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The Most Expensive Chevy Ever Made

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 2015-06-20 Hot Rod Archives, Thom Taylor
1958 Chevrolet Impala Expensive © Provided by Hotrod 1958 Chevrolet Impala Expensive

One-year-only-production vehicles are rare, mainly because after all the development and design it takes to produce a car, manufacturers want to get more than a single year out of that investment. So the 1958 Chevy is by far the most expensive mainstream automobile ever created because of its one-year-only peculiarity.

Why did Chevy do this, especially since 1958 was loaded with so many firsts besides its styling? It was the first year for the Impala, the 348/409ci W engine, all-coil-spring suspension that also allowed for the first optional air springs, and Chevy’s X-type frame. You would think that this would be the first of a three- or even four-year run with this basic architecture.

Some have suggested the sensational slim and low Chrysler lineups for 1957 prompted the need for a massive rethink of GM’s styling path, and though that is true, it is not what prompted its decision to make 1958 Chevys stand-alone. General Motors was too big to move that swiftly.

The real reason for the single-year Chevy is simply a scheduling detail. Back in the mid-1950s, GM planners decided sharing body platforms clear across the GM line—and that meant Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac—would reduce costs and make sense going forward. From that point on, a two-year cycle with a minor facelift after the first year would be the future path for all divisions. The 1959 model year would be the platform to do this because Cadillac, Buick, and some Oldsmobiles were coming off of their second year of bodies, having received all new architecture in 1957.

What this meant was that Chevy got pulled forward into this schedule, leaving the 1958 Chevy as a one-year-only anomaly.


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