If you're of a certain age then perhaps you may have an appreciation for this 1976 Chevrolet Impala coupe. While I'm not going to say that "we" are dying off just yet, I will say that we are the last of a breed of people that like these stupefyingly large automobiles if for no other reason than people worship memories of their childhood that they can actually see and feel. We have no use for those memories and our minds are cluttered with memorabilia from our youth like a junked up dusty attic; even if we could we would never get rid of them. How else to explain why anyone would find something as ungainly and ultimately impractical as this car something to wax nostalgic over? 1976 was also the last year for these gigantic automobiles that were, amongst the largest automobiles ever mass produced. So this car is, in fact, like "us", the last of a breed.
While I see this car and I'm 11 or 12 years old again, and everything that that entails, this is far from a favorite car of mine. Chevrolet's 1974 update of the 1971 "B-bodies" being, in my opinion, far from graceful and fairly botched in execution. Pontiac similarly screwed up their B's as well; Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac doing a far more graceful job of integrating a "B" pillar into the design of their cars and getting the massive 5 mph "safety bumpers" to blend into the design. I find this car as appealing as I do El Caminos; always something slightly off about them too. This blue on black color scheme is hard to digest as well and the fender skirts on an entry level automobile don't row my boat either. My wife thinks I love all old cars and especially old Chevrolets. Case in point, I don't.
Amazingly, even in 1976 there were three engine options available on the Impala. There was a top of the line 454 big block, a 400 small block with a four barrel carburetor no less and what our subject here has, the base 350 cubic inch V-8 with a teeny, tiny two barrel Rochester carburetor. Making all of 145 horsepower for 1976, this car was also saddled with as low as a 2.29:1 rear axle ratio which may have done a little for improved highway fuel economy but nothing for accelerating away from a stop light. We recently looked at a 1974 Caprice with a 454 which, according to contemporary road tests, could accelerate from 0-60 a good 4 seconds quicker than a comparable car equipped with this engine. That's a considerable difference. You'd pay for that at the pump, though. Big time.
It's interesting how what was "all the rage" back when new is now, at least from a collectability stand point, a liability. 1971-1973 Impala coupes were all "hard tops", in other words, they were fixed roof automobiles that because of the lack of a center pillar or what is referred to as a "B pillar", had the stream lined profile of a convertible with the top up. Great looking cars but for 1974, GM added a center pillar that literally sectioned off the back of the car from the front and gave what was once an almost sporty looking car a chopped off appearance like, again, an El Camino. It made for a cozy rear seating area and no doubt added some much needed solidity to these cars but it ruined the design. This car worth perhaps not half what a 1971 model would list for in comparable condition. At least they had the good sense to keep that concave rear windshield. If you agree with my sentiment about these updated Impalas and Caprices, we do take some solace in the fact that Ford messed up their cars even more so that GM did. Forget Chrysler. They had no idea what they were doing in the 1970's.
While a must for most cars, our subject's six way adjustable bench seat is unaccompanied by power windows or a tilt steering column. I don't see a power lock binnacle either on the passenger door so this is just another example of ala carte options ordering that customers could do years ago. Didn't mean the dealership would get the order right, though. Many people I knew who "custom ordered" their new cars got them delivered with the option order incorrect. Not unlike a waiter brining you your dinner with a side of cole slaw when you wanted fries. Easier to send the plate back than have the dealership retrofit options on a car.
Oddly enough, our subject here has fender skirts which tells me that this was probably a late model year stripped down Caprice they sold as an Impala. That or the skirts came as part of an appearance package that came with that blasted vinyl roof. Gotta love those rubber protectors on the bumpers. This car needed to go on a diet and it did big time for model year 1977.
Interestingly, the older I get the more I find myself not wanting for these old '70's boats like I used to. I love to look at them and wax nostalgic over them but like that girl you had a crush on years ago you're sure now liked you too, that "want" fades as you get older. At least that's the case with me. Sure, I'd love to have an Impala coupe in my fantasy garage but it would not be a clumsy oaf like this 1976 blue bomb. Make mine a brown or dark green stripper 1971 or 1972; it's not going to happen either way but as long as you're dreaming, might as well make that dream exactly what you want.