Dynamic Divergence: Seeing The U.S.A. Through Chevrolet

IMG_1057The Wonder Years is now on Netflix. So of course, when left to my own devices with a Netflix account (I don’t have one personally) of course I’m going to indulge in repetition of comforts. Front and Center, 3 episodes in, is the Arnold family’s 1963 Chevrolet Impala Sport Sedan, Green with a White top, as they swoop back silently, in middle class white grief, back from Winne Cooper’s brother’s funeral.

It reminded me of a quote I’m paraphrasing about 1960’s Middle Class station that Oprah made once. The determining entrance point for all middle class families that had “arrived” in some sense was purchasing a Chevrolet Impala. Once upon a time, the true marker of comfort meant the largest, most luxurious Chevrolet. Between 1960 and 1965 that number went from just under half a million to more than a Million. Year after year, a sextet of tail lamps meant equal if not more than a six figure salary does today.

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(Found In) Clawson (Oakland, California): 1971 Chevrolet Impala Convertible

image (28) The sporting pretense of the Full Sized Chevrolet had been on the wane for more than half a decade. Nevertheless, with market dominance unlike any other manufacturer, General Motors still saw it worthy to offer top down motoring to the masses in massive sizes when it re-designed its Full Sized Automobiles for the 1971 model year.

The most practical self-placement in a large fun in the sun machine was of course found in Chevrolet dealerships. in its 7th season in the Silver Spot among Chevrolet Full-sizers, the re-visioned ’71 Impala Convertible offered many tailoring options from later day Super Sport to Junior DeVille with the appropriate selection of option boxes.

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(Found In) Portola (San Franciso, California) : 1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible Coupe

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It might be amazing to most minds that this flaming red finned flamingo of late 50’s meets the turn-of-the-decade imagination was considered more conservative than what came before. With some flattening of curves and angles, the Space, Spirit and Splendor of the 1960 full sized Chervolets prepped them for a decade of more mature motoring and discretionary buyer tastes.

The rationality mixed with moxie would propel the Impala towards becoming one of the keystone cars of the 1960’s. Like the missile trim on the sides, there was nowhere to go but forward for the priciest non-sports Chevrolet.
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(Found In) West Berkeley, California – 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 2 Door Hardtop

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50+ years later and The 1961-64 Impala (and the Full Sized Chevrolet cars in general) loom large in the collector car field. There’s a number of factors at hand that make them so omnipresent so many years later.They’re also a staple of low rider customization. Plentiful examples, plentiful parts and the aspirational nature of the top-tier Standard Chevrolet made it a badge of honor for many consumers of all backgrounds.

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