1971 Impala

Anyone have experience with/interest in the 71 Impala? I always liked the look of this car. I saw one yesterday on the Interstate, though, and it looked huge. I guess I remember them in the context of all the other early 70’s cars. I had heard the 400 engine was one to avoid in these Impalas. I don’t remember why people said that. Any thoughts on the engine and the 71 Impala in general? Thanks

They were huge. The 400 was a bored-out 350, not related to the big block 396/454. It had ‘siamesed’ cylinders, so I guess the cooling was suspect.

Yes, it is an old vehicle and not really a collector item.

Avoid the one with the RATO.


The mythical rocket-equipped Impala that inspired the Darwin Awards and an episode of Mythbusters

JATO, RATO tomato tomahto

I prefer a '63 myownself…

I’ve only found one on the market so far, on Autotrader Classics and that one has a 350/4spd with custom wheels and at least Edelbrock air cleaner and valve covers. If i’d be more comfortable dealing directly by the owner but it was listed by some company out of Las Vegas and the car’s on the east coast.

We had some as company cars. The gas mileage was hideous! About 14 mpg highway and 9 mpg city!! GM was clueless as to how to meet the emission standards from the Clean Air Act.

The 454 engine was also very thirsty and in addition had a tendency for high oil consumption.

The only good thing I can say about those cars was that the had a quiet and smooth ride while going in a straight line on the highway. So, great for a cross country trip if you had just win the lottery.

That’s a perfect way to put it. Lol.

It was really no different than any other full sized car of that era. And back then, a full sized car could pull a travel trailer with relative ease.

There were 3 memorable Impalas I saw as a child. My parents were Ford people, and I loved the Mustangs, Torinos, Galaxie 500s, and the LTDs I saw.
I remember my neighbor’s 65 Impala- specifically the rear tailights. I remember a 68 Impala Custom coupe in white with a dark blue roof. Beautiful in profile. Grill was elegant to me. And I remember the 71 that a friend of the family had - though it used oil a lot, I recall. It was gold metallic with a white roof. A pretty car. Those Impalas stood out. For me, the most appealing full sized Chevy would probably be the 73 Caprice Classic. The Bradys has a convertible one on TV - a 74 too. I am old enough to have watched The Brady Bunch as a kid. Lol

Correction. had

I drove my boss’s 1974 Caprice sedan to run a work errand one day about 20yrs ago, would have been more enjoyable on the open ro but I was on heavily traveled roads with vague steering and a larger car than I’m used too

I grew up with a Datsun 510, VW rabbit diesel, and a Volvo 144 as our 70’s era rides.

My brother in law who is used to small cars with rack & pinion steering once borrowed my Caprice when he was visiting. He had trouble getting used to the size and the sloppy “broken shaft” feeling of the steering which was the old recirculating ball type. And that steering was much more precise than the Ford or Chrysler steering gear of that era.

The overheating problem with the 400 small block Chevrolet V-8 was actually problem with the head gasket blowing out between cylinders 3-5 and 4-6 due to the narrow gap between the bores. Under hard acceleration the narrow metal between the cylinders would heat and burn out resulting in a notch being burned in the block. The 400 Chevrolet engine made for a great Boulevard Queen ride but would never hold up to any competition.

1 Like

It’s cheap to replace an engine in that car when compared to recent ones. Parts used to be cheap.