by Dave Weber
Chevrolet Motor Company began production in 1912. This marque received its name from Louis Chevrolet, the famous race car driver of that era. In 1915 Chevrolet became a division of General Motors Corporation where it exists at present. Automobile manufacturers are constantly plagued with the problem of developing new model names. Over the years some companies have resorted to using numerical designations, but in 1958, a new top of the line model was introduced by Chevrolet as the Impala. It replaced the Bel Air which then was demoted to a less expensive model line with basically the same styling and wheelbase characteristics. The Impala remained in the Chevrolet lineup into the late 80's, but before its demise, it had been replaced as 'top gun' by the Caprice.
However, during 1995-96, this name was revived to be used on a special 4 door Caprice SS model. The main difference in the two cars was that the Impala was blessed with high power SS options and the reference to Caprice was nonexistent on the Impala. The car was only available in black during its short lifespan.
In 2000 Chevrolet discontinued the 4 door Lumina sedan and introduced a new Impala to again be the top of the line model. The Impala was more in the size category with the Lumina then the aforementioned Caprice (which also had been discontinued to the chagrin of a large percentage of police officers). It was Chevrolet's intention to have the Impala replace the Caprice as a patrol cruiser. But the reduction in cabin size results in a cramped space for the officer and all his paraphernalia. I have not met a police officer yet that appreciates this new Impala. But as a family car, this model presents a style which is pleasing to the eye. I make note of the police function because the only models of the newest Impala are only available as police vehicles.
While reviewing these 1/64 models, I discovered the majority represent the period from 1958- 65, except for 1962. I imagine some toy / model manufacturer will sooner or later fill this void. Styling differences in 1962 and 1963 were somewhat minor; except for the design of the windshield and placement of the side protective chrome strip.
I believe the best way to examine these models is to list them chronologically and then by toy/ model manufacturer. I have attempted to include all known models but make no claim to provide a complete list.
RCErtl introduced an SS model in their American Muscle series in 2000. Both the trunk lid and engine hood are hinged. Some of these models included the continental spare tire and rear wheel fender skirts.
Johnny Lightning (JL) produced their model as part of the American Chrome series in 2000.
Line Mar, a Japanese firm introduced their model over 20 years ago. No further info is available.
Racing Champions (RC) prior to merging with Ertl issued model # 77 in their Mint Editions series during 1997. Only the engine hood opens which indicates this is a different casting then the above mentioned Ertl model. There are also other minor casting differences.
Revell- Monogram (R-M) issued their model in their American Graffiti set earlier this year. Only the engine hood opens.
Buby of Argentina issued a sedan in the 70's. No further info is available.
Hot Wheels (HW) issued a 'lowrider' ì model in their First Editions series in 1998. The paint included a mod style tampo design.
Matchbox (MB) Lesney issued a very detailed model # 57B in 1961. Production ceased after 1966.
Maxwell , an Indian company reportedly issued their model # 558 in 1965. No further info is available.
R-M also issued a model for this year in their 'lowriders' ì series in 2000. This model is being reissued this year in the Collectible Chevy series. The trunk lid is hinged.
RC was the only manufacturer to issue a model for this year. Model # 125 was available in the Mint Editions series in 1977. The engine hood is hinged and displays a detailed power plant. They also released a Street Wheels version of the same car in a slightly smaller scale and with far less detail.
Ingap , a now defunct plastic model company issued model # 23 over 20 years ago. No further info is available.
RCErtl has just issued a model in their American Muscle series with super detail. Both the hood and trunk lid are are hinged.
R-M also issued a 'lowrider' model in 2000 with a hinged trunk lid. This model is also being reissued in their Collectible Chevy series this year.
As noted above,no 1/64 models have been issued.
Action Performance/ RCCA introduced a model of a Nascar stock racer for this year.It was produced for Action by Deles of China in 1996 and carried various sponsor and legendary driver names .
Edocar of the Netherlands produced a very similar casting of the above Action model in their Coca- Cola line a few years ago. The base reads Edocar and makes no mention of Action. An inquiry to Action personnel a few years ago developed they had no knowledge of this activity. This model is no longer available. The reader can draw his own conclusions!
JL recently made available an enhanced version in a limited edition for club members only. this casting had been issued previously in their Classic Gold series a few years ago.
RCErtl introduced a very detailed model of the '409' in 2000 as part of the American Muscle series. Both the engine hood and trunk lid are hinged.
R-M also issued a 'lowrider' model in 2000. The trunk lid is hinged.
This casting is also to be part of the recently announced Collectible Chevy
Fun-Ho of New Zealand issued a somewhat crude model of a Bel Air Sedan about 25 years ago. Due to the indistinct detail of the casting, a specific year is difficult to determine. It appears to be representative of 1964. It is included in this review because the Bel Air was a lower priced model series with the same basic body style of the Impala. A somewhat enhanced version of this toy/ model was reissued about 3 years ago. The main difference is that this reissue has plastic glazed windows.
MB/ Lesney produced a 'taxi' under model # 20C from 1965 to 1969. It is basically a 4 door sedan in yellow with a taxi decal on the engine hood.
RC produced model # 18 in their Mint Editions series in 1996 which features a hinged engine hood. The detail is superior.
R-M also produced a 'lowrider' ì model in 2000 and indicated this model will also be in the Collectible Chevy series for 2001.
Yat Ming produced their SS model # 1070 in the early 80's and was still available into the mid 90's. Both doors are hinged.
HW issued a lowrider in their First Edition series about 3 years ago.
LJN a New York toy manufacturer of 20 years ago produced a model of a police car from this decade representing the Rookies TV series. This firm was then merged into Universal Matchbox and no longer exists.
This model was also produced by Imperial Toy Co about the same time as a military vehicle. The casting appears to be the same . The question remains as to which company may have copied the other!
Ertl issued a 2 door model about 20 years ago that recognized the movie 'cannonball Run'. This casting was also used to represent some Nascar drivers in the early 80's.
Majorette issued a model in taxi, police, fire, rescue and military tampos at least 10 years ago. It is believed to still be available in one or more of the above cited logos.
Novacar, in the mid 90's also issued this model in their line At that time this Portuguese company had become a division of Majorette. It is now believed to be defunct. The body was an exact replica of the parent company diecast product; except it was produced in plastic with a metal base.
In 1999 JL modified the base of their Caprice police car casting issued previously. This modified model was used to represent the short lived Impala of 1995-1996.
R-M is scheduled to issue their version of this 4 door sedan later this year.
MB issued two separate castings in 2000 of the latest car to carry this name.
Both are police car castings. The regular issue which was in the 2000 '1-100' line is a basic model and has no special features. The other casting was an enhanced modification of the above design. It was issued in the Collectibles Motor Trend set and featured larger side view mirrors, a hinged trunk lid and grille bumperettes.
This concludes my review of all Impalas that I have been able to locate either in actual model form or reference by other collectors. Any additions or corrections are always welcome.
'58 - Johnny Lightning
'58 - Racing Champions
'59 - Hot Wheels
'59 - Revell
'60 - Racing Champions
'60 - Racing Champions Street Wheels
'61 - Ertl
'61 - Revell
'63 - Johnny Lightning
'63 - Tiger Wheels
'64 - Matchbox
'64 - Racing Champions
'64 - Yat Ming
'65 - Hot Wheels
'80 - Ertl
'85 - Majorette
'95 - Johnny Lightning
'00 - Matchbox