By on December 29, 2009

no blindspot

This 1960 Impala needs no words of commentary; it’s one of those profoundly visual and self-explanatory cars. For a frame of reference and background, I direct you to its predecessor’s 1959 Chevy Curbside Classic.San Mateo, circa 1960

no blind spots in the front either

toned down from the '59's batwings

CC SanMateo 020 800

how rear seats have changed

CC SanMateo 019 800

CC SanMateo 024 800

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28 Comments on “Curbside Classic CA Vacation Edition: 1960 Chevrolet Impala...”

  • avatar

    The right car parked in front of the right style of house.  Memo to GM, if it doesn’t have round taillights then I can’t accept it as a “true” Impala.  Love the W-body you have now but how bout round taillights on the next one, 3 on each side, not 2 like the first reincarnation of the Impala, and no stupid smoke tinted panels to make the rear look silly.  I know the first W body Impalas were available with a sport package that made the smoke panel body color, but how many of those did you ever see?

  • avatar

    Black plates for the win. That car is bad ass in every way.

  • avatar

    Love the rear windscreen. The ’59 Biscayne doesn’t do this car justice. I guess the similarities end above the beltline? The Impala’s greenhouse is gorgeous.

    • 0 avatar

      All 59-60 GM four-door hardtops used that roofline.  The four door sedans used the six (eight?) window side profile, and looked downright dowdy by comparison.
      I still remember dad’s black with white stripe/white top and red interior (identical to the CC car other than the recovered seat) Impala convertible.  At age nine, he let me talk him into getting a convertible instead of the annual two door hardtop.  Mom allowed him to put the top down twice that summer on the weekly Sunday afternoon/evening rides.  Complained bitterly all the way how it was messing her hair.
      We never had a convertible again.  Now that I think of it, I’ve never had one since.  Gotta do something about that.

  • avatar

    +10 for Educatordan on the round taillights.
    Paul, you should just say you’re on vacation and have better things to do. We know you have plenty to say about this car. Anyway, very nice shots

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The self-confidence, the swagger, that it took to make this car are astonishing still.
    The depths to which GM fell to its current estate are tragic.

  • avatar

    Although this has the same X frame that contributed to the IIHS ’59 Belair’s untimely demise, it has another safety feature that seems to have gotten forgotten in the 21st century:  the ability to actually see out of the car in all directions!  What a strange idea.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I know it was so in the 50’s, but I think even in 1960 those were called Panaramic windows.   And they were.  The only drawback was some parts of the curved windows would give circus-house distortions.
      I must say, had an early 90’s Integra that had an unusual spec in the brochure.  338 degrees of unobstructed vision from the driver’s position.  Quite something in a hatchback.  Those had a low beltline and this wide open view which I still like very much.  It wasn’t a new idea of course as these 50’s and 60’s GM cars show to be the case.

  • avatar

    I feel a sudden urge to ram this thing head-on in to a brand new Aveo…

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Man, I love these cars.  These were made back when men were men, and women liked it…..

  • avatar

    Please do a CC on the 5 series in the driveway.

  • avatar

    Are those clamp-on curb feelers I see there?
    Anyway, isn’t this the car that the IIHS smashed a new Malibu into? Kind of a waste, but it was illuminating.

    • 0 avatar

      Close. The IIHS actually used a ’59 in its crash test. Practically identical from a mechanical aspect; most of the differences are in the fenders and rear taillights.

  • avatar

    This car is optimistic. The designers, manufacturers and purchasers believed in a brighter tomorrow. There were satellites to launch, jet planes to fly, expressways to cruise, TV dinners to eat, Pall Malls to smoke, martinis to mix, church to attend and lots of babies to make. Boys played war and cowboys ‘n indians, and girls dressed their Chatty Cathy dolls. These 1960 cars were parked under car ports attached to single level ranch houses, sporting a TV antennae, encircling new schools filled with single Kindergarden teachers named “Miss Linda”, “Miss Susan” or “Miss Nancy”. Every PTA and Scout meeting was held in a low ceiling cafeteria filled with blue cigarette smoke, children’s pledges and crying babies.

    White guys ran everything and decided whom to allow into any clubs, fraternities, or associations. If you weren’t a WASP heterosexual married WWII vet, you were expected to appreciate getting any approval from one.

    Yet, even those who were not white, believed in tomorrow’s promises. Americans felt empowered by the latest inventions, breakthroughs and science. They beat back the Nazis and Japanese, created Israel, and believed that they would beat the Russians too. The President was a military hero who sent troops into Little Rock to integrate the public schools. The 1960 presidential campaign was between two men in their mid-forties with young families and Stepford wives. We all saw them debate on an expensive black and white American-made Motorola, DuMont or RCA televisions.

    Americans didn’t feel as though they needed to beg for a piece of the American pie. They believed that the American pie would grow large enough to encompass every American willing to work for a piece. There were agreed-upon social rules that kept everyone working together towards similar goals. They discriminated between what they believed was right and wrong without worrying about being judged for their choices. Their college education was steered towards making the right choices for their future, not steered towards endless debating, hairsplitting or bargaining. Only devils played devil’s advocate. And lawyers.

    This era demonstrates what a determined empowered group of patriotic believers can achieve if given enough liberty and freedom by a government who knew that it’s place was protecting and growing a new generation of adult citizens, not babying every tantrum and spoiling every group of bratty complainers.

    Life is tough, so the cars were stainless steel dream machines that promised speed or death if you misused them. They treated us like adults. They demanded constant tinkering, waxing, tune-ups, oil changes and tires. Their warranties were laughable. Safety features meant a thinly padded steel dashboard and rarely-used seat belts. They rusted out within a year or two. They burned oil after 40,000 miles. The mufflers fell off after six months.

    We salute our grandfathers for handing us “The Dream”. May we be men enough to do the same for ours. We are falling short.

    • 0 avatar

      Gotta admit, that was beautifully written…but you’re unfortunately looking through some pretty distorted rose colored glasses.

      Umm….. remember Jim Crow laws? Having your life totally ruined and/or being jailed if you were ‘exposed’ as a homosexual? Communist witch hunts? or women having basically few rights to control their own lives or destiny (i.e. the right to fair career advancement or even having much choice of career, and being dependant on having a man to establish credit, having little protection from domestic battery, etc…)

      Optimism, creativity, hard work and a having a sense of pride in one’s native culture are all wonderful things…may we have the wisdom, courage and intelligence NOW to find ways to design and create a world where EVERYONE, varied and diverse classes of people in our country, can “win” in life, and not just straight, white, protestant men…

      There is nothing wrong with being straight, white, protestant, or a man…but ‘cha ain’t the only people who have talent, optimism, or who can work hard and make important and valuable contributions to our country…Detroit made some pretty impressive machines in the 50’s and 60’s, but that doesn’t justify past societal abuses….

      Love the old cars, love optimism and creativity…but we can leave some of the ‘greatest generation’ worship at the curb…everything wasn’t as rosy a picture as you paint.

    • 0 avatar

      “Well Doctor, what have we got – a Republic, or a Monarchy?”

      “A Republic, if they can keep it”

      Ben Franklin would say we did not keep it.

  • avatar

    That body style really looked better with the 1959 teardrop, asymmetrical tail lights. When glass bending became popular in the mid-50’s, wraparound windows were all the rage. I think the greatest excess of that form of expression was on a Toronado, vintage 1978.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, the 1978 Toronado XS with the “hot wire” wraparound rear glass window.

      The only regrettable thing is that GM never managed to produce the similar XSR, which was to have electrically-operated retractable T-top panels that stored inside of the roof. There are conflicting stories over the reason for its no-show status; some blame the cost of production and others blame the lack of an effective water drainage system.

  • avatar

    1959 and 1960 were two years when the exact same body – from the back of the rear window to the front of the windshield – sufficed for all the GM cars from Chevrolet to Cadillac. They were radical for that time, and stylish enough to carry it off.
    That is a beautiful car. No dents on the cheap aluminum centerpieces let alone the bumpers, no rust streaks running down from the fasteners for the chrome strips, original 1963 plates. And red. How can you miss? The only non-original thing I saw was the front seat cover. I’m surprised that you found it parked outside.

  • avatar

    @fincar1:  “I’m surprised that you found it parked outside.”  I lived in and around LA & San Diego for well over twenty years (before finally escaping once & for all!!).  I remember my older sister coming out from Chicago for a few days on a visit sometime in the mid to late ’70’s, and hearing her comment “There’s SO many old cars out here!”  SoCal is a desert with the green lawns imported from the Sacramento delta via the State Water Project.  You can leave a ’50’s or a 60’s anything -including a 0% rust protected late model Studebaker- outside & mostly never have to worry about rust.  It just about doesn’t happen.  This Chevy isn’t a car, it’s a mummy!

  • avatar

    That is an amazingly swoopy car. I wonder how I would have turned out surrounded cars like this instead of square boxy things like Volvos, BMWs, and watercooled VWs. Perhaps my dream car would have curves, instead I want a Land Rover Defender.

  • avatar

    And police departments only ordered them once, as the demonic handling over 80 mph due to the the fins made them a real liability.

  • avatar

    Notice the license plate frame reads : “Lone Pine” and “Miller.”  I’ve been to Lone Pine, CA once and it was recently.  It’s hard to believe that such a small town that looks like it has seen better days could ever have had enough business to justify its own Chevy dealer.  But I looked it up.  It did!

  • avatar

    My best friend’s father had one almost exactly like the one in the photos, except it was blue. They bought theirs new, kept it ten years and traded it for a 1970 Olds Delta 88 (mit 455). Which they kept in almost museum condition until 1984. A damned good trick in the iron oxide laced atmosphere of Northeast Ohio at the time.
    My buddy and I spent many a fishing or hunting trip with our dads in that old Chevy. They took that thing down country two-tracks to the best fishing holes or places to leave the car parked so we wouldn’t have to hike 10 miles to bring back our doe (or buck). I swear that thing could get out of any snow drift, but it probably had more to do with the 100 lbs of sand in the trunk and good snow tires (not these pussy ‘winter’ tires we have now).
    The same iron oxide from the steel mills that filled our lungs took it’s toll on the old Impy. I think a frame rail rusted and my buddy’s dad didn’t want to spend the dollars to repair (I can’t really recall, I was eight years old at the time). I do remember being given a sledgehammer on the day the car was to go to the junkyard, and told to hit any panel on the car except the glass, as he wasn’t going to give the junkyard any sheetmetal they could resell for a profit (Austrians, always thinking two steps ahead.  Ya have to love ’em). I beat as hard as I could on that old beast and barely put a dent in the thing. They used real STEEL in those old Chevys, none of this tin can crap we got today.
    To this day, I still love the ‘batwing’ Chevies, in part due to my memories and also due to their audacious styling. Give me a big block Biscayne wagon, and I’ll be good to go.

  • avatar

    My father’s generation, as they worked their working-class blue collar jobs, did not have to compete with millions of illegal aliens for housing, jobs, etc. and their taxes did not pay for their health care, etc. and billions of dollars in hidden taxes and costs did not subsidize those illegals thus my dad’s generation could work their way up from poverty… much of it a legacy from their youth in the Great Depression when all in mom and dad’s families back on the great plains lost their farms.

    If only the old man had passed along his ’57 Chevy panel wagon… basically a station wagon with metal sides vice windows. A 2 door critter that I have never seen a living version of.

    Got one picture of it buried in one of the shoe boxes.

    Well, I think I still got it.

  • avatar

    I never knew they even made 4dr Impalas of that m.y..

    I also thought the wings were gone by 60… only for the 59s

  • avatar

    My parents had a ’60 chevy impala convertible – white w/ red houndstooth interior.  God what a cool car that was!  I had just gotten my drivers license.

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