As I was taking my evening walk one day last week, I happened upon a mid-80s Chevrolet Monte Carlo Super Sport, one of the best cars of that decade and certainly a favorite of mine growing up. I snapped a pic and saved it to my Instagram (call me a car creep – and follow me there @ starchildgroovin) for consistent viewing.
The Monte Carlo SS I snuck a photo of.
As I looked at the pic the other day, I had a thought: What if Chevrolet had resurrected the Super Sport name and package on the Impala in the 80s? As the “Box Chevy” became more popular with younger generations and car afficionados well after its already-revered 13-year production run, the versatility of the design allowed for bigger engines to be dropped in and bolder paint job and wheels to be slapped on a reliable people mover. That versatility would’ve been just right for a Super Sport resurrection in the mid 80s alongside the Monte.
Flashing back to 1961 when Chevrolet first created the Super Sport package and made it available originally on Impala coupes, the full-sized Chevy proved to be the perfect guinea pig for what would become arguably the gold standard of the the late 60s-early 70s muscle car movement. The Super Sport was available for Impalas until the new 1971 models came out, which served more as luxury Titanics than a sporty full-sized car.
However, when Chevy drastically shrunk the Impala, Caprice and all their full-sized wagons into a neat and tidy box-shaped package six years later, GM’s dominance as the go-to full-sized car maker of the Big Three was intact. There was no reason to think that the 1971-1976 Impala could’ve carried the Super Sport name for anything but kicks.
The box Chevy however had the steering and power capability along with a smooth and cool design to carry the SS letters with the same pride and power that the Monte Carlo did from 1983 to 1988. While the Monte Carlo had a 305-cid 5-liter V8 that packed a punch, Chevy could’ve gotten creative and dropped a 327 or a 350 in an Impala sedan or Caprice coupe with a sturdier suspension, some simple but bold graphics and let the beast run wild.
Of course in the 80s, one-offs like the Monte Carlo SS and the Buick Grand National were just that for GM as the 70s oil crisis and the US Government cracking down on what they considered safety issues probably scared them away from more muscle. Not to mention the owners of these cars were getting older and had families to feed and tote around…safely, that is.
The Impala SS would return in 1994 on a different and more aerodynamic body style and has been in and out of production ever since, with rumors of another one coming for the 2014 model year. However, Chevy may have had a missed opportunity by not putting the SS badge on arguably the most popular incarnation of their full-sized cars. Would it have been successful? Would it have flopped and forced them to redesign earlier than necessary? The world may never know.