Back in 1960, just as the heyday of the original musclecar era was taking shape, Chevrolet released the legendary 409 cubic-inch big-block engine – you know, the one from from the Beach Boys famous song, ‘409’.
The big-block 409 was a step up from the previous 348 cubic-inch that first appeared in 1958. It was Chevrolet’s top production engine from 1961 to 1965 and came with your choice of single or dual-quad carburetion, and even today, the 409 moniker carries a certain amount of nostalgia to true gearheads.
The single-carb version produced 360 horsepower, but the dual-quad Carter AFB-equipped version stepped that up to 409 horsepower – 1 horse per cube, which was a big deal back in those days. The flat-tappet camshaft installed in these engines gave them a sound all their own, and the factory-installed forged steel crankshaft meant that they could take a ton of abuse with nary a whimper.
The early 60’s Impala Super Sport was a true performance package that included a set of upgraded tires, wheels, shocks, and even a special set of brakes, necessary to haul the heavy car down from elevated speeds. As the Impala was one of Chevrolet’s full size cars, the big-block motivation was welcomed by buyers.
Although there were only 142 Impala Super Sports produced in 1961 with the 409, the platform remains one of the most desirable musclecars to this day if you’re into old-school Rat-motor power. There’s nothing like a big smoky burnout, and in this video, after the first wimpy Mustang burnout is out of the way, an Impala owner takes the stage with his gorgeous 409-powered blue machine.
Big smoke ensues, and twenty seconds and two gears later, as he pulls away, the rubber is left to sizzle the tarmac, with a spectator left to extinguish the flames. The sound of big-block Chevrolet horsepower is music to this writer’s ears, and we hope you’ll have the same visceral reaction while watching. Enjoy the show!