There are a great many things that this beautiful country, America, has created that we no longer need. Jello salad from the 1950s, for instance. It’s fine to acknowledge it as something that happened, but you don’t need to preserve any of it for later generations. So why the hell does this 1981 Chevy Impala with only 31,000 miles exist?


Okay, I can see one reason. Much like James May said of the Morris Marina, we can preserve one as a warning to future generations Lest We Forget. A message of doom from the past, a pristine, shining example of 3.8-liter 110-horsepower V6 mediocrity. The ever-so-cromulent Automobile Catalog lists its top speed as 98 MPH (theoretical) because no one has ever driven a 1981 Impala even close to that speed without the nagging desire to steer it straight into the nearest body of water overcoming them.

These early 1980s Chevrolets really were the epitome of a bad time for the American car industry. While we’ve ranted about the Malaise Era a bunch of the years, for a little bit of perspective the contemporary Corvette was wheezing out just 190 horsepower from its 5.7-liter V8. Things were bleak.


And yet, somehow, this Impala, the automotive equivalent of Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, is here before us on Bring A Trailer. It is, of course, in great shape on the inside, and that beautiful maroon front bench may be this car’s only redeeming feature:

But again, I’m simply stumped as to why this exists. Why buy a 1981 Chevy Impala to begin with? Why would anyone mostly just park it? Why would anyone essentially just keep it parked, averaging out less than 1,000 miles a year, but keep it fully maintained with regular service intervals? Did they only drive it to the mechanic for regular tune-ups, and that’s it? Was this the plan the entire time on the initial purchase? Did something go unspeakably wrong, leading to this situation? Did they have one true love who just went out for a pack of smokes, and in anticipation of their return (which was surely coming any day now) did they lovingly maintain the only shred of them they had left, a 1981 Chevy Impala? Did they hold out hope, as their family, friends, and loved ones all drifted away, that the Impala owner would come back? Is this Chevy Impala the only remaining vestige of a life with dignity, a life filled with joy and laughter, a life filled with 1981 Chevy Impala?

We don’t really know, but the seller says it was owned by his uncle’s friend. It’s still up for auction with no reserve, so start bidding if you want answers. We all want to know how deep this rabbit hole goes.