The 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport featured a massive 409-cid engine, giving it much more power than any other car on the road. Essentially a bore/stroke job on the 348-cid V-8, the 409 wielded 360 bhp (at 5800 rpm) along with an energetic 409 pounds/feet of torque. It looked the part, too, painted red with silver rocker covers, topped by a dual-snorkel air cleaner.
The first 409-equipped Super Sports hit the showrooms in mid-1961. Most of the 453 examples built that year were Sport Coupes, with a handful of convertibles, though the package was theoretically offered on any Impala body. Only about 142 carried the big engine.
"Without trying hard," declared Motor Trend in its trial of the 409, "the SS will shoot away from practically anything else on the road." Testers achieved 0-60 times as quick as 7.0 seconds with a 4.56:1 axle. An ordinary Impala with 250-bhp 348 required more than 10 seconds.
More 409s became available for 1962; but curiously, the Super Sport turned into a $156 trim package offered with any Impala engine, even the 135-bhp six. However, SS body styles were strictly limited to the Sport Coupe (hardtop) and convertible. Styling grew cleaner yet, with a more squared-off profile and trailing body creaseline.
SS interiors now sported front bucket seats with anodized aluminum edging. "Swirl-pattern" anodized aluminum inserts adorned bodyside moldings, versus painted trim in regular Impalas.
Chevrolet's familiar 283-cid V-8 was bored and stroked to 327 cid to replace the 348. Top dog of the 409s gulped through a pair of four-barrel carburetors to yield 409 bhp.
Motor Trend roared its 409 test car to 60 in 6.3 seconds, blasting through the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds. A 380-bhp edition took an extra second to hit 60 in the hands of Car Life. Sales virtually doubled those of the rival Ford Galaxie 500XL.
Impala's body was boxier yet for 1963, as a 427-cid V-8 arrived, intended for professional drag racers. Most customers had to be content with a 425-bhp enhancement of the 409.
A new "police option" 409 was rated 340 bhp. All SS Impalas had floor shifters for 1963. As usual, the $161 option could be ordered with any engine, down to the new 230-cid six. Inside, the grab bar was gone.
Super Sports were considered a distinct model in 1964. By this time, the SS owner could tune in to the Beatles on an AM/FM radio, and grasp a rarely seen twin-spoke walnut-grained steering wheel. "Any of three big 409 V-8's," said the 1964 catalog, "is especially saucy in highway passing situations." Impala fans couldn't agree more, and the Super Sport phenomenon was well underway.
For 1961-1964 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport specifications, go to the next page.