A beautiful car, like a beautiful painting or a song that’s a masterpiece, only comes around once in a long while. But in order to understand “sweet,” you must always encounter “sour,” so when a remarkable piece of machinery like this “Roman Red,” ’62 Impala SS with what appears to be a factory-correct, 409/4-speed pulls up, you better believe you’re going to fall into the kind of “gearhead trance” that only certain breeds of American performance can induce.
The car absolutely reeks of old-school, out-of-the-box drag racing; no wonder the Beach Boys celebrated the car so vividly in their beach-rock classic, “409.” But without discrediting the Beach Boys and their jovial celebration of the cherry led-sled, the first word that seems to pop into my mind when I look closely at this early ’60s Super Sport is “tough.”
As a matter of fact, everything from the H-patterned cue ball of a shift knob, all the way down to the maraschino cherry-red on the factory buckets spells “tough.” Nearly anyone who is a Bowtie buff knows the legend of the 348/409 motor; it’s performance is scary even by today’s standards. But there are other styling cues that stand out on this Impala: the dash-mounted, racing tach, the red carpet and white ceiling upholstery that adorn the interior, along with all of the chrome bezels and other pieces that are still perfectly in-tact.
While not many cars today possess the kind of style and elegance that characterized American, full-sized cars of the late ’50s and early ’60s, I have just a little bit of a feeling that clean, ground-up restorations like this ’62 SS are going to be responsible for resurrecting that long-lost sense of automobile vogue that once existed in our great country.