Jimmy Bradford’s 1958 Chevrolet Impala

Jimmy Bradford’s 1958 Chevrolet Impala - Article & Photos by Richard B. Clark


 It was an era in American automotive history of large, chrome laden road cruisers. With no gas mileage restrictions and government intervention to speak of, Detroit produced some of the largest, flashiest cars on the road. This was the American way of motoring in full size automobiles with all the comforts anyone could afford.

The 1958 full size Chevrolet was no exception. With a well designed lower, rounded look, wide stance and grill and attractive chrome trim, the top of the line Bel Air Impala was very impressive and bold. The Bel Air name wasn’t on the car anywhere, as it was just called the Impala. With three tail lights, other distinctive trim items and the South African Antelope emblem on the sides, this was a truly a beautifully designed automobile. With the factory optioned continental kit installed, the look was classy and bold.  

The Impala only came in a 2 door sport coupe or convertible. There was a new X type frame that helped lower the car to less than shoulder height and full coil suspension. In 1958 Chevrolet was the number one production car in the US, which it has been many times. 43,000 hardtop Impalas were sold and 17,000 convertibles that year.

Chevrolet introduced a new engine option for 1958, the big block 348 ci “turbo thrust” putting out 250, 280 and 315 hp. There were only less than 10% of these built. The 280 hp and 315 hp tri powered engines were called “super turbo thrust”. Jimmy Bradford’s  restored 1958 Impala here has the original 348 factory tri powered engine, being refurbished.

When Jimmy Bradford of North Zulch, TX graduated from high school, he bought his first car, which was a 1958 white Impala with a Continental kit. He would wash and polish it every Friday! He would even use Q tips to polish places he couldn’t get to with a rag. A friend of his would drive by to pick up his girlfriend next door to Jimmy and kid him about washing the paint off the big Chevy.

Jimmy would go cruising in Madisonville, TX and ride around the square to see the car’s reflection in the store windows. It’s easy to love a car when you get what you want and you’re young and impressionable. Can you remember cruising to your favorite malt, “root beer” or hamburger stand and hanging out? I can distinctly envision those times many years ago. These memories never fade.

As the years went by, Jimmy longed for another Impala just like the one he had as a youth. After Jimmy started looking in earnest for a classic car, his wife had asked him what car he would want. The answer was easy, another 1958 white Impala with a continental kit.

Jimmy found this one in an Auto Trader magazine and bought it from a man in Arkansas in 2003. In 2007 he had it fully restored by Kenneth & Billy Devries of Lone Star Restoration in North Zulch, TX. It has been put back as original as possible, taking about 6 months. The floor pans were replaced, the red interior redone and the car was repainted. With the factory Continental kit, this is one beautiful 50’s icon of the wide open road.

The drive train has been modified with a 350 turbo transmission instead of the powerglide. The car came with power steering but has been upgraded with modern power steering and alternator. Also, air conditioning has been added, which is a must in Texas!

Jimmy and his wife enjoy going to car shows and events in their Impala and he is quick to tell you his story and relive his past. He is fortunate to be able to recapture the past with nostalgia and just the kind of car that set his heart on fire back when. This is one of the most gratifying things for us to share with our fellow enthusiasts. When someone who had a special car or truck is able to replace it, so to speak, with another one, the joy and satisfaction is without price. The stories abound and are well worth listening to.








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