1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 409

Chevrolet’s engineering and design teams were rightly proud of the 1964 Impala, particularly the top-of-the-line SS 409 trim, but could any of them have imagined that their fast and luxurious full-size would be immortalized in song twice? First, the 409 cubic inch V8 was celebrated in a Beach Boys song called “409,” and then, exactly thirty years later, on the Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog track “Let Me Ride.” In between, countless enthusiasts have preserved or restored Impalas back to showroom condition, or customized them in countless ways. Peel away the phenomenon that the “6-4” has left in its wake and you can see why it’s become so popular despite being so widely produced — more than 880,000 Impalas were built in 1964, including more than 185,000 Super Sports of all varieties. Fewer than this were optioned with the impressive 6.7-liter engine sporting a pair of four-barrel carburetors, which cranked out an astonishing 425 horsepower. That was enough to take the Impala — no small car by any measure, now or then — to 60 mph in a swift 6.3 seconds. While handling isn’t necessarily the Impala’s forte, it demands respect as one of the ancestors of the later muscle car movement, because without the full-size cars that the high-performance V8s were built for, no manufacturer could have later dropped them into the intermediates that formed the basis of the genre. Cultural icon or stylish and fast cruiser, the Impala SS 409 is a lot of car.

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