Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and…Hofmeister Kinks?!

Freude am Floatin'

It wasn’t all that long ago that Americans bought full-size, rear-drive, body on frame passenger cars in numbers large enough to more than justify producing them. However, sales of coupe versions of these leviathans tanked before the bottom fell out of the entire segment. But the market for big sedan-based two-doors still had a pulse in ’78; how else could Chevrolet have moved 33,990 of these Impala Coupes?
This was the second year for the General’s downsized B-bodies, whose 116” wheelbase chassis would carry on virtually unchanged until the last of the very last examples of the breed drove out of the Arlington, Texas plant in late 1996 to make way for GMT400 SUV production. Each of the B-based models – both of the big Chevy and big Pontiac lines plus the Olds Delta 88, Buick LeSabre – were available in duoporte form (The Buick Riviera also used the B chassis for 1977 and ’78.), but only the Bowtie Bros (Proletariat Impala and fancy-pants Caprice) used the doubly delicious greenhouse seen here.
Baby got fastback!

No, your eyes do not deceive you, hoons: Those lumps on the C-pillars/quarter panels are indeed some not-so-subtle tributes to Wilhelm Hofmeister’s kräftig kink. Of course, the GM badge engineers stylists weren’t content to stop there; there’s also that elongated, hot-wire-bent backlight stretching out toward the coupes’ caboose. GM took the origami window fastback thing to the extreme when designing the Chevy and Pontiac NASCAR homologation models less than a decade later. Sadly, this svelte and Swabian roofline went the way of Jimmy Carter’s poll numbers in 1980, as the facelifted Impala and Caprice two-doors took on a silhouette that featured four-sided quarter window openings and a back window flatter than Karen Carpenter’s abs. (Yeah, I’m going to Hell, but so are you for giggling.) Ya. Awn.
Hooray for crotch vents!
Hooray for crotch vents!

What about this particular example? It’s claimed to have been a SoCal car since day one (though it apparently calls Chi-Town home now), having been born at the long-gone South Gate plant, and accrued all of 37,724 miles at the hands of, you guessed it, an elderly couple. Locomotion is provided by a 305/3-speed slusher combo, and aside from some minor wear described by the seller, this baby appears to be cherry (or blueberry, given the color combo).
Price? At this writing the bidding is at $4,650. Why would anyone want to shell out that kind of coin for a vehicle that, as Tomsk Sr. almost gleefully points out, is from an era when every GM product in this hemisphere was an amalgam of haphazardly thrown together shyte? Because you want to be different. Because you want to save it from being perched atop spinner rimz so tall Danica Patrick could ride a pogo stick under it without braining herself, having its exterior repainted in radioactive baby scat green, and its interior reupholstered in genuine capybara vulva leather with “Sugah Dadee” embroidered in the driver’s backrest. Because you want to lower it over a set of 16×8 Rally wheels, upgrade to 4-wheel discs, drop in an E-ROD LS3/4L60E and hug him and squeeze him and name him George terrorize the local Temple of VTEC cultists. I hope I’ve managed to convince you that your life is incomplete if this automobile isn’t in it, ‘cuz if I’m the only one who feels that way, I’m likely to place a bid, something I don’t want to do. Except I do. To quote our benevolent overlord, “Blaaaaarg…”
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  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    What a nice clean Impala. Since it has the 305, I would guess it has the awful Turbo 200 transmission, and if it does, it's one of the few that hasn't been replaced by a Turbo 350. The Turbo 200 in my mom's 72,000 mile '78 Malibu lasted all of 36,000 miles before the internal case support broke. At least the Impala has an A6 compressor, much better than the infamous R4, like in the Malibu.

  2. Stumack Avatar

    A buddy's older brother had a new '79 in Canada-only Bel Air trim. Same color combo as here – beautiful car. I prefer the '79 over the '78 both for its more "Chevy" grille and slightly wider recessed taillights.

  3. CptSevere Avatar

    I dunno, these just don't look right with two doors. I prefer the sedan, boxy as hell, and damn near bulletproof.

  4. ptschett Avatar

    One of the lead engineers at a past job of mine had one of these as his summertime fun car, in dark green with chrome wheels (Cragar S/S's maybe? I forget) and ~245/60R15 raised-white-letter tires; somehow just those changes made it look a whole lot more menacing than its sibling here in powder blue, wheel covers and whitewalls.

    1. Impalamino Avatar

      These cars can look 80s style tuff—jacked up, traction bars, big wide white-letters on Cragars…gold anodized Moroso valve covers under the hood, sitting atop the 454 you pulled out of an RV…minimally invasive 4-speed Hurst shifter atop a Muncie, nestled in front of the bench seat…8-track player stocked with Mountain, Skynyrd, and the Outlaws…Kraco 6x9s in homemade plywood boxes on the package shelf…
      My mother had a '79 Impala in bright red, first new car our family had ever had, and I came along right after we bought it. My earliest memories are in that car, and I still think they look bad-ass. Long live the full-size coupe!

  5. SuperD Avatar

    That 305 engine is junk – I had one in my '78 Monte Carlo and it only put out 140hp and it had a nasty lifter rattle that I couldn't seem to get rid of.

    1. Tomsk Avatar

      Hence the shout-out for the E-ROD; sure it's expensive, but you get 430+ hp and (if all the websites and press clippings are to be believed) CA smog legality.

  6. tonyola Avatar

    I never was that crazy about the styling of the '77-'79 Impala/Caprice coupe. To me, the roofline looks a little awkward – it would look better without the Hofmeister kink. I prefer the longer-windowed coupe style used on the concurrent Pontiac Catalina and Buick LeSabre. If I had a pick of the first-gen GM downsized biggies, I'd take a nicely-equipped 1977 Pontiac Catalina coupe (no vinyl roof, please!) with the 350, bucket seats, handling package, and gauge package.

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    And yes, I thought the hot-wire-bent glass was cool, too. The last Caprices did roll out of Arlington, but in 1978 they were building Cutlasses, Malibus, and Monte Carlos, which were selling like Qiana shirts.

  8. DeadinSideInc Avatar

    Who is "Karen Carpenter" and what is this cultural reference that is missing by about 30 years?

    1. DanRoth Avatar

      You're kidding, right? If not, sit down, we've only just begun…

      1. DeadinSideInc Avatar

        No – I had to look it up and while I'm vaguely aware of "The Carpenters" as a musical act I couldn't name a song/album or profess to even hearing a song of theirs, ever.
        Keep in mind when she died – closing in on 30 years ago.

  9. Stumack Avatar

    A buddy's older brother had a new '79 in Canada-only Bel Air trim. Same color combo as here – beautiful car. I prefer the '79 over the '78 both for its more "Chevy" grille and slightly wider recessed taillights.

  10. Anthony Voskinarian Avatar
    Anthony Voskinarian

    Dont forget a Hotchkis Suspension since parts are cary over the fine 96 Impala SS. Power is good but it is even better when you can turn.

  11. gold coast apartments Avatar

    Interesting! But I alternative views personally. But I unreservedly support your right to believe what you want.

  12. Rosalie Friederich Avatar

    Ahh real sports and baseball. One of the ideas I enjoy most about it is that one is able argue forever about the game, opinions and statistics are never ending.