BackgroundThe 1958 Chevy Impala was the most exciting new shape in a generation of cars but featured one year only styling. The 1958 Chevrolet Impala was Chevrolet’s top of the line model! It is often credited with starting the muscle car era and quickly became the symbol for performance in the early sixties. The Impala began as the top option level on Chevrolet’s Bel Air series and was available only as a 2 door hard top sport coupe and convertible in its introductory year.
The Impala styling followed the the basic lines of the Bel Air, Biscayne and Delray models but received special styling extra’s that can be seen in the images below. As with all 1958 Chevy’s it was longer looking and wider, too. One Chevy ad stated – Most Zestful, Restful Driving – your dollars ever bought! Another ad said Lower and Longer, Wider and Stronger…Deep Down New! 1958 Chevrolet Ads with images of “good times” appeared in most magazines of the time such as this 1958 Life magazine ad….
"Excitement rides with you every mile you roll in your new Chevrolet Impala. At rest or on the road, this sleek style setter promises action, gaiety, glamor and it keeps its promises beautifully. Come aboard and take the key to the happiest traveling on the highway".
Credit: 1958 Classic Chevrolet
This Revell USA
kit arrives in a compact and surprisingly deep top-opening box - something I much prefer to the end-opening style that we usually see in Revell Germany
Although the kit isn't complex, the parts are spread across a large number of separate sprues - presumably to allow mixing and matching for different models of the Impala based around the same core components (Revell's
Impala has appeared in a number of guises over the years and, although this boxing dates to 2016, the copyright moulded on the bodywork is for 2004). The sprues are all packed in quite heavy-duty clear bags, and everything in my kit arrived safely.
'58 Impala comprises:
51 x white styrene parts
62 x chromed styrene parts
6 x clear styrene parts
6 x clear red parts
4 x soft tyres
1 x metal rod
2 x metal screws
2 x metal pins
Decals for 2 x colour options
The moulding is generally very good - especially if the basic tooling dates back to 2004. There is a little whispy flash here and there on some of the sprues, but nothing serious. The exterior is highly polished, and there are no flaws that I can find. Not surprisingly though, to capture a complex shape like the Chevy's body, there are light mould lines in several places across the exterior that you'll need to polish way.
Conversely, the chrome-work is slightly variable in quality in my kit. Parts such as the radiator grill, bumpers and wheel hubs are excellent, but I did note a slightly "gritty" surface in places on the side trim.
The body, interior pan and chassis all join together very neatly. The interior pan forms the floor for the passenger compartment and the front wheel arches, while providing a bed for the boot compartment. Both the bonnet and boot are separate and hinged to open. They fit well and will stay open when raised. They have detail on their inner faces, but there are also some ejector-pin marks that will need cleaning up.
The doors are moulded closed. If you were ambitious you could modify them to pose open, but this would require some serious and tricky surgery.
With just the main body parts clipped together, the model already feels satisfyingly solid and weighty.
A Few Details
Construction begins with a full engine, which is quite nicely detailed and comprises 24 parts. The instructions don't show how to add ignition wiring, but there are plenty of references available online (see below) and the completed engine should look quite impressive with a little work. The twin exhausts are moulded as one piece, but separate slide-moulded chromed ends are provided for a hollowed look.
Both the front and rear suspension are very simple, but they'll look fine. There's no option to steer the front wheels, but you can set the ride at two different heights.
The wheels themselves are designed with soft-moulded tyres that accept white styrene sidewalls. The instructions would have you leave the plastic unpainted, but it does look unnaturally bright to my eyes, so painting it cream will be a better option. The soft tyres have pretty good treads and feature maker's logos. They'll need a little careful work to remove mould lines and sprue attachments, but a quick test with a sanding pad indicates that they'll clean up nicely.
The interior pan includes integrally moulded bottoms for the rear seats and mats on the floor for the driver and front passenger. Overall, the interior is quite simple in terms of the number of parts (only 9), but it has some crisply depicted details. The door panels will repay careful painting, while the dashboard is supplied with decals for the speedometer, gauges and clock.
The seat upholstery is quite convincing for a showroom-fresh car, and Revell
provide decals for the fancy striped covers for one of the kit's colour options. (This striping varied in conjunction with the choice of the exterior finish - see the link below).
It's worth spending a bit of time on what Chevrolet described as their "Luxury Lounge Interior
". As one 1958 brochure apparaently described things "In your ’58 Chevy you’ll be surrounded by new luxury, new smartness – comparable to the costliest of cars. Vibrant colors in exciting fabrics, ribbed vinyl’s always in harmony with whatever exterior tones you choose
With the interior completed, attention turns to the body shell and its drop-in windows. The main clear parts are very nicely produced, with no signs of ripples or other problems. The windscreen is designed to wrap around and form the side vents, and it also comes complete with sun visors moulded on. The rear window is separate, and the interior of the roof has moulded-in ridges to represent the lining of the full-sized original.
That leaves the side windows - or, rather, the lack of them. Sadly, Revell
don't include any glazing for the sides. Admittedly, this does allow you to inspect the interior better, but you'll also need to add frames and guides if you want to depict them raised.
The bonnet and boot clip neatly in place and (slightly to my surprise) stay there while you slot in the chassis/interior pan which traps their hinges securely. The chassis slots into the body at the front, while two small screws hold everything tight at the back.
With the car sitting on its wheels, the instructions show it's time to attach the chrome trim to the sides, but I think I'll fit it before
closing up the body. The last additions to the exterior are the rear lights and bumper.
Strangely, the very last stage in the instructions shows a few final additions to the engine and, to be honest I can't see why (at least until I start building the kit...) they wouldn't be better fitted earlier. Along with the side trim, this is probably the only point at which I'll probably do things differently to the instructions' suggested sequence.
Instructions & Decals
The instructions are produced as a 16-page booklet written in English, French and Spanish with construction broken down into 19 manageable stages. The diagrams are clear and well-sized, and even relatively inexperienced modellers shouldn't have trouble. Suggested colours are keyed to most parts and these are matched to a list of generic colours with no mention of Revell's
One odd point is that there's no diagram showing the sprue layouts. Instead, there's a simple list of parts. This is actually good in one sense, because it tells you what the various components in the engine etc. are - so it has an educational value - but the downside is that it's no help whatsoever in finding the parts on the sprues.
show two colour schemes for their Impala. The first is 2-tone blue and white, while the second is all-white with red pin-striping, which is supplied as decals.
The decals appear to be very good quality, and are gloss finished with minimal carrier film. Some items of what should be chrome trim are included on the sheet, but the ink used is more of a dull aluminium, so most modellers will turn to Bare-Metal foil or similar as a more realistic alternative.
Overall, I'm very pleased with Revell's
'58 Impala. While it looks to be quite a straightforward build, it certainly seems to capture the look of the original nicely. I think the designers have pitched things just about right, producing a kit that's simple enough for less experienced modellers to get great results that will encourage them to continue with the hobby, but also providing an excellent basis for superdetailers to go to town on.
The kit doesn't appear to be in Revell's
current catalogue, but it is still readily available online in new condition and I'd say it's definitely worth adding to any collection if you like American classics.
A Few Useful Online References1958 Chevrolet Body Colours
1958 Chevrolet Interior Colours
Restored '58 Impala video "walkarounds" HERE
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