Deans CLEAN machine is a fine example of 1996 Impala SS
I’ve been a B-body guy for a long time. In the late 80’s, I was driving ’78 and ’79 Impalas. My wife’s daily drive from 1992 to 2002 was a ’80 Olds Delta 88 (I just sold that car in April 2011!). I bought a ’83 Buick LeSabre in 1994 and it was my daily driver until 2004. I can’t even count the number of B-body cars I’ve owned. It’s just in my blood, I guess.
My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I first saw an Impala SS on ‘Cops’ in 1996. The highway patrol in Georgia was using them. I couldn’t believe how beautiful and sinister it looked, all at once. We just had to have one. At the time, we were planning our wedding, and getting ready to buy our first house. We couldn’t afford to buy one then, but knew it was only a matter of time.
We started looking for one in the summer of 1998. There were none to be found locally, but the internet was our friend. We found a Chevy dealer in Virginia that had, not one…but two of them on his lot! He had a ’94 and a ’96, both with similar mileage. So, we drove down to take a look at them one Saturday morning. As we pulled into Mike Pallone Chevy in Springfield, Virginia after a 3 hour drive, there they were – side by side right out by the road. Until then, we had only seen them on the road, never up close…and now, we were staring face to face at two of them!
We first took the ’94 for a drive. They wanted $21k for it, and that was in our price range. I could immediately tell it had been beaten and treated poorly. The suspension was loose, the trans was mush, it was misfiring, and the door panels were, literally, hanging off the doors. No thanks. So, time to drive the ’96. They wanted $24k for it, which was a little much, but hey…while we’re there, how could we not check it out?
The ’96 was smooth as silk. It has 32,000 miles, and we could tell right away they were easy miles. The car was tight, not a mark on the interior, still had the ‘new’ car smell. We had to have this car…and the sales guy knew it. All of a sudden, the price was $26k. What? Because we drove from Jersey, and fell in love, all of a sudden the price jumps? I don’t think so. We walked out, got in our car (the ’83 LeSabre, in case you were wondering), and headed for the highway.
I was at the road, turn signal on, and I see the sales guy running at a full clip toward us. I said to my wife, ‘we just got that car for the right price’. He came up to the window, and gave us the old, ‘what’s it gonna take for me to put you in this car today’? My wife said, ’$20 grand – not a penny more’.
The next thing you know, we were sitting down, signing our life away for our SS! I still remember how amazing it felt driving it home – we finally had one. My wife used it as a daily driver until the winter came that year. It’s been a show car ever since.
Today, it’s as clean as it was the day we bought it, has been maintained with only genuine ACDelco parts, and has 36,000 miles on it.
At this point, we had no idea POSSI or NAISSO existed.
Fast forward to the spring of 2004. I had driven the ’83 LeSabre every day for 10 years, and it had just turned 190k on the clock. It was getting pretty tired. I knew only a B-body could replace it. I went on a search for a Roadmaster or Fleetwood. At the time, there was a used car dealer right off I-76 in Philly that had a thing for the Roadys and Fleets. We went to see what he had. I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store. 4 Roadys and 3 Fleetwoods to choose from. Well, only 2 Fleetwoods…the blue one with the sunroof had already been sold, and was awaiting its new lucky owner. So, we checked out the Roadys, but I really fell in love with the black Fleetwood. I (and when I say ‘I’, I really mean my wife) talked him down to $7600, and some hard-to-find parts swapped from the white Fleetwood that sat next to it.
I had heard about disabling the air pump, and decided to do some searching online to find out more about it. I found the NAISSO and Impala SS forums. Holy cow! There’s this whole B-body community out there?!?! How did I not know about this? I joined POSSI in March 2005, and soon after went to the annual POSSI meeting that spring. I can still remember seeing a room full of people that had the same B-body sickness that I had. I wasn't alone, and here was the proof! In this crowd, the B-body love/addiction wasn't a sickness...it was completely normal. I've been a member ever since, becoming the Drag Race Coordinator in 2006. And let me tell you - this is about the nicest, coolest, funniest group of people you'd ever want to meet. I feel blessed and lucky to know each and every one of them.
Our first major event was the ISSCA Nationals in 2005. That was the first time I’d ever raced my car, and I was hooked instantly. With a tasteful, moderate list of mods, the Fleetwood runs high 14’s in the quarter mile (at 4900 lbs!), is completely well-mannered on the road, and still passes NJ inspection.
When we bought the Fleetwood, it had 80k on the clock. It’s now 2011, and I have driven that Fleetwood every day since we brought it home. It now has 163k on the clock, and who knows how far she’ll go!
And, as for that ’80 Olds Delta 88 – we sold that car in the spring of 2011 to make room for a ‘new’ spare car…a ’94 Caprice wagon! It’s our new spare car / spare project at the same time.
Like I said…it’s in the blood, I guess.