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Driving the 409
By Kathleen Ostrander

"Giddy up, giddy up, 409" was the refrain of the iconic Beach Boys tune embraced as a national anthem by muscle-car enthusiasts. The 409 engine had giddy-up aplenty, and Chevy bumped up production of the engine and made it available in full-sized Chevys such the Impala, the Bel Air and the Biscayne in 1962.

Springfield builder Keith Moore's first car was a '62 Chevy, so he jumped at the chance to buy the dual-quad-carbed beauty from an owner in Arizona. "I've gotten five cars from Arizona, and they had no rust," Moore said.

"This one had no rust, but the dash was hanging down and it had no motor," he said with a laugh.

Sitting in his driveway, the super-shined Satin Silver Impala is a beauty - from its distinctive triple-taillight assembly to the classic front badges and the SS emblem on the back with the silver impala, the car screams "sporty" and "drive me."

Ads in 1962 showed full-size Chevrolets at airports, under the theme "Jet-smooth Chevrolet," lauding their "room, zoom and a road softening ride" as well as the smooth new shape.

Continuing their role as the newer, "posh" Chevrolets, Impalas had full-length upper bodyside moldings with contrasting-color inserts, ribbed body sill moldings, stainless steel window reveal trim, and special rear-fender script.

Impalas also had new inner fenders protected against rust.

Moore's Impala has a few tweaks to it - it has power brakes. "We did a disc brake conversion on the front," he said. But he remained true to the model and had bucket seats installed.

The Super Sport package on the Impala, in addition to the exterior badges, spinner type wheel covers and the interior grab handles, was billed by Chevy as having extra plush bucket seats. The seats were described as having "leather-soft" vinyl with aluminum edging. Included in that model were knock-off style wheel covers as well as a dash console that had a locking compartment.

The hard top sport sedan of the '62 Impala was designed to have a convertible feel. It featured special styling "c" pillars as well as what manufacturers called special roof creases to carry off the convertible look. The '62 also had more chrome to appeal to the sporty market, and despite the poor economy, Americans flocked to the dealerships to snap up the 409s.

The aluminum and chrome taillight assembly made the 1962-64 models highly collectible, and the dual quad carburetors were the icing on the cake.

Moore loves his Impala, and the judges love it, too. It's placed in a number of shows, including at the Super Chevy show in Chicago.

 

Story published Friday, December 4, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 7 )

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