The Truth About Cars » Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 04 Sep 2015 06:46:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Chevrolet Impalas Going Quickly in South Korea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/impalas-going-quickly-korea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/impalas-going-quickly-korea/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152169 Buyers in South Korea have flocked to order the Chevrolet Impala by requesting more than 3,000 of the full-size sedans, which is two to three times higher than expected, BusinessKorea is reporting. The higher-than-expected draw in South Korea is part of a larger trend; according to the BBC, just around 6,000 cars were imported in 2000. In 2014, […]

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2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-005

Buyers in South Korea have flocked to order the Chevrolet Impala by requesting more than 3,000 of the full-size sedans, which is two to three times higher than expected, BusinessKorea is reporting.

The higher-than-expected draw in South Korea is part of a larger trend; according to the BBC, just around 6,000 cars were imported in 2000. In 2014, more than 196,000 cars were imported into the country, although many of those were European luxury models.

GM Korea forecasted 4,000 to 5,000 Impala models would be sold by the end of 2015, but Korean buyers are ordering 200 cars per day, which would exhaust their supply within one month.

Buyers in Korea are ordering the high-end models, too. The most popular pick for prospective Korean buyers is the 2.5-liter LTZ followed by the 3.6-liter LTZ, according to the report. The 2.5-liter LT is approximately 15 percent of the mix.

A spokesman for Chevrolet said Korea would be receiving Impala models built in Detroit.

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Equinox Gives Oshawa Consolidated Line Extended Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/equinox-gives-oshawa-consolidated-line-extended-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/equinox-gives-oshawa-consolidated-line-extended-life/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:21:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145993 GM Canada announced Wednesday it will make a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line thanks to increased demand of the Chevrolet Equinox. “It’s a modest investment in terms of its size, but it increases the volume of stamping we do at CAMI to increase the run. (The increased stamping) will then boost Equinox production in Oshawa,” GM Canada’s VP of […]

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GM Oshawa Plant Closure

GM Canada announced Wednesday it will make a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line thanks to increased demand of the Chevrolet Equinox.

“It’s a modest investment in terms of its size, but it increases the volume of stamping we do at CAMI to increase the run. (The increased stamping) will then boost Equinox production in Oshawa,” GM Canada’s VP of Corporate and Environmental Affairs David Paterson said in an interview with TTAC.

More body panels are stamped at CAMI than that plant’s assembly line can use, which required GM to utilize its “shuttle program” to transport excess Equinox bodies to Oshawa’s Consolidated Line for final assembly, according to GM.

The majority of the $12 million CAD investment will go to CAMI, though the detailed amount was not disclosed. Additional labor will not be needed to produce the additional Equinoxes.

While the success of an 11-year-old model (the Equinox went into its second generation as an enhanced refresh) is newsworthy, there is a larger issue at play.

“That investment has the effect of extending further the Consolidated Line until at least 2017,” said Paterson.

This is the fifth time the Consolidated Line’s death has been postponed in the last ten years, Paterson said. The Consolidated Line was most recently scheduled to shut down in 2016.

Speaking of the Consolidated Line, Paterson said: “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

However, the announcement still doesn’t ensure the long-term viability of the manufacturing facility.

Camaro production in Oshawa is scheduled to end this November, while next-generation Buick Regal production is rumored to move solely to Russelsheim, Germany in 2017.

While Cadillac currently produces the XTS in Oshawa, that nameplate will be discontinued at the end of its lifecycle in 2019. However, that best-before date doesn’t secure Oshawa until 2019. Production could be moved to Hamtramck or Fairfax as those assembly plants also build vehicles sharing the same platform, which are the Impala and LaCrosse. Should GM not opt to move production, but continue to sell the XTS in North America, the XTS could be the first Cadillac produced in China and imported to North America — but that’s a far reach.

GM announced they would make a $250 million CAD investment in CAMI for flexible manufacturing similar to Oshawa’s main flex line, seemingly securing the Equinox in Ingersoll, but no investments have been announced for continued production in Oshawa.

If manufacturing departs, GM looks to keep a significant presence in Oshawa for connected car R&D.

Former mayor of Oshawa, John Gray, has encouraged Canadians to boycott GM if jobs are lost. The future of Oshawa assembly activities won’t be announced until 2016 when the company starts labor talks with Unifor.

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Automakers Are Companies and Don’t Care About You http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/automakers-companies-dont-care/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/automakers-companies-dont-care/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 19:05:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135530 Just like children who pledged allegiance to the flag before they started their school day, a number of grown adults are brand faithfuls who pledged their hard-earned dollars to a cause they believed is theirs to fight. For whatever reason, they are still steadfast in their belief that their brand is the best, their truck is better than […]

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Just like children who pledged allegiance to the flag before they started their school day, a number of grown adults are brand faithfuls who pledged their hard-earned dollars to a cause they believed is theirs to fight. For whatever reason, they are still steadfast in their belief that their brand is the best, their truck is better than all others and their car is the most reliable piece of transportation since God invented feet.

Yet, if there’s one thing that the last week, last month, last year, or even the last decade has taught us it’s that companies, specifically automakers, do not care about us. Not one bit.

Allow me to explain.

A piece published yesterday by Bloomberg called out Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on its failure to declare a defect in its highly embedded uConnect system found in 1.4 million cars and trucks to the NHTSA. While the defect itself, detailed by Wired late last month, thankfully wasn’t exploited between the time FCA first identified the issue and when they reported it (only after the Wired article went public), the situation is just one of many where a corporation chooses a financially advantageous route over that of the safety of its customers.

And FCA isn’t the only one.

Just this week, Ford was fingered for not putting reinforcing metal bars on regular and extended cab F-150 pickups — models that wouldn’t normally be tested by the IIHS — that are a primary component in Ford’s best-selling pickup truck taking home a “Good” crash-test rating. The IIHS only requests automakers provide their volume seller for testing. In the F-150’s case, the crew cab model is the best seller, the only cab configuration fitted with these particular reinforcement bars.

To say Ford went out of its way to game the IIHS crash test might be a leap too far, but to say Ford’s cost analysis of adding a part weighed against the possibility of a lawsuit when someone is seriously injured or killed in an accident is not far fetched. After all, if a person in a crash doesn’t even know their vehicle is missing something, how could they even think of suing?

Yet, these recent antics are, by far, not the worst safety-related shenanigans to hit our industry in recent years. Honestly, neither is the ignition switch debacle still being handled by GM.

No, the worst one I can remember — at least over the last few years — included GM and a little rental car agency called Enterprise.

Back in 2009, Enterprise purchased some 66,000 Impalas from General Motors without side airbags — the same side airbags that were standard equipment if you bought the car yourself from the showroom floor. Enterprise saved an estimated $11.5 million USD ($175 on each car) with that one change and General Motors was more than willing to oblige as they took a nice, big bite out of the fleet business pie. That move in itself isn’t noteworthy, but what the rental car company did with many of those Impalas after they reached their rental life spans is: They sold those airbag-less Impalas to unsuspecting customers advertised with equipment lists stating the cars did, in fact, have side airbags.

From CBS News:

“There’s definitely a glitch in the system,” Enterprise’s vice president for corporate communications told The Star after the paper asked about the Web postings. “We’ll make it right with our customers. … None of this is intentional.”

What did Enterprise do in the end? For the vehicles that eventually ended up as privately owned vehicles, the rental car company offered to buy them back for $750 more than the Kelley Blue Book price at the time. According to Enterprise, only 745 vehicles ended up in private hands. Doing some incredibly conservative math means Enterprise was still ahead by roughly $10 million.

If you ever wanted an example of a company weighing cost vs. customer safety, well, there it is.

Just like Enterprise and GM back in 2009, Ford and FCA see these problems as being non-issues … until they’re caught red handed.

FCA has recalled the 1.4 million affected cars — against their will, I might add — and will need to mail out patches or have customers visit local dealers. Remember, this is all happening as FCA looks at a record-setting $105 million infraction ticket for its historical recall performance, or lack thereof.

Ford has flooded the blogosphere today with news that the F-150 will now come with a sport button. Yes, that’s right, a fucking sport button. Try Googling “Ford F-150″ today and it’s as if Crashgate never happened.

So, next time to pledge your donation to the My Favorite Brand club, remember this: You might care about them, but they only care about one thing from you — and it isn’t your life.

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Small Screen, Big Car: The Hawaii Five-O Mercury Marquis and the Supernatural Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083865 Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin. It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn […]

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Impala vs Marquis

Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin.

It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn that, behind the polish, it’s all hat and no cattle. But not with these two beasts. These are the real deal: guts, dents, motor, and chrome. One’s a modern hearthrob, the other’s a lantern-jawed archetype that even today outshines its modern co-stars.

One Ford product, one vehicle cranked out by the General. Black paint, V8 rumble, and more character than the small screen can contain. Here are their stories.
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Supernatural‘s been filming in my hometown for close-on ten years now. The show’s premise is pretty straightforward: the trials and tribulations of a pair of demon-fighting brothers as they wander around America in a 1967 Impala, putting evil back in the ground. Dukes of Hazzard meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer: justa good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm; beats all you ever saw, punched the Devil in the jaw, and gave Death a dead arm.

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Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s goofy, sometimes it’s overdramatic, and sometimes the show’s genuinely funny. The fanbase is large and loyal, and there’s a lot of love for the Impala, which is sort of a third Winchester brother on the show. It’s a constant companion, rumbling into a new town with a trunk filled with salt, crucifixes, and wooden stakes. They call it Baby, as that’s so often what Dean Winchester – played by Jensen Ackles – fondly calls his lead sled.

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As is usual in filming, there are multiple copies of this thing, all suited up identically in shabby black. Of the seven, one’s a buck cut up into movable sections for filming (not used much any more with the compact nature of modern cameras), a couple are stunt cars with extra pedals to lock up the rear brakes, and a couple are stand-ins for positioning shots. And one main one.

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A 1967 Chevrolet Impala hardtop sedan is a pretty rare car in its own right; people preserved more coupes and convertibles than sedans, and over the years many of these things rusted away unloved. It landed the role essentially out of the necessity for a musclecar large enough to have a cameraman riding around in the back seat while filming. The LA-shot pilot used a couple of ex-cop machines and a star was born.

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Part of the Supernatural Impala’s charm is its slightly menacing air and garage-project look. It doesn’t wear huge Chip Foose style rims, nor is it factory-trim prim and proper. The doors creak when you open them. There’s a line-lock strapped to the gearshift stalk. And then there’s what’s under the skin.

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Six of the Impalas are just props. One of them is something else: a fully-built car that’s used for closeups and star work. The work is partially Ackles’ doing – rumor has it he’s hoping to keep the car after the show wraps, so he’s pushed for a few upgrades. More than a few actually.

Under that huge hood is a fully-built big-block Chevy V8, a 502 cubic-inch monster that idles like a bowling ball in an industrial dryer and barks like a Hellhound when you prod the throttle. The suspension is a complete Hotchkiss set up, and the car actually handles and brakes reasonably well. When the crew needed to set up a few establishing shots for a season’s traveling, they strapped cameras to the Impala and spent a week aimlessly roaming around the canyon roads and deserts of BC’s interior. “Most fun two weeks of my life,” says the car’s long-time caretaker.

The Impala is at least as potent in person as it is on screen, even if the demon-fighting apparatus in its trunk is just a prop. Supernatural? No – it’s the real deal.

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In far rougher shape, but no less impressive, is the 1974 Mercury Marquis from Hawaii Five-O. This was Detective Steve McGarrett’s (as played by Jack Lord) car in the original series for six seasons. It continues to feature in the modern remake, functioning as the link between the two shows.

Unlike the Impala, there was only ever one Marquis. While a ’67 coupe was used in the pilot episode, and a ’68 Park Lane sedan filled in for the first six seasons, the black ’74 that saw out Five-O‘s run didn’t have a stunt double to take the punches. Like the original Ectomobile, it was the only car used, and that meant week after week of damage and repair. Often-times the mechanic, Mike Sakamoto, would be welding it back together into the wee hours of the morning.

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The old girl’s in pretty sad condition. That salt-filled Hawaiian air is easy on the skin but rusty murder on old Detroit iron like this. Open the door and a small shower of iron oxide hisses down – it’s a miracle that a forty-year-old unrestored car survives like this.

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Yet survive it does. The owner, John Nordlum, puts the key in the ignition and cranks the engine. The starter whirrs creakily, there’s a weak tuff-tuff-tuff of an old engine coughing to life, and then she fires. The Ford 460ci V8 sets up a beat, and once again McGarrett’s car glides off the set, and out onto patrol on the streets of Honolulu.

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Nordlum was Jack Lord’s body double, and later Tom Selleck’s double on Magnum PI (which mostly used the same crew as Five-O). He was given the Marquis at the end of shooting the series, a gift from Jack Lord. Notoriously a forceful personality, Lord steamrollered any studio objections, and Nordlum got the keys.

The Marquis rumbles around the block without a catch in its step, though the body rolls like an ill-ballasted ship through the corners. There’s creaks and rattles aplenty, and even the shifter is liver-spotted with patina. But she still runs and drives, even after all these years. “We can’t get crew that’s lasted as long as that car,” Nordlum laughs, “It’s got a life of its own.”

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Perhaps either the show or some eager fan will foot the restoration bill for the Marquis. Perhaps the Impala will end up in Ackles’ personal garage, to be trotted out now and then for a blitz around the block.

That’s the hope anyway – sure, both have been immortalized through the lens of a camera already, but each is not just a ephemeral fantasy. There is solidity here, realness beyond the showbiz glitz. It’s something to be honored and preserved.

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Oshawa Camaro Production Ceases November 20, Reduced To Three Shifts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/oshawa-camaro-production-ceases-november-20-reduced-three-shifts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/oshawa-camaro-production-ceases-november-20-reduced-three-shifts/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:50:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1057122 First announced December 19, 2012, GM Canada’s Oshawa Assembly facility will officially cease production of the Camaro on November 20, 2015 in conjunction with the car’s next generation, GM announced today. Camaro production remained at the Oshawa plant a year longer than initially promised in 2012. Assembly shifts will be reduced from four to three […]

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible at the Oshawa Assembly Plant

First announced December 19, 2012, GM Canada’s Oshawa Assembly facility will officially cease production of the Camaro on November 20, 2015 in conjunction with the car’s next generation, GM announced today. Camaro production remained at the Oshawa plant a year longer than initially promised in 2012.

Assembly shifts will be reduced from four to three between the “Flex” and “Consolidated” lines. Currently, the “Flex” line is on three shifts while the smaller line is on one shift. GM Canada will “begin a voluntary retirement canvass” to reduce worker head count before implementing any layoffs. GM Canada President, Stephen K. Carlisle, stated “60 percent of our hourly workforce are nearing retirement” age and the company will offer incentives to eligible employees looking to retire early.

Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS production will continue on the “Flex” line for now. Regal production is scheduled to move to Germany by 2017 while the XTS will be discontinued at the end of its lifecycle in 2019. Both the XTS and Impala are also produced in Michigan. The “Consolidated” line currently builds the Impala Limited – a previous-generation W-body sedan – and the Chevrolet Equinox, the latter which is also produced in Ingersoll, Ontario.

GM Canada and Unifor are working together to “examine a range of longer-term opportunities and competitiveness enhancements for Oshawa Assembly,” stated the release today. The future of Oshawa will be announced after Unifor national bargaining next year.

On the same day, GM also announced $5.4b in investments aimed at the company’s Pontiac, Lansing, and Warren, Michigan facilities.

The announcement comes after GM Canada committed $800m to Ingersoll and another 100 jobs toward expanding connected car and green technology development at GM Canada’s Oshawa Engineering Centre.

 

 

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General Motors Cutting Production To Relieve Inventory Glut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008274 Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand. Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is […]

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Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand.

Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is responsible for the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, while the Flex line handles the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, Buick Regal, and Cadillac XTS.

The reduction in production comes amid consumer demand for trucks and crossovers over said vehicles, of which the Sonic and Regal hold the highest inventory levels at 216 and 213 days as of February 1, 2015. The Sonic’s inventory level is the highest since the subcompact’s August 2011 debut, while the Regal jumped to its level from just 96 days back on January 1.

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Chevrolet, Honda Give CNG Passenger Cars Another Chance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chevrolet-honda-give-cng-passenger-cars-another-chance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chevrolet-honda-give-cng-passenger-cars-another-chance/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915178 Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike. […]

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Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike.

The Detroit News reports Honda recently introduced a new generation of its Civic Natural Gas model, featuring amenities like heated leather seats and premium sound systems the previous model lacked. Chevrolet, on the other hand, plans to bring a dual-fuel Impala to the party in a few months, being able to use either CNG or gasoline depending on the situation.

Though both brands are willing to give CNG passenger cars another shot, not too many others are as willing. Most automakers believe there’s no money or demand to be found in the alternative fuel, legislators are too focused on the in-crowd of energy solutions, and environmentalists are playing the long game instead of being in the present.

As for the vehicles themselves, both models will come straight from the factory with the same warranties as their gasoline-powered siblings, with the expectation of greater confidence in CNG from the consumer as a result. The Civic and Impala will likely drum up competition among other CNG vehicle manufacturers for the first time in a decade, as well.

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The Chevrolet Impala’s Decline Isn’t Recent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/897346/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/897346/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:55:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897346 We knew the Chevrolet Impala was going to suffer, volume-wise, with the introduction of the tenth-generation model. No matter how positive its review was in Consumer Reports, no matter how attractive its front end, GM insisted they weren’t going to chase fleet sales. Moreover, the car’s more upmarket positioning and the slow death of its […]

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2014 Chevrolet ImpalaWe knew the Chevrolet Impala was going to suffer, volume-wise, with the introduction of the tenth-generation model.

No matter how positive its review was in Consumer Reports, no matter how attractive its front end, GM insisted they weren’t going to chase fleet sales. Moreover, the car’s more upmarket positioning and the slow death of its category weren’t going to produce improved sales.

Perhaps what some didn’t realize, however, was that the Impala’s decline was long since underway.

In 2007, when the U.S. auto market was last clicking along at the rate it is now, General Motors sold more than 300,000 Impalas. As the market crashed two years later, falling 35% compared with 2007, 2009 sales of the Impala had fallen 47%. A slight improvement in 2010 was followed up by consecutive declines in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

After averaging more than 278,000 annual U.S. Impala sales between 2003 and 2007, the Impala has averaged fewer than 165,000 annual U.S. sales (including an estimate for 151,000 sales in 2014) since 2010.

We’re quick to point to the loss of numerous brands to help explain much of GM’s lost market share over the last decade. 27.5% of the new vehicles sold in 2004 were GM products; GM’s market share through the first seven months of 2014 is down to 17.8%. (GM’s four current brands owned 22.9% of the U.S. market in 2004.)

16.8% of the GM vehicles sold in 2004 were Hummers, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Saturns, and Saabs. Of the 3.78 million vehicles sold by GM in 2004 by brands that still exist today, 7.7% were Impalas.

Only 5.1% of the new vehicles sold by GM this year have been Impalas. Is the loss of nearly 783,000 Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab sales meaningful? Undoubtedly, that loss is significant, at least from a strictly volume perspective, if not a profit-centric one.

Also significant: the loss of 140,000 Impala sales.

Yet what can GM do when they build a vastly improved car and send that car into a gauntlet that’s choking off the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, and Toyota Avalon, all of which have seen their sales decline on a year-over-year basis in 2014?

Chrysler sold more than 120,000 300s in 2007 and will struggle to crest the 50K barrier in 2014. Taurus sales climbed to a seven-year high in 2013, but 70,000 total sales is about the max for 2014. Hyundai won’t likely sell much more than 9000 Azeras in 2014, having sold 21,948 in pre-Genesis 2007. Toyota averaged nearly 86,000 annual Avalon sales in the three-year period ending in 2007 but the Avalon isn’t likely to top 70,000 in 2014.

The Impala is suffering from a contagious disease, one that’s long been making its way through the whole category. In 2012 PR parlance, it’s gone viral. Consumers want their upmarket cars to wear upmarket badges. They may also not want their upmarket cars to actually be cars.

So does GM’s car division look to the Malibu for solace? In some ways, yes. Chevrolet has sold more than 200,000 Malibus in each of the last three years, having not previously done so since 2005. Malibu volume is down 5% in 2014.

In 2013, Chevrolet compact car volume (248,224 Cruzes) climbed to the highest level since 2003, when 256,550 Cavaliers were sold. Cruze sales are up 4.5% in 2014, although they’ve tumbled in each of the last two months after surging in May. Never were more than 68,085 Aveos sold in a single calendar year, but Chevrolet sold 85,646 Sonics in 2013. Sonic sales are up 11.5% in 2014 in a subcompact category that’s risen less than 3%.

GM would presumably prefer to sell 300,000 Impalas with or without a Sonic increase. But those days are gone.

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Piston Slap: The Auto-Erratic Transmission? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-auto-erratic-transmission/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-auto-erratic-transmission/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:54:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=880922 Longtime TTAC commentator Mikey writes: Sajeev, I bought a 2014 Impala LT with a 2.5 four cylinder, and a 6 speed auto. I’m a 60 year old guy, that’s driven more cars than I can count. I’m still in awe that the engineers have figured out a way to move a car with the weight and size […]

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Longtime TTAC commentator Mikey writes:

Sajeev,

I bought a 2014 Impala LT with a 2.5 four cylinder, and a 6 speed auto. I’m a 60 year old guy, that’s driven more cars than I can count. I’m still in awe that the engineers have figured out a way to move a car with the weight and size of the Impala with a 155 cu. in. engine. I love the car, with its comfort, and size, it suits my needs perfectly. I’m getting great gas mileage, with mostly city driving. Were flirting with 5 dollars a gallon up here.  I’m willing to sacrifice power for economy.

I’m rarely on the highway these days.  However I do find that at highway speeds{ 75 mph or so} the slightest touch of the gas pedal, will cause a down shift. The tach will jump from 2200 up to the high 3000’s in an instant. Does the 6 speed down shift sequentially, 6 to 5? Or will it go back 6 to 4th?

A week or so ago, I think it was “Kenmore” that was talking about a 6 speed Honda?  The discussion revolved around the transmission ” clunking” as it downshifted at below 10 mph. I find the Impala does that under certain conditions.  Is this normal?

Thanks

Sajeev answers:

Occasional clunking is normal until some third-party disassembles a metric ton of these gearboxes, points to a poorly designed part and goes on the Internet saying, “ZOMG Y U ENGINEERS BE SO CHEEP HERE?”

And by that I mean that we shall never know. Regarding the frequent downshifting, I recently rented a four-cylinder Buick LaCrosse, same problem.  Hell, even a V6 Mustang rental constantly shifted when I breathed on the gas. On a mostly flat stretch of highway!

This frustration is why I referred to these units as auto-erratic in my review of the CVT powered Mitsubishi Mirage. People think CVTs suck, rightly so.  But many of today’s self-shifters suffer from computerized analysis paralysis.

It’s not entirely the autobox’s fault: with only 186 lb-ft of torque peaking at a somewhat high 4400rpm, don’t blame the Impala for a 6-5 or 6-4 downshift because you feathered the go-go pedal. That’s just the way it is…unless you get a 74hp/74lb-ft Mirage with a Nebraska-flat torque curve.

But is this a problem? Not really: any auto-erratic box attached to a low-end torque free motor shall do this.  It bothers me too, but I’m spoiled by vehicles with a fatter torque curve. I wager you are too, in your 60 years on this earth. That said…

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Let’s consider the epic struggle between horsepower and torque. There was a time when most everything made power like a modern turbo diesel. Back when the battle for peak performance numbers and increasing redlines in boring family sedans and pickup trucks with a 4000rpm torque peak were unheard of.  

The good old days?  Not entirely sure.  But it’d be fantastic to see today’s technology applied to a fatter torque curve instead of sky-high horsepower battles. There’d be a superior driving experience and better fuel economy (less throttle needed), with a modest penalty in full throttle acceleration. Or so says the Piston Slap Guy…

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Reuters: GM Ignition Woes Came As Early As 1997 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reuters-gm-ignition-woes-came-as-early-as-1997/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reuters-gm-ignition-woes-came-as-early-as-1997/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858601 It may have taken nearly 14 years for one ignition switch issue to finally find attention, but General Motors’ ignition woes go as far back as 1997, when Chevrolet Malibu owners had their own switch problems. Reuters reports one of the earliest complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was in April of […]

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GM RenCen Downtown Detroit

It may have taken nearly 14 years for one ignition switch issue to finally find attention, but General Motors’ ignition woes go as far back as 1997, when Chevrolet Malibu owners had their own switch problems.

Reuters reports one of the earliest complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was in April of that year, when a New Jersey woman said she had been stuck on the road seven times with her new Malibu due to the switch’s inability to turn and the key stuck in place. The defective part was replaced twice, but to no avail. Other complaints include the key being easily removable while the power was still on, and power suddenly cutting out.

By 2001, when the 2000 Chevrolet Impala experienced its own ignition issues similar to those in the Malibu and, further on, the Cobalt and Saturn Ion, GM sent a pair of service bulletins to its dealership network, offering potential solutions to remedy the problems in both vehicles. However, no recall would be issued until Monday’s order of 8.4 million vehicles.

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Barclays: GM Recall Parade To Last Into Mid-Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829313 Automotive News reports General Motors’ recall parade could, according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson, last well into the middle of the summer season. The data mining conducted by the automaker’s team of 60 safety investigators on 10 sources reporting potential problems — including consumer complaints and reports from its dealership network — will likely […]

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Blurry Renaissance Center

Automotive News reports General Motors’ recall parade could, according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson, last well into the middle of the summer season. The data mining conducted by the automaker’s team of 60 safety investigators on 10 sources reporting potential problems — including consumer complaints and reports from its dealership network — will likely bring more recall requests before GM’s senior executives. Johnson adds that the investigators are working on likely defects on a per-issue basis instead of per-vehicle, which may mean a number of vehicles will be called back multiple times as the recall parade marches on; he also notes that its hard to discern if recalls of past vehicles have already peaked.

Detroit Free Press says GM product chief Mark Reuss will be leading a new team of five execs in choosing who all will be on the parade route, determining when and if a recall should be issued on any given vehicle with a potential problem. The team’s creation aims to accelerate the automaker’s response to said safety concerns, as well as better enable communication with its consumer base and the federal government. In addition, the 60 investigators, led by global safety boss Jeff Boyer, will comb social media to gather evidence of problems that haven’t been found from within.

Over in Canada, Reuters reports government officials are investigating GM Canada over the possibility that, much like the mothership across the border, it, too, delayed product recalls. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt instructed her group of officials to ask GM Canada “when did they find out” about the out-of-spec ignition switch, proclaiming that if they knew before the recall was issued, the Canadian subsidiary “could be in violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.” If found guilty, GM Canada could be fined anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million CAN depending on the conviction issued, far less than the $35 million levied against GM by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month.

The Detroit News reports those affected by the recalls of newer vehicles, including the 2014 Cadillac CTS and 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, are receiving free loaner vehicles much like those affected by the February 2014 ignition switch recall. In the case of Cadillac, however, the free loaners are standard practice for recalls related to the brand’s products, as they fall under warranty. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet and GMC loaner programs, according to spokeswoman Ryndee Carney, was at the automaker’s discretion; as the recall involves tie-rod defects — including a park-it-now notice — GM made the decision “to offer owners of those trucks courtesy transportation.”

Finally, Automotive News says those who purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Impala with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder will include stop-start technology as standard equipment, which aims to boost the engine’s fuel efficiency by 5 percent. According to spokesman Chad Lyons, the stop-start tech “will become more prevalent in GM vehicles” as time goes on; the 2.5-liter Impala is the second to have the tech standard, after the 2014 Malibu. Those who prefer their Impala to come with more power via the 3.6-liter V6, stop-start won’t be available standard due the engine’s heavier weight negating potential fuel savings.

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Junkyard Find: 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1965-chevrolet-bel-air/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1965-chevrolet-bel-air/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 14:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=744065 As most of you know, I have some history with the 1965 full-sized Chevrolet. Back in 1990, when I bought mine, these cars were still very common in high-turnover wrecking yards; this was the result of high production (in fact, more 1965 full-sized Chevrolets were built than any other single year/model of American car in […]

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10 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs most of you know, I have some history with the 1965 full-sized Chevrolet. Back in 1990, when I bought mine, these cars were still very common in high-turnover wrecking yards; this was the result of high production (in fact, more 1965 full-sized Chevrolets were built than any other single year/model of American car in history) and low scrap value. Today, however, shredders that turn scrap cars into quick cash (I recommend this book to anyone curious about the recent technological advances in the scrap-metal field) mean that beat-up old Detroit heaps that aren’t worth restoring get funneled right into The Crusher‘s voracious maw. I find the occasional 60s full-size Chevy in wrecking yards these days, but 25 years ago they were as common as are Chrysler LHs today. That makes today’s find, a rust-and-Bondo-nightmare ’65 Bel Air coupe, even more special.
31 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI found evidence of several distinct applications of body filler on this car. It’s like counting tree rings.
33 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause these cars all leaked around the rear window and trunk weatherstripping and the water ends up pooling here, even the ones from dry Western states rust like this. My ’65 sedan spent lived most of its life in Southern California and had similar rot.
09 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust for fun, I decoded the cowl tag. This car was built in the Janesville, Wisconsin plant in the second week of March 1965 (which happens to be the same week the first large contingent of American combat troops arrived in Vietnam). The paint color was Madeira Maroon Metallic, the interior was Fawn cloth and vinyl, and the car came with tinted glass, Powerglide transmission, and padded dash.
18 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe sticker on the inside of the glovebox door indicates that the car was sold by George Irvin Chevrolet in Denver. A little research shows that this dealership— which still used alphanumeric phone numbers after all-numeric dialing became standard— was located at East Colfax and Gaylord, which is just a few miles from the wrecking yard in which I photographed this ’65. The great circle of automotive life, nearly complete.
11 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe fenders came from some other ’65 or ’66 full-size Chevrolet, but chances are this car was built with a 283-cubic-inch small-block anyway.
08 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA really resourceful Junkyard Finder would have scraped the yuck from this engine and obtained some block and head casting numbers. It’s a 283 or a 327 if it’s original… which it probably isn’t
24 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRather than research the 197 trillionth small-block Chevy engine built, however, I became much more interested in what was in the trunk.
27 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDenver newspapers from 1982! Poor Marty Feldman— he died so young.
28 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMeanwhile, the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union was brewing in Poland.
25 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHowever, the Cold War was getting scarier and scarier during its final decade. Those MX missiles loomed large when Able Archer 83 freaked out Brezhnev’s equally doddering successor.
30 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMitsubishi started selling trucks under its own name (instead of with Dodge badging) in the United States in 1982.
29 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo, our car-trunk history lesson tells us that this car got parked for the last time in the early 1980s, then sat outdoors in Colorado for the next few decades before getting sold for scrap.
19 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat optional padded dash doesn’t look so great after 32 years at 5,280 feet.
32 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinTwo-door big Chevrolets are cool, but you’d end up paying ten grand to make this one worth maybe four grand. A factory 409 or 396 ’65 Impala two-door with some weird options, sure, that’s worth restoring from basket-case condition. This car… well, let’s hope its few remaining usable parts get grabbed before it gets crushed.


This swift, silent, jet-smooth Chevrolet spreads whole mountains, meadows, vales, and streams before enchanted eyes. There’s no way some spacy-ass commercial like this would get by GM’s marketers today, because they know that Americans hit ’em hard!

01 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 30 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 31 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 32 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 33 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 34 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 35 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 36 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 37 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 38 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 39 - 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Review – 2011 Holden Commodore, Pontiac G8, Chevy SS, Chevrolet Caprice http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/capsule-review-2011-holden-commodore-pontiac-g8-chevy-ss-chevrolet-caprice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/capsule-review-2011-holden-commodore-pontiac-g8-chevy-ss-chevrolet-caprice/#comments Tue, 26 Nov 2013 16:01:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=664226 My boss and I drive the same style rental slug Toyota over here, but when his was due for service, instead of a replacement Fortuner, I spotted a 2011 Chevy Caprice in his parking spot. Having spent almost a year without a proper V-8 under my foot, I convinced him we needed to take that […]

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Courtesy of GM Middle East

Courtesy of GM Middle East

My boss and I drive the same style rental slug Toyota over here, but when his was due for service, instead of a replacement Fortuner, I spotted a 2011 Chevy Caprice in his parking spot. Having spent almost a year without a proper V-8 under my foot, I convinced him we needed to take that one out.

I also introduced him to a new term…hooning. Mental's Abu Dhabi Dispatches

The staff and contributors here get a fairly standard rash of comments about perceived anti-GM bias. I don’t think it’s accurate, but it’s hard to not get annoyed with GM. Not because of their vehicles, but what they do with the good ones.

You can't control me! I'm a hoon!

You can’t control me! I’m a hoon!

This car is maddening. It works, and it works very well. When GM recognized the need for a RWD platform for LEO sales, they imported this version after Pontiac and its impressive G-8 left the landscape. Bark M recently pointed out the god-awful job GM has done to promote this car, even after it became their primary NASCAR platform.

This particular sedan was a 2011 with just over 54,000 kilometers (33,500 miles) on the clock. 2011 was the introduction of a “new” interior and standard features. This base model had the standard rental quality plastics and faux wood but Bluetooth stereo and dual climate controls are standard features. Both are excellent, once I realized the volume was on the other side of the stereo (Australian, remember?)

No seriously, how do I turn up the radio?

No seriously, how do I turn up the radio?

Without the leather interior, remote start or full integrated navigation system; stateside this would be a great mid-priced sedan. Given the NASCAR tie in, this car would sell itself, not just to rental fleets, but to GM loyalists who believe they don’t need leather and fancy interiors but do absolutely need a V-8. Trust me, those customers are out there, I am related to a lot of them. The fact that Chrysler sells a ton of non-SRT/8 Chargers underscores my point.

I showed my southern roots very quickly after slipping behind the wheel, I had deftly turned off the stability control before making the hard 90 degree right onto the expressway. Exiting the turn I planted the throttle and was rewarded with a proper growl from under the bonnet and controlled wheelspin until the transmission shifted. My boss held the syllable he was speaking at the time as the big sedan pulled. By the time I let off he was giggling with me.

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Oh Blessed Lady of Acceleration, please forgive me. I did not mean to stray from your house, I was pulled away kicking and screaming into a midsized SUV. I have missed your song and your touch. It’s so pleasant to speed up without downshifting. Just a toe prod onto the pedal and off she goes. The LS series is such a wonderful engine.

An airport pickup left me with the chance to sample the traffic manners of the big Chevy. It was fine, this is not a BMW or a Mercedes but it’s a solid platform and well mannered. It is what a RWD Caprice has always been.  Here, you can option these cars to the stratosphere or just get the trim level you need. The seats are comfortable enough but not side bolstered. The driver’s seat will extend far enough back to pull my feet off the pedals completely, the rear seat is usable and I haven’t seen a trunk as big in any of my beloved German offerings. This is why it’s maddening as a fan of GM. Why does this car start in Cadillac pricing territory? Why can’t I just order a mid-level trim car?

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After dinner I gave the keys back to my boss, who took the chance to mimic some of my shenanigans. Rolling slowly through a puddle from a sprinkler he floored it. Dual wheelspin and a delightful sound had all three of us grinning.

When the G8 was introduced, I was impressed but not interested. But before it all came crashing down, there was talk of the Aussie-designed ute coming to US shores. For the first time in my life, I began to save for a down payment for a new car. When it all went wrong, I was heartbroken.

The G8 was not the strong seller it should have been for a variety of reasons, and now GM is making the same marketing mistakes with this car.

On the way home, the excellent Bluetooth was streaming iTunes top downloads. Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” came on. A 550 AMG passed us, and with the slightest prod the LS put us in its wake, drafting the big German saloon without breathing hard.

“I’m feelin’ electric tonight, Cruising down the coast goin’ ’bout 99”

The next morning, it was back to the Toyota.

Sigh.

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Review: 2014 Chevrolet Impala (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/review-2014-chevrolet-impala-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/review-2014-chevrolet-impala-with-video/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 12:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500484 I have this feeling that our most impressionable automotive years are our high school years. Maybe it’s because I was so eager to drive that I noticed anything with wheels. Maybe it’s that auto shop class where I got to wrench on a Wankel (that sounds wrong doesn’t it?). Whatever the reason, it seems many […]

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2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-001
I have this feeling that our most impressionable automotive years are our high school years. Maybe it’s because I was so eager to drive that I noticed anything with wheels. Maybe it’s that auto shop class where I got to wrench on a Wankel (that sounds wrong doesn’t it?). Whatever the reason, it seems many of my brand and model name identities were formed in the mid 1990s. For me, “Impala” doesn’t conjure up the W-Body abomination GM has been selling for the past 13 years. Instead “my” Impala has always been the 1994-1996 Caprice Impala SS with the 5.7L Corvette LT1 engine. This is my benchmark on which every Impala must be judged.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Before we dive in, it’s important to know that for 2014 there are two Impalas. Say what? In a stroke of genius (honestly) GM decided to keep selling the old Impala as a fleet only model. This isn’t the first time GM has done this, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport is a fleet only version of the defunct Saturn VUE. By offering a one car to the public and the other to rental and government fleets, one can logically conclude the used market will contain fewer white Impalas with tan cloth interiors over time. This can only be good for resale value.

The fleet-Impala continues on the ancient W-Body first used in 1988 while the new Impala rides on the same Epsilon platform bones as the Cadillac XTS and Buick LaCrosse. If you had hoped the Impala name would be tied to the RWD Caprice like it was in 1994, you aren’t alone.
2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

 

Exterior

If you recall my review of the Cadillac XTS a year ago:

Engineers took the Epsilon II platform (shared with everything from the Opel Insignia to the Roewe 950), stretched it to 202-inches long and hey-presto, the XTS was born. Unfortunately Cadillac wasn’t allowed to change the platform hard points, so the same 111.7-inch wheelbase and 62-inch track as the rest of the Epsilon rabble remains. With the wheelbase staying the same, the cabin had to be pushed as far to the wheels as possible to maximize interior space. The result is a sedan with awkward proportions.

When I first saw photos of the Impala I was worried the same awkwardness would translate to Chevy’s flagship, but it turns out the XTS’s proportion problem is mostly caused by the Art & Science design theme. When you dress the platform in super-sized Camaro clothes, things turn out better than expected. The slot-like grille, wide headlamps and plenty of horizontal chrome make the Impala look wide while the XTS’s grille makes it look narrow.

Chevy penned a side profile with a bit more visual interest than most of the competition (I admit that isn’t saying much) thanks to the “haunches” designed into the rear doors and quarter panel. Sadly the designers opted for roof-line that starts lowering at the front doors making the car look better but reducing rear accommodations. Speaking of the rear, the 2014 backside is more exciting than before, but that’s not saying much. Things change a little if you step up to the LTZ model which gets integrated trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips. Still, nobody seems to be spending much time on their back bumpers and trunk lids these days.

Overall the Impala is attractive but I think it slots behind the Chrysler 300 in terms of style and I don’t think it will age as well as the more “generic luxury” lines of the Kia Cadenza. Parking the new Impala next to a 1996 Impala I ran into at the grocery store, I have to admit my high school memories are rose-colored as the 1996 Impala SS looks frumpy in comparison. I can’t end this section without commenting on the 2014 Chevy SS, AKA the Holden VF Commodore, AKA the Chevy Lumina (Middle East), AKA the refresh of the Pontiac G8. Yes, it’s back. While I have no doubts a rear wheel drive sedan with a 6.2L V8 will be a blast to drive, the SS looks like the fleet Impala with some makeup and loses the Impala v SS aesthetics battle.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

The Impala’s interior elicited more polarized reactions than I had bargained for during my week. While I’m a fan of the overall style, I can see how the flowing shapes may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The Impala’s build quality has certainly improved over the last generation and comparing the Impala to the Toyota Avalon can now be done with a straight face. Sadly in that head-to-head the Impala comes up short. The problem isn’t panel gaps or seams, it’s certain design choices coupled with plastics choices. The air vents you see in the center if the dash and the climate control bank are cast out of hard plastic and look cheap nestled between the attractive stitched upper dash and soft molded lower dash. My cynical side thinks this was deliberate so that Buick could have something to improve on. Test driving the Impala at night reveals the cabin’s party trick, chrome that glows blue/green when darkness falls. It looks a great deal less gimmicky than I assumed it would and the light strip is totally invisible by day. The light-up chrome is part of the $1,140 premium audio and sport wheel package.

Base LS models get cloth seats, LT models start with a leatherette and fabric combo, but most Impalas on the lot will have either the LT’s leather/alcantara combo (*bumping the base price to $32,695) or the LTZ’s “premium” leather seats which swap the faux-suede inserts for real cow. Regardless of the seat covering the Impala’s thrones are big and soft and 12-way power adjustibility. Unlike the seats in the Chrysler 300, you sit in the seats, not on the seats, a considerably more comfortable proposition. GM includes a 4-way adjustable lumbar support in all models and many of the Impalas I sampled had the optional 12-way seats on the passenger side as well, something you won’t find in the Azera or Cadenza.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Night View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The fleet-only Impala has a wheelbase just one inch shorter than this new consumer model, but due to its 1980s era platform design the space isn’t used efficiently. This is most evident in the back seat where this Impala delivers nearly 6 inches more rear leg room bringing this big boy up to a hair under 40 inches. This make the Impala the largest overall in the segment with front legroom higher than the former winner the Hyundai Azera and legroom nearly tying with the Chrysler 300’s 40.1 inches. At 18.8 cubic feet the Impala’s trunk is four cubes bigger than the Avalon, two cubes bigger than the 300 or the Korean twins and just 1.2 cubes smaller than the Taurus’ cavernous booty. Like the Taurus the Impala’s rear seats fold but it is worth noting that GM’s pass-through is larger and “squarer” than the Ford and the seat backs fold nearly flat with the load floor.

If size is what you demand, the Impala wins the battle with the most overall space. If however quality is more your bag, you’ll find higher quality parts in the Avalon, Azera, Cadenza, LaCrosse and in many ways even the Chrysler 300. The Impala fights back with supremely comfortable seats, but thanks to GM’s parts sharing the same can be said of that Buick.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

If you’re a regular reader, you will know that I have recently praised GM’s low and mid-range touchscreen systems as some of the best in the business. The IntelliLink/ChevyLink system in the Chevy Volt and Buick Verano ranks second for me below the latest version of BMW’s iDrive. This is not that system. I an odd twist of infotainment badge engineering, the Impala (and the 2014 LaCrosse) uses a modified version of Cadillac’s CUE software. For Chevy duty GM swapped out the expensive capacitive screen (looks like a modern smartphone) for a resistive unit and added a few physical buttons to improve navigation in the system. Sadly all of CUE’s flaws are present including: random crashes, general sluggishness, unintuitive menu layouts and old-school mapping software. Like CUE some multi-touch gestures are supported but the cheaper touchscreen has troubles deciphering your intent. The system is hard to avoid as every Impala I could find had the system and the only way to escape it is to buy an absolutely base Impala LS as it is the only one without the 8-inch system.

On the bright side, some of CUE’s selling points remain. The system’s voice command system recognized more natural speech commands than the Kia/Hyundai or Toyota systems do and the media library functionality is excellent. Instead of treating the three USB ports as separate inputs, the system aggregates them into one large music library allowing you to voice command songs without specifying the device. The base 6-speaker system has an oddly hollow sound, but the up-level 11-speaker Bose branded system would be competitive in any near-luxury sedan. To get that sound system the Impala will set you back $33,835 as you can’t select the $1,140 sound and wheel package without a number of other options packages.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain

Under the hood you’ll find the same three engines as the Buick LaCrosse. Things start out with a 2.5L direct-injection four-cylinder engine good for 195 HP and 187 lb-ft of twist. This isn’t the engine you want. Not listed on the Chevy website yet due to its late introduction there is a 2.4L “eAssist” drivetrain that GM has stopped calling a hybrid. Delivering identical performance numbers to the 2.5L four-banger, the mild hybrid system delivered 29.8 MPG average during our week with the nearly identical LaCrosse. If fuel economy is your thing, stop here.

Although my soul is sad there is no Impala SS model for 2014, the 3.6L direct-injection V6 delivered better performance than in every situation except for the 2006 Impala SS which barely beat the 2014 in the 0-30 run but was still slower to 60. The reason isn’t just the V6’s 305 horsepower (2 more than the 2006’s 5.3L V8) or the respectable (for a V6) 264 lb-ft of torque(59 less), it’s the 6-speed automatic. The Ford/GM unit is closely related to the transaxle found in the Taurus but GM’s programming results in shifts that seem slightly faster and a hair firmer. The high revving six, weigh reduction vs the Cadillac XTS AWD and Chevy’s tire selection enabled our Impala tester to wheel-hop its way to 60 in a scant 5.52 seconds. This number was met with some head scratching on our Facebook page but I tested the number three times with the same result. It is worth mentioning that the Acura RLX posted similar numbers and a 5.52 second run isn’t out of the ordinary for a 305HP sedan that weighs around 3800lbs.

Need more performance? There have been persistent rumors about an Impala SS coming at some point and Cadillac has decided to drop their 410HP twin-turbo V6 into the XTS, will they offer a similar powerplant for the 2015 Chevy? It’s hard to say with the 2014 Chevy SS positioned as the performance sedan with a bow-tie.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, 19-inch wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesDrive

The Impala benefits from Buick and Cadillac’s noise reduction efforts and it shows on the road with easily the quietest ride in the bunch. My snazzy new noise meter proved more complicated than I wish to admit and as a result I erased the readings, however the Impala was quieter than the active noise canceled Acura RLX, Kia Cadenza and Lexus ES350 I tested.

The Impala has a unique suspension setup that uses neither the Hi-Per Strut (HPS) suspension from the LaCrosse and XTS, nor the magnetic ride control from the Cadillac. Instead we get a traditional MacPherson strut arrangement with a redesigned strut tower for improved rigidity and rebound springs tuned to keep body-roll from turning into body-wobble. This is important because the Impala is a softly spring sedan in the classic American tradition. The combination works better than it looks on paper despite the loss of the HPS design which was created to vanquish the torque steer demons. Speaking of torque steer, there wasn’t any in the Impala during our tests. So much for that Hi-PerStrut. There’s still plenty of tip, roll and dive on winding mountain roads but the new Impala never felt sloppy or uncontrolled. Broken pavement was a problem for the Cadillac XTS with the suspension paradoxically feeling both too hard and too soft at the same time, the Impala’s traditional setup never exhibited this problem. If you jump up to the 20 inch wheels, be warned they have a negative impact on the serene nature of the Impala’s ride transmitting more road imperfections into the cabin than I thought possible.

2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

When it comes to the competition, the Cadenza feels slightly unsettled at times but is nearly as competent. The Azera’s chassis and suspension tuning aren’t quite up to snuff. Toyota’s Avalon gives the Impala a run for its money with similar road feel and a slightly sportier tune to the dampers. The Chrysler 300 is a tricky comparison since it’s the only RWD sedan in the bunch, but the 300’s driving dynamics are superior to the Impala despite being slower to 60. The lack of AWD is disappointing in the Impala leaving the Buick LaCrosse to be the better handling twin thanks to its slightly more precise suspension knuckles and available AWD.

Without a doubt the 2014 Impala is the finest Impala ever made and perhaps the finest large sedan to wear the bow tie. The base 2.5L four-cylinder Impala snags a 0-60 time only a few tenths off the 1996 Impala SS with its 5.7L V8 while delivering 31 MPG on the highway. The eAssist delivers a similar experience with a surprising 35MPG highway score and 29MPG combined, a 60% increase in fuel economy vs “my” Impala. The 2014 V6 model may not sound as good as that 1996 LT1 but the numbers can’t be denied, the new Impala is the new Impala benchmark. But is it the best full-size American sedan? Not quite. A fully loaded Impala manages to be $2,000 more than a comparable Taurus Limited and about the same price as a similarly optioned Taurus SHO. I’d take the Taurus SHO. The Chrysler 300 is about the same price, but brings superior dynamics, a ZF 8-speed automatic and you can get the 5.7L V8 for not much more. Even the Avalon, which ends up being slightly more expensive than delivers comparable handling a nicer interior and a nav system that doesn’t crash randomly. The Impala’s biggest problem however is the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. In typical GM fashion, there is little daylight in pricing between the sister-ships and the Buick delivers a nicer interior, a few improved features, slightly better dynamics, optional AWD and a slightly more premium brand. Just like the Impala SS vs Roadmaster debate in 1996, you just have to get past the Buick’s looks.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Aggressive styling.
  • Ginormous back seat.
  • Cadillac for Chevy prices.

Quit it

  • Some interior plastics are underwhelming.
  • CUE based infotainment is slow and buggy.
  • The Buick LaCrosse has a better interior for almost the same price.

Chevrolet provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.33 Seconds

0-60: 5.52 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.33 Seconds @ 97.5 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 22.5 MPG over 549 miles

2014 Chevrolet Impala Engine 2014 Chevrolet Impala Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-001 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-002 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-003 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, 19-inch wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-005 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-006 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-008 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Leaping Impala, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-010 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-012 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-001 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-002 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-004 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-006 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-007 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-008 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-009 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-010 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-011 2014 Chevrolet Impala Interior-012 2014 Chevrolet Impala Trunk 2014 Chevrolet Impala Trunk-001

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Ten Years In the Life of My Greatest Car: The 1965 Chevy Impala Hell Project! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/ten-years-in-the-life-of-my-greatest-car-the-1965-chevy-impala-hell-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/ten-years-in-the-life-of-my-greatest-car-the-1965-chevy-impala-hell-project/#comments Sun, 30 Jun 2013 02:03:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497424 Since it took me so many months to scan the hundreds of 35mm, 126, 110, and Super 8 negatives and slides that went into the telling of the 1965 Impala Hell Project Story (tip for time-travelers: if you’re going to document a project like this, wait until digital photography becomes cheap and easy), I figure […]

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Since it took me so many months to scan the hundreds of 35mm, 126, 110, and Super 8 negatives and slides that went into the telling of the 1965 Impala Hell Project Story (tip for time-travelers: if you’re going to document a project like this, wait until digital photography becomes cheap and easy), I figure it makes sense to put together a single roundup page with links to all 20 parts in the series. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it tells the story of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala sedan that I bought in 1990 and spent a decade daily-driving and modifying into, among other things, an art car and a 13-second drag racer. Here’s your portal to each chapter.
92-I5-Me_Judy_Overpass
Introduction
1. So It Begins.
1990: My high-concept performance/installation art piece takes the form of a full-hooptie, 25-year-old Impala sedan.
2. The Modifications Begin
1990: Fat tires, de-chromification, de-trimization.
3. Lowering Property Values
1990: Where art becomes The Realtor Man’s Nightmare.
4. Saddam Chooses My New Engine
1990: Forced to ditch my plan for a 454-cubic-inch big-block swap by Saddam’s gas-price-jacking invasion of Kuwait, I replace the tired 283 with a 350 small-block.
5. Three Speeds, Two Exhaust Pipes
1990: The Powerglide gets replaced by a TH350, while a homebuilt dual-exhaust system increases the volume.
6. Gauges! Switches! Buttons!
1991: The factory dash gets ripped out and replaced by a handbuilt Space Shuttle-style instrument panel.
7. Disc Brakes In, Couch-Surfing Expedition Enabled
1991: The brakes from a 1970 Impala add stopping power, an HEI distributor enhances reliability, so I take off on a month-long couch-surfing trip up and down the state of California, culminating in a road trip to the first Lollapalooza Festival.
8. Refinements, Meeting Christo’s Umbrellas
A heater and new springs makes the car much more daily-drivable, and so I visit Christo’s pedestrian-killing umbrella art installation in Southern California.
9. Fastening Shoulder Belts, Bailing From Academia
1992: Three-point seat belts added, I drive the Impala to grad school.
10. Fiat Hood Scoops, Endless Ribbon of Asphalt
1992: Fiat X1/9 hood scoops add menace, zero function. North-to-South California road trips continue.
11. Son of Orange County
1993-1994: Generation X ennui, pilgrimage to the birthplace of Richard Nixon upon learning of his demise.
12. Next Stop, Atlanta!
1994-1995: Packing up, moving from San Francisco to Atlanta.
13. Mad Max At the Confederate Mount Rushmore
1995: Writing for Year One, getting a new nickname.
14. First Taste of the Quarter-Mile
1995-1996: Running 16s at the dragstrip.
15. No Replacement For Displacement!
1996-1998: Back to California, building a healthy 406.
16. Another Heart Transplant
The new engine goes in.
17. Crash Diet, Frying Tires At the Dragstrip
1999: New engine installed, interior gutted, one-legger differential becomes limiting factor.
18. Back To the Dragstrip, Website 1999
1999: Locker differential leads to 13.67 run at Sacramento Dragway.
19. The Road Not Taken, Final Photo Session
1999: Thinking I might write about the car someday, I shoot some nice portraits at the ex-Alameda Naval Air Station.
20. The End
2000: Time to let go.

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Review: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-toyota-avalon-limited-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-toyota-avalon-limited-video/#comments Mon, 22 Apr 2013 18:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484895 The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a […]

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The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a problem complicated by the re-invigoration of the large sedan market by the American brands. In hopes of resurrecting sales numbers, which have slid to 25% of their 2000 year shipments, Toyota has injected something hitherto unseen in an Avalon: style. Is it enough?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Before we dive into the Avalon, let’s talk competition. Back when the LHS and Park Avenue roamed the land, the Avalon’s competition was easy to identify and easy to overcome. Nearly 20 years later those shoppers are in a nursing home and Toyota is hunting for younger flesh in a more competitive market. We now have the larger-than-ever Taurus, a new Impala that doesn’t make me want to put my eyes out, the Azera/Cadenza twins, Nissan’s Maxima and the less-Bentley aping 300.

But wait, I’m forgetting one. The “elephant in the room” that is the Lexus ES. You see, the kind of shopper that needs a new car and immediately thinks “Toyota Avalon” is far more likely to cross shop the Lexus ES than the gangsta 300 or the Impala. (You know I’m right.) After spending a a week with the twins back-to-back, this comparison is even more valid.

Exterior

While the “I’m a bigger Camry” look is still going on, Toyota has injected enough creases and curves that my 33 year old eyes gave the Avalon a second look (of course, I did buy a 2000 LHS new in 2000, so…) It’s not as exciting as the new Cadenza, but Toyota’s efforts look better thought out than the 11/10ths Cruze grille Chevy put on the Impala.

The new rump features more chrome, dual exhaust tips and tail lamps that wrap well around the side and thankfully share no styling cues with the Camry’s funky “apostrophe” shaped lights. The engineers stretched the greenhouse over the trunk to increase the visual length of the car, a trick that worked on me until I looked at the spec sheet. At 195 inches, the Avalon is 6-inches longer than the Camry, but it’s several inches shorter than the Chrysler, Chevy and Ford. Since the ES and Avalon are now twins separated at birth, most of the dimensions are common except that the Avalon gets a bigger booty (and more trunk space in the process) and has a lower ride height giving it a more aggressive stance.

Interior

The exterior looks like a Toyota product. No news there. Inside is a different ball of wax. The interior is why you may have heard people saying they prefer the Avalon to its Lexus sister. If you recall from our review of the Lexus ES 300h, there were plenty of hard plastics within reach of the driver, and instead of a leather dash (like the 300 wears) or stitched pleather goodness like the competition is wearing, the ES stuck with an injection molded dashboard “faux-stitched” with real thread. In an unexpected contrast, the Avalon’s interior has a more premium feel, thanks largely to heavy use of (you guessed it) stitched pleather. The faux-cow in the Avalon may not be hand-sewn (Toyota is mum on the subject) but its liberal use on the doors, dashboard and center console beat every competitor (except for that Chrysler with the leather dashboard option.)

My lunch group was divided about the styling, some feeling that Toyota had gone too far and the rest thinking it was a bold choice for Toyota. I fell into the latter camp. Yes, there’s an enormous driver’s window defogger vent (in the picture above), but I appreciate the fact that a styling direction was chosen rather than just repeating the same “beige” the Avalon has been known for. That a group of adults in their 30s were arguing the merits of an Avalon interior is nothing short of revolutionary.

Compared to the Avalon’s Lexus sister, the interior has a more expansive and harmonious feel despite the heavily styled parts. I think I chalk some of this up to the tan-on-black color scheme our tester sported, but plenty of it has to do with dashboard shapes. Lexus’ two-tier dashboard and the “high and centered” position of the infotainment screen make the dashboard feel more imposing than the Avalon’s sweeping forms and less “bulky” dashboard on the passenger’s side.

The front seats are functionally identical to those in the ES with the exception that the number of power-motions varies by the trim level. The thrones are thickly padded and comfortable for long journeys but larger shoppers should know that they are more “bucket” shaped than previous models. Taller drivers and passengers will appreciate the largest cabin Toyota has ever built, including the LS 600hL. With 42.1 inches of legroom up front, 39.2 in the rear, and class leading headroom, the Avalon swallows those tall kids of yours more easily than any front driver this side of the Cadillac XTS. How does Toyota do this with a shorter sedan? They “skimp” on trunk space. Our tester’s 16 cubic foot trunk is nearly 25% smaller than the Taurus and 18% smaller than the Impala.

Infotainment & Gadgets

The Avalon comes in four trim levels, three of which have no available options for the picking. Things start with the $30,990 XLE which comes well equipped with 8 speakers, a touchscreen audio system, Bluetooth integration, dual-zone climate control, keyless go, and a heated 8-way power seat for the driver. The $33,195 XLE Premium tosses in a moonroof, backup cam, an extra speaker, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. For $35,500 the XLE Touring adds navigation, shift paddles, driver’s seat memory, fog lights, 18-inch wheels with 225-width rubber, and Toyota’s Entune data services. Our tester was the top-of-the-line Limited which starts at $39,650 and gets auto-dimming side mirrors with puddle lamps, HID headlamps, 11 JBL speakers, rain sense wipers, three-zone climate control, heated rear seats, ambient lighting, a color HVAC control panel, and a passenger seat with eight powered directions instead of four. Limited buyers can further option their car with two technology packages, for $1,750 you get radar cruise control with pre-collision warning and automatic high beams and for an extra $200 Toyota will integrate a wireless charging mat into the console.

On the infotainment side it is important to remember that Toyota makes two different systems that share nothing with one another. The picture above is the 7-inch system in our Limited tester and the picture below is the 6.1 inch “display audio” system in lesser Avalons. The 6.1 system has more basic graphics but is more responsive and is designed around an “app” model where things like navigation (available only on the Touring trim) are just another “app” available via the “apps” button on the dash. The 7-inch system uses XM Satellite data services while the 6.1 uses your paired smartphone for dynamic content. The 6.1 provides a fairly basic navigation experience, but it is easy to use and very responsive. The 7-inch system (only on Limited) is the familiar Toyota/Lexus system that’s been around for several years that has been updated with Entune data services, smartphone app integration and voice commands for controlling your media device ala Ford’s SYNC. This is the same software used in the Lexus, except without the atrocious “Remote Touch” joystick.

Going back to the ES comparison, since the Limited model uses essentially the same system, driving the ES and Avalon back to back served to solidify my dislike of the Lexus pain stick. The exact same interface is considerably easier to use, less distracting and more intuitive when you can glance at the screen and stab the option with your finger.

Drivetrain

The 3.5L V6 is buttery-smooth, but churns out a less-than-thrilling 268 HP and 248 lb-ft of twist. For reasons I don’t understand, Toyota has yet to fit their D4-S direct-injection system which would make it more competitive on paper (the competition are all around 290 HP). (Ford of course still offers the insane 365HP twin-turbo V6.) Proving that horsepower isn’t everything, the Avalon’s light 3,461lbs curb weight allows it to scoot to 60 in 6.25 seconds, among the fastest in the group behind the 365 HP Taurus SHO and the 290 HP Maxima (thank the Nissan CVT). While we haven’t been able to get our hands on the new Impala, expect it to be fairly quick thanks to its low curb weight as well. Meanwhile the 300 V6, LaCrosse, Azera, MKS and plenty of others will be seen in the Avalon’s rear view mirror.

The only major change for 2013 is the fitting of paddle shifters to the 6-speed automatic transaxle in Touring and Limited trims. With the paddles comes revised software that blips the throttle on downshifts. Don’t get too excited, since this cog swapper is just as up-shift-happy and down-shift-resistant as it was before.

For $2,360 on XLE Premium and $1,750 on Touring and Limited you can opt for Toyota’s 200 HP hybrid system. This is the same setup under the hood of the Camry and ES 300h and increases the Avalon’s MPGs from 21/31/25 (City/Highway/Combined) to 40/39/40 resulting an a savings of $900 per year at $4 a gallon. The trade off is the loss of one full second on the run to 60, well worth the cost in my book.

Drive

For 2013 the Avalon has ditched the wallowy ride synonymous with the model in favor of stiffer springs and a more buttoned down demeanor. Thanks to the new found corner carving skills and a curb weight that is 600lbs lighter than the Taurus, the Avalon is more engaging, composed and nimble than the heavy Ford. Notice I didn’t say “handles better.” The reason the Taurus clings onto first place in our road holding test is down to rubber, seriously wide 255/45R19 rubber (Taurus Limited.)

The Hyundai Azera and its Kia cousin are well-priced alternatives. While the Avalon beats them handily in terms of interior refinement, the Koreans have plenty of power (293 HP) and coupled with a curb weight that’s only 150-200 lbs more than the Avalon they are quicker off the line. Thanks to more aggressive rubber and excellent suspension dynamics the pair is also faster around a track. Of course, shoppers in this segment don’t really care about handling limits and that’s a problem for the dynamic duo because their refinement quotient is still a notch below the new Avalon.

Nissan’s Maxima is fairly light at 3,565lbs and has one of the more powerful engines at 290 HP and 261 lb-ft of twist. Thanks to the low starting ratio and step-less nature of the Nissan CVT, the Maxima burns rubber on its way to the best 0-60 time in this bunch of 5.6 seconds. Of course I can’t talk Nissan without admitting that the CVT isn’t the “sporting” choice because of the “rubber-band” like feel they impart but I don’t think its much of a problem in this segment. On the down side, the Maxima is starting to show its age in a stable of products shifting to a new design language.

The Chrysler 300 is the odd man out. I’m including it because some of our readers would have complained if it had been left out. The problem is the 300 appeals to an entirely different sort of person, both because of its aggressive looks and its RWD drivetrain. Still, the 300 V6 would be my personal choice in this shootout, but I have to acknowledge that a bold RWD American sedan isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Chrysler’s smooth 292 HP V6 and the slick ZF 8-speed automatic are no match for the 300’s higher curb weight making the 300 slower to 60 by nearly a full second. Although I prefer the RWD dynamics of the 300, the heavier curb weight means the Avalon is the nimbler choice. On the flip side, the 300 Luxury Series (the most appropriate cross shop) has a gorgeous full-leather dash and the ride of a full-sized luxury sedan.

That brings us full circle to the elephant in the room: the 2013 Lexus ES. Our Avalon Limited tester has so far knocked the ES to its knees by delivering a better interior, nearly identical feature content, and an easier to use infotainment system. Of course, siblings fight dirty and the Avalon kicks her sister while she’s down by handling better thanks to stiffer springs and wider rubber. When you factor in the Avalon’s lower sticker price and the reality that the Avalon and ES are likely to be as reliable as one another and cost essentially the same to maintain, you have to ask yourself how much that Lexus logo is worth to you. Even outside the direct Toyota vs Lexus comparison the Avalon is highly competitive with an excellent interior, plenty of power, huge back seat and a price tag that isn’t as frightening as the “luxury” alternatives. I never thought I would say this about the Avalon: it’s the aggressive sister that knocks down her stuck-up twin and steals the boyfriend by promising to be a cheaper date. Since I like my women cheap and feisty, I’d take the Avalon up on her offer and only think about the ES once a year at family reunions.

 

Hit it

  • The best interior with a Toyota badge.
  • Never thought I would call an Avalon “nimble.”
  • “Better” than the Lexus for less.

Quit it

  • No ability to add navigation to the base display audio system.
  • 268 HP is nothing to brag about in 2013.
  • Smaller trunk than the competition.

 

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.55 Seconds

0-60: 6.25 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.51 Seconds @ 98.8 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 23.2 MPG over 534 Miles

2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear 3/4 View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Daytime Running Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Headlamps, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front Overhang, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Avalon badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Gauges, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Rear Climate Control, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Rear HVAC, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Door Stitching, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Passenger Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Front Door, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel Buttons, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Heated and Cooled Seat Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Memory Buttons, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Infotainment and navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Infotainment Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Infotainment Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Driver's Window Defigger Vent, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Display Audio System with Entune and Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Toyota 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Hammer Time: What Recession? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/hammer-time-what-recession/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/hammer-time-what-recession/#comments Thu, 14 Feb 2013 18:13:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477483 I live in a nice quaint small town called Powder Springs, Georgia. The sidewalks are paved downtown and even partially bricked for artistic value. Thanks to a generous donation by the taxpayers. The streetlamps are ornate and well lit thanks to the same contributors. The old closed down ACE hardware store is now the new […]

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I live in a nice quaint small town called Powder Springs, Georgia.

The sidewalks are paved downtown and even partially bricked for artistic value. Thanks to a generous donation by the taxpayers. The streetlamps are ornate and well lit thanks to the same contributors.

The old closed down ACE hardware store is now the new police station. The old city hall has been replaced by the new city hall.  Even the vehicles that get too old to keep get replaced with shiny new ones thanks to American taxpayers far and wide.

How many miles do you think would it take to replace a car owned by the local city government?

How about less than 50,000 miles?

This 2005 Chevy Impala has all of 49,974 miles on it. Like any other vehicle that has the agony of driving in what many view as the smoothest roads in the country, this Impala is ready to be put out to pasture.

For some reason, this Impala wasn’t much loved in the city vehicle pool.  7000 miles a year for a non-police unit likely means that this ride didn’t have to go past too many closed down businesses to get to the Waffle House a mile down the street.

What? You want me to get interior pics? Fat chance on that. This is all you are going to see of a car that was made possible by you alone, Mr. John Q Public!

Yawn! You want me to write a description of this car too? Okay, fine then! I’m taking an early lunch after that!

Year Make/Brand Model VIN/Serial Miles
2005 Chevrolet Impala 2G1WF52K059385392 49,974
Condition Category
See Description Automobiles
2005 Chevrolet Impala Base SEDAN 4-DR, 3.8L V6 OHV 12V.2007 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor SEDAN 4-DR, 4.6L V8 SOHC 16V.2001 Ford Crown Vic info

I did mention it was a SEDAN. So as far as I’m concerned, my job is done here.

Here are a few other prized jewels for the offering.  I do have to confess that this is not anywhere near the worst presentation of government vehicles that I have ever seen. In fact, I do have to offer kudos for the lady who came back and answered questions about this vehicle.

But this does bring on an important consideration. If a state government is issued approximately 10,000 vehicles every year, wouldn’t it make sense to either…

A) Enact some minimal standards on how these vehicles are marketed so that the taxpayers get a fair return? I mean for cryin’ out loud, the 2007 Crown Vic Police Interceptor has only one picture. With all the time cops have to spend in those things, wouldn’t it make sense to at least open a door, sit in a seat, and click a button?

or

B) Let someone else do it. No, I wouldn’t encourage some gypsy auction company to come by and quick hammer the vehicles to a few of the connected locals (and Lord knows we have plenty of those.) The Govdeals.com site is fine. It’s the presentation that needs work.

 

 

I don’t know about you guys but this one is on my short list. You can find the rest of the vehicles here. Please bid. I want my taxes to go down for once.

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Chicago Auto Show: 2014 Chevrolet Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/chicago-auto-show-2014-chevrolet-impala/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/chicago-auto-show-2014-chevrolet-impala/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 18:56:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=476783 So you want a Cadillac XTS but think the price tag is too dear? Chevrolet has an answer with the 2014 Impala, the Caddy’s kissing cousin. By all appearances, the main-stream model is the more attractive and sensible model as well. In between stuffing my maw with leftover breakfast muffins and a Kia sponsored mimosa I tripped across […]

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So you want a Cadillac XTS but think the price tag is too dear? Chevrolet has an answer with the 2014 Impala, the Caddy’s kissing cousin. By all appearances, the main-stream model is the more attractive and sensible model as well. In between stuffing my maw with leftover breakfast muffins and a Kia sponsored mimosa I tripped across Chevy’s full-size sedan. No, this isn’t the RWD Chevy we’ve longed for, this is Malibu to the max.


The Impala isn’t vastly different from the rest of the Chevy lineup in style, but on first glance it seems to have pulled the best styling cues from Chevy’s design bag and placed them all on one car. GM had two top-of-the-line Impala LTZ models on display (complete with booth babes) and one cloth-seat equipped model for our perusal. In addition to the cohesive design, the Impala doesn’t come off strangely proportioned like the Cadillac XTS did when we last reviewed it.

 I still don’t understand why Chevy is going premium when Buick exists, but that’s a story for another time. Despite the logic of the lineup, the Impala wears the best Chevy interior in terms of quality. All the interiors on display dripped with stitched pleather, plenty of cow-hide and lots of convincing faux-wood trim. As nice as the new Toyota Avalon on display next door was, the Impala beat it in terms of style, feel and parts quality. Whoda thunk that? How does it drive? You’ll have to wait or the Truth About That for a while.

Shoppers will find GM’s 2.4L Ecotec engine with eAssist from Buick’s lineup, GM’s new 2.5L 195hp four-pot or the ubiquitous 3.6L 303HP V6. There will be no fire-breathing Taurus SHO competitor we’re told. Pity.

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Chevrolet Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/junkyard-find-1969-chevrolet-impala-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/junkyard-find-1969-chevrolet-impala-2/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466118 By this time, everyone knows I have a soft spot for the 1965-70 full-sized Chevrolet, and there was a time when every self-service wrecking yard I visited had at least a dozen of these things in stock. Now a year of more can pass between sightings. Here’s a rather weathered but reasonably non-rusty ’69 I […]

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By this time, everyone knows I have a soft spot for the 1965-70 full-sized Chevrolet, and there was a time when every self-service wrecking yard I visited had at least a dozen of these things in stock. Now a year of more can pass between sightings. Here’s a rather weathered but reasonably non-rusty ’69 I spotted in a Denver yard last week.
More than a million full-size Chevrolets were sold for the 1969 model year, and most of them were Impalas (cheapskates got the lower-end Bel Airs and Biscaynes).
Here’s one of the umpteen gjillion small-block Chevy engines built since 1955.
Ah, the good old 327!
No, wait, it’s the good old 350! To complicate matters further, this junkyard— which is one of those operations that has its act together— says this is a 1970 model Impala. It’s possible that it’s a ’70 with ’69 fenders and bumpers, or that it’s a ’69 with swapped-over ’70 VIN plate from another car.
If one is to believe John Delorean in On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors, dealers that dared to install cheaper Motorola radios instead of marked-up factory-issue Delcos were punished severely.

23 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1970 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Piston Slap: 38,000 Impala Police Cars Recalled, Chevrolet Claims Victory? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/piston-slap-38000-impala-police-cars-recalled-chevrolet-ready-to-claim-victory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/piston-slap-38000-impala-police-cars-recalled-chevrolet-ready-to-claim-victory/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 18:44:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456938   TTAC commentator Sinistermisterman writes: Why isn’t Sajeev all over this one like a rash? GM recalls 38,000 cop cars.     Sajeev answers: Well, I do have a job outside of TTAC!  But you have a good point. To wit: OMG SON PANTHER LOVE FTW! The obvious “niche” rant about the need for a […]

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TTAC commentator Sinistermisterman writes:

Why isn’t Sajeev all over this one like a rash? GM recalls 38,000 cop cars.

 

 

Sajeev answers:

Well, I do have a job outside of TTAC!  But you have a good point. To wit: OMG SON PANTHER LOVE FTW!

The obvious “niche” rant about the need for a proper American sedan with a proper frame aside, there could be a bad batch of parts and not a failure of the entire platform.  Cop-spec Impalas have unique control arms, since the civilian version is just fine.  But this shows the value (or lack thereof) in a wrong-wheel drive, fleet specific application.  Time is money, and the Impala just wasted a lot of time for fleet managers around the country. But the Impala is history, there’s no more FWD in GM’s cop car coffers.

So who is the real loser?  Ford.  The Crown Vic killers are the only folks offering a wrong-wheel drive cop car, so the writing is on the wall:  spindles, ball joints, half-shafts and control arms in a FWD platform are a big threat to Law Enforcement.  No matter how you beef ’em up!

And who is the winner?  Chevy.  But not the Caprice, the Tahoe. When the dust settles on Panther Love in the next 2-3 years, there will be another clear winner in Cop Car land: a durable, versatile, comfortable and fuel-efficient body-on-frame Chevrolet Tahoe.

Don’t buy the fuel efficiency comment?  I suspect many fleets are used to budgeting for 4-speed automatic Panther levels of gas suckage, so a lateral move to the 6-speed Tahoe won’t raise eyebrows in their communities.

And if they do? Well, have a look at the alternative’s lack of control (arm). Off to you, Best and Brightest!

 

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Hammer Time: And Now For Something Completely Different… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/hammer-time-and-now-for-something-completely-different/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/hammer-time-and-now-for-something-completely-different/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:58:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453892   This 2009 BMW 535i has 45,000 miles and looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous. It offers nearly the same acceleration as a 550i, and far more space than the 335i, which is more sought after in the enthusiast world. To me, if you’re a true keeper, all of this is good news. The better news? […]

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This 2009 BMW 535i has 45,000 miles and looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous. It offers nearly the same acceleration as a 550i, and far more space than the 335i, which is more sought after in the enthusiast world.

To me, if you’re a true keeper, all of this is good news. The better news? It’s a lemon!

Specifically, this late model BMW is a lemon law buyback. It happened back in the first year of its existence, due to BMW’s chronic fuel pump issues when it was first released. The recall has since taken place. The part has been over-engineered and the problem solved and warrantied for the life of the vehicle.

As for the title, it will be branded as a ‘Lemon Law Buyback’ until either the end of the time or the moment it’s exported.

These common 5-series models are not particularly popular in the export market either. So the question now becomes, “What is it worth?” The rough book on this model came down at right around $22,500. With the branded title and the bad history of way back when, it sold for only $17,300 at this morning’s auction.

There were two other vehicles that I ended up finishing in a firm but profit vaporizing second place.

This 2010 Impala LS has the tried and true 3.5 Liter v6 and 28,000 miles. The bidding went all the way down to $9000 and I jumped in at $9100. Once the price hit $10,400, a few hundred below the rough book, that’s where it stood. The auction fee probably put it right around $10,650.

Then there was a 2010 Honda Insight LX, which I still kind of regret not holding on to the bidding. The unpopular hybrid had some dings and small scuffs, but only 9,700 miles and a perfect Carfax history. Rough book was $12,800. I jumped in at $11,000 and walked off at $11,900.

Part of the reason was because we are getting right near the model change and 1 to 2 year old vehicles can take some nasty hits during this time period.

The other issue is the vehicle in question.  Unpopular models can be hard to unload and experience has lead me to be more of  a hedger than perhaps I should be in my daily life. I am more willing to bid up a low cost car than a high cost one due to the fact that it’s easier to finance on the lower end.  There were a whole lot of second place finishes today and I deeply hate the fact that some potential deals slid right by my eyes.

However, the higher end of the used car world can be a tough market. Some folks try to wholesale the inventory and let that be that. But I’m always wanting to retail vehicles like the Impala and the Insight. My overhead is far lower than the new car dealers and I’m still of the persuasion that a good presentation can always beat up a big bowtie or giant H on the front of a building.

We’ll see. In the meantime, if you folks want to enjoy the sweet lemonade of a killer deal, you often have to throw some lemons into the mix. Branded titles and the unpopular ‘retail’ car are just two ingredients I try to throw into my personal recipe.

 

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Chevrolet Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1969-chevrolet-impala/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1969-chevrolet-impala/#comments Sat, 05 May 2012 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442682 GM made immense quantities of full-sized Chevrolets in 1969. How many? According to the Standard Catalog, the total production of ’69 Biscaynes, Bel Airs, Impalas, and Caprices was 1,168,300 cars. Well into the early 1980s, these things were as commonplace on American streets as mid-2000s Camrys are today. Given that nobody with the money to […]

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GM made immense quantities of full-sized Chevrolets in 1969. How many? According to the Standard Catalog, the total production of ’69 Biscaynes, Bel Airs, Impalas, and Caprices was 1,168,300 cars. Well into the early 1980s, these things were as commonplace on American streets as mid-2000s Camrys are today. Given that nobody with the money to restore a ’69 big Chevy is going to waste time on a non-hardtop four-door (what with the large quantities of restorable coupes and convertibles still extant) we can assume that the few remaining sedans will be flushed out by $250/ton scrap-steel prices and crushed during the next few years.
This one is fairly rough, though not rusty, and it looks like many of its pieces have been grabbed for other cars.
I can’t decode Fisher cowl tags by heart, but I believe the “JAN” means this car was built in the Janesville, Wisconsin plant.
As a former 60s Impala sedan owner, it makes me a little sad to see another one get eaten by The Crusher. However, there’s no way I’d pay even scrap value for a beat example like this, so I can’t be too sad.

14 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1969 Chevrolet Full-Size Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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New or Used: “Ja-nee” on short term Rentals? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/new-or-used-ja-nee-on-short-term-rentals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/new-or-used-ja-nee-on-short-term-rentals/#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2012 07:34:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428473   Cody writes: Dear Sajeev and Steve, I work as a research scientist, and currently we have a visiting scientist from South Africa working with us for six months. Normally visitors stay in university housing and are able to take the shuttle bus to our lab, but our current visitor is bringing her husband with her […]

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Cody writes:

Dear Sajeev and Steve,

I work as a research scientist, and currently we have a visiting scientist from South Africa working with us for six months. Normally visitors stay in university housing and are able to take the shuttle bus to our lab, but our current visitor is bringing her husband with her and staying in a house they found themselves. She should have about a 30 minute 20 mile drive to the lab and just looking for reliable transportation around a medium sized city, and maybe the occasional weekend sightseeing trip. She does already have a rental scheduled at the airport for the first week (probably an Impala), but for more long-term what type of newer car should she be looking for that will retain its value when she goes to sell it at the end of her stay, or would it be more reasonable to rent for six months? I will mention she drives a Land Cruiser most of the time in South Africa and seems to like it a lot.

Steve Answers:

The question for your friend may not be ‘the car’… but ‘the owner’.

Forget about rental. If she wants to make a mid-four figured donation to the nearest automotive for profit that’s fine. In the world of dollars and sense long-term rentals simply don’t make sense.

What she needs is a well maintained vehicle in the $4000 range. Let them spend a few weekends shopping among private owners, or, they can go on Ebay and find a nearby seller with strong positive feedback and a vehicle that they would likely enjoy.

Good luck!

Sajeev Answers:

Steve, as per usual, is right.  My father is a professor/research scientist, and it seems that the PhD/Post-Doctoral lifestyle is far from platinum grilles and Bentleys. Honestly, it’s also far from buying a late-model family sedan for short-term use, either. Someone in your friend’s shoes needs a short-term vehicle that’s cheap to purchase, have close to no depreciation, and mainstream enough (no finicky European whips) to guarantee a quick sale on Craigslist when the sabbatical ends.

She likes her Land Cruiser?  My advice is to get a sub $10k Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma/4Runner, Ford Ranger, 1st-2nd Gen Explorer, Nissan Hardbody/Pathfinder, Jeep Cherokee, Chevy S-10…or any other cheap to own, easy to sell trucklet. No Suzukis or Isuzus, please: they seem fairly hard to re-sell in a hurry. The smarter money is on a 5-10 year old W-body/Panther, older CamCord or anything else Honda or Toyota, but they aren’t teenagers with no finances to speak of.  Spending a few hundred extra for a non-Impala is understandable, and acceptable.

My fav of the bunch would either be a 5.0 Explorer or a nice V6 Tacoma with a stick. Both are a definite Ja-Nee given the circumstances.

Need help with a  car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make  the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

 

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1965 Impala Hell Project, Part 20: The End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/1965-impala-hell-project-part-20-the-end/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/1965-impala-hell-project-part-20-the-end/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2012 16:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425470 More than a month has passed since Part 19 of the Impala Hell Project series, partly because I’ve been getting sliced up by sadistic doctors and flying on Elvis-grade prescription goofballs but mostly because the final chapter has been so difficult to write. Here goes! By the year 2000, I’d accomplished most of what I’d […]

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More than a month has passed since Part 19 of the Impala Hell Project series, partly because I’ve been getting sliced up by sadistic doctors and flying on Elvis-grade prescription goofballs but mostly because the final chapter has been so difficult to write. Here goes!
By the year 2000, I’d accomplished most of what I’d set out to do with the Impala Hell Project. I’d started as a stone-broke performance/installation artist with an ambitious vision of a real art car, to show that the artist who works with the automobile as a medium isn’t required to disrespect the canvas.
I never lost touch with that vision, even as I turned the car into a bulletproof daily driver and traveled California looking for slacker thrills in it.
As I matured, the Impala stayed with me. It moved me and all my possessions from San Francisco to Atlanta, then served as my foot in the door for my first automotive writing job.
In my 30s and finally having achieved a toehold in the middle class, I built a potent 400-cubic-inch small-block to replace the 350 I’d installed in 1990. My goal was to get the car to break the 14-second barrier at the dragstrip, and I succeeded in the summer of 1999: 13.67 seconds.
Then I found myself asking Now what? I hadn’t used the Impala as a daily driver since I’d discovered the quick, reliable, gas-sipping ’84-87 Honda Civic/CRX upon my return to California in 1996, and having two or three Civics plus a big, seldom-driven Detroit monster was proving to be a real parking headache in my crypto-urban neighborhood on the Island That Rust Forgot.
No car had ever held such emotional significance to me, and I felt certain that no future car ever would come close. I’d put more creative energy and sheer work time into the Impala Hell Project than I had for any project I’d ever worked on… and I was beginning to recognize that as a problem for a man who really wanted to put those creative energies into fiction writing. I was pushing 35 and feeling increasingly chained to a 3,500-pound link to my lifetime-ago early 20s.
Having moved 13 times during the decade of the 1990s, I’d gradually learned to pare down the possessions in my life to the bare minimum. Tools, sure, keep ’em… but after having packed, lifted, and unpacked all my crap all those times I’d developed a horror at anything that resembled hoarding of possessions for sentimentality’s sake. But the Impala was special. Surely I could start a new project with it, maybe make it into a road racer, or an electric car, or… something. For the time being, I avoided any decision with the Impala, moving it enough to keep ahead of street-sweeping tickets and driving it to work every few weeks.
Then I dove headlong into a real Hell Project: a 900-square-foot cottage on Alameda’s main downtown drag, built sometime between the Gold Rush and the late 1870s. A seriously cool structure, built of massive hand-hewn redwood beams and sweating Bay Area history, but battered by 140 years of hack-job repairs by cheap-ass absentee landlords. My new house had just two off-street parking spaces, accessible down an easement-ized driveway on the next block over (though a third car could be made to fit, barely, provided it was an Austin-Healey Sprite). Now all my spare time was being taken up with carpentry and wiring and plumbing, I still wasn’t advancing my fiction-writing skills, and the Impala was just sitting there as a sort of souvenir of the previous ten years of my life. The dilemma!
My friend and future 24 Hours of LeMons teammate Dave Schaible, who went on to create the incredible Model T GT, had given me a lot of very useful advice about building the Impala’s new engine, and he was always building some street rod project or other in his shop. I knew he had a ’32 Ford in the works, and that he’d been so impressed by the performance of the Impala’s engine that he wanted to build one just like it.
I decided to cast the die. I made an ironclad resolution: No more fun car projects until I write and sell a novel! I meant it, too; to rip off my favorite Knut Hamsun phrase, my eyes were like two knife points. I was as serious as an Old Testament prophet on the subject. There was no way I’d be able to sell the Impala to anyone who would keep driving it; it had a lot of good parts, but the battered shell of an incredibly plentiful mid-60s full-size Chevy was essentially scrap metal. None of my hipster friends wanted anything to do with the car (such would not be the case today, what with all the 24 Hours of LeMons freaks who groove on this sort of absurd machinery), so I called up Dave and offered him the whole mess for not much more than the money I had in the engine. “I’ll take it!” he said.
Dave pulled the engine, the Powertrax locker differential, and a few more bits and pieces.
The 406 got a paint-and-chrome job and looked great in the ’32. I never rode in this car, but I assume it was a handful with that uncivilized, lumpy-cammed engine in place.
I was too heartbroken to ask what happened to the rest of the Impala for a few years. Later, I found that Dave sold the shell to a guy in Hayward with a shop specializing in Impala lowriders. I’d like to think that some pieces of my car now live on in a candy-apple-red Impala coupe with hydraulics and a mural depicting an Aztec sacrifice.
Starting that day, my only car projects were those that made money— no fun projects until I sold a novel, remember? I’d go to the San Francisco towed-car auctions, located at Pier 70 (not far from my dot-com tech-writing job) every month or so and buy Tercels, Civics, or Sentras for $100 each. I’d sell whatever stuff remained in the trunks after getting picked over by the tow-truck drivers (one time I got a few hundred bucks for a bunch of water-ski gear I found in a Sentra’s trunk), fix whatever needed fixing, and turn the car around for a grand or so.
Then, between software jobs in 2004, I got a call from a friend-of-a-friend in London who worked as an editor for the “erotic fiction” division of Virgin Books. He’d pay me good money, in genuine pounds sterling, for 70,000 words of high-class smut, he said. I did it, the book sold 5,000 copies (and still sells today, as a Kindle edition), and I got paid. The smut scenes were nothing special— what can any writer do with a schtup scene that hasn’t already been done ten thousand times?— but I remain proud of parts of the novel. So proud, in fact, that I’ve created a quasi-de-pornified, still-probably-not-quite-safe-for-work excerpt for your reading enjoyment (PDF). Crafting a novel, even in such a disreputable genre, gave a much-needed boost to my writing skills and confidence, so the “no more fun car projects” vow I’d made was worth it. On a related note, the pseudonym I used for Torment, Incorporated turned out to be quite useful; here is the entire complicated story of How I Got This Silly Name.
Of course, selling that novel meant that I could resume wasting time on fun car projects; the first one was the Black Metal V8olvo 24 Hours of LeMons car in 2008, followed by the 20R Sprite Hell Project, the Dodge A100 Hell Project, and whatever I buy next; right now, I’m torn between a Leyland P76, an early Toyota Century, a ZAZ-968, and a ’71 Chrysler Newport coupe with 6-71 blower and manual transmission. Do I wish I still had the Impala? Yes, every day. Am I glad that I forced myself to write that first novel? Yes, every day. The next Murilee Martin novel is in the works for 2012, by the way.

Alameda house. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1932 Ford with Chevrolet 400 engine. Courtesy of Dave Schaible. 1932 Ford with Chevrolet 400 engine. Courtesy of Dave Schaible. 1932 Ford with Chevrolet 400 engine. Courtesy of Dave Schaible. 1932 Ford with Chevrolet 400 engine. Courtesy of Dave Schaible. Cover of "Torment, Incorporated" by Murilee Martin. Courtesy of Nexus Books. 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Photograph by Phillip Greden. 1985 Toyota Tercel engine swap with 1990 Toyota Tercel in foreground. Image by Phillip Greden Cover of "Torment Incorporated" by Murilee Martin. Image courtesy of Nexus Books. 1965 Chevrolet Impala Driving Into Mushroom Cloud. Image by Phillip Greden.

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1965 Impala Hell Project, Part 19: The Road Not Taken, Final Photo Session http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/1965-impala-hell-project-part-19-the-road-not-taken-final-photo-session/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/1965-impala-hell-project-part-19-the-road-not-taken-final-photo-session/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418864 After getting the car to run 13s in the quarter-mile with the new engine, I found myself— at age 33— in a sort of “what am I doing with my life?” period of agonizing reappraisal. Ten years of the Impala Hell Project absorbing most of my creative horsepower, and what had I really accomplished with […]

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After getting the car to run 13s in the quarter-mile with the new engine, I found myself— at age 33— in a sort of “what am I doing with my life?” period of agonizing reappraisal. Ten years of the Impala Hell Project absorbing most of my creative horsepower, and what had I really accomplished with all that work?
By this point (late 1999) I’d blundered into a fairly successful career as a technical writer and (thanks to the dot-com boom) was raking in good money— such a contrast to my starving, couch-surfing lifestyle of the early 1990s. In my mid-20s, the idea was that I’d work whatever jobs I could and write novels as my “real” work. However, even with a thousand pages of notes and outlines, I couldn’t get the fiction projects really rolling… and then the Impala project was always there, hungry for my time and more fun to mess with than a keyboard. Meanwhile, my wife— who had been a teenage runaway and high school dropout— had started law school at a high-powered East Bay joint after 20+ years of of up-by-boostraps struggle, which intensified my sense that I’d made the easy choice too many times.
Also bugging me was the vague feeling that my love of wrenching on hooptie-ass cars had derailed me from what could have been a very interesting right-place-at-the-right-time career in the software business; at age 15 I’d picked up a Sinclair ZX81, learned BASIC in one all-nighter, and wrote a series of dumb games (the only title I remember is “Tinhorn Dilemma,” a very slow side-scrolling bombs-dropping-on-blocky-animals game). By 16, I’d arm-twisted my parents into buying an Apple II Plus (which took real persistence during the early 1980s recession) and took to spending 48-straight-hour stretches writing code— Applesoft BASIC at first, then right into the hexadecimal world of 6502 processor machine language. I had no friends who were into this stuff, and 1982 was about a half-decade before you had any kind of computer classes in high school; everything I learned came from weird Xeroxed manuals I picked up at weird electronics stores in Berkeley. My big obsession during those days was to write a program that would generate rhyming poetry in a pure gibberish language of assembled syllables (I’d like to claim that I was inspired by the Talking Heads’ I Zimbra, but I didn’t discover that song until a couple years later), the sort of thing that was hard as hell if you’d never heard of a database and required all your code to fit on a single 5-¼” floppy disc.
I was on the same path that led a lot of Bay Area kids to later wealth and 200-proof creativity… but then I started messing around with cars. First, a 1969 Toyota Corona I got for 50 bucks. The amount of stuff to mess with you got with a car was incredible— take it apart, find junkyard parts, mess around with big satisfying slabs of metal and bundles of wires. It was the same sort of feeling I got from solving a code problem, but even more fascinating.
And cars were cheap! It wasn’t long before I had a truly wretched (but fast and Hurst Dual-Gate-equipped) ’67 GTO and the car that really got me hooked: an incredibly dangerous ’58 Beetle. I spent less and less time in front of the computer and more and more time spinning wrenches, hanging out with scurrilous car buddies, and lurking at various low-life Oakland junkyards. By the time I got to college, I retained enough code-writing ability to master FORTRAN with zero sweat for my engineering classes, but by then I’d made my choice at the fork in the road that led to Code Geekdom on one side and Car Freakdom on the other.
So, back to 1999: I’d put so much work and love into the Impala Hell Project that I felt an increasing sense of obligation to tell its story in some artistically fulfilling and— ideally— writing-career-enhancing manner. For that, I would need a full set of high-quality photographs of the car, shot in an ironic-yet-picturesque setting on Fujichrome Velvia.
So, I dragooned a friend with some decent photography skills, handed him my AE-1, and headed over to the recently-closed Alameda Naval Air Station.
Some of you may recognize this setting from my Fiat 500 Sport review in April. These days, the Area Formerly Known As Alameda Naval Air Station (AFKAANAS) is all full of businesses (including an outfit that makes damn good booze) and fairly well populated, but right after the Navy left it was a ghost town. Perfect for burnout photos!
And so that’s what I did. In fact, the western edge of the AFKAANAS was still technically on the San Francisco County side of the county borderline that crossed San Francisco Bay (said borderline being irrelevant during the period in which the landfilled-in-1940 base was federal property), which meant that the Alameda coppers couldn’t do squat about some primered-out beast’s Exhibition of Speed violations; they’d have to call the San Francisco cops, who would have to drive across the Bay Bridge and down the Nimitz Freeway, a 15-minute drive even with no traffic.
After a bunch of burnouts, I killed yet another junkyard TH350 transmission— the fourth or fifth since I’d built the new engine. the car still drove, but the tranny slipped like a sumbitch. I headed over to the hangers for some more still shots.
Man, I loved this car. What was I going to do with it? Next up: The End.

IntroductionPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16Part 17Part 18 • Part 19 • Part 20

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