No one can ever accuse the General of lacking a sense of humor since naming his voluptuous B-body hot rod after a slender African antelope. However, this docile vegetarian easily becomes a rabid, drug-crazed carnivore with a Golen 383 and a little juice. Bob Warner's '96 Impala SS may look as unassuming as its namesake, but it pulls 650 horses on the bottle, easily capable of propelling him into the 11s.
After leaving the hobby for a number of years, the 51-year-old husband and father once again parks a GM tire-shredder in the garage of his eastern Pennsylvania home. Though a few ticks slower than his gone-but-not-forgotten 427 L88-powered '69 Camaro, the Impy does have quite a bit more practicality. "I like the room that it has, its ease of drivability, and there's plenty [of power] there in case I want to put my foot down." Bob's appreciation for Impys began less than two years ago while on a business trip in North Carolina. His associate was an Impala SS Club of America (ISSCA) member, who also helped him locate the new love of his life in Raleigh. The LT1-powered sports sedan predecessor had a flawless Dark Green Grey Metallic paint job owed to its mere 19,760 miles of use, and for having never seen a drop of rain or snow.
It wasn't long before Warner was calling up his mechanic Kevin DeFrank of Oxford, Pennsylvania, to turn up the wick on the 4,500-pound cruiser. A Clear Image Automotive cold air intake and TPIS 52mm throttle body were recruited to gulp fresh air by the gallon. A Spintech stainless steel 2.5-inch H-pipe and catback exhaust uncorked a few more ponies, maximized by a PCMforLess tune. To quell the Optispark woes, Bob uses an MSD Digital 6 ignition box to make the most of the stock distributor and coil.
Kevin then began digging his claws into the transmission, which happens to be the ASE Master Certified Technician's specialty. Bob, however, didn't want to take any chances on the 10-year-old 4L60E--so he sold it and bought a fresh GM unit before Kevin could install a shift kit. The built tranny was then paired to a TCI 2800-stall converter and a Dynotech Metal Matrix 3.5-inch aluminum driveshaft. When mated to a Torsen posi and 3.73 gear, the lead pony could get off the line with ease. However, it wasn't until Metco upper and lower rear control arms, as well as M&H Race Master drag radials, were added that Warner's ride was capable of 1.83 short times.
Of course 450 ft-lbs of torque doesn't hurt when coercing the behemoth into motion. New Hampshire-based Golen Engine Service rated the 383ci LT1 at an even 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. For this build an Eagle 4340 forged 3.75-inch stroke crank was chosen to guide a set of Scat forged I-Beam 6-inch rods and SRP forged high compression pistons through the .030 over bore. With the milled LT1 aluminum heads and bowl-ported 54cc combustion chamber, compression is 11:1. After the port work and three-angle valve job were complete, accentuating the Manley stainless steel 1.94 intake and 1.50 exhaust valves, the rest of the valvetrain was installed using a full complement of COMP Cams components--valvesprings, hardened pushrods, lifters, and 1.6 aluminum rockers. A stout 224/230 duration COMP cam was chosen for this build, which also features .543/.550-inch lift and a 112 LSA.
Even though his Impala was now in range of most high end sport sedans, Bob was very tempted by the thought of lopping off as much as two seconds from his current low 13-second ET with a modest shot of nitrous. After speaking with Chad Golen, proprietor of Golen Engine Service, Bob took the recommendations of Chad's nitrous guru and purchased a Nitrous Express wet single nozzle kit. The kit is designed to deliver between 150 hp and 400 hp; however, Bob has decided to keep things in a more tame 150hp to 200hp range. "Six hundred and fifty horsepower is plenty for me."
What, may you ask, are Bob's plans for the Impala? "To keep it indefinitely and to enjoy it." I can just see him 25 years from now, while most retirees are putting along in their Caddies, he's hitting the remote bottle opener in preparation for the next straightaway. Perhaps that explains the Impala's cult following--it's the Cadillac for hot rodders. Now I know what I'll be driving in 30 years.
Data FileCar: 1996 Impala SS
|BLOCK:||LT1, 383 cubic inches|
|HEADS:||LT1, ported and polished by Golen Engine |
Service, 1.94 intake, 1.50 exhaust valves
|CAM:||COMP Cams 224/230 duration at .050,|
|.540/.550-inch lift, 112 LSA|
|PUSHRODS:||COMP Cams hardened|
|ROCKER ARMS:||COMP Cams 1.6 ratio|
|RODS:||Scat forged I-beam|
|THROTTLE BODY:||TPIS 52mm|
|FUEL INJECTORS:||Ford Motorsport 30 lb/hr|
|IGNITION:||MSD Digital 6 box, stock coil and distributor|
|ENGINE MANAGEMENT:||Stock, tuned by PCMforLess|
|POWER ADDER:||Nitrous Express 150 hp-200 hp|
|EXHAUST SYSTEM:||Clear Image Automotive Tri-Y 1 5/8-inch |
headers, Spintech stainless steel 2.5-inch
H-pipe and catback
|TRANSMISSION:||4L60E built by Kevin DeFrank|
|TORQUE CONVERTER:||TCI 2800-stall|
|DRIVESHAFT:||Dynotech Metal Matrix 3.5-inch aluminum|
|REAR SUSPENSION:||Metco upper and lower control arms, stock |
springs, shocks, and sway bar
|REAR END:||Stock 8.5-inch 10-bolt, stock axles, posi,|
|FRONT TIRES:||BFG KDWS 255/50/17|
|REAR TIRES:||BFG KDWS 255/50/17 (street),|
|M&H Race Master (race)|
|RACE WEIGHT:||4,470 lbs|
|BEST ET/MPH:||13.2 at 102 (N/A)|
|BEST 60-FT. TIME:||1.83|