Tuesday, October 09, 2007
1996 Chevrolet Impala SS What a Great Car ..
The 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS was in its best year, and it was a shame that 1996 would also be Impala's last. Doomed to extinction by the demise of the Caprice on which it was based, the highly touted Impala SS saw a number of significant refinements that improved what was already an exceptional car -- just as the axe began to fall.
In retrospect, it was surprising that the Impala received any changes at all. There had long been rumors that the Arlington plant would switch over to building pickups, so it couldn't have came as a shock to anyone on the Impala team. The Caprice returned in virtually carbon-copy form, and Chevrolet could probably have sold as many Impalas as it could build even if it, too, were a carryover.
But whatever the reason, Chevy engineers fixed almost every complaint leveled against the original concept, most aimed at the interior. It wasn't sporting, after all, to shift gears with a column-mounted lever, and what performance car could possibly be called complete without a tachometer?
In answer to the first objection, Impala was given a floor-mounted shifter housed in a proper console -- bearing an Impala logo no less. Then the instrument panel was completely redesigned, adding not only an analog tach, but also an analog speedometer to replace the former digital unit. Both revisions served to not only further distinguish the Impala from a garden-variety Caprice, but also to make it fit the mold of a true sport sedan.
Chevy anticipated building only about 15,000 Impala SS sedans for 1996. In most enthusiast's minds, it wouldn't be nearly enough. I love this car...David