1996 Chevrolet Impala SS
8-cyl. 350cid/275hp SFI
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Derived from the Caprice and built on the GM B-body platform, the 1994-96 Chevrolet Impala SS was first teased as a concept car at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show. The production version differed little from the concept and was produced at GM’s facility in Arlington, Texas. It was equipped with the Caprice’s 9C1 police package, which included such goodies as beefed up suspension, a high-capacity cooling system, dual exhaust, a transmission cooler and larger disc brakes. A limited-slip rear differential was standard, and the SS rode on 17-inch alloy wheels. Prices started at around $22,500.
Under the hood was GM’s 5.7-liter LT1 V-8 also used by the Corvette and Camaro. In the Impala, however, the LT1 had cast iron cylinder heads instead of aluminum as well as a different camshaft set up for usable torque rather than peak power and two-bolt main bearing caps instead of the four on the Corvette. Horsepower was 260, but torque was an impressive 330 lb-ft. At 4,300 pounds, the Impala SS was hefty, but it was lighter on its feet than it looked thanks to bits from the 9C1 package, and it would do 0-60 in seven seconds and the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds.
1994 models were only available in black with a gray interior, and just 6,300 were sold in that shortened model year. In 1995, the similarly sinister shades of Dark Grey Green and Dark Cherry Metallic were added, and over 21,000 were sold. In 1996, a further 42,000 Impala SSs were sold, and revisions included a redesigned instrument panel with tachometer and relocating the shifter from the column to the floor. The car’s days were numbered, however, as the whole B-body line was discontinued after 1996, making this the last of the rear-wheel drive Impalas.
These cars make solid, comfortable cruisers and they’re quicker than most people would guess. Other than general 1990s GM build quality issues, the Optispark ignition fitted to the LT1 is prone to failure, although many have been fixed or retrofitted with a better system by now. After an absence of a few years, Chevy brought back the Impala for the year 2000 as a front-wheel drive V-6 sedan. There was an SS model, but most people see these 1994-96 cars as the end of an era.