1961 Chevrolet Impala SS 409
The legendary SS or Super Sport package has its place in muscle car history as an important model that promoted performance to the public. This was one of the first high-performance automobiles that was relatively affordable and fast. Everything started when Chevrolet decided to transform its 409 truck engine to use for passenger cars. They found out that the unit was extremely powerful and it could outrun all other cars on the road.
Just by making some mild modifications to the engine, it could produce up to 409 HP, which was enough to propel the Impala from a standstill to 60 mph in six seconds flat. At that time, that was Corvette territory. So, as a mid-year introduction, Chevrolet presented the SS package, which featured bucket seats, a sports trim and other special details. It came with the 348 V8 engine with 350 HP under the hood, too. However, the most interesting option was the 409 V8 with up to 409 HP, if you optioned for a dual quad intake system.
Chevrolet sold over a million of its full-size models in 1961, but they only made 456 Impalas S. Out of those 456, only 142 Impalas came with the 409 engine. The exact number of Impala SS 409 Convertibles is unknown, but Chevrolet historians speculate they made around 45 of these cool-looking and immensely powerful open top cruisers.
Interestingly, the 409 option was available for all Chevrolet full-size models in 1961, so it was possible to install this engine in plain-looking sedans and wagons, but those cars have yet to surface. As you may expect, the 1961 Impala SS 409 is one of the most valuable cars in Chevrolet’s muscle car history.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS-6 Convertible
The Chevrolet Chevelle was always a popular muscle car, combining an affordable price, contemporary design, and powerful engine. In the 1960’s, customers could order the Chevelle with a 396 big block V8 engine. It was the biggest, most powerful unit rated at 325 or 375 HP, which was more than enough to be a significant player in the muscle car segment.
But, in 1970, GM’s ban on displacement for intermediate models was lifted, which meant that the Chevelle could get the biggest and the most powerful engine GM had to offer. With the new design, improved mechanics, and one new big block unit, the Chevelle was set to conquer the drag strips in 1970. The mighty new option was the legendary 454 V8 engine. In standard trim, it was rated at 360 HP, which was much lower than the real number. However, there was an even more powerful version called LS-6. The LS-6 had borderline racing compression of 11.25:1. It used a bigger carburetor and had much stronger engine internals. It was rated at 450 HP; however, it could produce around 500 HP.
Even though the SS option was quite popular in 1970, only around 3,700 cars received the mighty 454 V8 engine. The LS-6 equipped cars were even rarer and Chevy only produced 20 convertibles, making this Chevelle one of the rarest muscle car ragtops in the world.
1969 Ford Mustang 428 CJ/SCJ Convertible
Ford`s best-selling pony car, the Mustang, got its third restyling for 1969 and grew in size. The new body was bigger and wider, but the wheelbase stayed the same. All three body styles were present so buyers could choose between the elegant convertible, standard coupe and sporty looking Sportsroof fastback. But the competition was tougher than ever and Mustang sales showed Ford that it needed to invest into Mustang to maintain its popularity.
The biggest news for 1969 was the famous Cobra Jet 428 V8 engine, which was available in two versions, the Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet (SJC). The difference was in several high-performance parts in the SJC. Interestingly, Ford rated this engine to a conservative 335 HP, but in reality, the output was closer to 450 HP. Mustangs equipped with this engine could see 60 mph in as little as 5.5 seconds.
The Cobra Jet 428 was available in all three body styles and with the GT package. As expected, they installed most in the coupes of the Sportsroofs, but 122 people ordered the mighty Cobra Jets and Super Cobra Jets in the convertible body style.
Out of that number, the rarest is the Q-code Super Cobra Jet without the GT package and with a manual transmission. They only build five of these cool looking, top performing machines.
1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 Convertible
In the mid-1960’s, the Pontiac GTO was the car to have since it was on the forefront of the exciting new muscle car movement. With its performance, powerful engine and great Pontiac styling, the GTO was the perfect car for the moment. But, it wasn`t the only stellar performance machine coming from Pontiac, and in 1965, there was another pure muscle car icon in form of the Catalina 2+2.
Behind this strange name hides a full-size Catalina model, available as a coupe or a convertible, but with a performance twist. The regular Catalina was a handsome, decent selling model, but in 2+2 form, it transformed into a true Gran Turismo with a luxury interior and fire-breathing engine. Since the Catalina was a full-size model, it was eligible for engines over 400 CID, according to GM rules of the time.
The Catalina 2+2 came with the famous 421 V8, and drivers could get the Tri-Power intake system. This power intake system was the same as on the GTO, and it could boost the car’s power to 376 HP. Car buyers could also order limited-slip differentials, heavy duty steering, brakes and a whole lot more, making the Catalina 2+2 well-appointed but unfortunately, expensive, too.
The top of the line 2+2 cost over $4,000 which was a hefty sum and much more than the similarly equipped GTO, for example. Pontiac produced around 11,000 of these fine machines in 1965, but only made around 200 convertibles, making the Catalina 2+2 rag top a rare find, indeed.