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'94-'96 Impala SS

jpstaxjpstax Posts: 250
How would you feel about the SS returning in the future? Motor Trend is predicting an Impala, with a 4.2 liter V-8 (making about 270-280 horsepower), will be marketed in 2003. They don't say whether it will be FWD, but I suspect it will be. They also don't say whether it will be based on the current design, or a totally new one. The 4.2 liter engine will most likely be the one being developed for the Buick LaCrosse concept car.
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Comments

  • jpstaxjpstax Posts: 250
    Here's a website showing what some dealer in Ohio has done with a 2000 Impala LS. The pictures on page 2 show SS badges, a dual exhaust, and bigger tires. You can't tell if they've left the 3800 Series II in it, or installed a small block V-8 in its place. Even installing the supercharged 3800 engine would be better than leaving the standard 3800 Series II in it. Here's the site:

    http://community.webtv.net/dman4ford/00IMPALALS
  • jpstaxjpstax Posts: 250
    Below is the Holden Commodore website. Click on the SS model to see what GM could be selling in the states. It looks like an Impala LS clone, but comes with the 5.7L Generation III (LS1) engine.

    http://www.holden.com.au/sc02_vehicle_showroom/sc02_3_commodore/
  • socaldave2socaldave2 Posts: 10
    Interesting topic ..since I have one. It is SO easy to bump HP output to over 300hp (flywheel) on these cars. My car, a '96, puts out 240+hp to the wheels..validated by a 248H DynoJet unit. Using a 20% parasitic loss due to drivetrain..that puts it in the 305hp range. The car also runs 0-60 in 5.69 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 14.3 at 97mph+. (I have the track slips to prove it.) Toss in an aftermarket intake system, gears (I run 3.42s), hi flow mufflers, and good programming in the PCM..and you are in there. GM definitely should NOT have killed this car. As for the 2000 Impala...I'm sorry..but the thing is a FWD Lumina with Impala badging. Supercharging or not...I tend to think it will never get the cult following that the '94-96 cars have. It does keep the resale value up on mine though :-)

    Dave
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    Glad to hear from you. I also own a '96 (it's the Dark Green/Gray Metallic color). Which of the three colors is yours? Mine has the following mods: 3.42 gears, AS&M headers, Borla cat-back exhaust, AS&M cold-air intake (with 1LE elbow), 52mm throttle body, and Hypertech Power Program. It really moves. I haven't had it to a track or a dyno, but I'm guessing it has 300+ hp at the flywheel, based on what others have told me with similar mods (who have had their cars dynoed).
    It's a shame they stopped making them, but I have to agree that it really helps the value and preserves the uniqueness of the existing cars.
    -Tim
  • socaldave2socaldave2 Posts: 10
    Tim,

    My car is the common black one. With your mods, I'm guessing you're in the same ballpark (300hp flywheel.) AS&Ms are the better flowing headers available...but accessing the valvecovers is a pain. They typically add 16hp to the wheels. The intake and exhaust should pick you up about 20-25hp combined. The larger Throttle bodies haven't impressed me much..and I don't see a lot of gains in them...regardless of marketing. The engine only ingests 'x' amount of air...regardless if the butterflies are slightly larger that the stock unit. The intake itself is a set diameter. The air intake itself helps because it remove bends, baffles, and straightens the airflow...making it less restrictive and thus more HP. A good modification is swapping the knock sensor module located in the PCM to the Corvette LT4 unit. It basically 'ignores' noise and allows a bit more timing advance..making more HP. Its cheap $28 I think and works. The Hypertech is a good unit to calibrate speedos, etc..but check out the Ed Wright Programming...you'll pick up 8-10hp alone, and the car will come to life. Trust me. I run a competitor, Z-Industries, and am very happy..but the guy is difficult to get a hold of. Ed is service oriented and excellent. $250-$300 I think..not cheap..but well worth it!

    Hope this helps a bit.

    Dave
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Man, I just went to the Holden web site and all I can say is, I'll take my SS with the 5.7/6-speed in bad-boy Phantom black. If GM had a clue, they'd send the brand managers back to Proctor & Gamble and import some serious Australian iron.
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    Thanks for the info. You're right about the AS&M headers being a pain. I'm not looking forward to the day that I have to get to the valve covers. I've been reading some of the Impala SS sites and I agree about the 52mm TB and the Hypertech. My car had all that stuff on it when I bought it 2.5 months ago, so I didn't really have a choice in mods. The Hypertech does have the header module, which from what I can tell, does add a bit of power. I'm assuming it does so because it corrects for the lean condition that headers create.
    I'll look into the LT4 knock sensor module. Sounds like a winner especially for the price. How hard is it to change out. Although my car has 18,300 miles, my engine only has about 5,000 miles on it (it was replaced under warranty for a knocking sound before I bought it). I've been taking it easy on the engine since I know it's fairly new, but I figure it must be broken in by now.
  • socaldave2socaldave2 Posts: 10
    The Knock Sensor module is a piece of cake to change. The PCM sits under the stock airbox...if you have an aftermarket, chances are the PCM is flipped up and mounted to the fenderwell. Detach it...flip it over...and undo the 2 (I think its 2) screws that secure a small metal cover. Pop out the module...pop in the new one..done.

    As for the headers...the PCM is always watching the fuel mixture..adjusting it endlessly. Headers should have little effect on a 'lean' condition since the PCM will adjust mixture continuously. You want to run a little 'lean' anyway. At WOT, the PCM kicks in a much richer mix to burn, however.

    With 5K miles on your engine...its 'broken' in...and will only get faster with more mileage :-). My car, bought new by me...has 48K miles (bought 12/95) and gets faster as the miles click by!

    Dave
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    Thanks for the info on the knock sensor module install. I hope you're right about the engine getting faster. It's already a pretty wild beaSSt as it is. I'm in Northern New Mexico, by the way,
    altitude of 7300 ft. (which means I'm minus 15-20% of the power, but so is everyone else here), and my car still feels damn strong. When I bought it in Atlanta, GA and drove it back it felt very noticeably stronger at lower altitude. The difference in pressure is right around 3 psi less than sea level (which is like installing an intercooled mini-supercharger relative to here). I was amazed at how easy it was to pass. The car went from 65 to 90 in what felt like zero seconds.
    I'm hoping to get back to the low altitudes some day (my family is in Ohio).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,576
    or buy a turbo kit!

    MODERATOR

  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    That's the truth! Any kind of forced induction
    would do the trick, unfortunately that's not in my budget at this point.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,576
    Yeah, I was being half-serious...but turbos do solve the high altitude problem better than anything else I can think of. I guess for a modern V-8 it's a big expense--probably $3,500 on up?

    MODERATOR

  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Doesn't anyone want to keep their cars in essentially original equipment status? Seems like a very high percentage of '94-'96 Impala SS owners go to a lot of time and expense to modify their vehicles. If people want Corvette or Viper performance, then buy a Corvette or Viper. Nothing makes me sadder than to see auto shows or just vehicles on street that are classic cars. Then when you go up and talk with the owner you find out that all of the major systems have been replaced. New engines, different tires, repainted, modified transmissions, altered suspensions, etc. And some then add on all sorts of spoilers or other reportedly aerodynamic improving exterior parts. By the time you take into account all the changes about the only thing one can say is what the car "used to be" but no longer is. Don't know why they just don't build their own unique kit car. Hope lots of other Impala SS owners are keeping their cars stock. Or maybe I should hope mine is the only low mile stock one left? That sure would help boost the value of my car in 25 years!
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    You have a point, but the LT1 in the Impala SS is very choked by the factory parts. With the usual bolt-on parts, you can easily get the horsepower up over 300 (up from 260) which is a very noticeable seat-of-the-pants feel. It's just too tempting.
    I'm hoping I never have to sell mine, but if I do, you're right, the stock ones will be worth more.
  • socaldave2socaldave2 Posts: 10
    I would still tend to believe that the majority of '94-96 Impala SS' out there are relatively stock. With approx 64K made, I would bet that no more than 15% of them have been modified. Being in both a national club and the largest local club, I have a pretty good idea of the mods done. My car, which is not stock, is much more enjoyable to drive. I could never go back to the stock HP, the stock tranny 'mushy' shifting, etc. Should I ever chose to, I can reinstall the stock parts (stored, including the stock mufflers) and return it to a more 'factory original' car, but I bought it to drive it :-).
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    I'm glad to hear there are that many unmodified SSs out there. I would bet that the percentage of working unmodified ones isn't 85%. I'm guessing that most that are modified will be kept in running order (or why spend the thousands of dollars to modify them?). But as time goes by the number of cars that have been wrecked or just plain start to die slow or fast deaths from misuse or neglect will increase. Those won't be the modified ones. Then in about 10-15 years the percentage of modified vehicles to working/drivable vehicles total will have risen significantly. In 20 years most working vehicles will be those that have been modified. (Just a hypothesis. I hope I'm right so my unmodified low mile one owner will be worth a fortune.)

    I, too, bought mine to drive, though also to save. I prefer driving the car as it was designed and built rather than as I might have designed or built her. Even with all of the admitted foibles as you describe, she's still a lot of fun in an unmodified state. (Hope your storage area doesn't burn down, get broken into and stolen, or your wife divorces you and gets the parts. Stored parts can become separated from any vehicle over time.)
  • jpstaxjpstax Posts: 250
    A guy I know, who works at one of my company's
    plants, is from Australia. He has lots of
    relatives back there. A cousin told him that he
    read where Holden (GM) is thinking of exporting some of their performance sedans to the US either
    late this year, or early next. He would love to
    buy a Commodore SS, with the LS1. I'll try to keep everyone posted with any news from him.
  • socaldave2socaldave2 Posts: 10
    Although the some cars will end up in the salvage yard, I still stand on my belief that the majority will be stockers cruising around. The target age for the car was 50-60yrs of age..(I'm well under that..37yrs)..most of whom won't tinker with the car. The 15% that will, as you mentioned, will meticulously maintain the car, mods and all :-). Our group is working on setting up something that will allow us to obtain many of the hard to find parts (rubber pieces, etc.) so that we will have them to replace when they wear. If I could have, I'd have kept mine stock...but after that 1st mod..its over . My car compared to a stocker..is no comparison, either HP wise, handling wise, or stopping wise. Many of the mods I've done also aid in the 'safety' factor as well, which is just as important as going 'fast'. Take care of that stocker!

    Dave
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Glad to hear you plan on keeping her and lots more running well for many, many years to come. I'm 37, too. Did you buy yours new? I did. I concur about the safety aspect. I solved that by having additional cars. I don't put many miles on my SS each year. I bought her in May '96 and she only has 15,000 miles. My 2000 Hyundai Sonata GLS V-6 w/5-speed is my work car (4 air bags, ABS/traction control, pretensioners on seatbelts, great head rests, etc. for safety) and my 2000 Lincoln LS is my long distance car (3.9L V-8 w/Sport Pkg and AdvanceTrac, also with the latest safety features).

    Hate to say it, but my LS is the far superior car. Both have about same top speed, but LS will out brake, out handle, etc. The fully independent suspension makes a world of difference. However, the SS is much better looking and will slightly out accelerate. Plus it is roomier. (My only real gripe with SS is the headrests. I'm 6'2" and they just don't go up high enough.)
  • socaldave2socaldave2 Posts: 10
    Yep, bought mine new. Ordered it direct back in October 1995 and took delivery Dec 1995. Got the invoice, etc. :-). Its a '96. Car has a tick under 50K miles now. It has now become the 'extra' car since I purchased my wife a LandCruiser. I'll drive my Suburban during the week and give the SS the time off . Your LS sounds nice. I think the car is awesome looking, and wouldn't hesitate to have one (manual tranny though ). Toss in some Hotchkis sway bars, 285/40 Firehawks, Baer Brakes, and it'll take out your LS. Won't be stock anymore though . Keep an eye on your odometer. It WILL eventually 'flicker'. Easy fix though :-). Also a weak spot is the waterpump.

    Dave
  • From what I read the SS brakes in 120 feet and for the LS it's 128 feet. I might be wrong.
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    You're right about the Impala SS braking distance.
    It's one of the biggest wonders of the car. 120 ft is actually less than a Mustang and not too far behind a Corvette.
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Forgot one more original source. Popular Mechanics' CarSmart Magazine, dated 5/96, tested an Impala SS stopping from 60 mph to 0 in 118 ft (cold) and 121 ft (hot/after repeated use). In this comparison test their Mercedes S500 stopped from same distances in 118 and 120 ft, respectively. Caprice Classic did it in 130 and 139 ft, Buick Roadmaster in 137 & 134 ft, and Cadillac Fleetwood in 133 & 155 ft.

    As they put, "Hands down, the Impala SS is the best value her...simply delivers the most car for the money...it outhandled and outaccelerated the Mercedes, and equaled the big Benz's remarkable braking performance. It also eats up highway miles just as effortlessly...the driving experience here is as good as it gets for anything less than the $91,495 demanded for the Benz." Now that is one heck of a compliment!
  • powerisfunpowerisfun Posts: 358
    Thanks for that post, giowa. It's always nice to hear when someone compares your car to a $91K Benz.
    It's also just an awesome looking car. I've had people at work who didn't know anything about the Impala SS come up to me and make remarks like "Hey, nice car, did you get a huge raise or something?" not realizing that they're less expensive than a new Grand Am (it's just finding them that's the hard part). Even brand new, it was only $26K. It was and still is one of the best deals in automotive history, IMHO.
    -Tim
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    Admittedly, 94-96 SS's are unique cars.

    But here are my thoughts remembered from a short time 'poking around' on the showroom floor and a quick test drive. It probably was 1995, not really sure about that.

    The interior is cheap, cheap, cheep. Bad-lookin plastic covers the doors. No vinyl or cloth on there. The carpet seemed only slightly better than indoor/outdoor variety.

    Exterior styling - Chevy did improve it, but it still is the basic upside down bathtub look of those years' Caprice. Somewhat reminds me of the 1957 Rambler American look.

    Speed - it did move out pretty good. But there was a lot of noise and a feeling of having to move a whole lot of iron.

    I was in a 1991 Taurus SHO at the time. It's interior was beautiful compariatively, and it looked much better outside.

    And the jerk salesman gave me that 'what would it take to get you into it this afternoon' line. And when I said 'A large discount.', he lanched into a talk about how they were getting list or over list for them. And they had 4 on the lot and showroom floor.....

    The styling and inferior interior was my biggest hangup.
  • This upside down bathtub was one of the worst designs ever. Miichael
  • LOL..please. Comparing the interior to a 1991 SHO? I agree its (SS) isn't a MBZ, but compared to the Taurus, its 'sporty'. Even out here in CA, many dealers were getting $5K OVER sticker for the cars. Many got it, the smart shopper paid sticker (or less.) I paid 2K under sticker for my '96. Imagine my surprise to see that the car currently is still worth $23K . Not bad for an upside down bathtub, eh Miichael? Show me another car thats only 'lost' 10% of its initial cost.

    Dave
  • One more thing..my interior, after 5 years, looks brand new. The only 'worn' area is the black plastic door panel/bezel where the door lock switch is. I plan on installing some carbon fiber kit components to take care of that. Otherwise, the car, including the carpet, is perfect. The car is a daily driver with 51K miles on the odo. And it doesn't get 'babied'. I race the car at the track to boot.

    Dave
  • It only seems like you lost 10%. Actually, this bloated boulevard cruiser was at least 20% overpriced when new.Michael
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Some of the recent posts don't seem overly friendly. If you didn't buy one, don't worry about what others paid. You might want to consider trying to find a decent used one and see how much it would cost. My '96 DCM still turns heads, has kept its resale value great, and is the most awesome family vacation hauler ever created.

    Due to its primitive rear suspension, she wasn't designed to, nor can she, handle like a BWM 540i or Lincoln LS8 on curvy or bumpy roads, but she costs about $15,000 cheaper. Are the interior materials up to the $40K price range? Absolutely not. And since they were '94-'96 issue GM they really weren't that hot to begin with. Over almost 5 years and only 17,000 miles, my interior has held up well.

    My only big grip involves the seats. Seats lack good headrests and aren't really sport seats.

    But to appreciate how good she really was (and still is) for the money, check out other chat sites. I love to get on the Lincoln LS chat group. I've own both my '96 Impala SS and my '00 Lincoln LS8 Sport (3.9L DOHC 32 valve V-8 taking 91 octane premium). LS8 had a window sticker of $34,400. The LS chat group also routinely bemoans the poor subjective quality of the interior materials, usually comparing to BMW or Jaguar (and coming up short as they are too Sableish).

    My Impala is bigger, heavier, and roomier. It is quicker, has similar top speed, and gets better fuel economy. Go figure. Drives those guys nuts. But even the LS engineers will quietly admit they envy what Chevy did with the lowly Caprice. Some posters are waiting for the upcoming Mercury Marauder. I am, too! Could be the next Impala SS. :)
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