One Family Car: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS

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The 1996 model year would be the last time a full-size, rear-wheel drive Chevrolet wore the Impala nameplate. After being absent from the line-up for nearly a decade, the seventh generation Impala returned for 1994-96, but this time as an SS (Super Sport model). It would use a Corvette-derived 5.7-liter (350 cubic inch) LT-1 V8 paired with a 4-speed 4L60-E automatic transmission. This edition, located in Holladay, Utah has been owned by the same family since new and they no longer have room to keep it. Wearing pristine-looking Black Cherry Metallic paint, it’s available here on Hemmings Classifieds for $17,800 OBO. Thanks for the heads-up on this one, Boot!

When it was revived in 1994, the Impala SS was a high-performance version of the Caprice, but heavily based on the Caprice 9C1 police package. As such, it got much of the equipment formerly available only to law enforcement agencies. That included a sport-tuned suspension, a high-capacity reverse-flow cooling system,4-wheel disc brakes, a transmission cooler, dual exhaust, and a few other special odds and ends. Of the three model years, the ‘96 was the most popular, perhaps because it was known the end was coming for rear-wheel-drive. Out of 68,000 units built in total, nearly 42,000 would be for 1996 alone. Impala SS production went late into the calendar year (December 13, 1996), at a time when 1997 car assemblies were well under way.

The seller’s father bought this car new and put 84,000 miles on it before passing away. We’re told he took particularly good care of it, although its hard to tell in total due to the photos provided being more of a glamour nature. For example, there are no images of the entire interior or engine, just focal points. The car has not been modified and thus is 100% stock and stored in a temperature-controlled garage. We’re told it runs and drives great and wants for nothing. If so, with its 260 hp engine, it should be capable of doing 0 to 60 in under seven seconds, the quarter mile in less than 16 seconds, and post a top speed of 142 mph. No wonder the cops liked them and a cool feat for such a larger and heavy automobile. These truly were the last of a breed.

We can find no flaws in the body and it looks sharp wearing factory 17-inch alloy wheels. According to Hagerty, the ’96 Impala SS in Excellent condition (which seems to describe the seller’s car) should fetch about $19,000, so the seller appears to have priced this car competitively. These machines are comfortable cruisers with more than a fair amount of punch. In you yearn for a big, RWD car that will turn heads on the weekend, this era of the Impala SS could fit the bill.

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  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Had a friend with one of these, got herself a few “roadside written drivers awards”-fast for Detroit iron in its time.

    But when the local sheriffs office got them, they were painted black and white-and immediately someone quipped in the local paper that they were referred to as “Shamu’s” referencing their size/shape/ markings and the way they ate up the distance when going to a call for service or chasing a violator.

    Fast for their time though the guys with the older Caprice cop cars always said the Motorola is still faster.

    Like 9
  2. DrillnFill

    What a great car. I lusted after these in high school when they first came out- 260 factory HP was quite a bit in 1994. And 1996 is the year to have with the analog gauges and factory floor console shift.

    One of the few non-mopar classics I would consider spending money on, and this price isn’t bad for one that un-screwed around with. Nice car

    Like 10
  3. markp

    A good buy for the money

    Like 9
  4. KC JohnMember

    This is used Camry money for a really cool ride. These cars are ,IMHO, one of the reasons we have a modern muscle car revival. Gm and the rest figured out people would still pay good money to go fast. Beautiful example. Seems priced right as well.

    Like 18
  5. Troy s

    Still see these on the road, usually with big wheels and stupid looking tires.
    Nice car with all the right stuff. Big too.

    Like 6
  6. CE

    My Aunt had one of these & it ran great considering the size. She & my uncle owned part interest in a dealership south of Dallas TX & would get a different car/suv every so often. If I remember right, the engine had the reverse cooling. One local police dept got these body styles over 2 or 3 years, some had small V8, but some had this performance package. Unfortunately the dept got them in all white & they looked like beached whales.

    Like 4
  7. James

    Have always appreciated these cars. Had a client who owned one that was heavily breathed on. 383, ported heads, was fun going for a ride and doing burnouts around a certain building in Norfolk, VA, heh.

    Like 5
  8. Ken Carney

    Always wanted one but could never afford it. Every time I see
    one, I still embarrass myself by drooling all over my shirt. After
    that, all I can think of is having the song Radar Love blasing over
    the radio while flying down the road at 130+MPH. What more do you need?

    Like 1
  9. MikeB

    Great idea that actually became a reality. Also the Mercury Marauder from Ford. Both were really cool rides indeed.

    Like 8
    • Steve Clinton

      I would definitely take the Mercury…better looking IMO, and much scarcer.

      Like 5
    • Rick Rothermel

      I remember seeing the prototype SS at SEMA in late ’93, black and decked out, with GM staffers refusing offers to sell it on the spot.
      Cool car, great color too.

      Like 1
  10. gbvette62

    As Drillnfill said, 96 is the year to have, because it was the year with the console mounted shifter. I knew a couple people that had these, when new. For their size, these Impala’s were not only fast, but handled pretty darn good too.

    This looks like a nice car, at a fair price. I just wish the seller had put less effort into taking artsy pictures of it, and put more effort into taking quality pictures of the engine, interior, etc. It makes me wonder if the seller’s trying to divert attention from potential problem areas?

    Like 5
    • Steve Clinton

      Oh, ye of little faith! (wink)

      Like 3
    • Steve Clinton

      The best of the ‘artsy’ pictures is the first one on Hemmings, showing the Utah mountains in the background.

      Like 1
  11. Steve Clinton

    Chevrolet was a day late and a dollar short with this car. The older full-size Chevys just didn’t look right with their covered-up rear wheels.

    Like 4
  12. Jcs

    Fantastic automobiles. Bought a black one new in 96 and proceeded to put 338,000 miles on her over the course of the next 13 years. Amazingly problem free, barcalounger comfort, unparalleled handling and fuel economy for her size and era (26-28 hwy mpg) and a blast to drive. All combined with outstanding resale value. Highly recommend, out of superlatives.

    Like 18
  13. MNGuy

    My father in law bought a black one at the Auto Show in Minneapolis in 1996. I drove it many times and beat some respectable cars from light to light.

    Like 3
  14. KevinW La

    The first time I saw one was a magazine centerfold. Here was a picture of this beautiful black car and the caption said: Lord Vader, your car is ready. I was in love!

    Like 6
  15. Dave Keister

    Got a black 95 I bought brand new. Never drove it and time goes by. It’s only got 5080 miles on it.

    Like 0
  16. vintagehotrods

    I had a 1995 SS and it was a great car. I can vouch for its speed because early on one Sunday morning on my way to a swap meet in Watertown, SD, I had it up to 146 mph on flat ground on I-29 and 152 mph going down a long hill. I always wanted one of these cloned in a station wagon as the ultimate cruiser. The handling was superb too, as one night on my way home I had a deer jump out of the ditch in front of me and I threw the car into the next lane hard and missed it. I would have never been able to do that in any other vehicle I owned.

    Like 6
  17. AndyinMA

    Great cars, I had this color in a 95 and I liked the column shift and digital speedo.

    Like 1
  18. JOHNMember

    I had a 96 in black, stock except for a Flowmaster cat-back exhaust. it was immaculate, never in the rain before I acquired it, only used for travel between MD and NC and stored between monthly trips. Decent performance for such a big car, good looking and always got plenty of attention at local car shows, and that was when it was only 2 years old. Cops always told me the LT1 police cars were the ones to beat, the Crown Vic’s were slugs. Speaking of Fords, the Mercury Marauder’s were great looking cars also, but again, performance was apparently a second thought.

    Like 9
  19. Chris

    I went the NYC auto show on tuesday April 6th 1994. Saw the 1994 Impala SS and went to the dealership that night and bought one. $23790 spread over 4 years. Just about every day for the first 6 months someone would comment on that car. Some rang the doorbell asking to check it out. One guy at a traffic light asked if it was the “new Benz” ? Someone else asked if it was the big BMW. I always said nope, its a Chevy !
    I personally never had it over 90mph. My mother however, on a trip to Georgia decided to “open it up” while I was napping. I awoke to the sensation of speed. Looked over at the big digital speedometer to see the numbers dropping . 127, 124, 120 etc. Lmao. I asked how fast were you going? She never told me the actual number. I should never had sold that car.

    Like 1
  20. Blake

    I inherited a black 96 from my dads estate. Was with him when he bought it off of the showroom floorl Absolutely without a doubt the biggest POS I/we ever had. Cant belive he paid 28k for that hot mess. Panel gaps so big in and out yout finger fit in them, ate spark plug wires for lunch monthly, and the dash and door shape caused many a bruises for a tall guy. Did get 30mpg on the highway once, and drivers parted like the red sea when they caught site of it in the rearview mirror. They slowed down, too, for easy passing. The only thing good I have to say about these overated barges is that I got T-boned on the drivers side at 50 mph and walked away. Insurance totaled it and I was never so.happy to.get a $7500 check and be rid of that awful unreliable car. Another positive, I knew many AAA tow truck drivers on a first name basis. I never have, and never will own a GM product again! EVER!!

    Like 1
  21. Gerry

    Loved my ‘96 Buick Roadmaster wagon, wood grained sides and all- same car but with a longer roof. Surprised more than a few Mustang GT’s

    Like 1
  22. Brian McHale

    I had one of these, what a disappointment, on a hard turn it was the door or the console that held you in place. Floor it and the ash tray would eject. Tires we ultra LOUD 260 HP oH Boy :)

    Like 1
  23. Martin Leatherwood

    My wife bought me one of the late 96 models. Jet black, floor shift with grey interior. Man I enjoyed that car. Would hold cruise control at 130. Hated to see it go. Traded for suburban…kids.

    Like 0
  24. CCFisher

    A good friend of mine bought one of these new. He was a recently-ordained priest and a die-hard Cadillac fan, but he chose an Impala SS so he could tell parishioners he “drove a Chevy” to keep a low profile. He had a framed copy of Chevy’s “Lord Vader, your car is ready” ad.

    Like 1
  25. wcshook

    I still have a regular ’96 Caprice. When I bought it in 2003, it had 32k on the clock. It now has over 240k.I have had several offers to buy it. One was a guy with a Caddy. He had to buy premium gas and it was getting him. I got 19-20 mixed driving, and 25 close to 26 on trips with a/c and 70 mpg. I need to sale it, but the idea of it getting some idiot color and gross tires, just makes me want to keep it. It is in to go a shape for such a horrible end.

    Like 0

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