Tack on the wheelie bars, parachute and rear wing and they round out the car's assembly. It took GM Performance Division about 16 weeks to build the car, a time span that also included working on a variety of other projects-including another Impala SS development car.
"While we were at it, we needed to test other GMPP systems on the new LSX454 crate engine, including the LS controller and recently announced Supermatic transmission, and our lead engineer, Randy Leininger happened to have another Impala SS in the engineering fleet," says Dr. Meyer. "So, we were able to build two Impalas, one for the street and one for the strip."
Historians take note of this next tidbit: The turbo Impala was originally the No. 7 pilot-build car for the '96 model year and still has a 0007 VIN tag. It was originally used for validation testing at GM's Desert Proving Ground in Arizona, before winding up at the Michigan test site.
Power-to-featherweight ratio With five gallons of fuel, the turbocharged Impala weighs 3,232 pounds. That's essentially the weight of a new Corvette ZR1, which has a stellar power-to-weight ratio of one horsepower for every 5 pounds of mass. The Impala's output, however, equals one horse for every 1.58 pounds of car.
As we went to press, GMPP's Impala hadn't yet left its mark on the dragstrip. It was finished as last year's season was wrapping up and, well, you've probably heard about GM's financial problems of late. That makes approval to fund a racing excursion a little more difficult.
Nevertheless, it's ready to rock-if the time, money, and a suitably brave driver can be found.
"I've got an NHRA Comp license," says Dr. Meyer. "But I don't know that I'm ready for that joy ride yet!"