By some accounts the SS 409 cars with the aluminized front ends were never produced from the factory by Chevrolet. Well, here is a 1962 Chevy Impala SS 409 that was factory produced for John Zintsmaster of Zintsmaster Chevrolet in Kokomo, Indiana. It is living proof that these factory Lightweights did exist. This is the last factory Lightweight to survive with documentation intact.
There were 456 Impala Super Sports built by Chevrolet in 1961, the year that NHRA upped the anti for automanufacturers with 12 separate classes of stock original cars to compete in. The monster 409/409 hp big block truck engine was introduced in Chevy factory passenger cars late that year. By 1962 the Impala SS 409 was in hot demand.
Late in 1962, Chevrolet went for the knock-out punch in the factory drag racing wars by introducing a “lightweight” 409 Super Sport Impala. Imagine that, Chevrolet built some cars for NHRA drag racing competition right out of the factory. Most people did not even know these cars existed. They say there were only 18 factory lightweight Chevy Impala Super Sports produced. Each was assembled with aluminum front fenders and wheelwells, and an aluminum hood. As the story goes, these Super Sport ’62s were built to compete with the aluminum front-end Pontiacs. Soon, some of these stock dual carb 409 engines received the mythical Z-11 engine upgrades (aluminum two piece, super hi-rise intake manifold for the 409’s Carter AFB carbs, a hotter mechanical lifter camshaft with matching valve springs and a pair of 730 cylinder heads with raised, rectangular intake ports.)
Chevrolet upgraded the 409 engine in 1962 with a hotter setup for its drag racing customers that used dual inline Carter 4-barrel carbs on an aluminum dual plane intake manifold, revised heads with raised ports and larger valves, stronger connecting rods and 11.4:1 compression to raise power to 409 hp.
At the same time there were aftermarket aluminized front end parts that could be obtained through car dealers across the country. Some old-timers remember the aftermarket parts and thought the Chevy SS Lightweights were done at Chevy dealers, not at the factory. Armed with only part of the information these collectors still contend to this day that the Factory Lightweights did not exist, but were really dealer built cars.
The Zintsmaster Chevrolet puts the lie to that theory. The only documented 1962 Impala Lightweight SS 409 to still be known to exist is the one that was raced by the Zintsmaster Chevrolet dealership in Kokomo, Indiana. It is referred to today as a “time capsule.” History tells us that Chevrolet Motor division built a limited number of lightweight Impalas for such clients as Dyno Don Nicholson, Buddy Martin, Dave Strickler, Dick Harrell and John Zintsmaster.
Driver Dave Mason, whose name is still painted on the door, took this car to the 1962 Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park where it ran low 12’s at 115 mph. Shortly after that, the car was placed in private storage and disappeared for over 20 years. They say Zintsmaster retired the car from competition after that first year and kept it with documentation until 1988. Then it went into a private collection.
“I have pictures of this car in 1963 magazine racing against Grumpy Jenkins at the 1962 U.S nationals,” says the current owner.
Of the 18 Super Sport lightweights, only two are known to still exist, the Zintsmaster Chevrolet 409 Impala seen here and Dick Harrell’s black SS with red interior. The Zintsmaster car is the most original, factory-built lightweight that coast-to-coast experts of the marque know about. This white SS with red interior was shipped to the Zintsmaster Chevrolet dealership in Kokomo, Indiana.
Today the rare race car has been offered for sale by its private owner. The solid white Impala remains unchanged since it raced at the Indy Nationals in 1962, retaining almost all the original paint but for minor touch-ups, the original red interior, the original tires from the 1963 season and the original 409/409 hp engine built by the legendary Bill Thomas, still backed by the original Borg Warner 4-speed and 4.56 positraction rear end. The current owner from Illinois tells us he has the original window sticker. The car comes with the factory heater and radio delete.
This car has been SOLD.