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Buyers Guide 1994-1996 Impala SS

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I had talked to Camino a few weeks back about writing up buyer's guides every so often about some of the cars shown in hemmings muscle machines. he thought it was a good idea, i'll give credit where credit is do and be upfront that i didnt write these or do the research for that matter. i wont do a copy and paste type deal but i will type it up more short and too the point than what they have. So, here for the first one (more if ya'll like them) is the buyer's guide to the 94-96 Chevrolet Impala SS



At the end of 1987 there were slim pickings amongst the Chevy loyal that would satisfy the sporty rwd v8 hunger inside. There was the pleabian fullsizers, but save for the camaro and corvette, there were only trucks that would be powered by the bow and pushed by the stern. Granted in the truck department there were some tasty treats to be had by clicking off the super sport option on the silverado (which we will save for later down the road) there wasnt much that one could choose in the performance market. In 1991 the new caprice debuted and that got some designers thinking. By tweaking the body here and there, then placing it on the caprice's frame they had something. They took it a step further and added a spoiler, a different grille, and a nice black paint job. Rounded out the combo with some slick 17" wheels and the new GEN II 5.7 LT1 from the 9C1 caprice along with its other equipment like the heavy duty four wheel disc brakes and the concept was a hit. They dubbed the beast, Impala SS. The SS moniker for the impala was last seen on the 69 models, and the impala name itself had been in storage since 1985. The car had very big shoes to fill by bearing such an iconic name. The question was, would it live up to the crown?

The Engine


The impala ss featured a 5.7 LT1. The engine block was the same as the camaro and corvette of that same year, the difference being in the heads and the camshaft grind. The Impala sported iron heads instead of the aluminum heads of the camaro and corvette which achieved 260hp. The particular camshaft was different in that it favored torque, 330lbs-ft to be exact, enabling the big sedan to provide exceptional acceleration for the day.



The transmission for the Impala SS was the 4L60-E, the replacement of the 700-r4. The E designates the transmissions use of electronics to control shifting instead of the mechanical of the 700-r4's. These transmissions are very reliable and are the same transmissions used in the automatic camaro's, as well as light duty trucks. Although able to stand up to moderate abuse, failures can occur. Mostly these are due to frequent severe conditions or upgraded power. These transmissions can be readily rebuilt from parts that are widely available. In fact, the internals can even be swapped out to convert it to the 4L65-E for even more reliabilty and performance.

Rear End

All Impalas came equiped with Chevrolet's 8.5" 10 bolt rear. The gears housed inside were 3.08:1 limited slip positraction. The 8.5" 10 bolt was the successor to the famed 12 bolt rear and has been in use since the 1970's. Replacement parts are widely available here as well due to its use in everything from passenger vehicles to trucks. Many ratios are available as well. However, if changed from the 3.08 gear, the PCM will have to be recalibrated to adjust for the change. There is a label that is on the inside of the trunk lid with production codes GU4 for the 3.08 and G80 to show positraction. It should be noted that while all 9C1 caprices had the 3.08 rear gear, positraction was not standard.


The impala ss is based on the 1991 caprice, however beneath the skin the underpinnings can be traced all the way back to 1977 when GM downsized their fullsize lineup. Most of that was directly from the 73-77 intermediate colonades. This gives the impala a proven foundation of unequal-length a arms, front coil springs, a four link coil spring rear live axle, and a fully perimeter frame. That frame is also the same heavy duty frame used for the 9C1 police package. One difference between the two is the impala ss lacks the heavy duty body mounts of the police cruiser, but these parts can be added if the owner so desires. Another difference is the unique to impala ss springs and shocks. This difference is what gives the SS its more aggressive rake. DeCarbon was utilized for the factory shocks which are easily identified by the orange painted tubes. The DeCarbon shocks have attained a high rate of longevity and reliability, but if needed there are many other options on the market for replacements. The lower ball joints are strong items to begin with having a very reasonable life span, but in 1996 the ball joints were upgraded to larger units for the 9C1. With this change there was a need different spindles.These parts came from the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham parts bin and are easily swapped onto the impala ss. The weakest link in the impala suspension would be the steering linkage. The problem is that there tends to be premature wear of the the center drag link and the idler arm. This has been correlated to the larger tires used on the impala ss's and can easily be fixed with an aftermarket upgrade. The article used as a reference suggests a popular item, Moog's problem solver heavy duty idler arm along with a Moog center link.


The impala benefits greatly from the use of the police package in that it aquires the heavy duty braking system. The 12" rotors up front with single piston calipers. These are accompanied by disks in back as well, with the difference being aluminum PBR calipers. The rear rotors are hubless, slipping over the rear axle shafts while the parking brake is located in the hub itself seperately as a horse-shoe shaped drum unit. Parts for the brakes are widely available at parts stores and aftermarket performance is very diverse.


Wheels and Tires

The impala ss came factory equiped with 17" x 8.5" aluminum wheels. The machine finished wheels were clearcoated after the recesses were painted silver. They were manufactured by ROH, based out of Australia, specifically for GM and are available as a set from GM performance parts stores. The wheels lugnuts are hidden behind the center caps. The oem tires used for the impala ss were BFGoodrich comp TA in 255/50ZR17, pretty hefty for a sedan since it is a Z rated tire. This particular tire is no longer produced but there are replacements. BFGoodrich makes a G-Force TA in this size.


Body and Interior

On the inside the impala features Front bucket seats and a rear bench seat covered in grey perforated leather. The leather used is known for its fragile nature and over the years has been known to deteriorate if not well cared for. The driver seat is the one that will suffer the most, so extra care with leather conditioning products is recomended due to the cost of replacement covers. The covers themselves are becoming scarce and there is no aftermarket replacements to date. Another area to be careful of is the leather wrap on the steering wheel. This cover too seems to be vulnerable to the sun and heavy use. Just as the seat covers are pricey and scarce, the wheel wrap is the same. For the 94-95 models, Chevrolet incorperated the shifter into the steering column, the gauges were digital, and there was a console in between the front buckets. In 96 however, the shifter relocated to the console which didnt change. The gauges became analog with a 160mph speedo, tacometer, fuel, and temperature guage.


On the outside the impala has model specific trim. The majority of these simply bolt on, making the process of replacing them only as hard as finding them. The tail lights on the impala are the same as the caprice except in subtleties. The caprice tail lights feature bright chrome trim arond the edges, where the impalas are blacked out. Also on the impalas, the recesses of the tail lights have very thin lines running horizontally across. The Impala SS lettering on the sides is body colored, as well as the grille and spoiler. These items are available pre-finished to the color specified. The rear sail panels are side specific, and there is also a leaping impala ensignia that is on the trunk lock that has a body specific color surrond. One key note to remember is that the 94 model sported rear glass here with small triangles, in 95 it was incorprated into the body work of the car and covered with the sail panel instead. Likewise the hood is specific for the impala in a way. The caprice came with a hood ornament while the impala does not. Therefore there is a hole in the replacements for the caprice that the impala hood would not have.

There were three different colors to choose from. For 1994 you could have any color you wanted, so much as that color was black, by 1995 two other colors made it to the list. The other options in 1995 and 1996 were green grey metallic and dark cherry metallic. The numbers for production are as follows

1994 - 6303 vehicles listed as produced due to a shortage of the wheels mad by ROF, making this year potentially more valuable

1995 - 21434 the wheel shortage was remedied and the volume went up almost four times.

1996 - the high water mark of production saw 41941 units produced. In fact production ran until December 17, 1996

Restoration Parts

The impala ss is now between 13 and 15 yrs old depending on the model. It is entering a time in which GM is cutting back on how much it keeps available for the vehicle. There should be no problem maintaining the vehicles mechanical requirements, but having model specific trim as the impala does may become a problem later on. The smaller body trim may become items requiring a little effort to aquire. Fortunately with all the fleet sales of caprices to taxi services, police, and government agencies there should be a supply for some time in the sheet metal department.

Replacement Parts

Here is a list of parts that will most likely need repairs or replacement.

Parts Prices

Air dam kit (OEM): $30

Air intake elbow (1LE): $90

Air pump unit (Delco): $195

Bump stop (OEM-style): $14

Center link, heavy duty: $100

Coil spring (front, OEM, pair): $307

Door lamp, interior: $22

Emblem, C-pillar (pair): $44

Emblem, grille (OEM): $22

Front wheel bearing, inner: $17

Front door handle bezel, interior: $173

Front leather seat cover (lower, OEM): $417

Front leather seat cover (upper, OEM): $686

Gasket, exhaust (set): $43

Gasket, rocker cover (set): $26

Headlamp, cornering: $75

Headrest cover (OEM): $127

Ignition module: $110

Knob, heater control: $13

Shock, rear (Bilstein): $69.95

Taillamp lens (OEM): $176.95

Wheel center cap (GM): $57.95

What you might look to pay for each year in conditions

Low Average High

1994 $6,000 $9,000 $12,000

1995 $7,000 $11,000 $15,000

1996 $8,000 $14,000 $18,000

Granted these are ballpark figures. Many people bought these vehicles knowing the potential for collector car status. This car is right up there with the Buick GN's of the late 80's and it isnt suprising to see low mile examples going for as new prices in the $20,000 range.

There are many clubs most notably is the National Association of Impala SS Owners


Just to show how viable a vehicle this car was, the magazine where i got my sources from (Hemmings Muscle Machines) did a comparison test. They pitted a 2004 Mercury marauder. That story can be read here. Here are the numbers for those that just want the stats.


1996 Chevrolet Impala SS

Engine Type: OHV V-8, cast-iron block and heads

Displacement: 350 cubic inches

Bore x Stroke: 4.00 x 3.48 inches

Compression Ratio: 10.5:1

Horsepower @ rpm: 260 @ 5,000

Torque @ rpm: 330 foot-pounds @ 3,200

Fuel system: Port fuel injection

Weight: 4,221 pounds

Pounds per hp: 16.23

0-60: 6.5 sec

1/4-mile performance: 15.0 at 92 mph

2004 Mercury Marauder

Engine Type: DOHC V-8, aluminum block and heads

Displacement: 281 cubic inches

Bore x Stroke: 3.55 x 3.54 inches

Compression Ratio: 9.9:1

Horsepower @ rpm: 302 @ 5,750

Torque @ rpm: 318 foot-pounds @ 4,250 rpm

Fuel system: Port fuel injection

Weight: 4,282 pounds

Pounds per hp: 14.17

0-60: 7.5 sec

1/4-mile performance: 15.5 @ 91mph


This article originally appeared in the DECEMBER 1, 2007 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.



Impala SS VS Marauder

This article originally appeared in the SEPTEMBER 1, 2004 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.


Edited by cletus8269
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Nicely done, thanks for posting. As a former owner of one of these beasts I can say, they are fun cars.

Of note. Since the Impala SS is worth more than a comparable Caprice a potential buyer should be aware of potential undisclosed Impala 'clones' There are ways to tell but as always, buyer beware. ;)

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This is one of the many GM cars that was perfected in its last year.

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I'm kinda thinking how did they go from that to the next Impala?!

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Of note. Since the Impala SS is worth more than a comparable Caprice a potential buyer should be aware of potential undisclosed Impala 'clones' There are ways to tell but as always, buyer beware. ;)

i had thought about that, and in hindsight i think i will add that soon.

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One of the few bright moments in 1990s GM history.

Just as the G-body went out with a BANG in the late '80s... (GN/GNX)

The B-body was struck down right after it transcended boundaries &

shattered convention.

Both the LT-1 Impala SS & Buick Grand National/T-Type were the

definition of a paradigm shift. They created a niche market &

monopolized if for a short time frame before GM threw it all away. :(

The B-body's death was made worse

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Guest Carlos

I bought my 2nd 1996 impala ss my 1st was a dark cherry with 90k miles rough interior still end up paying 9...and the one I bought last year makes me the 2nd owner with only 16,739 miles it's black even have the window sticker price from Chevrolet and the car fax and I love it all original no window tint leather not even broken in..sad to say but it will be on eBay soon and yes I will have regrets like I did when I sold my 1st one

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:metal: Awesome ride, loved it in the Maroon color they had. The last of a decent SS before the whored it out on all the crappy SS on every line stuff they did.

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2 hours ago, dfelt said:

:metal: Awesome ride, loved it in the Maroon color they had. The last of a decent SS before the whored it out on all the crappy SS on every line stuff they did.

Other than the current SS, and the Trailbalzer SS, both of which were decent vehicles.

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19 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Other than the current SS, and the Trailbalzer SS, both of which were decent vehicles.

Yes very true as I was referring to how they SS'd all the 4 bangers and some 6 bangers that really did not show any performance creed.

One Exception was the SS HHR Turbo that was a nice improvement over the rest of the HHR family. I also thought the cobalt had potential, just never realized to the ultimate of what an SS should have been.

I would be happy to have this Impala SS to go with my TB SS. :P 

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...yeah, if we all could randomly just add 5 cars to our fleets like the dream car garage thing...

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