Retrospective

Once, twice, three times it's out: The continuously discontinued life of the Chevrolet Impala

For much of its life the Chevrolet Impala was categorized as a large car.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Impala has come and gone three times now. When the last model rolled off the assembly line at General Motors' Hamtramck plant this week, it marked the official end to the tenth generation of the legendary large car.

Before its sales dwindled in the late 2010s and sealed its fate, the Chevrolet Impala was one of the most popular sedans sold – at least in its early history. Starting with the 1958 model year, the Impala made a splash, coming to market as the top-tier version of the Chevy Bel Air. It was flashy with Corvette-like design cues and a longer body style than most of its competition.

1962 Chevrolet Impala The 1962 Chevrolet Impala, shown in a press photograph from the time of its debut. Photo by Getty Images

This was the heyday of the big car and Chevrolet was 100 percent on-trend.

Just one year after its arrival on dealership lots, the model was redesigned. The Impala now came in four variants: four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, two-door sport coupe, and two-door convertible. It had a standard inline six-cylinder engine. It also came standard with front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front vent windows.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Fern Lynn demonstrating the Valmobile Suitcase Scooter New York State, 1962 behind a Chevrolet Impala. The Valmobile folds into a package the size of a suitcase and fits into a car boot. Photo by Getty Images

A few years later Chevrolet would trim its V8 engine offerings to just seven. Speed and cruise control would become options as technology advanced.

Between 1959 and 1960, the only two years that featured that second-generation Impala, Chevrolet sold 490,000 models.

Chevrolet Impala The Chevrolet Impala went through several different redesigns during a short period in its early historyPhoto courtesy of Chevrolet

In 1961, the third generation of the Impala began when General Motors moved the model to the GM B full-size rear-wheel drive platform joining the Bel Air, Pontiac Bonneville, Oldsmobile Dynamic 88, and Buick LaSabre. Use of that platform by GM brands lasted from 1926 to 1996.

From there, the Impala had a rich history with families across the U.S. and beyond. As the 80s began, Chevy shifted the Impala to become their base level full-size car. The sedan was sold primarily as a fleet car during the first term of the Reagan administration until Chevrolet shelved it in 1985.

Chevrolet Impala The Impala of the 90s was powered by a V6, not the traditional V8 of yesteryear.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In 1992, the Impala name was brought again as General Motors debuted the Impala SS as a concept car at the Detroit Auto Show. The model featured a body lower than the Caprice and an 8.2-liter engine.

Two years later, the 1994 Impala SS went into production with some design tweaks, including the engine, which was now shared with Corvette. And, just like that, Chevrolet discontinued the Impala again in 1996, this time to give the automaker more capacity to make more profitable SUVs.

1996 Chevrolet Impala Chevrolet saw success with the Impala Police Package.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Impala name was resurrected in 2000 to slap on the Chevrolet Lumina. With the rebadging, the Impala lost much of its previous identity. It was now a midsize car with a V6 engine. A supercharged Impala SS was sold starting in 2004, sharing its engine with the Buick Regal GS and the Pontiac Grand Prix.

In 2000, the vehicle also was released with a Police Package and an Underdover Police Package. With a stronger suspension and other interior changes from the mass market Impala, the model gained traction as a fleet vehicle.

Following a 2006 redesign, Chevy went back to its Impala roots a bit, giving the Impala SS a small-block V8 though the model was still a V8. It wasn't enough to convince buyers and the SS edition was shelved after the 2009 model year.

2014 Chevrolet Impala The 2014 Chevrolet Impala debuted at the New York International Auto Show in 2012.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet went big with the 10th-genneration Impala, first showing it off at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. The model was bigger than the last iteration and it good reviews from noted publications. However, the praise was not enough to make the public purchase the car in the quantities they once had.

With the large car market sagging as demand shifted to SUVs and as the implementation of a General Motors business plan built on electrified mobility progressed, Chevrolet once again announced that the Impala program would end.

The final Chevrolet Impala rolled off the assembly line at the Detroit/Hamtramck plant on February 27, 2020.

General Motors has a habit of bringing old nameplates back (see: Hummer as the most recent example) so it may be too early to completely count the Impala out, though its days as a large sedan may be over for a while.

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Electric vehicle production

GM outlines huge investment in new EV production

The $7 billion number is GM's largest single investment to date.

General Motors

Automakers are not shy about their plans to electrify their vehicle lineups. In fact, it's just the opposite, as most can't wait to release a media kit that sings the virtues of moving toward electrification and outlines their commitments to investing billions to make the move a reality. General Motors has been more active than most, building new facilities and revamping existing factories to handle new-age EV manufacturing. Today, the auto giant announced a further investment to build a new plant and overhaul the Orion Township facility in Michigan. The move creates thousands of jobs and positions GM as an early powerhouse in the EV race.

GM EV investment. GM says its new and existing facilities will create and retain thousands of jobs.General Motors

The $7 billion investment is slated for four Michigan manufacturing facilities. GM says the move will create 4,000 new jobs and retain 1,000 existing positions, and notes that the amount represents the single largest investment in company history. A new Ultium Cells battery plant in Lansing is part of the deal, along with the conversion of the GM assembly planting Orion Township. Orion will eventually house production of the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and the electric GMC Sierra, making it the second of GM's facilities dedicated to building electric pickup trucks.

The Orion and Ultium Cells Lansing facilities will help GM boost its total full-size electric truck production to 600,000 units per year when both Factory Zero and Orion are in full swing. Though Ford sells more full-size trucks than Chevy or GMC individually, GM notes that the two combined move more trucks per year than The Blue Oval. The two plants join General Motors' existing EV-ready facilities that include Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck, Spring Hill Assemble in Tennessee, CAMI in Ontario, and the Ramos Arizpe Assembly facility in Mexico.

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New luxury car

BMW sends its V12 engine off in style

BMW will build its final V12 engine this June.

BMW

Most automakers are focused on building EVs and extracting the best fuel economy from gas engines possible, so it’s not surprising to hear that BMW is pulling the plug on one of its biggest and most iconic engines. In June 2022, BMW will build its very last V12 engine for use in a super-limited-production special edition 7 Series model. The ultra-rare cars will carry a starting price of $200,995.

BMW 760i xDrive The last V12 will power a very special (and very expensive) 7 Series car.BMW

Only twelve lucky customers will have the option to nab a V12-powered BMW, which will be called the M760i xDrive. Displacing 6.6 liters, the twin-turbocharged beast produces a massive 601 horsepower. An eight-speed sport automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. BMW says the powertrain is strong enough to push the hefty 7 Series car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds.

The final-run cars will feature little more than a special “V12” badge at the rear to differentiate them from standard 7 Series models. Inside, the car features a serialized plaque with the car’s production number out of the 12 units planned. The engine itself features a nameplate with “The Final V12.”

Beyond the badges, BMW’s 12-cylinder last-hurrah will come standard with 20-inch M double-spoke wheels, a choice of any available BMW full Merino leather color, M Sport brakes with black or blue calipers, a panoramic LED roof, remote control parking, a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, and adaptive LED headlights.

BMW 760i xDrive Only 12 of the cars will be built, with a starting price of more than $200,000.BMW

Though it hasn’t been BMW’s most popular engine over the years, the V12 has been a part of the automaker’s catalog for 35 years. The first 12-cylinder engine showed up in 1987, producing 295 horsepower in the original 750iL sedan.

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