1995 Chevrolet Impala SS
1995 Chevrolet Impala SS Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase

Back in the heyday of the muscle car, Chevrolet’s Impala ran with the best of them, offering the kind of big-cube muscle that performance enthusiasts wanted. The Impala nameplate became legendary, thanks in large part to the performance flagship “SS” variant, gaining a following that still exists today.

But when the muscle car era ended, so did the Impala nameplate, though the car’s loyal followers never forgot it. Chevrolet didn’t either, and in 2000 brought the name back to serve as the name for an all-new family full-size sedan to replace the Lumina. While it is a competent car, this front-wheel-drive, V6-powered sedan just couldn’t come close to living up to the legend behind its name.

However, there was another car, sold in the mid-nineties, that bore Impala SS badging and was worthy of it.

In 1994, Chevrolet decided the Impala name had gone unused for too long. According to the Impala SS Club of America (www.goissca.org), Chevy took a Caprice Classic and painted it black, fitted it with sharp-looking 17-inch wheels with wide tires, four-wheel disc brakes, suspension lifted from the Caprice law-enforcement package and a limited-slip differential and voila! The Impala SS was reborn, and for the first time as a four-door sedan (In the U.S., the Impala was introduced for the 1994 model year, but it didn’t make it to Canada until 1995). The Impala SS was powered by the same LT1 V8 displacing 5.7 litres and putting 260 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque down through a four-speed automatic transmission.

For 1994, all cars were black. The only change for 1995 was the addition of Dark Cherry Metallic and Dark Grey-Green Metallic paint colours to the option sheet.

The ISSCA calls 1996 the best year for the Impala SS. For this year, the shifter was moved from the steering column to the console and the dash got a new gauge cluster with a tachometer in place of fuel pressure and voltage gauges. While the Impala was built until December of 1996 – well into what normally would have been considered the 1997 model year – the cars were all sold as ’96 models. At the end of 1996, Chevy decided to drop the Caprice and its B-Body buddies, taking the Impala SS with it.

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS
1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. Click image to enlarge

So what do you get if you buy one of these cars? Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, you get a huge rear-wheel-drive sedan with a potent and well-proven engine that basically amounts to a guilty pleasure on wheels for drivers who like torque. And considering the potential the engine possesses, fuel consumption is quite reasonable for a big car: 14 L/100 km in the city and 8.6 L/100 km on the highway. Of course, driven the way it was meant to be handled, the SS will drink far more fuel than that, but the Impala’s rating is very close to that of many modern mid-sized V6-powered SUVs.

Reliability here is tough to gauge. First of all, Consumer Reports doesn’t cover vehicles older than 1997. Second, the Impala’s basic running gear comes from a different era of the automobile and is hard to compare to many newer models. Consider this, however: most of the people who own these cars are bound to be proud of them, at least more so than the average sedan owner, so it’s safe to assume that most will have been very well cared for and many will not have been exposed to Canadian winters; a powerful rear-wheel-drive car just doesn’t make a lot of sense in a January snowstorm, and again, most owners wouldn’t want to risk rust or accident damaged caused by winter road conditions.

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS
1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. Click image to enlarge

Neither the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash test data for this generation of Impala, but the car’s substantial heft and tough body-on-frame construction has to count for something. Anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags were standard equipment on all cars.

When new, an Impala SS sold for right around $30,000 (a little less for 95s, and slightly more for 96s) but today, Canadian Red Book values a 1995 model at $7,750 and a 1996 at $9,475. The SS was more expensive than a Camaro Z28 of the day, and the same remains true on the used market. Not everyone gets the concept behind these cars, but sellers who do know what they have (and the vast majority do) will not likely be willing to let these cars go for cheap, nor will they necessarily sell to just anyone; they may wait for the right buyer to come along – someone the seller thinks will appreciate the car for more than just a burnout machine. It’s possible these cars could appreciate in value over the years too thanks to their rarity, especially in the case of all-original examples, so if you’re looking for one of these muscle bound cars, stick to unmolested examples that haven’t been damaged or tinkered with too much.

Some may argue that these cars are pure extravagance in these days of expensive gas and global warming and it’s true that few really need a large V8 powered sedan. But there’s a real allure to a car that recalls the glory days of the muscle car and no one can really blame you for wanting to own a little piece of automotive history.

On-line resources

www.impalasuperstore.com/naisso/Forum2005/ – Here you’ll find info on all of the so-called B-Body cars: Chevy’s Caprice and Impala SS, the Buick Roadmaster and Cadillac Fleetwood. The forums cover a wide variety of topics, but the Impala doesn’t get a whole lot of space here. Registration is free, and the site has 4,389 members.

www.impalassforum.com – This site covers all of the B-Body cars too, but the URL gives an accurate impression: these guys are a little more serious about their performance. There are more members too; 11,675 to be exact, so there’s a bigger knowledge base here. These guys love their Impalas: there are several forum sections dedicated to the Impala SS Club of America.


Transport Canada Recall Number: 1996025; Units affected: 1,942

1995-1996: Note: includes caprice police sedans, taxi cabs and special service wagons; Fleetwood hearse and limousine. The lower control arm ball joint attachment may be loose. This condition can cause the lower control arm ball joint to loosen, fatigue and separate from the front suspension knuckle. If separation were to occur with the vehicle in motion, loss of vehicle control could occur, which could result in a vehicle crash. Correction: front lower control arm ball joint attachment nuts will be inspected for proper torque. If the ball joint has loosened from the knuckle, both the ball joint and knuckle will be replaced.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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