Tim Allen's wild ride; actor's modified Chevrolet Impala SS; Editorial by C. Van Tune (Motor Trend, 2/97)

    Tim Allen is excited. His eyes are sparkling, his demeanor is

electric, and his grin is genuine. Today, this eminently

successful comedian and author, this incredibly wealthy TV and

movie star, this universally beloved American he-man icon, is

practically wetting his pants in anticipation of driving his new


    Allen's world-renowned "Home Improvement" character, Tim

Taylor, would be proud. The bad, black sedan in question is a

highly modified Impala SS built by Chevrolet Specialty Vehicles

Manager Jon Moss and crew for Allen's personal use. Under its

hood rumbles a Corvette ZR-1 DOHC V-8 bored and stroked to 6.3

liters of displacement, stuffed with 12.2:1 compression pistons,

and churning out 446 horsepower and 448 pound feet of torque.

Backed up by a toughened GM 4L60-E four-speed automatic, 4.10:1

rear gears, and gummy BFGoodrich 275/40ZR17 Comp T/A's on

one-of-a-kind Enkei 17x9.0-inch aluminum wheels, this ground

pounder exudes more pure macho essence than every tool in the

Binford lineup combined.

    The venue is the legendary Pomona Dragstrip, and Motor Trend

is on-site to test Allen's street racer only a few hours after

the tire smoke dispersed from the NHRA Winston Finals. The

grandstands are empty but the starting line is awash in

photographers, videographers, PR execs, publicists, Chevrolet

engineers, and various hangers-on. Yes, it's apparently a big

deal when Tim Allen gets a new car.

    Tim waves me over to join him for the first full-throttle

full-track acceleration run of the vicious Impala, and like his

damn-the-warranty "Tool Time" character might do, he blithefully

rams the throttle to the floor from a dead stop. In a nanosecond

the monster rush of torque overwhelms the fat rear tires' grip

coefficient, engulfing the aforementioned entourage in a

sinus-searing cloud of liquefied tire tread. Undaunted, Tim keeps

his boot down while- the car slews left-right-left as the speed

builds."Ooooh, man, feel that torque!" he yells over to me as the

car continues its barely-in-control full-track burnout, now

edging past 80 mph."That's the Motor they should have done for

the ZR-1!" he crows. Indeed, the engine's a brute, matched by a

multicammed big-cube sound that can only be described as

sensually riveting. The only problem: The ear's slewing so wildly

that we're now heading toward the big concrete retaining wall on

the right side of the track at an angle that suggests rapidly

impending doom.

    Tim's foot remains on the firewall.

    My eyes widen to full pizza-pan diameter as my mind races

through the probable scenario of disaster. At 90-plus mph, this

isn't going to be pretty.

    Then, without fanfare or a hint of duress, the good Mr. Allen

makes the appropriate steering and throttle correction and his

bulging-bicep Impala regains its footing, swaggering back into

the drag lane and powering through the timing traps at over 100

mph. Tim nails the brakes hard, swims through a hot U-turn at the

end of the strip, and rams the throttle open once again,

catapulting us back toward the starting line amid more squealing

tire noise and rampaging engine roar. At the 1-2 shift, the big

Chevy again cocks itself sideways. Tim lets out a loud hoot."Man,

this car is amazing!"

    Once back on terra firma, I felt like lighting up an

unfiltered Camel and getting a tattoo...just the way Tim Taylor

would've liked it.