Impala History

Third generation
1994 Impala SS
Production: 1994-1996
Body style: 4-door sedan
Platform: FR B-body
Engine: 5.7 L LT1 V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 115.9 in (294 cm)
Length: 214.1 in (544 cm)
Width: 77 in (196 cm)
Height: 54.7 in (139 cm)
Curb weight: 4221 lb (1914 kg)
Related: Chevrolet Caprice
Buick Roadmaster
Cadillac Fleetwood
Similar: Ford Crown Victoria
1994-present Chevrolet Impala logo
1994-present Chevrolet Impala logo

In 1991, the GM B platform was extensively redesigned, though it retained the same shortened frame design of the 1977 Impala.

The Impala SS badge was resurrected at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show as a concept car designed by GM designer John Moss, and received lavish praise of media and auto enthusiasts alike. In fact, the show car had been so well received that it was put into production almost exactly as the designer of the car had intended, the only noticeable change being the "bowtie" logo on the grille was chrome in the production cars vs. red in the concept. The 1994 Impala SS went into production 14 months later at GM's plant in Arlington, Texas.

The car was a high-performance version of the Caprice, and is often regarded as one of the best all-around cars that General Motors ever produced. From a mechanical standpoint, it used the Caprice 9C1 police package as its base and as such got most of the equipment formerly available only to law enforcement and government agencies. This included a sport-tuned suspension with reinforced shocks and struts, a high-capacity upgraded cooling system, larger and more powerful four wheel disc brakes, transmission cooler, dual exhaust, a higher-output electrical system, and other minor mechanical alterations. Not all of the police equipment was carried over however, and the Impala SS did not get the external oil-to-air engine oil cooler, nor were all the body mounts secured (the standard Caprice and Impala SS were assembled at the factory with the front 3 body mounts missing one of the rubber cushions, while the 9C1 was assembled with all rubber cushions in place), although both are popular aftermarket additions to the Impala SS by their owners.

The Impala SS was uniquely fitted with a 3.08 limited-slip rear differential and suspension that was an inch lower. A retuned LT1 5.7 L small-block V8 engine was standard on the Impala SS, making 260 hp and 330 ft·lbf (447 N·m) of torque. The main difference between the LT1 in the Impala and the LT1 that was in the Corvette and Camaro was that the Impala engine was fitted with cast-iron cylinder heads instead of aluminum ones, and a camshaft that was designed more for low-end torque than high-end horsepower.

Cosmetically, the Impala SS received body-colored trim, which helped reduce the sometimes "bloated" look of the standard Caprice, a unique single-bar grill with no hood ornament, a rear deck spoiler, and for 1994, a rear quarter panel window insert that bore the Impala logo. It was fitted with 17" brushed aluminum rims which wore some surprisingly wide 255 mm Z-rated tires. Inside, the car came with a central console with cup holders (1994 and 1995 models) and a storage compartment, leather seats embroidered with the Impala SS logo, and a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Impala SS proved to be one of GMs most successful limited-edition vehicles ever. For the 1994 year, it was available only in black with a grey interior and sold a total of 6,303 units. In 1995, Dark Cherry Metallic and Dark Grey Green were added as exterior color options, and the body paneling on the rear quarter panel was altered to reflect the cosmetic effect formally achieved by a window insert. A total of 21,434 cars were sold for the 1995 year. 1996 was the last year of production, and sold 41,941 units. It saw some minor interior alterations, with the digital speedometer being replaced by an analog one, along with a tachometer. The shifter was moved from the column to the center console, and mechanically, the car now used the OBD-II computer system.

The entire B/D-body line, consisting of not only the Caprice and Impala, but the Caprice wagon, Buick Roadmaster and Cadillac Fleetwood, was cancelled by General Motors, as they wanted more of their assembly lines to be able to produce SUVs, which were more profitable for GM. Another fact was that the Caprice was the only B-body with a market share since fleet sales to law enforcement outnumbered sales of other B-bodies. A majority of law enforcement agencies preferred the Caprice over the Ford Crown Victoria [citation needed].

Today, 1994-1996 Impala SS's retain a great deal of popularity and devotion among owners and enthusiasts, more so than many comparable vehicle models with such a limited production run. Several clubs across the United States and in other countries are centered around the Impala and related B-body vehicles, such as the Caprice and Buick Roadmaster. The Impala and its cousins are often modified by many of their owners, who take advantage of the powerful Corvette-derived engine and large size of the vehicle.