Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Modern Muscle Car: 94-96 Chevrolet Impala SS

 
96 Chevy Impala SS

These beautiful 94-96 Chevrolet Impala SS sport sedans were not in production long, but they did make a big impact in the Chevy lineup for a couple of years. What made this Caprice in disguise such a success was a Corvette 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine added in with a few other upgrades.

94-96 Impala SS
  • 260 Horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of Torque
  • 4l60e Automatic Transmission
  • 3.08 Tall Rear Gear with a Limited Slip Differential
  • Lowered Heavy Duty Suspension from the Caprice Police Car Package
  • Performance-Oriented Shocks w/Semi-Stiff Anti-Roll Bars
  • 12-Inch Vented Disc Brakes
  • 0-60 in 7.0 Seconds and 15.0 Second 1/4 Mile Time @ 92-MPH Give or Take  

Now, of course, that doesn't sound like much today, with V6 SUVs outperforming the big-bodied vehicle. But this 4,220-pound beast was considered pretty fast for its size 26 years ago. 

The funny thing is the decision to go with the Caprice LT1 Impala combo came about because the original Caprice 4.6-liter engine was having a hard time making emission standards. The LT1 engine that was placed in the Corvette, Camaro, and Pontiac sports cars were doing fine passing emissions and smog regulations, and that's why it got the duties of lugging the Impala SS around.  

Potential For More Power 

Dropping the 4.6-liter and moving to the LT1 made the Impala SS even more like a muscle car. Since there was not a lot you could do in terms of upgrades to the 4.6-liter, the dud you got in the 93 and older Caprice, was the dud you got. The LT1 on the other hand offered plenty of room for upgrades. If you could get the upgrade for a Corvette, Camaro, Firebird, or Trans Am, chances are you could get it for the Impala. This opened up the door for easy upgrades from cold air induction and computer programmers to cam, heads, and nitrous. I'd go over all the upgrade options, but I figure you could use your imagination here.

Four-Door Competition

It was definitely faster than its American four-door competitors i.e. the Ford Taurus SHO and the Pontiac Bonneville SSEi. Moreover, it was $65,800+ cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz S500 and could accelerate faster, handle better, and match the Benz in braking abilities, all while sounding like true American Muscle

Impala SS front seats



What The Impala SS Had Its Sports Car Companions Didn't 

That's easy, front bucket seats that made you feel like you were sitting on a sofa, a back seat where people even 6-feet tall and hefty could sit in comfortably, and a trunk you could neatly place a dead body in. 

Impala SS rear seats



The Impala's colors were limited. In 1994, you were only able to get one in Black, but '95 and 96-year models brought about a dark Cherry Red and a dark Green color. 

Impala SS


                        
95-96 Impala SS


Dark Green Impala SS


There were also a few other differences about the 1994 Impala SS. There was a digital dashboard with no tachometer and a column shifter. When Chevrolet noticed the consumer's want for this vehicle in the muscle car capacity, they added in an analog dashboard with a tach and a floor shifter to add to the muscle car feel. 

94 Chevrolet Impala SS


95-96 Impala SS


For all three years, the exterior sported special 17-inch 5-spoke rims wrapped up in large 255/50R-17 tires, a nice-sounding dual exhaust system was added with a rear spoiler, and deleted Caprice chrome. The stance, the sound, the power, and the name of it alone, Impala SS, made this disguised Caprice no longer a car you would expect a 90-year-old church-going lady to drive.  

Driving Impala SS


Taking One For A Ride

I've taken a few for a ride here and there working at a dealership. They're not that fast, but one thing they are is a little surprising. You just don't think a 94-96 Caprice with special SS Impala badges is going to offer you so much.

The Impala gives you more than enough throttle response to get the big, long sedan in the passing zone and go. It also gives you plenty of comforts, from the leg and headroom to the soft suspension that performs well but still gives you a ride that reminds you of your grandpa's unmolested Lincoln. 

And no, there is no media center, cell phone connectivity, or sophisticated driver assist safety functions that allows you to disregard paying attention to the road. These Impala SS big-bodies are true cruising cars. A car that you can shine up, hit the road, listen to the muffles humm, and get a few looks of envy from drivers in their cookie-cutter trucks and crossovers. 

94-96 Impala SS for Sales


Purchasing A 94-96 Impala SS   

With 69,758 Impala SS sports sedans produced between 94-96, they are not the rarest cars in the world. But a lot of them are stored away in garages as their value goes up. If you're looking to purchase one of these modern Impala SS muscle cars, your best option is to look out for one that has low miles and has little to no upgrades. Some of these cars have been heavily modified, and some have been around the block a time or two. 

SS Impala at the track



Look for rust in the usual places, signs of years of abuse, aftermarket hacked stereo systems and suspension components, and beat-up interiors. Some of these cars may still have potential, but it would depend on how much money you want to put into them. There are still plenty of good ones out there that have been well-taken care of and can offer you a fun and cool multi-purpose Hot Rod!  
   



Sunday, December 26, 2021

'57 Chevy: One Of The Most Influential And Iconic Cars Of All Time!

 

'57 Chevy Bel Air

How Did The 1957 Chevy Come About?

It starts with Chevy's need for change. For the first time since 1918, Chevrolet was willing to offer a V8 in its 1955 Chevy sedan, and with that V8, Chevy thought it would be a good time to get rid of the shoe-box look that they were recently using and try something different. 

Chevrolet Chief Designer, Ed Cole, wanted to get rid of the shoe-box look by 1956 and have a whole new look for 1957. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned and the new look never launched forcing Cole and the design team to make do with the shoe-box style for one more year, but there were going to be big changes.

To help differentiate the '57 from '55 and '56 Chevy, Cole brought in Harley J. Earl, a famous automotive designer. Earl had already had huge styling successes under his belt that not only worked out for General Motors, but also influenced the automotive world as a whole. 



The changes Earl was making to the '57 Chevy would be widely ridiculed by Earl's co-workers, automotive experts, and anyone and everyone who just couldn't see his vision the way he did. 

'57 Chevy Dramatic Transformation

'57 Chevrolet

Some of the changes were: A new dashboard, a reshaped windshield, sealed cowl, and 15-inch rims to replace the 16-inch rims. Also, Earl decided to relocate the air-ducts to the headlights, which gave the car the big distinctive chrome look in the front. Then he added the iconic quarter-panel fins to the rear to help make the Chevy six inches longer, ultimately giving the Chevy the lowered look that everyone recognizes today.

1957 Chevy Fuel Injection


Other intriguing things that were new with the '57 were a lighter front-end, a bigger engine bay, and new drivetrain options that included a fuel-injection system and a three-speed Hydra-Matic transmission. A dual exhaust was offered with all V8 options for a little more horsepower but more so for the cool sound that it would give the Chevy. 

In commercials, magazine ads, and on billboards, the Chevy motto was always the same: "Chevy Puts The Purr Back Into Performance."

1957 Chevy; New York Times



A 1957 Chevrolet Coupe And Convertible For Everyone

Different trim options helped make the car more affordable for the average family and classy enough for those who wanted the feel of something a little more luxurious.

Trim Models Were As Followed:

Base: 150 Series
'1957 Base 150 Series



Base: 210 Series
'57 Chevy Based 210 Series











Del Ray: 210 Series
'57 Chevy Del Ray 210 Series










Base: Bel Air
'57 Chevy Bel Air















Convertible: Bel Air
1957 Chevy Convertible Bel Air










Nomad: Bel Air (station wagon)
1957 Chevy Nomad Bel Air










El Morocco: custom hand-built to mimic a Cadillac
1957 El Morocco









Each version was available in a two-door or four-door body style. The base "150" series with an in-line six was not only priced very well for consumers on a budget but also did very well when it came to gas mileage compared to the V8s. 

As you went up in models, you went up in comfort and class and, of course, in price. The Bel Air and Bel Air convertible was the most popular and expensive models, and in today's market, it is the most wanted by all collectors and car enthusiast alike, even if you're not a Chevy fan, you've probably wished you had a '57 Chevy at one point or another.

Choose Your '57 Chevy Options

Each version had options that could be ordered up to make the car more comfortable and luxurious. Some of those options were air-conditioning, power brakes, power steering, a padded dashboard, power windows, and power seats. Color schemes and chrome trim options were another way to show your impeccable taste in automobile selection.    

Also, a signal-seeking radio with a power antenna could be purchased along with a separate speaker that could be placed in the back, and at that time, that's what automotive companies called surround sound. The "Automatic-Eye" was another new option. The Automatic-Eye was attached to your dashboard and could detect on-coming traffic and dim your headlights automatically - high-tech for 1957.


'57 Chevy Engine Bay


One of the things that played a part in making the '57 Chevy so desirable was the bigger engine bay it came with. This was important because it made room for the big-block engines that Chevy was making for racing at the time. As drag racing became more popular and going fast was the thing to do, having a '57 Chevy that could accommodate Chevy's big-block engines with virtually no fabrication required was a huge plus to the go-fast racing enthusiast.

Even without the big blocks, you could still make plenty of power by opting for what Chevy called the Power-Pack (283 cubic-inch engine with solid lifters, a 4 barrel carb, and dual exhaust), which would make 275 horsepower right off the showroom floor. 

Fuel-Injection '57 Chevy


Although the 283 cubic-inch motors would make 283-hp with fuel injection, that option was often overlooked by consumers at the time because very few people knew how to work on fuel injection setups. Even mechanics were having problems working on the new fuel-injection system. So, if you were buying the car to modify it and or race it, going with the carburated setup you already knew how to work on was a much smarter way to go.

The odd thing about these desirable collector cars is that in 1957, the sales of Ford's '57 Fairlane model ended up out-selling the Chevy. Maybe it was the 1957 Chevy's bold chrome front-end or the rear-fins that threw consumers off. Maybe it was the introduction of the fuel injection and the 3-speed Hydra-Matic transmission - both of which consumers were skeptical about. Whatever the case was, by the time the '80s rolled around, these were considered one of the most, if not the most, collectible cars around.

'57 Chevy Custom


Worth Every Penny

Nowadays, a meticulously restored '57 Chevy Bel-Air can go for around $100,000.00 or more, and a seller could catch even more for a convertible in the same condition. But if you are thinking about buying one, you will want to be careful and maybe even seek some professional help before doing so. There are a lot of replicas out there, and it can be very easy to be fooled.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

1997 Camaro SS 30th Anniversary SLP Edition (LT4)

 

1997 Camaro SS SLP


1997 Camaro SS 30th Anniversary  SLP Edition

Anniversary Editions are always fun. Special stripes, badges, and performance upgrades find their way onto a limited number of stock versions of a vehicle to celebrate the special year. 

Although anniversary additions usually see minor changes, that wasn't the case when it came to the 1997 Camaro SS 30th Anniversary SLP Edition. All of the 30th Anniversary Camaros (RS, Z-28, and SS) seen an eye-popping color scheme and 30th Anniversary badges placed throughout the interior, but a few SS Camaros (US 100 – Canada 6 – Prototype 2) got much more than just a few minor upgrades and a cool looking color scheme. Those few special Camaro SS received a stout LT4 5.7-liter engine installed by SLP.



1969 Indianapolis 500 Pace Card


Where Did The Color Scheme for the Anniversary Edition Camaro Come From?

The color scheme is a throwback to the 1969 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Camaro. Just like in '69, the '97 30th Anniversary Camaro was painted Arctic White accompanied by a set of Hugger Orange racing stripes that graced the hood, deck-lid, and roof of all of the 1997 Anniversary Editions (unless it was a convertible). 

The All-Important 330 HP Badge

They all may have looked the same and had the same embroider badges on the seats and the floor mats, but only a select few got to wear the all-important 330-hp badge indicating an LT4 under the hood.

Almost all of the Anniversary Editions came with stock engines that matched their trim package except for those few lucky SS Camaros that got to take the trip to SLP Engineering after they rolled off the assembly line.

SLP Engineering was able to get their hands on extra leftover LT4 motors that were used in the 1996 Corvette Grand Sport a year earlier. Before SLP bolted these LT4 motors into the Camaros, they broke each of the engines down and had them balanced and blue-printed. 

LT4 Camaro SS engine



On paper, the LT4 was documented to get 330-hp at 5,800 RPM and reached its max torque at 4,500 RPM. But many car enthusiasts and automotive professionals believe this motor that had 10.8:1 compression was definitely underrated.



SLP SS Camaro


More SLP Camaro Upgrades

The 1997 Camaro SS with the SLP LT4 upgrade also received a Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual transmission, a performance exhaust, a lightweight driveshaft, Bilstein sport suspension (optional level III Bilstein suspension package), and a Torsen limited-slip differential. All those extras were good to get you from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and down the quarter-mile in 13.3 seconds. 

With the explosion of technology in the auto industry, that may not seem so amazing in this generation, but back in 1997, that was the fastest production American sports car on the market. There were no American sports cars at that time that could be bought from a dealer that went that fast.

330 HP Badge SS Camaro



Identifying a 1997 Camaro SS 30th Anniversary LT-4 SLP Edition

So how do you tell if what you're looking at or what you own is one of these rare 30th Anniversary SLP LT4 SS Camaros? Regular SS 30th Anniversary Camoros are commonly mistaken for these very rare SLP Editions, and that's because they're easy to pass off as one. 

All of the SLP LT4 Editions rolled off the line and out of the factory as an LT1 before being shipped off for the special treatment. That means even SLP LT4 SS Camaros will still indicate that it is an LT1 Camaro SS in the Vin#. 

First, to either begin or end the discussion of is it a true SS or not, look at the trim options. If it's anything other than a white SS hardtop with Huggar Orange stripes, your SS is not an SS LT4 SLP Limited Edition.  

There are a few places on the Camaro that will definitely give you the information you want if it wasn't removed post-SLP Treatment. Right above the rear bumper on the opposite side of the SS emblem, a special edition 330-hp badge will let you know if it's an LT4 SLP, but these can be easily applied to regular SS Cmaros. 

To get to the bottom of your research, you want to look inside the driver's side door and or inside the glove box to find the RPO code. This should indicate if it has been in the hands of the SLP engineers. But if you're still not sure what you are looking at, you can always call SLP Engineering, they are sure to have records of what Camaros they got their hands on.

1997 Camaro SS 30th Anniversary LT4 SLP Edition



If you do have a true LT4 SS 30th Anniversary Camaro in your sights, you're looking at a true collectible. These cars will eventually sell on the Barrett Jackson block like the COPO Camaros do right now. They're good-looking, powerful, rare, and fun to drive.

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Chevy 454 SS Collector Truck From The Early '90s

1990 Chevy SS

With only 17,000 produced between 1990-93, these Chevy 454 SS are some of the more rare Chevrolet C1500 trucks of the 90s. In fact, purchasing one of these badasses was the only way you could get a 454 cu.-in. engine stock in a half-ton truck. 

There is nothing really too special about these trucks. Let's face it, in this day and age, a higher trim modeled crossover could take it off the line and beat down the quarter-mile. But it is outfitted for a 454, meaning a healthier one could be built and dropped in with no problem. 

Also, it's a truck, and you can always do some cool stuff to a truck with ease. A Cowl Induction hood, lowering springs, rims, etc. - all things that could be easily bolted back to stock with little effort if that's the way you wanted to sell it. 




Power and Specifications

  •  230 - 255 Horsepower
  • 385 - 405 lb.-ft. of Torque
  • 3-speed - 4-speed automatic transmission
  • 3:71.1 - 4:10 Rear-End Ratio 
  • 10 mpg city
  • 500 lbs. Max Payload
  • Dual Exhaust
  • Bilstein Shocks
  • 7.7 seconds 0-60 mph 
  • 15.9 seconds 87 mph - 1/4 mile
  • Black / Summit White / Victory

Chevrolet 454 SS



The Chevy 454 SS trucks had some serious competition in the early 90s - the GMC Cyclone, Typhoon, and the Ford Lighting. But for Chevy, this was their way of showing everyone that people still craved a big block even if it wasn't the fastest truck on the market. 

You might come across one of these sweet Chevys for sale with a good price tag on it. They are not very sought-after by vehicle collectors right now, so if you find one in good shape, it might not be that bad of an investment. They have the potential to be nice little street cruisers with a lot of old-school power. And for you old-school gear heads, that might be a class you'd fit right into. 




Monday, October 25, 2021

GMC Syclone and Typhoon: First Factory-Built All-Wheel-Drive Drag Racing Performance Success

 

GMC Syclone and Typhoon

GMC Syclone and Typhoon Era: The Dog Days of Sports Cars

Back in 1991, the dogs days of the sad, slow, so-called economy-efficient sports cars were starting to come to an end. The days of the poorly performing Tuned-Port Injection (TPI) setups that General Motors were using for their unimpressive performing sports cars were about to be replaced by a much more stout performing LT1 350-cu.-in. engine.

'91 GMC Syclone

But before the change, the GMC truck division of General Motors made an interesting move to get involved in some of the performance hype GM was encouraging at the time. GMC made a move and signed a contract with a company called Production Automotive Systems (PAS), which in turn started the creation of the fastest production trucks of its time: the '91 GMC Syclone pickup truck and '92-'93 GMC Typhoon SUV.

The Pass Company was no stranger to this type of work. Pontiac called upon them to help build the very famous
20th Anniversary 1989 Pontiac Trans AM

1989 Turbo Trans Am 20th Anniversary Edition. Oddly enough, they just went with a drive train that was already tormenting all of the sports cars on the streets, the V6 3.8-liter Buick turbo intercooler setup.  

Originally Buick's Idea

Originally, Buick came up with the idea for the turbocharged truck, but to not cause any conflict with the GMC truck production branch, they handed the idea over to them. GMC was hesitant to take on the project at first since they already had a similar black regular cab pick-up truck on the market with a 454 cu.-in. engine. 

But some forward-looking engineers and designers saw the potential in smaller engines. Assuming Buick could make it work in a G-Body grocery-getter car with much success, doing the same in a truck and an SUV should work just as well, and to nobody's surprise, it did.  

Different Eninge/Turbo Setup For The Syclone and Typhoon

The PAS company engineered a 4.3-liter Vortec engine equipped with a turbocharger and an intercooler to fit in both the Syclone and the Typhoon.

To efficiently transfer engine
'91 GMC Typhoon
power, both models would receive the four-speed 700R4 automatic transmission, the same trans the Corvette and the Buick turbos were using at the time.

The First Factory-Built All-Wheel-Drive Technology Used For Drag Racing Performance

What made the Syclone and the Typhoon so unique from other trucks is that they used a very performance-efficient all-wheel-drive system. That technology helped these trucks that had an underrated, unofficial horsepower rating of 280 get down the quarter-mile with times that could stop the clocks somewhere in the high-to-mid 13-second range. 

Since the technology was so similar to the successful 3.8-liter turbos, aftermarket part dealers and car enthusiasts knew exactly what easy upgrades could be made to make these trucks amazingly performance efficient. I've personally seen Typhoons run in the high 10-second range and Syclones being lighter in weight, stop the clocks in the 9s. 





GMC Syclone and Typhoon: Unbeatable Deal

With great gas mileage, great performance, and the fact that they were limited production, the GMC Syclone and Typhoon were and are still collector items for all car enthusiasts alike. 

With production numbers of only 2,998 '91 Syclones, 2,500 in '92, and 2,200 '93 Typhoons built, the price tags on these rare trucks still stay up in the $15,000 to $25,000 range for the ones that are still in good condition.

Unfortunately, the PAS company based in Troy, Mi., that was responsible for the GMC Syclone and Typhoon's engineering and design would go out of business after GM decided not to go forward with any more specialized GMC vehicles at the time. 

The decision was mostly due to the progression of the Corvettes, Camaros, Trans Ams, and the need to focus on the new technology of eclectic vehicles. That may have sounded silly then, but now, all auto companies have moved into the electric vehicle direction, and GM predicts by 2035, the only vehicles they will be producing are going to be all-electric vehicles. 
             

Syclones and Typhoon GENERAL SPEC

4.3-liter turbocharged intercooled











Type:      V6
Disp.:      262 C.I. (4.3L)
Horsepower:   280 BHP @ 4400 (Syclone) 285 BHP @4400 (Typhoon)
Torque:     350 lb-ft @ 3600 (Syclone) 350 lb-ft @ 3600 (Typhoon)
RPO:       LB4
Bore:      4.00
Stroke:     3.48
Comp. Ratio:   8.35:1
Firing Order:  1-6-5-4-3-2
Oil Pres. (Min) 6 psi@ 1000 RPM, 18 psi@ 2000 RPM, 24 psi@ 4000 RPM

CYLINDER BORE:
Diameter:    3.9995-40025
Out of
Round:      .001 (production) .002 (service)
Taper:      .001


PISTONS:
Clearance: .0015-.0030
PISTON RING: Compression: Groove Clearance: .0012-.0032 Gap: .010-.020 (top) .010-.025 (2nd) Oil: GC: .002-.007 Gap: .015-.055 PISTON PIN: Diam: .9270-.9273 Piston Clearance: .0002-.0007 Rod Fit: .0008-.0016 Interference

CRANKSHAFT:
MAIN JOURNAL: Diam: #1 2.4484-2.4493
#2 #3 2.4481-2.4490
#4 2.4479-2.4488
Taper: .001 max
Out of Round: .001 max
MAIN BRG. CLEARANCE: #1 .0010-.0015 #2#3 .0010-.0025 #4 .0025-.0035
CRANK END PLAY: .002-.006
CRANKPIN: Diam: 2.2487-2.2497
Taper: .001 max
OOR: .001 max
ROD CLEARANCE: .0013-0030
SIDE CLEARANCE: .006-.014


CAMSHAFT:
LIFT +- .002 Intake .357 Exhaust .390 Journal Diam: 1.8682-1.8692 End Play .004 -.012

VALVE SYSTEM:
Lifter Hydraulic Rocker ratio 1.5:1
Lash Adj. One turn down from zero Face Angle 45 deg.
Seat Angle 46 deg.
Runout .002 max
Seat Width 1/16 to 1/32 Stem clearance .0010-.0028 Spring length 2.03 Valve Spring Pres. 76-84 lbs @ 1.70 in Closed 194-206 lbs @ 1.25 in
Open Installed height 1 23/32"
Valve Spring Damper: Free Length 1.86 # coils 4

   



Thursday, October 14, 2021

When Turbochargers Entered The Drag Racing World With Potential

86 Buick Pro Stock Turbocharged




It was back in 1986 when Buick started to master the turbocharger game. Turbochargers have been around for quite a while before the first 1984 and '85 Buick Grand National and T-Type turbos came out. The '84 and '85 Buick turbos lacked the power that the 1986 and '87 Buick turbos did due to lack of an intercooler and other things. But even with the success of the two-sedan being faster than all of the American sports cars at the time, no one expected to see one compete in a professional Pro Stock class. 


Read all about the '86 and '87 Grand National success here. 


700+ cu.-in. Pro Stock Engines Racing Against A 286 cu.-in. Buick Engine


 Buddy Ingersoll Buick V6 Pro Stock

This is when the drag racing world started realizing that not always is it all about big blocks and displacement. This race was from 1986, but later the Buick setup would be deemed illegal in the Pro Stock classes. Of course, the reasons for the outlaw were a bunch of smokescreen excuses to hide the real truth - old-timers didn't understand it and didn't want to believe a V6 could beat a V8. 

To me, it sounds much like when Nitrous Oxide exploded on the drag racing scene - if you didn't understand it or you couldn't figure it out, it was easier to just say using NOS was cheating. 


Early '90s GS Nationals in Kentucky 














It was in the early '90s when I attended my first Buick GS Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway for a week (a week off school - a week at the drag strip)! That's when I saw the first single turbocharged Grand National break into the sevens (1/4-mile), and when I saw a T-Type in stock trim ride its bumper halfway down the track while still turning in a time of 10: something. That was when my cousin and I, best friends, knew we were watching something the drag racing world wasn't ready for yet. 

Buick Regal T-Type Doing Wheelie
















Slowly but surely, the drag racing world caught up, and now you'd be hard-pressed to see a drag car that isn't racing in a highly regulated class that doesn't have at least one turbo under the hood or another kind of power adder.  

Beech Bend Raceway







The lineup to get into the GS Nationals - all Buicks and the track entrance is quite a ways away.