There was a time – long ago and long gone – when cars used to be stunningly beautiful, full of personality, and respectable. Something happened, like a bad omen cast from the automotive design purgatory, and automobiles nowadays are clad with aggressive (or plain violent) lines.
Fortunately, there are some examples of that golden age of motoring beauty that survive to this day. One is this 1964 Chevrolet Impala, available for sale (at 55,000 US dollars) in Waterford, Michigan. In all fairness, the vehicle the seller claims is numbers-matching is about as pretty as Marylin Monroe’s iconic photograph taken during The Seven Year Itch filming. (Yes, the one with the waving, revealing white dress).
Since we are on the topic of photos, they reveal the good life the Impala had (it’s either that or the splendid Sport Coupe underwent a complete and thorough restoration. However, the seller doesn’t mention any such event).
The car comes with the four-speed manual transmission – can you ask for a more appropriate pairing for the 409 V8 shining under the hood? Again, taking the current owner’s word, the car “runs and drives great” (just as any car as fabulous-looking as this Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe should do).
As we mentioned the engine, let’s pop the hood and see what it’s all about. The 409 ci (6.7 liters) V8 ran for about 80,000 miles in the last 58 years. While the seller does not mention which of the 409 versions sits in the engine bay of his Impala Sport Coupe, it is worth noting that 1964 is the year that marked the return of this big block under the Impala hood.
Debuted in 1961 with the newly introduced SS version, the 409 came to output a hefty 425 bhp (431 PS) and 425 lb-ft (576 Nm) by 1964 (with massive help from the dual Carter AFB quad-barrel carburetor setup). A milder version was also available, with 340 bhp (345 PS) between 1963 to 1965, with a single four-barrel cast iron intake and a Rochester 4GC square-bore carburetor.
In many ways, the Impala would be ousted from the muscle car realm were it not for the “409 V8” ace up Chevrolet’s sleeve. Little did Chevy know in 1961, when the SS came out, that the mainstream model the Impala was at the time would dramatically turn towards its muscle destiny.
Designed – and sold – as a full-sized family car, the Impala of the first generations had little to nothing to do with performance or race driving. However, the arrival of the 409 changed everything. Well, almost everything, as the Impala retained its spacious interior – a two-door Sports Coupe is still a five-seater – and its lowriding profile.
The last detail also caught the eye of the famous car culture trend of “Low and Slow,” who quickly adopted the 1964 Impala as a preferred canvas for close-to-ground mods. However, the car in this story is neither a lowrider nor modded in any other way. It has the alleged original red interior (bench seats front and rear), air-conditioning (a rare option for the 409-equipped cars), power brakes, and power steering.
So, a lavish array of options in this poster-worthy Impala from 1964. Also, the powertrain is something to look forward to, as the 409-four-speed-manual combo is a sinful temptation. While this 1964 white-over-red Chevrolet Impala is no Holy Grail, it’s not that common, with the massive V8 far more often powering the much-coveted SS examples.
So, the 55-grand price tag could be worth it. Purists of the brand might frown at the non-original wheels (that still look good on the car). Still, the vehicle is speckless—excellent overall detailing, with particular attention to the engine and engine bay. The red interior is vivid and fresh, and the floor-shifter winks a hint of head-turning admiration during a boulevard cruise.
The Impala has a clean title and “excellent” condition (owner’s claims). The pics gallery is not particularly rich in details. Still, the white Sport Coupe is a good-looking car—an authentic tribute to the good old habits of the American automotive industry of making good-looking, good-driving vehicles.
Maybe it’s just me, but there is something about the pre-plastic era of car-making that morphs a mere car into a collectible classic. I mean, imagine fifty years from now, someone turns up with a barn find in the form of a carbon-fiber-bodied wheeled BEV computer. No patina, no show of age, no beauty to glance at, and no frantic heartbeats to anticipate a first motor start in decades. That’s why cars like this 1964 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe will always have a special place among gearheads.