She's real fine my 409, my 4...0...9.
The line comes from the Beach Boys song 409, released in '62 and letting everyone know about Chevy's newest high-performance powerplant.
Introduced in October 1957 as a 348-cubic-inch engine intended for Chevy trucks, it had the low-end torque needed for pulling heavy loads. But by the late '50s General Motors realized the additional cubic inches and torque from the 348 was also needed to pull the weight of the ever-growing full-size Chevrolet.
The 348 responded well to increases in compression and carburetion to the point that it kept Chevrolet competitive in the market. But in late 1961 an increase in bore and stroke to yield 409 cubic inches really got the ball rolling. Again, increases in compression and a move to dual four-barrel carburetors yielded 425 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m., making the Chevy a viable street machine and successful weekend racer.
By 1964 there was a new player in town called the mid-sized LeMans GTO, which had less weight and almost as much performance potential. The full-sized cars were losing some of their performance image. But, hook a full-size Impala Super Sport up with the 425 horsepower 409 V8 and fading quietly into the woodwork wasn't an option.
There were 8,684 Chevrolets built in 1964 with the 409 V8, so finding one today can be a bit of a challenge. But since less than 10 per cent of them found their way into the Impala Super Sport convertible, finding a needle in a haystack starts to look like a better bet. For Russ Paterson of Winnipeg, 'if you can't find it, build it' is always a viable alternative. So, in 2006 when a business associate told Paterson he had a '64 Impala Super Sport convertible for sale, it sounded like a good platform on which to build a 409 clone.
"It needed a lot of work but the price was reasonable," says Paterson. Together with Jerry Barker and Bob Sterner, he began locating the parts necessary for the transformation of the car, which was originally a 327 V8 automatic.
After disassembly, the body was parted from the chassis and both were sent to Ron Lambert at Winnipeg Sandblasting. The car was then stripped of all paint, revealing a good deal of corrosion evident on the lower portion of the body. New rear quarter-panels, door skins, floor panels and rust-free front fenders were located and installed to bring the body back into shape.
Bob Duncan at the House Of Silver replated the bumpers and other chrome items, along with the polished stainless-steel trim for the Impala. For the chassis, new steering, suspension and braking components were installed, including the proper big-block coil springs and other chassis hardware found on the 409-equipped cars. The ragtop rolls on radial tires mounted on 18-inch Boyd Coddington custom wheels.
Dan at Landau Ford Lincoln did the final prep work on the body before a fresh coat of Viper Silver was laid on the body. Turc Brothers installed a new black Mercedes fabric top in place of the original vinyl convertible top and also installed the black vinyl interior upholstery from Ciadella Interiors. Optional equipment includes power steering, power brakes, power windows, AM pushbutton radio, tinted glass, tachometer, bucket seats and centre console.
Nick Powell of Winnipeg specializes in '58-to-'64 Chevrolets and built a special 409 for the convertible. Fitted with 11.1:1 compression forged pistons, high-lift mechanical camshaft and dual quad intake manifold with twin 500 c.f.m. Edelbrock carburetors sitting beneath its dual-snorkel air cleaner, it's easily making the 425-horsepower mark.
A new 2.5-inch diameter custom dual exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers was fabricated and installed by Duals Mufflers. Backed by a rebuilt wide-ratio Muncie four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter, it transfers the power back to a 3.55:1 ratio posi-traction rear axle. Cooling duties for the big-block V8 are handled by a four-core Dessert core radiator supplied by Classic Industries.
Sterner and Barker completed the reassembly in 2008 and, aside from a build sheet identifying the options, the convertible looks, drives and sounds the same as any original 409-equipped Impala on the planet.
The Impala SS convertible is one of 27,755 built for 1964 and rides on a 119-inch wheelbase. With its "Jet Smooth" ride and power to spare thanks to its 409 V8, it's an icon among the full-size performance field. Whether your intentions are racing at the strip or rolling out to the lake for a weekend, this "four-speed, dual quad, posi-traction 409" can do it all.
Life's a beach
Now that we have you thinking about the beach, why not join us this weekend at Falcon Lake for the "All Roads Lead To Falcon Show & Shine"? It runs Sunday, July 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is $10 per vehicle and is open from 10 a.m. to noon.
Enjoy a day at the beach and take in the Show & Shine, Wonder Shows Midway, or just kick back and relax. Admission to the park is free and dash plaques are available for the first 100 vehicles to register. All net proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. For further information visit www.falconlake.autoclubs.ca