In 1963, the Impala was enjoying strong sales, and unbeknownst to many, a performance option that helped it dominate many racetracks. Just prior to the GM announcing its ban on factory racing in early 1963, the Z11 program was destined to become an option of legendary status.
Z11-equipped Impalas numbered a mere 50 units, and featured many weight reducing components and deletions. For instance, the radio and front sway bar were history. Since it was to be a race car, items like sound deadener, a radio, and a heater were also left on the assembly line. Only the small, round stalk shifter and Delco electric tachometer were standard.
Frontend components made of aluminum, including the hood, fenders, front and rear bumpers, brackets and braces, grille brackets, a two-piece fan shroud, the grille filler panel and hood support catch replaced standard production steel parts. With these, the car tipped the scales at nearly three hundred pounds less than an equivalent 409-powered production line Impala.
But, the highlight of the option was the highest-performing W-series engine ever released – the 430HP 409 cubic-inch engine. This particular engine was exclusive to the Z11, and featured dual four-barrel carburetors, unique heads and camshaft, a 13.5:1 compression ratio, an all-forged reciprocating assembly, and a very special cowl induction “cold air” system.
When one of these cars is made available for sale, collectors take notice. That’s why this piece of raced history is significant enough that we thought you might be interested. According to the folks at Mecum, this car is believed to be the only example to still retain both its original driveline and interior. Unlike many cars of this vintage, it has never been wrecked or ravaged by rust.
The original owner and driver was Frank Sanders, who piloted this car to a win at the 1963 NHRA Winternationals in the Limited Production class. As we said, this car still has all its original sheetmetal, which includes the lightweight components, the heavy-duty braking and differential parts.
Inside, the factory-installed tachometer, bench seat, delete plates and floor shift, are still employed. The only change to the interior was the carpet, which has been replaced. Even Sanders’ innovative “line lock” brake mechanism still remains in place. Under the hood are Sanders’ own S&S Headers, a company he owned. They are the one variant from the engine’s as-released condition.
A true legend, its win record has it noted as the first stock-bodied car to top 120 m.p.h., and might be the most successful “stock-legal” car of the Z11 era. The only repaint ever done to the car is flawless, and the period-correct lettering and well-researched binder of paperwork makes this car among the most original and correct Z11 package cars in existence.
Be sure to see how the car does at auction, and you can find out all of the information by clicking here.