By on June 23, 2014

impalaventure

The Reader’s Ride features have been a big hit so far at TTAC, so I’m taking it to the next level. To put it mildly.

Tonight, I’ll be driving a 1981 Impala Coupe from Portland, ME to Greenville, IN, a distance of approximately 1,120 miles. The Impala Coupe is the property of our reader “Mark In Maine”, who will be following along in a U-Haul, and it has the following bitchin’ features:

  • First-facelift B-body box formal coupe styling. None of that fancy-pants aeroback Caprice crap here, son.
  • 3.8 liters of GM V-6 power for great highway fuel economy and exciting hill climbs!
  • Roll-up windows for safety in case I drive into a swimming pool. Weren’t you worried about that as a kid? I remember being worried about it.
  • No cruise control, because real men are always in control of their speed.
  • Possibly no A/C, I’ve been afraid to ask.

This isn’t the oldest GM car I’ve driven cross-country, nor is the farthest distance I’ve driven a Malaise-mobile; that honor goes to my spectacularly star-crossed Fleetwood Talisman adventure three years ago. But this time I’m working against the clock, because I have to be at a new-car press event on in the South on Wednesday.

I’ll keep you all posted, but wish me and Mark luck!

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70 Comments on “And Now, The Impaladventure...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    And to imagine : you get _PAID_ to have this much fun .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I had no idea the B-bodies were ever so woefully underequipped in the engine department. That’ll still be a wonderfully cushy, isolating ride.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Sounds like it could be an episode of “Down East Dickering”

  • avatar
    319583076

    Godspeed, although as long as the weather is pleasant the real downer seems to be lack of cruise.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      Maybe also the A/C? Aside from those we should be hearing from him either at the first overnight stop in about 11-12 hours, then at the destination 24 later, or about 24 later if they soldier through. The only things slowing them are the U-Haul and speed limits. Aside from those and the outside world being more like a movie than a TV or computer screen, he’ll barely realize he left his couch.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The weather in the midwest today is NOT pleasant. Very hot + humid.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I’ve had cruise in most of my cars and never used it. One car that didn’t have it, a ’65 Impala, had power steering, an AM radio, and nothing else. the 2bbl 283 and Powerglide had less power than the GM “3800″, and I had a pleasant trip from Massachusetts to San Diego. Of course, the car was only six years old, I was much younger and healthier, gas was cheap, and I stayed in a Best Western three nights, since I wasn’t in a hurry.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Too bad it isn’t an 85 with the 4.3 V6 and TBI. At least that would be a little more tolerable for highway use.

    Although true playas roll in Pontiac Parisienne. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Parisienne!

      Ha! Love it.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The Parisienne is a classy auto, too bad they didn’t come with snowflake wheels like the 77-81 Bonneville did.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          @NoGoyo…With all due respect sir. We ran the the Parisienne and the Bonneville down the same line line at in the Oshawa B plant.

          Both of them had the optional snowflake wheels. Or maybe it was just the honeycomb wheels?

          The V6 engine was not common. As I recall some were 3.8 Chev engines, some were 3.8 Buick’s.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Wow, I’ve never seen one that way, not even on The Brougham Society. Only steelies with wire covers that had the Pontiac arrowhead in the center.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            According to the brochures one could get an American-badged Parisienne with Rally II wheels (no snowflakes mentioned), limited slip, performance axle, performance handling package, and a 165hp/250ft-lbs V8.

            That sounds like a very cool car to me, but I’m guessing about 6 were optioned this way. Every “box” B-body I see these days is a donk or a Brougham.

            This low option Impala Jack is dealing with is a nearly a breath of fresh air.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Now that I think about it, the “snowflake ” wheels were a few years earlier. 78 79 B Pontiac.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “None of that fancy-pants aeroback Caprice crap here, son.”

    Bite your tongue, Mr. B, that’s the ONLY model I was ever interested in – at least it had a semblance of style.

    I hope your ride is a success and a lot of fun!

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Ahhh the Aerocoupe…..thanks for bringing back that memory. Ours was a 77: green with a green vinyl roof, 1BBL 250 I-6, with A/C.

    2 major complaints was the dash cracked right down the center, and the exterior badges were wrong from the factory. It said “Caprice Classic” on the sides, while the dash plaque said “Impala” (the car was in fact an Impala)

  • avatar
    salhany

    Hope you enjoy Portland, Jack. I love it here.

    Spending that much time in an old Impala is the surest way I can think of to expunge nostalgia. Two friends had these, in varying degrees of function and repair, over the years. My time in such cars has rarely been overly pleasant.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Is that the Chevy 3.8 or the Buick 3.8? Considering it’s in Maine I’d assume the Chevrolet version.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Those Cragars look right @ home :)

    Come to think of it, so do those raised white letters.

    That is a good lookin’ coupe, in all of its simplistic glory.

    No bowtie exhaust-tipped duals?

    • 0 avatar

      It is a dman good looking coupe. And it looks like a Chevy. which is more than I can say for the modern pods that wear the bowtie.

      If you were driving a Parisienne, I’d say “bon voyage”. But you’re not, so have a fun trip.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      I was going to post something similar. These things have a great stance with the right wheels and OWL tires, and the styling has held up well over time.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    California got the Buick 3.8 V6 with 110 Hp and 190 torque. The Chevy 3.8, which this vehicle more than likely caries, has 110 Hp and 170 torque which as stated is a bunch of fun on long hill grades. The 4.3 TBI V6 offered from 1985-88 with 140-145 HP and 225 torque would indeed be an improvement and probably get better mileage too.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I miss driving cars that required a few pumps of the throttle before starting. And a cold, high idled carbureted start which would wake the whole neighborhood early in the morning.

    And the steering which you could rotate 90 degrees while still seemingly staying in a straight line.

    And those squeaks and rattles over bumps that somehow grew on you.

    Ahhh… memories.

    And oh yeah- perhaps its me, but GM seemed to do the “clunk into gear” the best.

    A.) Move column shifter (for auto) into R or D. B.) Wait for clunk, which could be felt throughout the whole car. C.) Clunk! Good to go.

    Reverse seemed to be the big popper. Push the brake pedal with great force.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Take up flying. Starting the Continental 0-200 from cold in our club Cessna 150 requires:

      1) Using the primer to pump three shots of fuel.
      2) Setting the mixture control to full rich.
      3) Open the throttle about one inch and place right hand on the throttle.
      4) Press the starter button (what’s old is new again!)
      5) As the engine catches, be prepared to quickly throttle to 1000RPM.

      Fun! (actually, it is!)

      There are new airplane engines that do away with mixture, magnetos and even carburetors but, surprisingly, the old ways persist even on most current Continentals and Lycomings.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I think the Reverse “clunk”-iest award should go to the Mopar TorqueFlites of yore! :-)

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        SGeffe: I had a 72 Mustang- rather, what was left of it- when I was in high school.

        302 bored over to a 306 (not the greatest rebuild, I might add) with a 3 speed auto yanked (also rebuilt, allegedly) from a 69 Torino.

        Couple that with well expired front disc brakes and completely roached rear drums, move the floor shifter into drive, and POW!!!

        Enough force to frighten women, children, and your large breed dog, and with brake pedal almost to the damned floor, would still roll on ya.

  • avatar
    mcs

    If you’re taking 495 through MA you want to make an interesting stop along the way, Will Turner’s shop is off of exit 54. It’s on a road that parallels 495 and not far out of the way. Stop in and introduce yourself. Maybe you could set up something for a future date.

    http://www.imsa.com/teams/turner-motorsport

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    Why?

  • avatar
    omer333

    I thought you were done with such machines.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    This has a Smokey and the Bandit theme all over it. Kind of.

    So what’s Mark in Maine transporting in the U-Haul, and how will you keep it (and Mark) safe from Buford T Justice?

    Will there be a runaway bride involved, riding shotgun in the Impala?

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      When I seen the dusty old Caprice (before I read that the gentleman was from the north east), I was about to start singing “Song of The South”.

      (“Sweet Potato Pie and I shut my mouth…”)

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Excepting five water pumps, a well known weak point, we put over 500,000 kilometers on our ’84 Buick B-body replacing consumables only. If GM continued making them that good it may not have gone belly up.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Holy Crap – you are in Portland? I would have taken you out for lobstah! And you could make it a two-fer and drive the only factory 328! in the world.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Its weird seeing a B-Body in decent shape like this one, for every bit of better steering they had over Panthers, they’d rust much quicker. Except for the first few models years that had okay steel in them.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I will rest easy tonight knowing that this car will never see “dubs”.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I can only hope this fine rig is equiped with at least 1 preferably 2 either red cherry bomb mufflers or a pair of JC Whitney turbo cans.

    If so, you are fine in the HP department as these options add 50 RWHP, or so I was told in HS.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That car needs a broughamization and some wheel covers, STAT!

  • avatar
    claytori

    One question-
    1. Do those rear windows open? Otherwise the “Air-Conditioning” could be very turbulent.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    You must remove the Cragars and find steelies with taxi-spec dog dishes.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “steelies with taxi-spec dog dishes”

      Always!

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Someday my dreams of a “cop look” Dippy and Caprice will come true.

        Why both a Dippy and a Caprice? Why not?

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          What’s that you say? A Diplomat?!

          I think I need my ear horn for this one.

          Well congrats, Sir. You’ve officially graduated- with HONORS- from The Dreary School of Acquired Tastes.

          In recognition of your great success, promptly let us know where to send your complimentary jar of Limburger Cheese.

          • 0 avatar
            luvmyv8

            Haven’t seen a Dippy in some time…..

            Not my taste either, but cop car to cop car, they did well against the 5.7 Caprice and out performed the 5.8 Crown Vic LTD. The 318 makes me yawn, but the 4 bbl held its own back then.

            Also, allegedly there were some cop Dippy’s built with 360′s, though my Mopar history books say no…. but many stories persist of these and they reputed as being very fast….. I could dig a 360 Dippy. Whether it’s true or not, it’s cake to make your own 360 Dippy. I would, but I’d rather have a top dog 440 Monaco/Royal Monaco/Polara.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Diplomats in dark cop livery with black meats, black steelies and dog dishes were bad-ass.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            The icebox gets it.

            Fat blackwall tires and wide steelies give the police Dippy a mean look, and the old 318 can easily be replaced by, I dunno, a 408 stroker crate motor. :D

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        A yellow Charger taxi cab came past my shop yesterday.

        It had 20″ chrome spoke wheels on it.

        Not dog-dish hubcaps.

  • avatar

    Jack! If you need a pit stop in Providence (if you’re coming down this way) let me know! I’d love to see this amazing piece of history…

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    Watching Road Kill on you tube is a must if you buy old cars & drive them, they do stuff like buy a car 1,000 miles away (sight unseen)and try to get it home on what’s left of their money or do a motor swap in a parts store parking lot.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Damn, I am jealous. You know that washing a car before the trip is bad luck, right?


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