1962 Chevy Deluxe Impala – A Real Fine 509
Howard Groff’s 1962 Chevy Deluxe Impala is as fine as you’ll ever find. It took a village to get it where it is today – in winner’s circles nationwide.
Reflecting for a moment, there’s a memory most car kids that grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s have that today’s generation of young car lovers rarely experience on a regular basis. I’m talking about those September days when the new models would hit the streets for the first time. Manufacturers generally completely changed their designs every three years so changes in styling moved at a rapid pace. I remember the fall in 1961 when a brand new ’62 Impala became the first new car in the neighborhood that year.
Even at our age we could tell it had more of an elegance about it from its predecessor. We chased it down the street on our bikes to see what driveway it would pull into. It was clean, smooth and everything about it just seemed to flow together without any abrupt lines or edges. The front and the rear were slanted forward as if it defied the laws of Physics, motion and the space-time continuum sitting still. Classic fins were gone for good.
Howard Groff grew up in the Southern California car culture. While attending Reseda High School, he bought a ’57 Chevy Bel Air dual quad Power Pak car he bought for $1,356 in the late ‘50’s. Every Sunday he would take the car to the San Fernando Dragstrip and race, eventually making runs in the mid 13’s. He sold it and ran off with his high school sweetheart to get married. Both his relationship with his wife and his love of ‘57’s remain solid to this day and he owns both a hardtop and post versions of the finned classic.
He also had a fondness for the ’62 Impalas and felt it was time to build a killer Impala to add to the mix. Howard found a rather unique version to work with in this project. A 1962 Chevy Deluxe Impala with a stovebolt 6 cylinder was found in Oregon and the project was turned over to Andy Leach at Cal Automotive Creations in Bennington, Nebraska. As the car was being prepared for the long road ahead, Brian Stupski at Problem Child Customs sketched out ideas for the look of the car inside and out.
A new chassis was part of the plan and a Fast Track Elite series frame from Roadster Shop arrived and fitted with custom billet aluminum upper and lower control arms connected to C6 spindles. A Dutchman 9-inch IRS with 3.73 gears along with a Tremec 6 speed would handle the power chores with Coilovers from Penske Racing front and rear.
The Impala would eventually roll on one-off EVOD 18-inch Billet wheels with Nitto tires with 245/45-18 at the front and 295/45-18 out back. The tire sidewalls were also sanded for a clean smooth look. Forward motion is stopped via 6 piston Baer brakes with 14-inch rotors clamped by a hidden master cylinder.
The last time someone saw the original 6 cylinder, it was hooked to a chain at a Marina on a yacht named “Slow Boat”. Taking it’s place is a World Products 509 cubic inch W engine built by John Beck in Chico, CA. The 623 HP 509 works fine with Edelbrock aluminum heads and a one off billet intake by Atomic Machine and Design. It all fires with a computerized ignition with a MegaSquirt fuel injection system. The main visual element beyond the injection system are the custom one off valve covers by Cal Automotive Customs. The 3-inch exhaust is also custom made with Magnaflow mufflers.
The body received a subtle but extensive transformation during the build. The rocker panels were dropped ever so slightly adding to its lowered look. New heavy duty floor pans were welded in place and custom quarter panels fabricated. The bumpers were custom built into one piece units and tucked front and rear.
A subtle touch is the modified grille with one additional row to it blending into a custom front valance and custom headlamp bezels. Most of the trim was custom made including the taillights which have a trick feature. Want to open the trunk? Turn one of the taillight lenses.
The engine bay is stunning with ceramic and powder coatings done by Trail Coatings in Omaha, NE. Advanced Plating in Nashville, TN put a shine on everything needing chrome including the custom trimmed door handles. When it came time to lay down color, the Impala headed to the Refinery in Manteno, IL where it was coated in Glasurit Fawn Mist by Adam Krause.
The interior was taken to another level by combining a vintage yet modern look. The Recovery Room in Plattsmouth, NE handled all the interior trim and stereo. A Kenwood satellite unit with Rockford Fosgate speakers including a single subwoofer rock the 509 as hard as Howard needs it to. Once you sit down in the custom built leather seats, you face a one off dual pod dash instead of the usual one on the left side with a ’61 Impala grab handle on right side.
Looking forward from the custom built, trimmed-down steering wheel, you’ll find an array of Classic Instruments gauges including a custom tach in a pod on the left side. The steering wheel and most of the specialty pieces were made by Atomic Machine and Design. Armrests are from a ’59 Impala with custom billet trim. The interior remains as cool as it looks with Vintage Air.
The day I saw Howard’s car at a local show reminded me of the day I saw that first brand new ’62 Impala in person. Judging by the crowd that gathered around it, a lot of people reacted like it was September 1961 and saw the new Impala for the first time. The excitement for a great classic never goes out of style.