GM plans to revive Impala; SS model to be made at Arlington plant by Richard A. Oppel Jr. (Dallas Morning News 4/3/93)




   General Motors Corp., in a show of strong support for its

Arlington plant, has decided to revive the Impala SS this year,

GM chief executive officer John F. "Jack' Smith Jr. said Friday.



   "It's a go,' Mr. Smith said during an interview at the

company's technical center in Warren, outside Detroit.



   The Impala, which will be made in Arlington, will carry a

design based on the Arlington-made Chevrolet Caprice, whose sales

have so far been very disappointing.  Indeed, GM executives say

the Impala may provide a way to increase sales of the Caprice,

which will be made exclusively in Arlington after the auto maker

shuts its Willow Run, Mich., plant this year.  



   General Motors officials did not have information about

whether the Impala would affect employment at Arlington.



   "I think the SS will give it a shot of adrenalin that will

hopefully not only spark the Caprice lineup, but I think it is

also going to spark Chevrolet,' said Jerry Palmer, executive

director of design for GM's North American operations. "There are

enough of these people out there demanding that we bring this car

to market.'



   GM executives say the company would be likely to produce

between 5,000 and 15,000 Impalas during model year 1994,

beginning late this summer.  The basic Impala would be priced no

higher than a fully loaded Caprice, about $ 20,000.



   Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins unveiled the Impala in

January during the Detroit Auto Show.  The car has since drawn

approving crowds of relatively young admirers at shows across the

country, said Ralph Kramer, a Chevrolet spokesman.



   "We are very pleased that it appeals to 35-, 40- and

45-year-olds,' said Mr. Kramer, who indicated that the average

retail buyer of the Caprice is older than 60.  "It shows an

appeal with people a whole generation younger.  It's extremely

heartwarming, to say the least.'



   GM expects to sell 60,000 to 70,000 Caprices during model year

1993.  Half of those sales, though, are to police and other

governmental buyers and to taxi fleets.



   "It's been a flop,' Michael Bowyer, an analyst at Duff and

Phelps, a credit rating agency in Chicago, said of the Caprice. 

"I think bringing back the Impala nameplate will definitely get

recognition in the minds of consumers.'



   Chevrolet used the Impala name from 1958 to 1985.   The new

Impala show car has a 300-horsepower LT1 Corvette engine, a

four-speed automatic transmission, a new grille, a rear spoiler

and an updated interior.  Mr. Kramer, however, said it is unclear

whether the production Impala will have the Corvette engine.



   During the interview Friday, Mr. Smith addressed GM's

commitment to the long-term future of the Arlington plant.



   "In this life, there can be no commitment to anything. 

Commitment is determined by market success, and all I can say is

we're running a very aggressive future product program to try to

ensure that success,' Mr. Smith said.  "But success is determined

in the marketplace, basically by customer satisfaction.'



   During a February visit to Dallas, Mr. Perkins said that if GM

approved the Impala it could help the long-term viability of the

Caprice.  "We'll keep it alive one way or the other,' he said

then.



1. John F.  Jack' Smith Jr.  2. General Motors expects to produce

5,000 to 15,000 Impalas during the 1994 model year, beginning

late this summer. The basic Impala will be priced no higher than

a fully loaded Caprice, about $ 20,000, GM executives say.