Flashback Friday: Chevrolet’s Factory-Built 1962 Impala ‘409’
Back in the 1960’s, factory-built drag cars were all the rage, as every manufacturer in Detroit wanted a piece of the pie, and it was that period that left us with some of the most historic machines to ever grace the quarter mile. A fine example of these factory-prepped rides is the ’62 Impala ‘409’ SS Lightweight , an extremely rare Chevrolet drag car that featured a lightweight front end, assembled with aluminum front fenders, wheel wells, and an aluminum hood. This specific example, which rolled off the assembly line in flint, Michigan on July 31, 1962, was painted Ermine White with a red interior, and retained the original body panels and floors. There were a total of 18 Chevrolet factory drag cars built in 1962, and this one, the Zintsmaster Chevrolet from Kokomo, Indiana, is one of only two still known to exist today.
One of the earliest documented muscle cars in American, this car had the California ‘built’ 409′ engine that used the factory block casting that was a rebuilt short block that was sent to Thomas Racing Engines in California and produced about 500 horsepower. The motor is topped by a standard 409 aluminum intake manifold correct for 1962, with Carter AFB carburetors,mechanical lifter camshaft with matching valve springs, stock ‘409’ cylinder heads with raised, rectangular intake ports, and a full dual exhaust system. The engine was backed by a Borg-Warner T10 four-speed transmission rowed with a Hurst shifter. Out back was a 4.56:1 Posi-traction rear end, and a set of metallic brakes.
The lightweight components on these cars reduced them by around 130 pounds from the road-going version, and they fell into in the B/FX class in the NHRA, where they ran very competitively. The Zintsmaster piece cost just $3,600.25 with all of the go-fast parts added. Driver Dave Mason drove this car at the 1962 Nationals in Indianapolis, where it turned low 12-second laps at 115 MPH.
Shortly thereafter, it was placed in private storage and disappeared for over 20 years. It was later sold to a well-known collector in Indiana, and then later to another in Georgia, where it remains today. Some of the small components of the car have since been restored to period correct, but it remains completely original to this day. It was recently up for sale for the bargain basement price of $300,00, but no information exists on whether it was ever sold.