Lest you think the Winding Road team is all about turbos and carving corners, here’s a shout out to the muscle-loving, bigger-is-better crowd and their definitive late-model flagship, the 1994-1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. Lord Vader, your car is now a Keeper.
The bathtub-inspired Chevrolet Caprice of the 1990s seems an odd platform to base a performance machine upon, but that’s exactly what the General did when they unveiled the Impala SS concept nearly 18 years ago to the day, at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show. It’s amazing what a few minor design tweaks, a set of cool wheels, and a monochromatic paint scheme can do to a bloated design, but the 1994 Impala SS was a hot commodity when it hit showrooms for $25,000. Menacing looks not withstanding, the Impala’s success was closely tied to something called LT1, the well-known designation for GM’s high-performance 5.7 liter V-8 that powered Camaros and Corvettes of the day. Engineers recognized the importance of adequate low-end grunt to motivate the Impala’s full-figured form, so while the LT1 churned out a healthy 260 horsepower, engine tweaks delivered a thumping 330 pounds-feet of torque at 3200 revs. Hooked to a beefy four-speed auto, the SS hustled to 60 in about 7 seconds and tripped quarter-mile lights in the low 15-second range. Picture yourself back in 1996, dogging a brand new Mustang GT from stoplight to stoplight in granddad’s grocery getter. It’s okay to smile at that thought, unless you were the Mustang driver back in the day.
And don’t forget, the Impala also has cop tires, cop suspension, and cop brakes to go along with the cop motor, though we don’t recommend running it on regular gas. Nor do we recommend daily trips to local open track events, unless you’re talking about quarter-mile test and tune runs. Yes, the Impala SS does have a steering wheel so it does technically turn. And truth be told, it’s actually not such a bad handler for a battleship. Never the less, this car’s first, best destiny is straight-line thrust, V-8 howling an American war cry while small children run for cover. That is, unless they’re strapped into the baby seat next to the driver, in which case they usually just grin and wet themselves like we often do like children often do when subjected to something so unabashedly entertaining.
Get rowdy with the Impala SS in the Winding Road Forums, and get ready to go Impala SS shopping in the next episode of Keepers. In the meantime, reacquaint yourself with the SS by spying the video below.