1965: WHEN THE TORCH GOT PASSED BY CHEVY

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The 1964 Chevrolet Impala is one of GM’s most iconic vehicles because these cars had the perfect style for millions of their fans.

 

In fact the 1964 Impala may even be more popular today than the first one that left the factory in late 1963.

 

However, the 1964 Impala was the last year of an early Sixties style for the famous Chevy flagship.

 

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The Sixties were a frantic time of change in many ways and the automotive industry bought heavily into that philosophy.

 

The pace for change was even faster by 1965 and GM wanted their fleet to be represented with a brand new direction in style. Cue the 1965 Chevy Impala.

 

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The 1965 Impala was a huge hit with consumers and more than 1 million of these new look Chevys were sold to an enthusiastic public.  By ’65, the Impala was already a 4th generation model of the famous GM brand and it had only debuted seven years earlier in 1958.

 

The short time frame from 1958 to 1965 was an indication of Detroit’s urgent need to change car styles often during that bygone era.  For the Big Three, the best way to make consumers feel they were driving an outdated car was to make it look like an outdated car.

 

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The 1965 Impala would never be confused with a 1964 Impala by even the most lame-brained observer. There was so little kinship between the two models that most non-car guys could easily be convinced they were not even built by the same manufacturer if the badges were removed from the two cars.

 

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The one area that could link the two years in a general way might be the tail lights because both the ’64 and ’65 Impala had round tail lights-a feature that disappeared on the 1966 Impala.

 

The biggest change from 1964 to 1965 had to be the roof line on the ’65 Impala because the newer Chevy had a long sweeping roof line that gave the car a fastback appearance.

 

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The overall appearance of the 1965 Impala was sleeker, with a more modern style that separated it completely from its predecessor. Even the side window glass on the hardtop versions of the ’65 Impala was given a curve for an added dimension to the ‘65 Chevy’s more rounded style.

 

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The famous X-frame that debuted in the late Fifties on Impalas was also gone in 1965 and replaced by a comfortable full coil suspension on the ’65 full size Chevy.

 

Full size is an important distinction for the 1965 Impala because GM was headed in a new direction with the Impala. The beefier 1965 Impala could still hold its own on the street with its big block options but the real muscle in the street wars was found in smaller Chevy packages by 1965.

 

1965 was the year when Chevy models were offered in compact, intermediate and full-sized versions like the Impala. For Chevy, their ’65 street battles with Mopar and Ford would be led by the lightweight Chevy II SS model and its 300 horsepower 327 cubic inch small block under the hood.

 

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Power to weight ratio was off the chart with the muscled-up ‘65 Chevy II compact in a year when its large GM stablemate Impala was headed in a new direction. Bigger size and more comfort mattered most for Chevy when it came to the famous Impala and its ‘65 model. 

 

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1965 was a year of big change for the Impala and its role in the General Motors family.

 

What a difference a year made in the history of one of most the famous Chevys to ever leave the GM factory.  

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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