Chevrolet Impala SS

1968 Chevrolet Impala SS

Impala SS (1961–1969)

In 1961, the Impala SS (Super Sport) was introduced to the market. The SS badge was to become Chevrolet's signature of performance on many models, though it often has been an appearance package only. The Impala's SS package in 1961 was truly a performance package, beginning with the 348-cubic-inch (5.7 L) V8 engines available with 305 horsepower (227 kW), 340 horsepower (250 kW), and 350 horsepower (260 kW) or the new 409-cubic-inch (6.7 L) V8, which was available with up to 425 horsepower (317 kW). The package also included upgraded tires on station wagon wheels, springs, shocks and special sintered metallic brake linings. Starting for the 1962 model year, the Impala SS was an appearance package limited to hardtop coupe and convertible coupe models, available with all engines in the Impala series to the base 235-cubic-inch (3.9 L), 135 horsepower (101 kW) inline-6 through 1967, though the big-block engines and heavy-duty parts could still be ordered. In 1968–69, an additional model, the SS427, was available.

The Super Sport was known as Regular Production Option (RPO) Z03, from 1962–63, and again in 1968. 1962–64 Super Sports came with engine-turned aluminum trim, which was replaced by a "blackout" trim strip in '65 which ran under the taillights. 1965 Super Sport exteriors differed only slightly from regular Impalas. Rocker panel trim was deleted. "Super Sport" scripts replaced the "Impala SS" badges. The new center console housed a rally-type electric clock, and full instrumentation now included a vacuum gauge. A total of 243,114 Impala SS coupes and convertibles were built for 1965.

The 1966 Impala SS was face-lifted with a revised grille and new triple rectangular taillights that replaced the triple round units. A chrome beltline strip shared with regular Impalas was added in response to complaints about door dings on the clean-lined 1965s. Inside were new Strato bucket seats with thinner and higher seatbacks, and a center console with an optional gauge package available. Sales of the 1966 Impala SS dropped by more than 50% to around 117,000 units; this was mainly due to the sport/performance car market switching from full-sized models to intermediates (including Chevy's own Chevelle SS396 and Pontiac GTO), along with the emerging market for the even smaller pony car market created by the Ford Mustang in 1964 that Chevrolet would respond to with the Camaro for 1967.

The 1967 Impala SS was less decorated than other Impalas; Super Sports had black grille accents and black-accented body-side and rear fender moldings. Lesser models leaned more toward brightwork inside and out. Buyers could choose either vinyl bucket seats with a center console, or a Strato-Bench seat with a fold-down center armrest. Of the 76,055 Impala SS models built, just 2,124 were ordered with RPO Z24, a special performance package that included RPO F41 heavy-duty suspension and other performance goodies, RPO L36 (385 brake horsepower (287 kW) Turbo-Jet 427-cubic-inch (7.0 L) V8, as well as a special trim package that replaced the "Impala SS" badges with large "SS427" emblems on the front grille and rear trim. The Z24 package also included a special hood with chrome-plated intake. Only about 400 Super Sports had a six-cylinder engine. in 1967–1968, 390 brake horsepower (290 kW) in 1969) or L72 (425 brake horsepower (317 kW)) in 1968–1969. Special SS427 badging, inside and out, was the rule, but few were sold since muscle car enthusiasts were looking toward big-block intermediates such as the Chevelle SS396 and Plymouth Road Runner.

In 1968 as Caprice sales escalated, those of the Impala Super Sport suffered a decline. Much of this drop in sales was no doubt due to the availability of big-block engines in the mid-sized (and lighter) Chevelle, and even Novas could be special-ordered with the 396-engine with the new-for-'68 body. No longer a separate series, the Super Sport was a mere $179 option package for the two Impala coupes and the convertible. Only 38,210 Impalas were so-equipped, including 1,778 with the Z24 package, which was carried over from 1967. In 1968 only, SS427s could be ordered without the Z03 SS package, which meant SS427 equipment but no bucket seats or center console. The Impala SS could be identified by "Impala Super Sport" badges on the front grille, rear fenders and trunk lid. Z24-optioned cars included "SS427" emblems to replace the "Impala Super Sport" badges, a special layered "pancake" hood, and three "gills" mounted on the front fender aft of the wheel well.

Because of their rarity, Z24 cars command a much higher price on the collector-car market today. Although many owners tried to "clone" regular Impalas into SS427s, the unavailability of the special hoods and other trim items (on the '67 and '68 cars) makes this a difficult (and expensive) process to successfully execute.

In 1969, the Impala SS was available only as the Z24 (SS427), coming exclusively with a 427-cubic-inch (7.0 L) V8 of 335 brake horsepower (250 kW), 390 brake horsepower (290 kW), or 425 brake horsepower (317 kW). This was the final year for the Impala SS until 1994. The 1969 Impala SS was often considered a "sleeper" in that there was no distinctive SS badging inside the car except for an "SS" logo the steering wheel (again, there was no Z03 offered that year), and a true 1969 Z24-optioned car is the rarest and most collectible of any year with this package available. Like the '68s, the Z24 could be ordered on the Impala convertible, Sport Coupe, or Custom Coupe. 1969 was the last year that the Impala SS was offered with the Z24 package, but the only year in which front disc brakes and 15-inch (380 mm) wheels were standard; that made the 1969 SS427 mechanically better than the previous versions in standard form. Therefore, the potential buyer of an advertised 1969 SS427 that has 14-inch wheels and/or drum brakes in front, would be aware that such a car may not be an authentic Z24 original. Although sales of 1969 Z24-optioned Impalas increased to approximately 2,455 units from the 1,778 Z03-optioned units of 1968, and high-powered big-block V8 engines continued to be available, there would be no Impala SS for 1970. The 427 was also replaced on the engine offerings list by a new Turbo-Jet 454 producing 390 hp for 1970.

The 1965–70 GM B platform is the fourth best selling automobile platform in history after the Volkswagen Beetle, Ford Model T and the Lada Riva.

Source: Wikipedia, 2012


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