In honor of Impala die cast miniatures going out this week with the Supernatural Season Three DVD set at Best Buy, I'm devoting space this week to gush over the third main cast member, the always dependable car of Dean Winchester, aka the Metallicar. 
The Impala
I'm sure there's a few of you going, "How can you do a character breakdown of an inanimate object?" There's no character growth or evolution, just a thing. The answer is because the creative minds of this show have given the Impala/Metallicar life. She's (yes, Dean said her a few times) as vital to the Winchester family as Sam and Dean, and still going strong when most others from that year are scrap in junkyards. 
The Impala caters to our romantic notions of cruising cross country in an awesome classic car. We love the car because it's as pretty as the men riding in it and together, they rock.   
Before I go on, a random Impala trivia question.  First correct answer gets the honor of taunting their friends in superiority. 
What were the two episodes in which the Impala did not appear? 
Besides the fact she's a fine looking vehicle, how much do you know about the Impala? Here's some general facts:
-          The Winchester family vehicle was constructed in 1967, and is the four door sedan model. The four door option is rare, for that usually was ordered with the station wagon. The four door models were also used for cop cars, which is what the first Supernatural Impala was before being pulled off a studio backlot and repainted black. Standard models came with only two doors, which is likely why die cast models of a 1967 Impala only have two doors. 
-          The Impala was part of the large vehicle class, with a 119 inch wheelbase, 4 inches longer than the more popular mid-sized Chevelle. I saw an Impala and a Chevelle side by side at the Woodward Dream Cruise in Michigan, and the Impala looked like a massive tank in comparison.
-          The Metallicar is the regular model, and not the SS (Super Sport) that has been Chevrolet's high performance package since 1961. For the record, Bobby's Chevelle is an SS, for the logo appears in the middle of the front grill and in the center of the trunk lid. 
-          The Impala was ranked at the time by Chevrolet as just below the top luxury brand (Caprice). 575,600 cars were made that year, ranging from $2740 to $3234 in price. 
-          The Impala weighs around 3800 to 3900 lbs, but include a trunk full of weapons and two large Winchester brothers, and she's really packing some weight.      
-          The transmission is automatic, with the gear selector on the steering column.  It should be noted the Impala used in the studio (the night driving scenes) has the gear selector in the center near the floor. Yes, there are seven Impalas overall, and if you study the screenshots hard enough, the differences can be identified. Another difference, the interior in the studio car is all black, while the location vehicles have beige interiors with black seats. 
-          The standard engine for that model was a 327hp eight cylinder, but it's possible that this Impala had 385hp since it was a four door cop car.  Looking at the brief shots of the engine from "Fresh Blood", I speculate the engine was rebuilt, and in a really sweet way. 
-          The fuel economy sucks on a '67 Impala. It gets around 8 miles to the gallon. Considering it was new fuel economy standards in the mid 70's that killed the styling of these muscle cars, I'm sure it's a price Dean is willing to pay.
-          Impalas are still made today, although they aren't anywhere as cool.
Why Metallicar?
"Metallicar" is a moniker created by fans, because of Dean's love for Metallica, but never used once on the show.  The word "Impala" wasn't uttered until Sam said it in season two's "In My Time of Dying", and it wasn't identified as a "˜67 until Andy mentioned it in "Simon Said". Still, fans easily figured it out. We also learned in "Dead Man's Blood" that John gave the car to Dean, who had the nerve to imply Dean wasn't taking care of his most prized possession. If I were the Impala, I would have gone on all "Christine" on him.
From the word go, the Metallicar made a lasting impression by merely taking her place in the background, providing solid support for the three Winchesters as they watched their house burn and mourned a deep family loss. That symbol often comes up throughout the series, the car being the rock behind Sam and Dean as they weather through rough encounters. 
Looking closer, the Impala so far has provided the only consistency in Sam and Dean's lives. She was there, offering solace in "Phantom Traveler" when they wrestled with their dad's cell phone message; in "Home" when they were at the gas station, realizing that they were dealing with something that brought up too many scars; in "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" when Dean came clean about his grief over his father's death; in "Croatoan/Hunted" when Dean finally confessed his dad's warning about Sam; in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part I" when Dean hung onto his "baby" when overcome with the vision of Sam; in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II" when Sam came to the devastating realization that Dean made a deal for him, and in "Malleus Maleficarum", when a crushed Dean learned that he would turn into a demon in Hell.
Anxious brotherly moments have often played out in the Metallicar, for when it was time to air grievances, Sam and Dean knew they were among family.   We saw Sam's struggles with his guilt in "Bloody Mary", the anxiousness of both while waiting to confront the yellow-eyed demon in "Salvation", the promise from Dean to save Sam in "Born Under A Bad Sign" and all those fights in season three over Dean's impending doom. There's even the bittersweet sing along to Bon Jovi in "No Rest For The Wicked", giving us something else for the long list of touching moments that were only shared in this private setting.  
The Metallicar got to play action hero plenty of times too. While watching the Pilot, I screamed at Sam for denting such a pretty car when crashing through the house, even though that saved him. Good thing she was built like a tank. The Metallicar zoomed in at the last second to save the day many times, graced with awesome power and speed, like in "Playthings", "Malleus Maleficarum" (twice), and even "Route 666" (providing the only redeeming performance in that episode). As a getaway vehicle there's no comparison, carrying both Sam and Dean away in kick ass fashion at the end of "Nightshifter", and during the escape in "Folsom Prison Blues". The car even got a new identity, much like her owners, in "What Is and What Should Never Be". Talk about being included in family matters.     
Metallicar played a role in bits of comedy too. Who can forget the less than glorious appearance, all dirty and mean, parked among the very expensive cars in "Provenance"? How about being there when Sam was called a pervert by a passerby while he was watching Meg from the car in "Shadow"? Or being part of Sam's practical joke on Dean, blaring the radio full blast when he turned on the car in "Hell House"? Or having to transport one pissed off Ellen Harvelle in "No Exit" with "Cold As Ice" playing on the radio? In my favorite bit, the Impala became a pawn of The Trickster, driving a wedge between Sam and Dean in "Tall Tales", for the deflated tires led to the wrestling scene, which makes my list of funniest moments.     
Oh, but the Metallicar knows how to break our hearts too. Sure, there was the postcard moment at the end of "A Very Supernatural Christmas", but it's the near demise at the end of "Devils Trap" that sticks with us.  I knew Sam and Dean weren't going to die, but man did I have my doubts about the car. I thought they'd have to find a new one. Who could forget Sam and Bobby at the junkyard, examining our smashed hero, in perfect parallel to Dean, who was clinging to life at the hospital? Bobby was ready to call it a loss (just like the doctors were giving up on Dean), but no, Sam couldn't. "If there's only one working part, that's enough. We're not just gonna give up on"¦" Yes Sam, we know you were talking about Dean too. 
"Everybody Loves A Clown" was just as powerful, for both the Impala and Dean were in healing mode. Both looked pretty bad. The subtle parallel of Dean attempting to fix the car while he couldn't fix himself affected us profoundly, resulting in the explosive scene of him taking it all out on the trunk lid with a crowbar. The Impala was there for him, even wounded, showing she was tough enough to shoulder his grief. The fact that Dean did that with the car and not with Sam around speaks volumes about how much he relies on his baby. 
Then we get the triumphant return in "Bloodlust". The Metallicar even got her own theme song, "Back in Black". Perfect. Cruising on the open road is what she does best, which is likely why we get so many riding off into the sunset shots at the end of various episodes.  Yes, I even enjoyed watching her peel off to the goofy theme song in "Ghostfacers". 
Sure, it's possible I'm over-romanticizing what could be considered a glorified prop, but given the fact that Kripke has a rule that the Impala must be on all the DVD covers and calls her the third main cast member, I'm thinking not. The Impala looks great for being 41 years old, weighing almost 2 tons and being made of pure steel. Considering she's outlived many others of that class, she's not doing bad at all. Being a survivor is crucial for a character on this show, so no wonder the Metallicar belongs.         
I'm curious to see how fast someone gets the trivia question. Since the premiere is a couple weeks away (still sobbing!), I'm working on some entertaining distractions to share. Until then, enjoy your repeat of 90210 in the Supernatural timeslot this week. 

(NOTE:  Two people did get the trivia question when this was published.  The answer:  "The Usual Suspects" and "Hollywood Babylon")