But what about plan B?
The Chevy Impala was originally created a really long time ago. It’s almost as old as my mom, and my mom thinks a tape deck is a luxury.
Much like the Impala. Throughout the years, the impala gained fame for being longer, sleeker, and powerful-er. In the mid-60s, while most cars were dabbling in the 200-horse range, the Impala was wrecking the pavement with a world-turning 425 hp - as much as a 2014 Australian-new Chevy SS, or Vauxhall, or Holden or whatever the hell they drive upside down over there.
As the years rolled on and the CAFE regulations regulated, the majestic Impala slowly died and the snarling beast was neutered. Big block 409s gave way to wheezy V-6s, strong lines turned to anonymity; malaise had struck. In 1986, the Impala was finally killed as it made way for the Caprice name.
There was a minute there in the mid-90’s there when the Impala came back to roast some tires, but it was over almost as soon as it had begun. Finally, in 1999, the Impala made its triumphant return. Now, we had our loin-shaking, heart-exploding, adrenaline-mainlining, front-wheel dr… Wait, what? Front-wheel drive? What the fuck is that all about? This thing wasn’t an Impala. This isn’t what Snoop Dogg rapped about. This was a fat fucking Lumina, and I FUCKING HATED THE LUMINA!
Alright, well, at least they used it as a cop car, and I could only imagine it was even slower than a Crown Vic. So there’s that little bit of solace.
The years went on and rental fleets grew. Impalas flew off the dealership floors to anyone who didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Car people went on fawning over the Mustang redesign and talking about how shitty the new GTO was. Fast-forward to 2006, and Chevrolet redesigned the Impala due to it’s general success. Something was different this time, though. Something pretty special that was pretty far under the radar.
This Impala had a V-8. Basically a Corvette V-8. And that rocked.
Chevrolet had actually put a small-block V-8 into a front-wheel drive family car, and was selling it to normal people. Who came up with this idea? The thing made a touch over 300 horses to the front wheels, and nobody would be any wiser if it weren’t for the badges. That’s good for 0-60 in 5.6, half a second slower than that redesigned Mustang GT. And here was the best part:
It still looked like it rolled off a rental car line.
Think about it: somewhere deep inside of us, we all like sleepers. That sensation of beating someone in a car that they would have never looked twice at is incredible. Now, most of you out there will point at cars like the Mercury Marauder when you talk about factory snoozers. Yeah, Ford threw a marginally better V-8 in a Crown Vic and painted it black and it was an instant sleeper, right? WRONG. First off, it had big chrome wheels, RWD, a loud exhaust, and a name like “Marauder”. Not very sneaky, and it was slower than what it hyped itself to be.
Consider the ninth-gen Impala, though.
You’re at a stoplight in a de-badged beige on beige SS. Some hipster pulls up next to you in a stanced VW with the shocker sticker on the windshield. You look over at him and feel gluten-free disgust. He looks over at you and thinks you are in town for an investment seminar. He pushes his go pedal to egg you on, thinking about a band that you’ve probably never heard of. The light turns green and you embarrass him. He never knew what he was in for. Great success. Now you and your banking buddies have something to talk about when you're not cold-calling disinterested clients and stealing office supplies.
The Impala SS was discontinued due to huge bummers in 2009. You don’t often see them in rental fleets anymore, at least not national chains. The next time you do, though, forget about that Chrysler and give an SS a chance. You'll be as fast as Eleanor, but look like Ellen. Exactly the kind of understatement you need when you’re drinking from 40s and hitting the 8-ball.
Rest in peace, Eazy-E. Rest in peace, Impala SS.
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