1962 Chevy 409 - Street racers and drag strip racers are quick to catch on. They quickly learned that the “truck option” in the ‘61 Impala was a hot setup. It quickly became known as the “409 Impala.”
Chevy offered the 409 truck engine in the Impala from 1961 to 1965. Before the pony cars took over in April ‘64 with the introduction of the Ford Mustang, these big “special option” beasts had center stage. It’s what inspired the pop hit from the Beach Boys, “She’s Real Fine, My 409...”
1965 saw the introduction of the 396 Mark IV big-block Chevrolet. It was also the last year for the 409. In ‘66 Impala buyers could order a mellow version of the 427 Corvette engine. It was still a quick ride, but it just didn’t have a hit song. - KST
1966 SS Chevy Impala - Chevrolet SS Impalas were very classy, affordable cars. Styling was right on the money - sleek and graceful. A Super Sport Impala could be outfitted with a 327 small-block or a 427 big-block engine.
Behind the scenes, Chevrolet was thrashing the new Camaro for a September ‘66 debut in an attempt to catch up with the Mustang. Consequently, there wasn’t much racing action for the Impalas. - KST
1968 SS-396 Camaro - Ford scored the ultimate market takeover in automotive history in the Spring of ‘64 with the introduction of the 1964-1/2 Mustang! Everyone in Detroit got caught with their knickers down. It took Chevy 2-1/2 years to catch up!
The amazing thing about the ‘67 Camaro is that it was very close to a perfect bull’s eye. Chevy fans fell in love with the car immediately! Almost over-night, nearly every Chevy fan had to have a Camaro. Chevy lovers knew that they were picking up a winner to fight to pony car wars of the late ‘60s. There were Camaros for everyone. There was a 6-cylinder grocery-getter, a mild 307 V8 model, a street-machine SS model, and the road racer Z-28 option.
When ‘68 came along, there were a few minor changes to the one-year-old Camaro. It now wore side marker lights (kind’a cool), and the side-window vents were gone and replaced with “Astro Ventilation.” The SS option mow included a 375hp 396 engine, and the Z-28 was still a lightweight.
No one has ever duplicated the quick sales success of the first Mustangs. But not only did the Camaro quickly catch up with the Mustang, we now had a real horse race. The current Camaro is in suspended animation for a brief time while GM sorts out the new Camaro / Firebird assembly plant. No doubt, there are already well on their way to the completed design (as of 2/05). With the new retro Mustang already on the road, that means that soon, the pony wars will begin all over again. - KST
1970 SS-454 Chevelle - The SS Chevelle option gave buyers high style at a very reasonable price. The SS Chevelle went from at 396 big-block engine in 1969 to the gigantic 454 engine. “On paper” the 465 horsepower LS-7 option captures the prize as the highest horsepower muscle car offers during the muscle car era. The LS-6 454 version packed 450 horsepower.
It all boiled down to one tough street machine at a very reasonable price. - KST
1970-1/2 Baldwin-Motion Phase III Camaro - By 1969 and ‘70-1/2, Chevrolet was offering some VERY stout Camaros. The Z-28 was a well balanced street brute and the 396/375 Camaro in good tune could handle its own. But that wasn’t enough for one Joel Rose of Long Island, New York.
Joel had been running his little speed shop called “Motion Performance” since the early ‘60s. Carroll Shelby’s success for Ford and Hertz Rent-A-Car was legendary. So Rosen figured that he might be able to strike a deal with local Baldwin Chevrolet and offer “super car” versions of the Chevrolet line of cars. Amazing as it seems, the deal was made and Rosen was in business doing conversions, ala’ Reeves Callaway (except that there were minimal emission controls in the olden days).
Rosen called his creation, “Phase III Supercars.” There was no Phase I or II, “Phase III” just sounded cool. So here was the deal. Mr. Customer buys a Chevy from Baldwin Chevrolet and chooses the Phase III package (they had brochures to look at and everything). Your new Chevrolet was then delivered to the Motion shop where the conversion took place based on the options chosen by Mr. Customer. High performance street machines were becoming complex, so for a fee, Rosen and his crew would put everything into the car that any street racer-type might put into his car.
To top it all off, Rosen guaranteed that when they were done bolting on, replacing, and tuning, the car would run in the 12s on the quarter-mile. And lastly, since the car was technically “brand new” somehow or another, the cars managed to still be under the full factory warrantee! - KST
1970-1/2 Z-28 Camaro - After only 3 model years, Chevrolet completely restyled the Camaro. The results were stunning! Magazine reviewers were comparing the new Camaro and Firebird to cars from Ferrari and Lamborghini! Although the Z-28 looked tamer than the Trans-Am, the Chevy continued on in its winning road racing ways. At the time, no one knew that there would not be a new Camaro/Firebird until 1982! - KST
1968 Z-28 Camaro - The '67 Camaro was Chevy's answer to Ford's Mustang and It did not take long for a special edition Camaro to be released that would be legal in the then-new SCCA Trans-Am road racing class. The 1968 RPO (Regular Production Option) number code Z-28 was the beginning of a new Chevy legend. The small-block racing pony cars helped to create soem of the most interesting and exciting race cars ever. Trans-Am racing was a unique blend of sports car road racing and Detroit muscle cars. The team of Roger Penske and Mark Donahue almost completely dominated their first two years of Tran-Am racing with their Z-28 Camaros. Compared to today's Trans-Am race cars, these early cars were more like beefed up Showroom Stock racers - KST