General Motors recently closed a chapter in automotive history that provided more than one thrill for young Americans. It announced from Detroit that the 2013 Chevrolet Impala will be the last sedan to feature a front bench seat. Chevrolet’s first sedan, built in 1911, had a three-across front seat, and that design has been available ever since.
Over the years, bench front seats gradually became so uncommon that recent car buyers had to pay a premium to get them. Last year, GM said, only one in 10 Impala buyers was willing to pony up an extra $195 for the flat seat.
“A lot of people prefer bucket seats because they’re sporty, even in models that aren’t sports cars, the Associated Press quoted Clay Dean, GM director of design, as saying. “Our customers also appreciate the center console as a convenient place to store their phone and other personal items.”
|Farewell, bench seats.|
Those bench seats were good for lots of more interesting things than serving as a place to park your sunglasses. Dean admitted as much: “There is certain nostalgia for bench seats, like being able to snuggle up with your date at a drive-in movie . . . “
The announcement of GM’s intent to make Chevrolet sedans a lot less fun observed that they and other automakers will continue to offer front bench seats in pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. In recent years sales of these vehicles have boomed while GM sedan sales declined. I always wondered why, because many owners of the more-rugged vehicles are never seen hauling anything or traveling on backcountry roads. Now I think I know.