(first posted 2/21/2016) A spacious cabin. Surprisingly good fuel economy. A controlled and relatively compliant ride. Low repair costs and widespread parts availability. These are attributes of the Impala SS that aren’t often discussed. After all, the Impala SS is an object of lust purely by virtue of its badass styling and powerful LT1 V8 alone. Any other attributes are simply a bonus for those enamoured with its swagger. Considering all of its strong suits, it’s clear the 1994-96 Impala SS was the ne plus ultra of full-size, body-on-frame sedans.
There was controversy when Dodge dusted off the Charger nameplate in 2006 for a sedan, but nobody batted an eye when Chevrolet dubbed its flagship performance sedan the Impala SS. It was the first four-door Chevrolet to wear the SS nameplate and the first Chevrolet to wear the Impala nameplate since 1985. Like Bel Air and Biscayne before it, the once mighty Impala name – introduced on the flagship Chevrolet in 1957 – had become a mere fleet special, popular with police and taxi fleets. Caprice had become the volume-selling full-size Chevy nameplate. By 1986, Caprice was the only full-size Chevy nameplate.
A controversial redesign in 1991 had dented sales of the full-size Chevy and so Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins requested Jon Moss of Chevrolet Special Vehicles to create something to stimulate some excitement. A show car was commissioned and displayed in 1992 and 1993, generating tremendous customer interest. The Impala SS reached production the following year, supplanting the existing sporty B-Body, the slow-selling Caprice LTZ.
It didn’t cost much for Chevrolet to engineer the Impala SS as it was basically a police Caprice underneath. This included the 9C1 police package’s heavy-duty suspension with stiffer shocks and springs, bigger front and rear stabilizer bars, larger (12-inch) vented four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and excellent stopping power, a 3.08 rear axle ratio, and a dual exhaust.
Photo above and below courtesy of William Rubano
Exterior modifications included a new grille, black trim around the taillights, a subtle rear spoiler, 17-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels in 255/50ZR17 all-season Z-rated tires, and a modified rear quarter window to provide a subtle but attractive kick-up in the beltline. It was this final tweak that was carried across to all B-Body Chevy sedans for ’95. The only color at first was black, but Dark Grey Green and Dark Cherry were made available for ’95. The interior was swathed in gray leather and bereft of woodgrain.
The Impala nameplate was catapulted to the top of the full-size Chevy price list, with the ’94 SS retailing for $22k. However, that was a bargain considering the power on tap: the 5.7 LT1 V8, also available as an option on ’94 Caprices, pumped out 260 hp at 5000 rpm and 330 ft-lbs of torque at 3200 rpm. It was detuned somewhat from its Camaro and Corvette applications, the latter of which offered a cool 300 horses, but unlike those coupes it could run on regular; gas mileage was rated at an impressive 17/25 mpg. Also unlike the coupes, it came with only one transmission: a four-speed, column-shifted 4L60-E automatic.
With a curb weight of 4,218 pounds, the Impala SS wasn’t going to break the sound barrier. However, 0-60 was accomplished in 7 seconds, rather rapid for the time and a noticeable improvement over the 4.3 V8 in the base Caprice which produced 200 hp and 245 ft-lbs.
Eurosport, Euro and LTZ were the nameplates worn by sporty Chevrolet sedans during the 1980s and early 1990s. They had featured firmer suspension tunes, floor-mounted shifters and blackout trim, but none of them had been especially exciting despite their European pretensions. The ’94 Impala SS was an unashamed throwback to the golden age of American muscle and yet it offered extremely capable handling for a car of its sheer size. Sure, the seats were too soft, there was no tachometer, the speedometer was digital and the auto transmission was column-mounted (a console shifter, tachometer and analog gauges were only available in 1996), but the Impala SS was otherwise an adept all-rounder.
The Impala SS had been intended as a niche vehicle and, true to that purpose, initial production was limited: only 6,303 units were produced for ’94. But as the popularity of the line became clear production was increased, jumping to 21,434 in 1995 (only 15k had been planned) and 41,941 for its final season.
Its success was linked to its unique value proposition. It was priced closely to the Ford Taurus SHO, Pontiac Bonneville SSEi and Eagle Vision TSi, all fun-to-drive and powerful sedans. But as they say, there is no replacement for displacement and in that respect, the Impala SS was unparalleled: there were no rival performance sedans at this price point with rear-wheel-drive and a V8 engine. The closest thing was optioning the heavy-duty suspension on a Crown Vic, but that left you with a deficit of 50 horses and 60 pound-feet of torque.
While Impala SS sales increased each year, the rest of its B-Body brethren – Caprice, Buick Roadmaster, Cadillac Fleetwood – were seeing their sales shrink. GM decided to retool the B-Body’s Arlington, Texas factory for truck production. The B-Bodies would not be moved to another factory and the axe fell on all of them.
The Impala SS name would reappear in 2004 on the W-Body, front-wheel-drive Impala with a supercharged 3.8 V6. The 2004 SS was 600 pounds lighter than the ’94, so despite having 20 fewer horses and 50 fewer pound-feet of torque, it reached 60 mph just as fast. The redesigned 2006 SS packed an even more powerful 5.3 V8 with 303 hp and 323 lb-ft and bested the ’94 in off-the-line performance. But neither of these FWD flagships have anywhere near the following of their 1994-96 predecessor, and the 2006 SS in particular was marred by poor handling and a weak transmission.
There is no longer an Impala SS, but Chevrolet will sell you a sedan known simply as “SS”. A rebadged Holden Commodore, the SS packs a 6.2 LS3 V8 with 415 hp and 415 ft-lbs of torque. It also has a modern chassis, excellent handling, an available six-speed manual transmission and Magnetic Ride Control, not to mention the latest in luxury and technology features. It’s the best car nobody knows exists and it isn’t long for this world. Some criticize it for its inoffensive styling but that complaint is baseless. After all the Impala SS, visually, was a subtly tweaked version of the oft-derided ’91 Caprice. With time, the current SS will become a hot collector’s item, especially given its production numbers that make the ’94-96 look as popular as a Ford F-Series by comparison.
The ’94-96 SS is on its way to becoming a collector’s item despite its relatively high production numbers. That collector status will be well-deserved. The Impala SS was an impressive end to a long and storied history of full-size, body-on-frame Chevrolets.
The featured Impala SS was photographed in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
COAL: 2003 Mercury Marauder – Quicksilver
Curbside Capsule: Buick Roadmaster – Flint’s Last Land Yacht
Curbside Classic: 1995 Chevrolet Caprice Classic – Engineer’s Choice
I took a 350 mile trip as a passenger in an Impala SS about 15 years ago. What a treat. Power, handling, quiet, roomy, and awesome.
Averaged about 85 mph driving on Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Southern Utah. With bursts of over 100 mph in spots. Very impressive.
Have you seen these Buick Roadmaster wagons that are all Buick RM interiors, all Chevy Impala SS wagon exterior with a LT1 under the hood. We had one for sale at our transmission shop several years ago. I was a bit confused upon getting inside the car and it was all Buick Roadmaster inside, complete with tan leather and glass roof section.
Unlike the sedans, The Roadmaster Wagons shared front sheet metal with the Chevrolet. (most noticeable on grille shape.) Conversion would be conceivable. I’d love a Roadie sedan like it, but it (and it should be law…) would have to have the classic Buick road wheels!
The 2006 Chevrolet Impala SS 4 Door Sedan (albeit it was a smaller FWD W-Bodied version) in essence actually replaced both the FWD W-Bodied North American Chevrolet Lumina 4 Door Sedan and the original 1996 RWD B-Bodied BOF Impala SS 4 Door Sedan (not the Caprice Classic since its replacement came in 15 years later as the Holden Caprice based still RWD Chevrolet Caprice PPV) might still be produced today in limited numbers for fleet owners which made this design a longer existing design produced alongside the current modern design Impala. The 2006 redesigned Impala actually looked like a scaled down version of the original BOF RWD 1996 version.
These are one of the few cars from the 1990’s that’d I still desire to own. It’s amazing what a few subtle tweaks was able to do for this cars styling when compared to a 1991 Caprice. I liked the 1991 Caprice when it was first released, but now I admit the styling is was a product of the era, and it just looks dated and not particularly good looking, especially compared to a 1990 Caprice. That said, I think the styling on the 1994-96 Impala SS has stood the test of time well. As disappointed as I was when GM cancelled the B-body production, at least it sure went out with a bang.
FWIW, I do recall the “muscle car” crowd moaning about the Impala SS coming with four doors, never mind the fact that you could order a 1961 Impala SS as a 4-door. I also recall that same crowd complaining about the 3.08:1 gears not being performance oriented enough. Regardless, this car seemed to be an almost instant collectible and had a good following from day 1. In my opinion, I don’t think the current Chevrolet SS has that same following, and my prediction is it won’t be as collectible as the 94-96 Impala SS.
“FWIW, I do recall the “muscle car” crowd moaning about the Impala SS coming with four doors, never mind the fact that you could order a 1961 Impala SS as a 4-door.”
I didn’t know there was a 4 door SS back then. Interesting. The fact that the Impala came in all bodystyles made these ’90s era ones less of a stretch.
IIRC for a while in the early sixties the SS was basically just a trim package, and you could even get it with the six!
In 1961, some mandatory options were required to get the SS package. This included HD springs, shocks and metallic brakes. Also required was one of the 348 engines or the 409, and either the Powerglide or the 4-speed. In 1961 is was available on any Impala except the wagon. For 1962 it basically became a trim package and could be ordered with any engine including the six but was limited to the Impala 2-door hardtop and the convertible.
That explains why Aussie driver Borm Beechey’s 1962 Impala 409 4-door hardtop was not an SS. I imagine any SS equipment would have been upgraded anyway.
Incidentally the Holden Monaro could have the GTS optioned with a 6-cyl too, which hurt the status a bit.
Yes, “Hemmings Classic Car” magazine recently had an article about a 1960s Impala SS convertible (a ’63 or ’64 I think) that came with the straight six from the factory.
I’d rather have a Panther. Oh wait….I DO!
That is a great looking car. Car magazine tested one and gave it the thumbs up, unusually for a British publication.
The last Caprice I saw was the standard body, last version, in Rotterdam and I was impressed by the styling. I think they were better looking than their reputation suggested. I’d possibly prefer the Buick version though.
GM’s beached whales from the nineties were quite commonly used here as taxi cabs, hearses and funeral procession cars.
And not always in black, white or silver.
You could do a lot worse for a hearse; it has much less awkward lines than many coachbuilds.
As long as I can remember Chevrolets (and also Buicks) have been widely used here as hearses. Below an older -and more conventional- example. And I do agree, much better looking than the latest mobile greenhouses.
They look much more prestigious when they’re not a shape and size you see every day. I’ve noticed this on the odd occasion I’ve seen one down here.
The local funeral home has a pair of Roadmasters for hearses.
These were very much in the aesthetic vein the Grand Nationals of the 80s were – declutter cheesy plastichrome trim bits, give it a muscular bespoke bit here and there, paint it black and throw on a set of aftermarket looking wheels. Somehow GM managed to hit home runs with that formula. Same problems exist though, as much as everyone more and more loves the Turbo Buicks, they like the Impala SS still had awful interiors, the Impala dash in particular looked more like something out of a fleet grade Express van.
I remember the SS well as a kid in the 90s, as it was one of those few “new” cars that would show up to a classic car cruise night without people turning their noses up to it (as one would to Corvettes or the PT Cruiser fad). That’s one BIG difference between the Impala SS and the current Chevy SS, people really truly knew the 94-96s were special when they were new, even people not necessarily on top of the lineup, whereas today the only people who know or recognize the SS are hardcore fringe enthusiasts. I saw many Impalas when they were brand new, well before I commuted as I do now, and I can’t say the same about SSs. I can’t help but believe those will remain a small cult car in the collector community, pretty much where cars like the Thunderbird SCs reside today.
Plus I think it’s more special and more true to being a muscle car to start with something pedestrian, the whale Caprice and 80s regal had that in spades, when a car is presented as a ground up performance car with no lesser sub model, as the SS is(in the US market mind you) is the muscle car label really accurate? To me it’s simply a sports sedan, in the BMW vein, even if it does have 200 more horsepower on tap from what I considered a Muscle Car 20 years ago. I think in many people’s minds that’s the case, as the Germans and Lexus are close and possibly overall more appealing alternatives. Back in 94-96 though, nobody was cross shopping an Impala SS with a 5 series, it’s demographic was the V8 Camaro/Firebird/Corvette/Mustang demographic.
I actually like the new SS. But I don’t like the price, and surely don’t like the steep depreciation it undoubtedly has. Same car as the G8 GXP really, but those
are getting on age wise now. Maybe someday I’ll find a lightly used SS for a deep discount. Or better yet, a cherry unmarked light-use detective Caprice PPV.
Which brings me to 2 questions. 1)Do they actually use PPVs as unmarked units? To people like us, it’s obvious what it is. 2) Is the street people/criminal type rank and file actually cognizant enough to notice them anyway?
I’ve not seen the Caprice PPV unmarked yet, all have been done up with full livery.
And that steep depreciation on the new SS is something that I’m looking forward to. That steep depreciation that the SRT8s have as well. I’ll be looking to add to my big muscle sedan/wagon collection in a few years, and that SS (with magnetic ride and manual trans) will look awfully tempting in a few years.
I worked with a lady that had a 94 SS, she was in her early 60s and looked (and sounded) quite a bit like the inspiration for that puppet “Madame” used by a young entertainer in the late 70s-early 80s…..Waylon, and I forget his last name. The puppet had long white hair kept in a very tight bun, until she really needed to make a point.
Anyway, I was surprised when I first saw who owned this car sitting in the company parking lot.
Unfortunately, as this write-up points out, the 94s lacked a few items I considered truly essential to a modern interpretation of an SS, as in a floor shifter and analog instruments that included a tach. But give Chevy/GM a lot of points for producing it and for offering the current SS.
GM knew how to build proper muscle-car-type interiors back in the sixties and early seventies – then seemed to lose the plot and got fixated in oldie-think. Sad.
I’ve always been a fan of these big whale Impalas, I thought that these were cool looking cars that delivered the necessary grunt and performance that most cars of its era didn’t deliver. I actually tried looking for one as a first car, (Especially a 96, I always thought it would be fun to have a car that was made the same year I was born), but alas, I couldn’t find one in the SoCal area for a decent price and the large size and less than stellar mileage ended up being taken out of consideration for my parents. I still look for one though, although the majority of the examples I find in my area have been subjected to “tasteful” modifications by the owner.
This was one of very few Chevrolets over the years that I *Really* wanted to buy when they were new. Unfortunately, I was in peak small children years and my “real car” money was going into a Ford Club Wagon instead.
It has always amazed me what that little C pillar kickup did for the overall looks of this car. The original whale Caprice never looked right to me, but the SS was spot-on, as good as this body ever looked in any version.
When these were new, most of them seemed to be owned by police officers. From what I have seen, used ones became expensive right away and remain so, relative to everything else of their age and class.
Chev had a cool ad for this car with the tagline “Lord Vader Your Car Is Ready” Did the author of the above article mean the Impala was introduced during fall 1957 as a 1958 model?
The Lord Vader ad was the first one to announce the return of the Impala SS for 1994. Looking closely in the ad, it appears the original 1992 SEMA show car was used complete with the ROH wheels. The production wheels were made by Superior Wheel, and look like a slightly out of focus version of the ROH units. Apparently the part of the low production numbers for 1994 was due to Superior Wheel having supply issues.
Aha! No wonder the wheel design looks familiar, ROH sold them in the aftermarket in Australia.
I had this two page ad hanging in my college dorm room as a poster. It was because of this that I met my best friend in college… we bonded over this big boat.
“There was controversy when Dodge dusted off the Charger nameplate in 2006 for a sedan, but nobody batted an eye when Chevrolet dubbed its flagship performance sedan the Impala SS. ”
A few reasons for this. Many of us ‘muscle car guys’ don’t accept anything with more than 2 doors as the real deal. These Impalas, the SS/G8 and the Mopar LX’s have helped to soften that. As Bill M mentions above, the Impala was always available as a 4 door…SS just signifies its the performance model.
In the Charger’s case its more complicated. First off, the Charger/Magnum/300 were a return to Mopar’s V8 rwd performance roots. They were fielding 2 sedans and a wagon against ponycars, with no direct competition. The fwd Mitsu V6 powered Stratus/Sebring coupes and the Viper were as close as you could get. More importantly, unlike the Impala, ‘Charger’ specifically referred to a performance oriented upgrade to lesser B’s with a whole new body…specifically a 2 door hardtop. It was NEVER available as a sedan. Even the fwd L body Chargers at least looked the part for the time, and could be spec’d for real performance. Had the Charger been built as it is, and called Coronet, Monaco, Satellite, or Savoy it wouldn’t have been an issue. With an upgrade available with 2 doors or even an RX-8 type of clamshell setup as the Charger, itd have been a different story. But the Challenger has quieted most of those rumblings and the LX has obviously been a success.
Whats funny to me is the Big 3 constantly try to beat the Japanese at their own game by fielding scads of fwd V6 cammaccord knockoffs only to be derided for what garbage the are. Yet when Detroit does what it does best, and builds a powerful rwd bruiser with presence and robust simple mechanicals, its a slam dunk…yet many times, they quickly give up on a winner.
I think the Charger had better throwback styling in the first LX iteration it wouldn’t have been as much of a problem, I personally scoffed not just because it was a 4 door but that it just looked like a clunky ugly toy. The 2011 update with the 68 throwback details made me much more embracing to it.
I agree with the last part totally as far as large cars go. FWD and transverse engines are best suited to midsize and down, whereas when you’ve got the extra mass and girth full size has to offer the whole traction/ space efficiency aspect goes right out the window. It’s just cheaper for midsize technology to trickle up now a days since the self fulfilled prophecy of big cars not selling came true. Pretty much the inverse of the 60s-70s, where big car engineering was essentially scaled down all the way to subcompacts.
I thought most of what Daimler wrought in the name of Chrysler’s cars looked like chunky, ugly toys. To me, even the highly touted Chrysler 300 looked like a caricature. The midsize Sebring and Avenger looked chunky, awkward AND ugly. It was obvious, Daimler wanted to set up Chrysler as its lesser (and thus, foolishly, their whole enterprise as a failure…you don’t succeed by not doing your best). Couldn’t have the cars from Auburn Hills look better than those from Stuttgart, “No, Sir, Mein Boss Man. See. Only ve Germans build da Goot Stuff.”
Yeah, you don’t win by intentionally not doing your best. It’s not like Mercedes was really going to have sales stolen from them by Chrysler if they actually put in the effort to make Chrysler a solid near luxury marque. That would put them up against Buick, Caddy and Lincoln, not Mercedes.
The 2nd Generation 300 looks much better than the first, IMO. They also feel better screwed together with much better quality materials.
As to the Impala SS, it’s one sporty car I actually like. I’d still rather have a Fleetwood or a Roadmaster but I always seem to gawk at an Impala SS when I see one.
Also, they pretty much had to call it Impala SS. Can you imagine a Caprice SS? Just doesn’t sound right.
It is funny, I was just wondering whether they would have been better off calling the current car the Caprice SS! The other decent suggestion I have heard is Chevelle SS, either one would be better than just SS in my opinion.
Last week’s ’84 Impala made me remember that once they finally united all B-body Chevys under the Caprice nameplate, they had an odd quirk in the nomenclature for the rest of the “box” generation;
Caprice Classic Brougham LS
Caprice Classic Brougham
I wonder what was wrong with “Caprice Brougham” and “Caprice LS” and whether it was a conscious decision that the trim level names should stack, or whether it just happened.
If the choices were “Caprice Classic”, “Caprice Brougham”, and “Caprice LS”, it wouldn’t be at all obvious what the pecking order was.
In the middle east, the 1996 Impala SS was imported and badged as the Caprice SS. Here’s an image of the script that was used.
MoparRocker, I apologize if my post wasn’t clear. 1961 was the only year that you could order the Impala SS with any Impala body style except the wagon. In 1962 it was limited to the 2-door and convertible.
Now I’m curious how many four-door ’61 SSs were sold and what the post/hardtop breakdown was…Can’t have been many or it wouldn’t have been one year only!
I also think that historically, the Charger ALWAYS being a 2 door made the revival controversial. Impalas became available on all body styles after 1 year exclusively as a coupé. and the SS package not being so limited in scope. I can see where the MoPar fan would be upset! Even the “broughamy” Charger of the ’70s had 2drs! But we do live in a weird auto world where there is a Porsche CUV?!? and there was a $100,000.00 Volkswagen?!? So my traditional get of my lawn mind kinda sorta accepted the Charger sedan, as at least it is a CAR. Then again in the 50’s Chevrolet DID show off a Corvette wagon.!
I always thought Dodge should’ve announced a 2-door Charger as an April Fools’ prank that would be the four-door shell with only the front two doors installed and gaping holes where the rear ones would go.
In the last year of B-Body production at Arlington, TX, my in-laws’ neighbor decided he would trade his Buick Roadmaster (Roadmonster, we called it) for the last model year of the RWD Cadillac Fleetwood. The dealer detailed it flawlessly on arrival, including removing and saving the factory window sticker, which clearly reminded anyone who would read it, who had built this top-of-the-GM-line chariot: “Assembled by Chevrolet Motor Division.” Alfred Sloan would have been appalled.
The plant had not yet been transferred “on paper” to GM Assembly.
Here’s a very well documented 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood with many picutures, including the Monroney sticker which clearly states “Final Assembly Arlington, Texas USA” No mention of Chevrolet Motor Division on the window sticker.
To my knowledge Arlington was never a Chevrolet-operated plant. It opened in 1953 as a BOP plant and for a time in the ’50s even built Cadillacs to meet the demand in Texas. I don’t think they started running Chevys until the ’64 A-bodies.
I remember what I saw…and that the Buick sticker did NOT say the same. Probably it would not be proper to go ask the widow if that stuff is still around, though.
The exterior modifications along with lower ride height went a long way in making the whale body look less offensive, I’ll give Chevy that. But still nothing close to my cup of tea.
+1. These always seemed way too big to me, and the interiors were too plasticky.
I see a stretched 4-door sedan version of this in its side-profile.
I have also seen that. The trim and wheels made it look a little like a large BMW or Mercedes at a fraction of the price.
Now I can’t un see it!
The BMW 6 coupes always look a little like the late Corvair to me.
I have had my 96 SS since new. Bought it 20 years ago in January. Very few problems over the 103000 miles I have had it. Nothing much better on the highway and usually will get 25 to 26 on the hwy. Yes you can nitpick over the cheap looking dash, but the car does have a presence about it. Wish I had a dime for every time I have been asked if I want to sell it. Here is a link to a write up I did about it and my other B’s several years ago.
For some reason these always reminded me of a 90’s suburban. They’re both boats, and very heavy. and its funny, same 4L60-E, Same 10 bolt rear, (different ratio) and both body on frame. These and Caprices always turn my head where I live, we don’t have many around here in Maine.
My all time favorite Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes are from the 90s. I love the boxy styling.
If only it wasn’t for that awful pregnant whale styling. Otherwise a desirable car.
These always looked bloated, ugly , and a like a desperate attempt to recapture past glory. It didn’t work IMO. While older Impala SS’s are seen strong and stately and their styling seems classic , here the styling seems to cry out bloated whale with ugly bumpers. I see a rust-bucket, rattle filled, clapped out taxi with a rather tasteless “SS” badge stuck on.
I agree. But also, you have to remember this was the 90s when the car was produced. In my opinion, most cars from the 90s are the ugliest.
As many have said, it is amazing how some tweaks to the bloated ’91 Caprice created a cool car.
What hasn’t been said is how truly desirable they became. The resale value on these in the immediate years after they went out of production was incredible. A super clean low mileage car could command original price or more.
The phenomenon was enough to inspire Ford to create the Mercury Marauder several years later. Which itself was quite amazing as it was one of the few triggers to get Ford to advance a Panther offering during its long love it – kill it relationship with the Panther. But, it took so long for Ford to jazz up such an old design that they did not recapture the magic.
There is a reference in the post to a 4.3 liter GM V-8 being standard in the full-size Chevy of this era. This is an error. The 4.3 was a V-6.
Incorrect. It was a V8. However, there was a 4.3 V6 during the previous generation’s run.
Oh, for the love of God, you are right. I even did a little bit of research before making my comment. The lopped GM 350 V-8 / 4.3 V-6 is rather famous. The 4.3 V-8 a curiosity.
The 4.3 V-6 was around forever. It started in 1985 and finished in 2014 as a Mercury Marine boat product.
Actually, 190 HP from that 265 didn’t seem so shabby at the time.
In 1994 to 1996, the standard engine for all production Caprice sedans (both civilian and police) was the 4.3L L99 V8. This was very similar to the B/D-Body iron headed LT1. Both engine are part of the GEN II SBC family.
My Dad just bought a 1996 Caprice sedan with the 4.3 V8 – he had never heard of it until he ran the vin of the car before purchasing.
One interesting tidbit is that the online forums claim that the 4.3 V8 is the same displacement as the original SBC of 1955. If true that would be some weird little trivia for an owner.
For a time, I owned an engine from a 1996 Impala SS (that was planned to be put into a non-original 1969 Corvette, and instead later into a 1997 Trans Am convertible – neither project actually happened).
I remember the panic that ensued when I first learned of the 4.3L V8, thinking that my Craigslist purchase might be that instead of its larger-displacement sibling.
One has to check the casting codes on the block to know for sure.
About that “Butt Ugly” dashboard and instrument cluster…….
Yeah, my exact thought six years after you. A steering wheel stuck into a giant loaf of Wonder Bread would look better.
I’ve never been a fan of the Chevy roachmobiles – what were they thinking?
However, if I ever own one, the only color these look good in to me is that gray-green. I will never own a black car.
Also interesting is how close my 2012 Impala resembles those early 1990s Impalas, only a lot more refined.
The only reason these are popular is because they’re RWD, which I admit is better for sheer power and handling.
The Dark Cherry Metallic (DCM in the forum lingo) looked pretty awesome as well and wasn’t very common.
Until early 2000, the Doraville County in GA had the Impala SS as cruisers. I got tell ya… They were the most bad ass Cop cars I’ve ever seen….
I also remember in one issue of the Motor Trend magazine back in the 90s, they brought together all the Modern Muscle Car for a comparative test and the 4 doors Impala SS was faster then the Mustang…. A hard pill to swallow for a Mustang giuy like me.
There is an older couple who live a few blocks away and drive their grey-green Impala SS to the shopping centre for groceries and such on a somewhat regular basis, sadly even in winter. I have no idea what year their car is, but one of these days I’ll meet up with them and ask The. About it. The SS appears to be in good condition on the outside. Love to have it but it would never fit in our garage.
Did they have to paint ALL of them.. in DARK colors only?? Big error, IMO.
There are several comments above noting that before the 1994 Impala, the “SS” name had only once been used on a four-door, that being the 1961 Impala. Actually there was one other – the 1973 Chevelle Malibu. Weird thing was, you couldn’t get an SS sedan, but you could get an SS wagon! Not many people did. The SS wagon was available with either a 350 or 454, with a 4 speed manual or 3 speed automatic, and included the standard SS trim pieces and tire/wheel/suspension upgrades. 1973 would be the last Chevelle SS of any kind, although the related El Camino offered an SS package right to the last colonnade models in 1977.
The Impala SS was a great way to showcase all the high-performance parts that had previously been available in the Caprice and went largely unnoticed (except by police departments). It somehow looked a lot better too, despite having few differences. The kickup in the rear quarter window (at first done using a fill-in panel, but later worked into the actual sheetmetal) helped improve the appearance from the original 1991 “whale” Caprice. The other key styling change was opening up the rear wheelwells. Early whale Caprices looked like they had fender skirts, but actually the body was shaped that way with no skirt that could be removed (the wagons never got this revision). I recall the rear track was widened some at this time too. I liked the Impala SS grille better than the Caprice’s as well.
I haven’t checked prices, but I’m guessing both the ’90s Impala SS and the ’10s SS are already collectable, though each has its own strong points. The later SS benefits from more power, a more modern and manageable size (though this means less room inside), manual transmission availability, and more modern safety and tech features. I don’t think it looks as good, certainly doesn’t have the presence of the Impala SS, and despite being much newer is likely to be more expensive to maintain. The Impala as noted benefits from sharing most of its parts with other popular U.S.-built GM models, whereas Holden-based cars never sold well in America and now Holden itself is gone. I doubt the FWD Impala SS’s will ever be very collectable.
Too bad then back when GM introduced the FWD Impala SS, they didn’t do an AWD version who could have been a modern incarnation of the 1988 Pontiac 6000 STE who got a 4×4 drivetrain. What might have been…
I have to admit I really like the styles of the 1950s and 1960s and the muscle cars (oh how I wanted a ’69 Charger), but as the 1970s wore on the cars got cranky and broughamy, and then the 1980s gave us boxy vs. bean shapes and FWD and emphasis on MPG. And then one day I saw one of these, I don’t know which year, but it was black and had those ROH wheels and I saw that Impala logo with the SS. I saw something as a cross between a ’64 Impala and a mid-80s Taurus, only meaner looking. It was the first American car in two decades that oozed muscle and sex-appeal to me. “Bad-ass” is an apt description, and also “killer-whale”–an apex predator. I was mired in my annus horriblis that I wouldn’t emerge from until 1999-2000 and moved on to a … Nissan Frontier. The fact it was 4 door didn’t faze me since in retrospect as mid-size was mostly taking over the world, and 2 door coupes people looked to sporty smaller and mostly European and Japanese cars, full size meant “4 door”. But that ’90s Impala SS was the first real attempt to capture the 1960s with a 1990s flavor. I remember nothing about the ads, but the Darth Vader one seems on point. I’m not surprized that it’s now on the collectable list. I’m surprised that it didn’t have a tach, and I remember mom’s Chrysler New Yorker with the digital dash (thumbs down), so that’s a small minus. I thought the later Impalas (some were police specials) looked shrunken in comparison to this one, and I thought of as a down-sized disaster in styling and name brand (since they had two tail-lights on each side, maybe call it the Bel-Air or Biscayne instead).
I bought a 95 dark cherry back in 1997 and enjoyed it for several years. It really was a nice car with tons of room and power. I even coaxed it through quite a few snowstorms with the stock tires. And I did prefer the column shift and digital speedo, what can I say. One GM foible was the rear wheels not being centered in the openings but that didn’t seem to affect anything.
I still don’t like these – solid rear axle in 1994 on a performance car ?!?
One could ask Ford and the Mustang the same question. Or the F bodies.
I’ve seen a few instances of what look to be ex-police Caprices sporting Impala SS badges and grilles. Generally with very non-stock rims and paint jobs.
Even as one who rabidly hates most everything GM, I have to admit this experiment came out well. The subtle styling changes/trim, really did make it much more attractive, maybe a sporty whale rather than a beached one. It seems they even did their homework in both straight line and sideways performance. I’m a little puzzled on the colors though, I don’t remember any Dark Cherry, but I do recall a whole lot of Burgundy ones. (wink, wink, I hate pretentious naming)
Still not my cup of tea, but the result came out well, very well for what they had to start with.
Not my cup of tea at all. The term ‘whale’ was used commonly to describe these cars. I preferred ‘blimp’. I thought when these were cornering, they would just roll over and keep going. Overround, overbulged, overshaped. Even our local police who had to drive them disdained them. I was glad to see the end of this design.
I dislike most all of GM, and have forever, with the exception of some of the collonades in the seventies. Having said that, I had an ’81 Bel Air which I thought was nice and trim in design. Since that was the predecessor design before these killer blimps, I thought GM made a huge mistake in coming out with these. Granted, there are many who loved these cars. To each their own.
Or was there another iteration before the blimpmobiles? I am checking..
Impala SS in action on the Nurburgring, with a Russian driver and his wingman guffawing and being impressed at the same time. Very entertaining, and considering the car’s massive size, acquitted itself well on the ‘Ring. Love this video.
The video just above this is indeed entertaining; I imagine everyone at the ‘Ring that day was a little surprised to encounter it.
I’d always heard about the kickup in the rear window being the result of a filler panel in the first year 94’s but never can recall seeing an example of it until the “Lord Vader” ad above; amazing what that little bit of plastic did for the looks. The rear end is just bizarre though…THIS, not crossovers and other modern vehicles, is far more egregious example of the “designers must have given up when they got to the rear” trope.