Q: Hi, Greg, I enjoy reading your articles every week. My letter deals with the 1962 Chevy Biscayne 409 as when I was a young lad of 5 years old, my dad bought one right off the showroom floor.
I thought and still do think it was one of the “baddest” muscle cars of that era. It was bluish green, had a Hurst four-speed and even “cut out” exhaust. I remember a tachometer, too, and those huge valve covers.
I live in western New York and I remember my dad driving our car to Indianapolis for the drag races, where he raced it in the completely stock class. All he did was uncap the exhaust and he took home a first place trophy.
If I remember, it had two four barrels and forget what it said for the horsepower. Can you tell me about how many were made that year and the different engines and horses on these 409s?
I am a truck driver, and in the late 1970s, I drove a semi-truck with a 409 in it. I see your articles in Auto Roundup, newspapers and the Internet. Brian Lock, Silver Creek, N.Y.
A: Brian, my favorite muscle car list includes the 1962 Chevy 409, available in Impala (sports coupe top), BelAir (bubble top coupe) and Biscayne (two-door sedan top).
Although the favorite of the drag racers who toured nationally was the ‘62 bubble top BelAir, the Biscayne was more popular than the Impala in drag racers eyes, thanks to its lighter weight. Thus, your dad’s 409 Biscayne today is one of the top muscle cars ever, thanks to the dual quad, 409-cubic inch V-8 coupled to a strong four-speed transmission.
It’s no surprise you once drove a truck with a 409 engine, as the 348 truck engine became the powerful 409 in 1961. Through 1964, the 348 was still utilized in trucks, buses and dump trucks regularly, while a Tri-Power three two 348 appeared in the 1958 Impala and then full line Chevys through 1960 for the muscle car wars.
As for numbers, in 1962 only 8,909 total 409s were built. Although I do not have a breakdown on each model, it would be safe to assume that the Biscayne was the lowest production number as the Impala SS and BelAir bubble tops were more popular. This results in today’s recognition of the Biscayne models.
As for horsepower, two 1962 409s were available in 11-1 compression, solid lifter dress. The first was a single four-barrel at 380 horses, the second your dad’s 2x4 dual quad 409, with 409 horsepower.
Today, these cars command top dollar at Mecum and Barrett-Jackson auctions in pristine shape, and even bring a good amount of money when they are not perfect.
Hope you enjoyed the column, Brian, and thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and welcomes reader questions on auto nostalgia, motorsports and collector cars at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.