days of classic street machines, sad we will never see those days again.

      Like 4
  12. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    For a bunch of car guys you don’t know very much about chrome trim. 1958 GM went nuts on chrome trim on all of their cars, to the excess. Take the ’58 Cadillac for instance….. take all the chrome off of that car, and you’ve lightened the gross weight by about 1000 pounds! J/K. The Fleetwood had even more chrome.
    The ’58 Buick Riviera, same story. GM just thought more was better when it came to chrome in ’58

    Like 4
    • Robert White

      58 Buick Roadmaster has the most chrome of all.

      Bob

      Like 2
    • Rj Keenan

      All these people that make comments like they have never seen anything….They are not car guys.

      They are Deaks….they wait for one Deak to make a comment and the rest follow.

      Like 1
  13. Rj

    I’ll take her as she is and add twin door mirrors, twin teardrop spotlights, and while I’m at it chrome curb feelers at all four corners needed or not. I’ll bag her so she can roam the streets high up front and low in the rear with Oldsmobile Spinners.

    • chuck dickinson

      That one actually hurts the eyes!

  14. Gordon

    The 58 Olds is another one loaded with stainless & chrome . .

    Like 1

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