5. 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z-11
Pontiac was not the only GM’s division involved with drag racing on a full scale in the early 60’s. Chevrolet was also active, too. The SS package they introduced in 1961 with the fantastic and extremely powerful 409 V8 engine was a popular choice for street and drag racers all over America. But for 1963, Chevrolet introduced a limited but highly influential Z-11 option on their two-door Impalas.
The idea behind the RPO Z-11 was to introduce the best street/strip technology in one model. The first order of the day was to shed weight by using aluminum panels, grilles, hoods and fenders. The radio and heater were gone and they stripped the interior of all unnecessary luxury. Next, they added power, so the new 427 came with numerous performance updates and racing internals that premiered in the Z-11.
The power output was close to 450 HP, but some claim it was closer to the 500 HP mark. The Z-11 Impalas were regular 11.2 seconds quarter mile cars, so they obviously had a lot of power. Chevrolet built only 50 to 57 Impala Z-11s in 1963 and less than 10 are known to survive today. The package was kind of secret and public didn’t know that the model was available. There were no brochures or dealer materials, so only well-connected drag racers knew about them.