Earlier than American automobiles had formally “gone muscle” with the Pontiac GTO, the 1961 Chevy Impala Super Sport captured the components properly: improve a daily passenger automobile with the most important engine the corporate might make producing as a lot energy because it might muster. If you thought that Chevy had finished all of it, go a step farther and promote race motors to the general public.
You could possibly order a 409 in any of Chevy’s full-size choices, however the burly Impala SS once more carried nearly all of the big-block/four-speed guide transmission gross sales. The 409 was directed largely to each drag and stock-car racers and by the engine’s second manufacturing 12 months, 1962, it had drawn severe consideration by cleansing up the NHRA’s Tremendous Inventory class. The highest-trim variations of the street-car 409 churned out an astonishing 425 horsepower, whereas the Invoice “Grumpy” Jenkins-tuned NHRA automobiles might run the quarter mile in below 13 seconds.
Few examples of the 409-powered drag automobiles are extra well-known than “Outdated Dependable,” the ’62 Chevy that Jenkins tuned and Dave Strickler drove to the NHRA class title that 12 months. That automobile, together with Hayden Profitt’s 409-powered Bel Air, featured some clandestine pace elements, specifically “Z-11” possibility heads, camshaft, and two-piece induction that gave a wholesome horsepower dose. A number of of the Strickler/Jenkins Outdated Reliables from varied years are nonetheless round they usually sound unbelievable.
NASCAR hall of famer Rex White was on the similar time racing his personal Chevy Bel Air as a privateer in NASCAR’s prime Grand Nationwide Sequence. The short-of-stature White had gained the Grand Nationwide title in 1960 with the Chevy 348, upon which the 409 was primarily based, and he switched to the 409 in ’61 together with that season’s champion Ned Jarrett. White racked up a pile of race wins for the 409 and was among the many first, together with Junior Johnson, to race Chevy’s stroked, Smokey Yunick-built “Thriller Motor” 427 thoroughbred—an engine that HOT ROD Magazine dyno-tested in 2015— on the 1963 Daytona 500.