Unlikely Animal

America likes naming cars after animals. Usually scary ones. Viper, Raptor, Cougar, Stingray, Cobra, Barracuda, Falcon…  there’s a long list of predators in car form. And then there’s this; the Impala, named after a medium-sized African antelope.

We’re not sure what a medium-sized African antelope has in common with a large American sedan, and the name is all the more surprising considering the antelope is the prey of top predators and America really doesn’t like naming anything with a hint of weakness. Nevertheless, the Impala was a smash hit.

Part of that success was no doubt down to the Impala’s engines, which themselves had very exciting names such as ‘Blue Flame’, ‘Turbo Fire’ and ‘Turbo Thrust’, although none of which were actually turbo-charged.

Top of the tree was the ‘SS’, which used a 409cu (6.7 litre) ‘Turbo Thrust’ V8 in third-generation form as pictured here, and could produce over 400bhp. This is one medium-sized antelope that was more than a match for the predators.

This beautiful brick-built example of the ’64 ‘SS’ comes from Jakub Marcisz of Flickr, who has recreated the aforementioned ‘Turbo Thrust’ V8, and the third-generation Chevrolet Impala that it powered, in spellbinding detail.

The fantastic exterior is matched by an equally well-detailed interior accessible by opening doors, plus there’s an opening hood and trunk lid, and working steering too, with much more of Jakub’s stunning creation to see at his ‘Chevrolet Impala SS 1964’ album, where twenty top-quality images are available.

The Impala’s success would continue across six decades, but – as with all animals – it eventually succumbed to age. The Impala was finally taken out in 2020, not by one of the various predatorily-named cars it competed against, but by the SUV, with Chevrolet ceasing production in order to focus on crossovers.

And if there’s a car name less cool than a medium-sized African antelope, it’s surely the Traverse.

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