The “SS” moniker wasn’t always as satisfying as it is today. Back in 1963, General Motors was pinning the “SS” name on just about everything, even if it didn’t quite fit the bill. Case in point, the 1963 Impala SS. We found a quick snippet of this game-changing year/model Impala SS over on the TimesUnion.com blog. There, Dan Lyons picked apart the legendary Impala and noted its triumphs, options and even some of its pitfalls.
Lyons examined the ’63 Impala and noted that even though many Impalas of that year had the SS badge, it didn’t necessarily mean it was packing a punch. “For part of this decade – 1963, for instance – lifting the hood on an SS might reveal anything from a frugal, straight six, to a hair-raising, big-block V-8. Impala’s menu of engine choices for ‘63 included a 230 cid I-6 (140 hp), a 283 V-8 (195 hp), 327 V-8s (250-340 hp) and 409 V-8s (340-425 hp),” stated Lyons.
Apparently, that was just enough to get the SS badge and the lack-luster theme continued to the exterior with other, bland options for the year. For example, while the SS equipment package set buyers back a paltry $161 by today’s standards, those well-equipped SS Impalas came with what Lyons explained as, “Anodized aluminum trim with a swirl pattern on the sides and rear cove, special badging, and 14-inch wheel covers with SS emblems on the caps.”
Lyons continued, “Twin, vinyl covered bucket seats highlighted the interior, split by a full length console, with locking compartment. The swirled aluminum trim carried over to the inside (console and dash) as did the SS logos (console and steering wheel hub).”
For those Impala fans out there, pop quiz time: How can you distinguish the difference between ’63 and ’62 Impalas? (Answer is below).
Although its visual cues weren’t much, it was all in an effort to set the base model Impala apart from the SS. While the 1963 model wasn’t a full restyle, albeit, merely a refresh, it did result into some subtle design changes. As Lyons continues, “Subtle design changes resulted in a more angular car, with a formal look. For the first time, sport coupes could be capped with a vinyl top. And, for those who wanted the color contrast, but weren’t sure about the synthetic skin, two tone paint options carried over from the previous year.”
Lyons continued his love/hate relationship with the ’63 Impala SS and even boats about its high-selling and Ford-beating numbers. When compared, “Chevy sold some 585,646 more cars than rival Ford in model year ’62, and expanded their lead to 711,797 a year later. Overall, America’s top-selling automaker moved 2,237,201 units in 1963. A substantial portion of these were Impalas – a whopping, 832,600. Sliced slightly finer, 153,271 of these were Super Sports.” Lyons wrote.
Answer: 63 Impalas were designed with twin hash marks on the front fenders (Impala) and amber parking light lenses (all models).