After having a ton of fun with Rob Fisher's '96 Impala SS on the skidpad and slalom at Gainesville Raceway (November '09, "Handle Your Business"), we decided that it was just too cool of a car to be left alone. With the new suspension installed, it was able to hang with some quality cars in the corners, but had a tough time keeping up on the straights. We determined that a few more horsepower would really help our Impala, but we also understood that with 300,000 miles on the clock, we had to take it easy on the stock LT1 under the hood. It was important that we select a couple of affordable, quality parts that would add power without sacrificing reliability.
Enter Clear Image Automotive and its line of cold-air intakes and exhausts for these oft-neglected monsters of the freeway. A quick phone call and a couple of days later, we had a mass of boxes stacked up in the shop, inside of which were our new exhaust, cold-air intake, and SLP's 160-degree thermostat. Instead of a traditional tube-style cold-air intake, we decided to try the Super Stealth Ram Intake, which promised to have the least possible restriction and cleanest install. Also, as a bonus, the SSRI mounts the filter almost right off the throttle body, which keeps it far away from any water. After watching two coworkers (who will remain nameless-but both from Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine) hydro-lock motors due to giant car-inhaling "puddles," we saw this is a smart move. Out back, we picked up the Clear Image Automotive 2.5-inch mandrel bent, stainless steel exhaust, so that at least one part on this car wouldn't be covered in rust. This system also ships with a pair of Spin Tech mufflers, which sound amazing, even with the stock (and likely blown-out) catalytic converters. With the noise and horsepower parts in hand, we had SLP send us one of its tried-and-true 160-degree thermostats, in order to tame the coolant temps and keep our LT1 running strong for another 300,000 miles. Follow along with us as we install these parts, and make a couple of dyno runs along the way to see what we gained.