1973 Chevrolet Impala Custom Coupe 350 2V
A stylish V8 cruiser for people who don't care about practicality
Timing chain broke shortly after purchase, necessitating a new chain, a new camshaft, new lifters.
Coolant hose burst.
Heater core leaked.
Battery tray partly eaten away by battery acid; this had happened before I bought the car.
Some rust-out in lower part of right rear fender.
Other than the broken timing chain, which seems to be a common malady on Chevy small blocks, the defects which occurred were insignificant and took little effort and money to fix. After the new timing chain, camshaft and lifters were installed, the 350 turned out to be very reliable, running like a charm with a smooth idle and good pickup.
Considering the bulk of the car (length: 5.64 meters/222 inches, width: 2.02 meters/79.5 inches) and its weight in excess of two metric tons, the two-barrel 350 V8 with its 145 net horsepower did not exactly turn the Impala into a dragster. I drove the car flat out once and the speedometer indicated 112 mph, which means the Impala was capable of a true 100-105 mph. 0-60 mph was in the 13-second range, not fast, but quick enough for me. The 350 2V was the smallest V8 available in 1973, the largest was a 454 with 245 horsepower. That would have been more fun, but the fuel bills would have eaten me alive.
Handling was about what one can expect from a car this big, heavy and of American descent: marked understeer, but always predictable and safe if driven within the confines of its quite simple suspension design.
Brakes were surprisingly good (standard front discs with power assist) and not nearly as whimsical as those on my previous car, a 1966 Chevy Chevelle with drums all around.
Apart from the little bit of rust, the body was in very good shape (the car's last American owner had lived in Florida) and solid. Fit and finish were okay, not bad, but not really good either.
The interior was comparatively well-maintained, with the bench seats still offering plenty of support and the seat springs still strong. Only the dashboard had been exposed to too much sunshine and showed multiple cracks.
Plenty of room inside the car and the trunk, but at the expense of a lot of wasted space everywhere. Well, that's the way American cars were in the those innocent days prior to the first oil crisis and CAFE legislation.
Fuel consumption was not overly excessive, however: Driven conservatively, the 350 Impala would swallow 15 liters of leaded regular per 100 kilometers (approx. 15.5 mpg, if my math is correct) on average.
The main problem with the Impala was that it was simply too big for any German city. Parking spaces that would fit the Chevy were almost nonexistent, inner city parking garages were inaccessible due to narrow on-ramps. In the end, that was what spelled the demise for the Chevy. Owning the Impala was great fun for a while, but it became just too impractical in the long run.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th May, 2002