1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 Lightweight Sport Coupe
Lot No. 4128
Auctioned on Saturday, May 10, 2014
Sold for $151,250
Chevy introduced its W-series cast-iron engine family in 1958 as a next performance step beyond the popular 265-cid and 283-cid small-block V-8s. The first “W” was a 348-cid powerplant that could be mated to three two-barrel carburetors for a total output of 315 horsepower. On December 17, 1960, Chevy announced it was enlarging the engine to 409 cubic inches and would offer the new V-8 with its full-size 1961 Impala Super Sport (SS) model.
Don Nicholson won the 1961 NHRA Winternationals in the Stock Eliminator class at Pomona, California behind the wheel of a 409-powered Impala SS, proving very quickly that Chevy’s new big-block was a superior piece of engineering. Twelve stock car victories that year added to the car’s reputation.
Nicholson and a 409 Impala SS repeated their Winternationals Stock Eliminator victory in 1962, but Chevy kept developing speed parts for its big drag car. Unable to get more power from the 409, engineers focused on making the car lighter, which meant shaving pounds from every conceivable part. They replaced the sheetmetal hood, fenders, inner wheelwells, bumpers, brackets and other associated pieces with aluminum elements, trimming 120 pounds from a 3,500-pound automobile. Lightening the car’s front end helped transfer weight to the rear tires under acceleration, which reduced quarter-mile times. Only 18 Impala SSs received the aluminum components in 1962, including this unbelievable machine.
Chevrolet built an exclusive number of lightweight Impalas for such clients as the aforementioned “Dyno” Don Nicholson, along with names such as Dave Strickler, Buddy Martin, Dick Harrell and John Zintsmaster, whose Kokomo, Indiana-based Zintsmaster Chevrolet, owned and ran the 1962 factory lightweight Impala that is being offered. This SS 409 was shipped to the Zintsmaster Chevrolet dealership in Kokomo, Indiana, and it survives with its documentation intact; some relating it’s all too brief racing career. The current owner reports that this is the only known surviving factory-documented car. The Zintsmaster car is commonly recognized as the most original, factory-built lightweight that the respected experts of the marque know about.
This Impala SS was raced by the Zintsmaster Chevrolet dealership in essentially the very state that it is now being presented; a virtual time capsule. The lightweight Impala SS was driven by Dave Mason, whose name is still painted on the door. Zintsmaster took this car to the 1962 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park where Mr. Mason ran it in the low 12-second range at 115-mph down the famed quarter-mile strip. Shortly after that, the car was described as being retired from competition and placed in private storage, where it then remained out of sight for over 20 years. It is said that Mr. Zintsmaster kept the lightweight SS 409 with its documentation until 1988 when it first was sold into another private collection.
The rare Ermine White Impala lightweight racecar remains fundamentally unchanged since it raced at the Indy Nationals. It preserves almost all its original paint, except for slight touch-ups. A Roman Red stripe runs the length of both sides and the Zintsmaster Chevrolet is advertised as “Indiana’s Fastest Trader.” The original red bucket seat interior, the original whitewall tires from its last racing season, the original dual-quad 409-cid, 409-hp V-8 engine, and the original BorgWarner floor-mounted four-speed, plus the original 4.56:1 Posi-traction rear end are all part of this amazing platform. To add even more status, the engine was built by the legendary Bill Thomas, later of Cheetah fame.
Today, the retired drag racer registers only 5,500 miles. The interior is a standard 1962 Impala SS layout with radio and heater delete, with a tachometer mounted on the dash. Color-keyed factory steel wheels are still with the car, as is the spare in the trunk and Zintsmaster Chevrolet sticker on the rear bumper. Along with the original window sticker, this important piece of automotive history is accompanied by numerous newspaper articles with race results. The Zintsmaster SS lightweight has also been featured in multiple magazine articles that further chronicles that it represents the best of the best, with its racing pedigree and originality intact and on display.