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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The new limited edition model is track-focused.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda's latest iteration of the Civic Type R has set a new track record for front-wheel drive cars at the Suzuka circuit. The Nagoya, Japan track is 3.6 miles long and features a figure-eight design.

The 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition posted a time of 2 minutes 23.993 seconds. That's good, but not as good as an F1 car. Lewis Hamilton holds the pole record at the track clocking in at 1:27.319 in his F1 weekender. In 2005, Kimi Räikkönen set the lap record in a McLaren MP4-20, registering a time of 1:31.540.

2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition The Honda was piloted by Takuya Izawa.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Super GT Series racer Takuya Izawa piloted the Type R Limited Edition around the track in February using a development car built to final European specs with no modifications or performance enhancements

"The Type R Limited Edition reflects Honda's dedication to refining the essence and driving pleasure of Type R as a sports car and exceeding the expectations of our customers," said Civic Type R Project Leader Hideki Kakinuma. "The engineering team and I embraced a racing spirit that has been passed down for generations, and it's this strong passion that's driving the evolution of the Civic Type R towards becoming the ideal sports car. Now the "advanced" Type R that I envisioned at the beginning of this development is a reality and I am overwhelmed by the result and how our efforts have been rewarded."

The Type R Limited Edition features all the updates the 2020 Honda Civic Type R received plus, it has been modified including the addition of forged aluminum BBS wheels, specially tuning the dampers, and recalibrating the steering for better control and feedback. The wheels alone are an 18-pound weight reduction. An additional 28 pounds of weight has been saved by reducing the amount of sound deadening insulation in the car.

The Type R Limited Edition is limited in paint jobs to just one: Phoenix Yellow. It also has a black gloss roof, outside mirror cabs, and intake vent on the hood. The Civic badge on the rear hatch is dark chrome.

All models feature an individually numbered serial plate denoting the vehicle's original country of sale.Each Limited Edition model has same 2.0-liter turbo-four under the hood that puts out 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It also has a six-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. Drivers can opt for Comfort, Sport, or +R drive modes.

Manufacturer's Suggested Pricing for the 2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition will be made available closer to its launch.

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The Nikola Badger will debut with a tap for drinking water.

Photo courtesy of Nikola Corporation

When it comes to emissions, there's little that beats the cleanliness of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Though it has a mineral-rich battery pack, the model is fueled by hydrogen. The only thing that comes out of the tailpipe is water vapor.

That water vapor can either be absorbed into the atmosphere or, in the case of the Nikola Badger, become part of a drinking fountain system, as reveled in a tweet earlier this week.

Take a look at the back end of the Badger. That's right, you will be able to tap that.

Nikola Badger The Nikola Badger can be reserved online today.Photo courtesy of Nikola Corporation

A recent tweet from Nikola Founder and CEO Trevor Milton promised that a drinking fountain would be in the truck. Inn fact, the company had already narrowed it down to two designs and chosen the winner.

A hot a cold tap are promised, with safeguards to prevent accidental emissions and splashing.

Aside from the engineering, the question about the safety of drinking the water is a valid one. There are technologies, including hydropanels, that capture water vapor and turn it into drinking water. Other technologies, like Akvo AWGs, do similar things via a different, multi-step process.

Toyota does not recommend drinking the water vapor from its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai, however Hyundai touts the ability to do so, even going so far as to creating a publicity stunt wherein Olympic swimmer Mireia Belmonte ran on a treadmill inside a plastic bubble while the Nexo's tailpipe was hooked up pumping in emissions.

Hyundai Nexo y Mireia Belmonte 30" www.youtube.com

The engineering behind taking the emitted water vapor from the truck's tailpipe to a drinking fountain has yet to be seen. A prototype of the Nikola Badger has yet to be seen by the public despite the fact that top-tier reservations for the model have already sold out.

The Nikola Badger is slated to debut later this year as part of the festivities surrounding Nikola World.

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