Work-in-Progress: 1959 Chevrolet Impala with Original 348 Engine Ready to Roar

As a diehard Impala fan, I admit the first model years have a special je ne sais quoi that turns them into genuine head-turning machines. I’m not saying the models launched later in the ’60s should be ignored. It isn’t the case, as the fourth-generation Impala paved the way for what later became the best-selling car in the United States.

The Impala story started in 1958 when Chevrolet launched a new hardtop and convertible version of the Bel Air. As a top-of-the-line Bel Air, the Impala had everything the GM brand could offer on this model year, so it didn’t take long before the new version made itself noticed.

One year later, the Impala gained series status, with Chevrolet considering the 1959 model year as the beginning of the second-generation Impala. Petrolheads often consider it the first “real” Impala, as it was the first time the car was no longer a Bel Air.

Despite this strategy, the Impala and the Bel Air continued to be very similar for several years. Impala gradually received all the bells and whistles, but the Bel Air still sported the same looks, engines, and equipment unless it was something more luxurious that became exclusive to the Impala.

A 1959 Impala landed on Craigslist earlier this week with one big goal: to return to the road as soon as possible. The good news is the car is halfway there, as the restoration has already started, with the owner claiming the vehicle is nearly complete. The only things missing are the gas tank and the straps.

As a work-in-progress, this Impala comes with a rebuilt 348. The 1959 Impala was offered with six-cylinder and V8 engines, and the 348 was the icing on the cake. It was the most powerful choice, remaining the big-block option until 1961, when Chevrolet introduced the 409. It was dropped a year later to make room for more powerful mills.

The 348 in this Impala is paired with a Turboglide transmission, not yet rebuilt – it’s the original unit that came with the car, so someone planning to bring the car back to factory specifications could use it for their project. However, the owner says they have a 4-speed unit for a possible swap.

The body is in project shape and requires plenty of work, including dealing with occasional rust, though the Impala still looks solid overall. The interior will also need a lot of attention, with the seats already wreaked – I guess you’ll need new seats, but you should be able to determine this accurately with an in-person inspection.

A 1959 Impala with a rebuilt engine and in a solid shape doesn’t come cheaply, and this example aligns with the trend. You can get the car for $27K, as the owner says they have too many projects right now.

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