Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1956 Corvette Impala
Five-passenger Luxury Sport
By David W. Temple

A Corvette-like dream car graced a turntable at the five venues of the 1956 GM
Motorama. It was the Corvette Impala, an automobile styled to give a little sports car “flavoring” to a five-passenger luxury car. The dream car’s toothy grille and rounded quarters revealed its styling was influenced by the newly restyled first generation Corvette. A special brochure about the Corvette Impala stated the car “incorporates wholly new considerations in fine passenger car design from the standpoint of sleekness, safety, and luxury.”

Named for the agile African antelope, the fiberglass experimental car designed by Bob Cadaret and Carl Renner had a 225hp Super Turbo-Fire V-8 engine coupled to a two-speed Powerglide. The V-8 was modified with a 9.25:1 compression ratio and a high-lift camshaft. Spent exhaust exited through a dual set of pipes passing through the driveshaft tunnel and into a transverse mounted muffler with dual outlets projecting through the lower rear body panel.
Styling of the Corvette Impala foretold that of the Chevrolet Impala which debuted for the 1958 model year. In fact, at one point the toothy grille was proposed for use on the new model, but was abandoned due to cost considerations. Even so, the integral bumper and grille theme was kept. Other styling features of the Corvette Impala included a tinted “Panoramic” wraparound windshield curving up into the pale blue-tinted brushed stainless steel roof, a wraparound rear windshield, beltline dip near the reverse slant C-pillars, and chrome-plated wire wheels with knock-off hubs. All of these – with the exceptions of the wire wheels and the brushed stainless steel roof – were adopted for the production car. Its nose emblem was very close to the production type used for the 1958-60 Corvettes, but with the name “Corvette Impala” embossed circumferentially around the crossed flags.

A unique, air-foil shaped, padded cornering bar (or strut) emerged from the steering column, angled upward before transitioning into a horizontal component extending across the entire width of the interior.
To learn more about the 1956 Corvette Impala and other cars related to the GM Motorama get a copy of my new book, “Motorama: GM’s Legendary Show & Concept Cars.” Just click the book cover image at far right or click the link here:

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. 1956 Corvette Impala; a nice post.

  3. Fantastic cars. Interesting article! :)

  4. Great job! Congratulations for you.

  5. I never seen this Corvette before, great post!, Thanks!

  6. What an amazing car :O i have never seen it before. I feel like I have missed a bit xD sometimes i cannot get rid of the feeling i was born a little bit too late

    1. I understand the feeling of being born too late! :-)