Im sure a lot of 7th generation Impala SS owners (and Fiero owners and F-body owners and Cadillac Allante owners) will agree with me when I say that just about the time GM gets a unique car perfected, they cancel it. Surviving for just three years, the Impala SS tapped into a trend most of us didnt even know existed: the hot, full-sized, rear-wheel-drive sedan. Sure, who among us hasnt aspired to own a police car, and thats the foundation of the Impala SS, but when these blacked-out cruisers hit the streets with flashy 17-inch wheels, a lowered ride height, and an LT1 stolen from the Corvette it really was remarkable. And somehow, the formula was exactly right, because a few years later Mercury revived the Marauder using essentially the same formula, and it totally fizzled.
These Impala SS sedans were special, both then and now. How do I know? Because its 14 years later, and most STILL trade hands for their original sticker price or more. Name another production GM 4-door from the past 40 years that can claim that. And if youre going to buy one, this is the one to own: a 1-owner, Dark Metallic Green SS with just 17,401 original miles and a ton of NOS replacement parts purchased when the car was new just in case.
Dark Metallic Green is the rarest of the three Impala SS colors, with only 10,676 being painted this color in 1996, the final year of production. Its an interesting color, being not quite green, but not quite gray, and its perfectly suited to a stealth cruiser like the SS. Unlike garden-variety Caprices, the SS enjoyed a lot of body-colored trim and a radiused rear wheel arch, which eliminated the only real complaint anyone ever had about the cars shape. The rear quarter windows were also rounded off (initially with a piece of plastic trim, but later cars have re-contoured quarter panels), and there are unique body-colored IMPALA SS badges on the flanks. With such low mileage, you know this car has never been abused, wrecked, or repainted, and it presents as a collector piece that has been a protected toy from Day One. Its 100% factory paint, 100% factory sheet metal, and 100% factory trim, leaving you with a car that looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor. The owner, upon learning that the cars production would end with the 1996 model year, acquired several thousand dollars worth of factory replacement parts, including wheel arch moldings, emblems, and other pieces that are still in their original wrappers. Those parts alone would probably finance a nice trip to Florida or Vegas, but Im also the kind of guy who hangs on to stuff just in case.
A car that looks like this couldnt have just any engine, either. The original show car in 1992 was powered by a 500+ cubic inch big block, but the production car had to use something a bit more production-friendly. The solution was easyjust dip into the Corvette parts bin and pull out a 350 cubic inch LT1 engine. Modified with cast iron heads and a different camshaft that improved low-end torque for the heavy Impala, it generates 260 horsepower (versus the Corvettes 300) and a neck-snapping 330 pounds of torque just off idle at 2600 RPM. The engine bay was not, however, designed to be flashy, with much of the engine hidden under a ribbed plastic intake cover. This cars engine bay is 100% OEM, and looks factory original in every way. Given the low mileage, I would guess that everything but the battery, filters, and fluids is original and it has never been modified (which is exceptionally easy and popular on these cars). These engines are virtually indestructible, and with routine maintenance, 100,000 miles is not uncommon. This one fires up instantly, idles smoothly (perhaps TOO smoothly), and runs like a new car. What else would you expect from a package that was routinely hammered by police forces and taxi drivers across the country?
Backing up the LT1 under the hood is GMs reliable 4L60E 4-speed automatic transmission, suitably beefed-up for performance duty in the SS. Show cars have been seen with 6-speed manual transmissions, and kits are available to retrofit a 6-speed from an F-body into the Impala SS, but from the factory, your only choice was the slushbox. A set of 3.08 rear gears on a limited slip differential are packed into the live axle out back for easy high-speed cruising and surprisingly good fuel economy from such a large car. The factory dual exhaust system allows the hot engine to breathe, but remains relatively quiet and civilized, perfect given the SSs sport/luxury mission. Chevrolet added a special ride and handling suspension derived from the police package and threw in a quick-ratio power steering unit (12.7:1 vs. the standard 15.3:1 ratio). Tuned front and rear stabilizer bars and deCarbon gas-pressure shocks helped the Impala keep its composure in the twisties, and its remarkably agile for a 4000-pound luxury car. Standard four-wheel, 12-inch diameter ventilated disc brakes and 4-wheel ABS handle the stopping duties admirably. Perhaps the Impalas most striking feature, those machined aluminum 5-spoke wheels are a relatively large (and they were positively HUGE in 1996) 17x 8.5 fitted with beefy P255/50ZR17 BF Goodrich Comp T/A performance radials. Everything is 100% OEM under there, with no signs of damage, rust, or other issues. As I said, this is as close to a new Impala SS as youre likely to find.
For 1996, the SSs interior got some welcome upgrades, including the shifter moving to the center console, and a true analog speedometer and tachometer in the dash. The entire interior is a study in 90s General Motor interior design, with simple, easy-to-use switches and controls in an ocean of gray. Leather was the only choice in the SS, and in this car it remains in excellent condition with very little wear and no damage, including the SS embroidery in the headrests. The carpet shows few signs of use and has been protected by factory carpeted floor mats since new. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and feels good in your hands, more akin to the wheel in a Camaro than a luxury car. And as a luxury car, its loaded with options, including dual power seats, power windows, power locks, A/C, cruise control, rear defrost, and a powerful stereo system. And the back seat is the kind of huge space that you just dont see any more. Bring 3 or 4 of your closest friends with you, and nobody will complain about the accommodations back there, with plenty of stretch-out space. However, given the condition of this cars back seat, I dont think anyone has spent any significant time back theretheres zero wear. The trunk is just as tidy, with the original jack and space completely unused and the cargo net still in place. Nice!
Documentation includes the original window sticker showing a sticker price $26,140 remember what I said about these cars still changing hands for sticker price 15 years later and original owners manuals.
Frankly, Im astounded by how rock-solid the prices on these cars have been, and I would certainly expect that to continue. As more and more of them are modified or just plain used up (I saw a sad, tired, abused SS on the road a few days ago), the ones that will consistently top the price guides are the low-mileage, unmodified, original cars like this one. Add in the fact that it has every available option and is painted the rarest of the three SS colors, and you have a car that quite reasonably could be expected to appreciate in the future. No, you wont be able to buy it now and send your kids to college with the proceeds in 18 years, but if youve been looking for a clean one to have some fun with, you could certainly do worse. And if the time ever comes to sell it, I can almost guarantee youll at least break even. A cool car, made even cooler by the passage of time. Call now!
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