Chevrolet Impala SS was available from 1961 until 1969 and offered on a variety of platforms throughout three generations of the Impala lineup. The SS logo began as a trim option in ’61 but indubitably went on to, eventually, represent Chevy’s high standard of excellence in performance for a full sized automobile. When the EPA stepped in with a heavy hand; after 1969, the nameplate was retired by Chevrolet.
The 1961 SS entry level trim option model is a true high performance automobile powered by a base 348 cu in (5.7 L) V8 engine developing 305 hp (227 kW), or kicked up a notch produces 340 hp (250 kW), but the full meal deal 348 offers 350hp (260 kW). If that doesn’t turn your crank the most attentive and perceptive sales man would take this opportunity to tell you about the 409 cu in (6.7 L) V8 offer which would put 425 hp (317 kW) under the hood of the new Impala SS. The ’61 the SS option is unique because it was not only an exclusive offer for the Impala it was also available for the whole Impala line up including the four door sedans and wagons. The SS package also included heavy duty shocks, thicker springs, upgraded rims, and better tires. There were 186,325 of the Impala SS leave the factory in ’64 and 8,684 Chevrolet automobiles factory assembled with the 409 engine that year, most of them were Impala SS.
For 1962 through ’67 the SS trim option is available with any engine in the Chevy arsenal including the base 250 cu in (4.i L) “Turbo-Thrift 16” six cylinder engine which can give you 135 hp (101 kW). For the ’61 Impala model year the hard top and the convertible coupe models solely feature the SS trim option.
For the 1962 through ’63 and again in the ’68 model years the SS Impala is referred to as a “Regular Production Option” (Z03) or “RPO”. For the 1964 through ’67 the SS is a separate model and sports its own VIN number with a “168” prefix while the Impala SS has a “164” prefix.
Models of the SS from 1962 until ’64 come with “engine turned” aluminum trim on the rear panel under the tail lights but the 1965 version the strip is black and the SS is almost identical to the host model the Impala. The ’65 SS has no trim strips on the rockers and the Super Sport scripting is now the “Impala SS” logo instead. There were 243,114 SS convertibles and coupes leave the assembly line in 1965 with all of them having a clock, a vacuum gauge, featuring full instrument clusters with gauges-there were none with “idiot lights”.
Super Sports in the 1966 model year have a new fascia and a redesigned grill. The square tail lights from last year are now round, but still configured three per side. Chevrolet got a lot of complains about “door dings” on the unprotected sides of ’65 models so GM response to that is a centrally located chromed trim strip down each side in ’66.