A funny thing happened in 1964 when Pontiac introduced the GTO: the performance market shifted towards mid-sized vehicles. By 1966, Chevrolet was selling tens of thousands of Chevelle SS 396 models but still didn’t have a signature full-size muscle car that followed the same formula of image and performance despite the fact that 409s built Chevrolet’s image from 1961-65. Chevy’s response to that was the 1967 Impala with the Z24 SS 427 package.
Big-blocks were available for the big Chevys, from the El Cheapo Biscayne up through the Bel Air, Impala, Impala SS, and Caprice, but they didn’t have an image other than being a big car with a big engine. And the Impala SS? It was not a performance model but simply just a buckets-and-console trim level that was available with a six-cylinder. But in 1967, Chevrolet created the SS 427 sub-series that gave the Impala SS the same supercar treatment that the Malibu received with the Chevelle SS 396. A special louvered hood and 427 badges, among other features, set it apart from other Impalas. Under the hood was the L36 385-horse 427 (natch) paired to a three-speed manual; optional was a four-speed manual or General Motors’ relatively new TH400 three-speed automatic. In 1966, the L72 425-horse motor was available in the big Chevys, but for some reason Chevrolet didn’t offer this motor for 1967 (although a few crate L72s were built).
The 1968 SS 427 continued with the usual model year changes but for 1969, the big Chevys were redesigned and the SS 427 received star treatment because Chevrolet discontinued the regular Super Sport. However, the SS 427 was less distinctive than before, with no special hood or other treatment other than large SS badges and a blackened-out grille shared with the Caprice being the two most noticeable items. Under the hood was the L36 427, this time rated at 390 horsepower. The L72, which had returned for 1968, made a final bow for 1969. After 2,455 Impalas were ordered with the Z24 SS 427 package (plus a handful of other big Chevrolets equipped with the 427) , high-performance full-size Chevys were no more. The LS5 454/390 was available in 1970, but the big Chevy hardly screamed performance.
This Garnet Red 1969 SS 427 on eBay has the standard L36 motor and optional automatic with console. Equipped with a white vinyl top, 15-inch Rallye wheels, and AM/FM radio, it’s a neat example from a time when full-size performance cars were a thing of the past.