If you're a fan of the Impala and other Full Size Chevy classic cars, you may have already read our 1958-1964 Impala Identification Guide. That article included illustrations scanned from the original GM documentation, in order to help you spot the differences between these vehicles. Today, we'll provide a similar visual guide to the 1965-1969 Impala, as well as related Chevrolet models such as the Biscayne, Bel Air, and Caprice. From potent Super Sport muscle cars to practical family sedans and wagons, this era of Full Size Chevy vehicles had it all.
1965-1969 Impala & Full Size Chevy
Above: We photographed this customer's daily-driven 1965 Impala SS in the Classic Industries Retail Showroom.
In the early years of the Impala, exterior design cues often changed drastically from year to year — for example, it's very easy to spot the difference between a '59 and a '60. As the line matured, there were still many differences from one year to the next, but they became a bit more subtle. The illustrations and images below will help you distinguish these five model years, as well as body styles and related models within the Full Size line.
Note: The numbers after each model/body style represent the first five digits of the VIN: the first digit indicate division (always 1 for Chevrolet), the second and third indicate series code, and the fourth and fifth indicate model code. For example, 15311 indicates a Chevrolet Biscayne 6-cylinder two-door sedan. Check out our Full Size Chevy & Impala VIN Decoder article and scroll down to the 1965-71 section for a table that explains all of this in greater detail. You can also check our 1965-69 Impala Specs article for charts of the available configurations.
1965 Impala & Full Size Identification
Above: 1965 Impala SS photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions
After the success of the 1964 Impala, Chevrolet had some big shoes to fill for 1965. This year marked the beginning of the fourth generation of Impala/Full Size, with an all-new body design, full-width rectangular frame (rather than the X frame that preceded it), and redesigned suspension. This year marked the first year of the luxurious, top-of-the-line Caprice model.
Click the image above to view a larger version. The 1965 Impala featured dual headlamps in a smoothly-contoured front end, and three round tail lamps (much like the '64 Impala). Bel Air models had only two tail lamps, making them easy to spot.
1966 Impala & Full Size Identification
Above: 1966 Impala SS photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions. The red '66 Impala photo at the beginning of this post is also courtesy of Mecum.
The 1966 Impala and Full Size models added some subtle changes to the front and rear styling. The grille featured squared-off corners and enclosed the headlamps; the tail lamps mirrored this, as they were housed in thin rectangles instead of three circular lenses. Another notable change was the addition of bright exterior trim down the midsection of the car.
Click the image above to view a larger version.
1967 Impala & Full Size Identification
Above: 1967 Impala SS photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
For 1967, the Impala was restyled with more dramatic "Coke bottle" curves reminiscent of the Corvette. The front end featured a wider grille with prominent corner lamps at each end, as well as a larger bumper. The tail lamps were trapezoidal, and included three distinct segments as a nod to the Impala's heritage.
Click the image above to view a larger version.
1968 Impala & Full Size Identification
Above: 1968 Impala Custom Formal Coupe photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
In 1968, the Impala received a redesigned front end with a slimmer bumper that split its grille horizontally. The headlamps were inset in chrome bezels, and sat next to smaller turn lamps on either corner. Rectangular side markers were added to the fenders and rear quarter panels to comply with new federal regulations, along with bezels around the front markers that listed engine displacement.
Click the image above to view a larger version. The Impala/Full Size returned to three separate tail lamps, although they were semi-circular as opposed to round. A Formal Coupe body style was offered for two-door Caprice and Impala models, and featured a more angular roofline with upright rear glass.
1969 Impala & Full Size Identification
The 1969 model year marked the end of the fifth-gen Impala/Full Size, but it still introduced some substantial changes. The body was redesigned with flatter sides replacing the "Coke bottle" curves, although there was an oblong flare added around all four wheel wells. A chrome bumper now completely surrounded the grille and headlamps, and the side markers on the front fenders were now oriented vertically.
Click the image above to view a larger version. Tail lights were changed yet again, with three separate squared-off lenses. Top-of-the-line wagon models were now referred to with the Kingswood name.
Looking for 1965-1969 Impala & Full Size Chevy Parts?
Classic Industries offers thousands of restoration parts for the 1958-1996 Chevy Impala, as well as Full Size models like the Caprice, Bel Air, and Biscayne. We also have a great selection of performance parts and aftermarket upgrades, if you'd like to resto-mod your vehicle or build a custom lowrider. Click the button below to get a free, full-color Impala/Full Size Chevy restoration parts catalog.