Performance And Function: 1979 Chevrolet Impala Wagon

We have had the opportunity to cover quite a few station wagons here on Barn Finds as of late. Some are seriously modified while others are more original and sedate. With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at an in-betweeny, a 1979 Chevrolet Impala, located in Winder, Georgia and available here on craigslist for $3,400.

By 1979, GM “B” bodies were in their third year of a substantial downsizing that started in ’77. And it was a wise move for station wagons as the ’71 restyle turned them into behemoths. I have driven many and know how Captain Smith must have felt about commanding and docking the Titanic (other than the whole iceberg thing). Examples like this down-sized wagon ride on a 116″ wheelbase as opposed to their predecessor’s 125″ stretch – a big difference! And in keeping with the times, square was in! The boxier, the better.

This 80K original mile Chevy is in very clean condition, the deep “Dark Carmine” finish is an attention-getter and is further enhanced by the lack of dents, dings, rust, etc.  No mention if the finish is original but it wouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that it is a redo. Further enhancing this Impala’s visual appeal is the still strong reflective chrome and trim. Worth noting is the working power sun-roof. On the surface, it looks like an add-on and I cannot find evidence that Chevrolet offered such an option in ’79 on station wagons. The ’79 sales brochure references coupes and sedans only, not wagons, so it may or may not be original. The white-letter tires with full wheel covers look is interesting, an acquired taste I guess.

Other than soiled backseat carpet, the interior looks as sound as the exterior, very passable. The seller advises that it needs a little work, in particular, the headliner and dash pad. Also included is a way-back seat (8 or 9 passengers) and some under-dash gauges. The seller states that the cold, working A/C system has been converted to R134 refrigerant so that’s a really nice upgrade and pretty well required anymore, at least for a southern car.

Under the hood is where things get interesting. While hardly a Draggin’ Wagon like this wagon found earlier in March, it has had some notable mods installed. The seller states that this Chevy has a new 350 CI V8 crate motor; originally it would have domiciled either a 305 or a 350 engine. The motor has the usual performance features like headers with a dual exhaust system, an aluminum intake manifold and a mild cam – probably makes for some fun hot-footing around. Also new is the automatic transmission but there is no detail on what model it is but the shift quadrant would indicate a four-speed, O/D automatic. No specific word provided on how well this wagon runs but I’ll go with the assumption, being that it’s a new powertrain, that it’s a pretty strong performer.

The seller indicates that he is negotiable on his $3,400 price so this Impala wagon could turn out to be a pretty fair buy. It’s a nice blend of performance and function with daily driver aptitude. If you’re in the market for a cool ’70s station wagon, I’d give this one a closer look, it would be worth it, don’t you think?

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  1. brianashe

    Want. If only I had room and a reason. Actually only one of those criteria needs to be met — room or a reason. :-)

    BF staff: the link “this earlier find” leads to the admin page, not the public post.

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell


      Thank you for the heads-up. I think the link is fixed now.


      Like 2
  2. Kenbone

    Good chance if they dont tell ya how it runs,their tellin ya how it runs

    Like 7
  3. F Again

    ‘Dark Carmine’ is the name of my mobbed-up wiseguy grindcore band.

    Like 6
  4. Doc

    This wagon is a deal if rust free

    Like 4
  5. Dave

    The Titanic analogy is actually correct…the engineers later learned that the ship’s rudder was too small, which, like so many American cars, made it difficult to turn quickly.

    Like 3
  6. Ken Cwrney

    When my late wife and I were running paper routes in the ’90s, I toyed with the idea of building one of these for use as a
    route car. While the other carriers were
    paying 15-20K for a worn out pickup truck
    (Florida price) to haul their goods, my plan was to find a wagon like this, add a
    454 V-8, a T-400 auto tranny, (beefed up
    of course) and the suspension pieces from a 9C1 police car to take the added
    weight on sundays. Then paint it dark
    blue with a blue and grey interior with a
    killer sound system and dog dish hubcaps on painted steel rims to complete the package. The plan I had
    was a good one til I priced it out and my
    wife said no dice. We wound up buying
    a minivan instead.

    Like 3
    • Danno

      That’s funny, my first thought was also about a drivetrain swap, to an L96 + 6L90 from a Silverado HD pickup. Turn it into a decent camper tow vehicle.

      Like 2
  7. Major Thom

    The carpet behind the drivers seat and the rusty shift lever raise questions about how weatherproof the interior is…

    Like 1
  8. JCA

    No comment on the seller’s claim that it’s “EMP Proof”? I believe that means there are ignition modifications so that the car still runs after a nuclear attack…

    Like 4
    • Chip

      If the new 350 was installed with old fashioned, say pre 73, GM points & rotor, it would inherently be EMP resistant.

      Like 2
  9. Daved

    The power sunroof cost more than 1/3 of the asking price and would be the main reason I’d want this. Besides being a cool wagon with a crate motor! Great deal for someone looking to haul some …..

    Like 3
  10. Chebby Staff

    Winder, Georgia…if the AC works, no need to roll down the winder, nyuk nyuk nyuk.

    Like 2
    • Daved

      🤣🤣🤣 since it’s a couple hours from me, I know the correct pronunciashun but that’s still funny

      Like 1

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