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Chevrolet Impala


1981 Chevrolet Impala and Caprice Classic
The 1981 Chevrolet Impala tweaked its transmission to improve mileage.
The 1981 Chevrolet Impala tweaked its transmission to improve mileage.

Changes for the 1981 Chevrolet Impala and Caprice Classic were almost dramatic compared to the subtle year-to-year changes normally seen on Chevrolet's full-size line. Visually, the cars changed little, but underneath were some commendable improvements.

GM's Computer Command Control (CCC) emission system improved driveability somewhat while lending a hand in meeting 1981's stricter emissions regulations, but bigger news came in the form of a new four-speed automatic transmission with long-legged 0.67:1 overdrive fourth gear. Combined with a lock-up torque converter, a Caprice or Impala with the 305-cubic-inch V-8 (the only engine available with the four-speed automatic) registered an impressive 26 EPA highway miles-per-gallon, a figure that could very nearly be duplicated in "real world" driving.

The handsome 1981 Chevrolet Impala stayed competitive even as a full-size.
The handsome 1981 Chevrolet Impala stayed competitive even as a full-size.

Engine choices continued from 1980 but with slightly less horsepower. The base powerplant was again a 229-cubic-inch V-6, now with 110 horsepower (California cars got a Buick-built 231, also with 110 horsepower). Optional was a 267-cubic-inch V-8 with 115 horsepower and the aforementioned 305 V-8 with 150.

For 1980, only station wagons could get an Oldsmobile 350-cubic-inch diesel V-8, but availability of that engine was expanded to include all Impala and Caprice models for 1981.

1981 Chevrolet Impala and Caprice Classic Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Impala
3,326-3,897
$7,129-$7,765
85,964
Caprice
3,363-3,940
$7,534-$8,112
133,461