If you are an "old car" guy we all have a story of one we owned and wish we had never sold - this is more about a motor I wished I had never sold but it helped someone fulfill a dream - I have many stories but this one ranks up near the top of my favorites. Sorry its not a short story but I hope you find it enjoyable.
About 30 years ago I dreamed of having a 1962 Bel Air bubbletop with a legendary dual quad 409 (yes I still have that dream). I loved talking to all the guys who grew up in the 1960's and hearing the story of drag races in the area and always asked these guys about any 62 409s they may know about. Well low and behold one day a fellow told me the story of a 59 Impala that still existed and was not too far from me that it supposedly had a 409 in it and how it had been a terror on streets back in the mid-60's. I had my doubts and thought sure he was confused and it would be a 348. Well based on some sketchy directions from his decades old memory of where the owner lived I drove way out in the country and down a long, long dirt driveway up to an ancient old home. I knocked on the door and a very elderly woman came to the door and I explained my story and she said she would get her son as she didnt seem to have a clue about what my crazy story was about. Her son appeared, a middle aged fellow clearly not in good health, and he listened intently to my story inquiring if he knew of such a car or was it just a legend that had passed on. When I finished he smiled and invited me to come out into the yard where there were two old chairs and asked me to have a seat. He said in 1962 he was the proud owner of a 1959 Impala 2 door hardtop, black with red interior, with a rip-snorting 348 and 3-speed. It seems he made quite a name for himself in the area street racing and the 348 had put down many that challenged him. Well a buddy of his, that same year, had his father buy him a brand new 62 Impala SS complete with a 409/409 and he said it was blistering fast but met its demise on a back country road one night running into a grove of trees and sadly demolishing the car. Well it seems prior to that event there had been a fellow a few counties over who had a stout 1962 Galaxy with a 406 tri-power who said he was coming to Dinwiddie County to mop the road up with that old black 59 Chevy 348. All the while hearing this story I could see the gleam of a tear in this fellows eyes as he told of his youth which was long since gone. He and his buddy pulled the 409 out of the wrecked 62 SS and swapped it right on into his 59 Impala and then he sent the word out to bring on that mighty 406 and see what she had for the the 59 Impala. It seems this race was a legend in the making as quite a group of people from several counties assembled on a back country road on the appointed Saturday night. He said he remembers the air being cool and crisp and they had tuned on the 409 for about a week and it was running at its prime. The Galaxy guy was talking all sort of trash but apparently the hood of the Impala was never opened before the race so he had no idea that the dual quad 409 now rested where the 348 had once been. I listened intently to this story as I sat in the yard with with this fellow and his speech began to become broken a bit as he was overcome with emotion telling his story. He said they got a flagman and lined that Galaxy up beside the Impala on that wide straight stretch of country road which was lined with spectators and with engines revving the flag dropped. He said the sound of the dual quad carbs coupled with the song of those three Holleys on that 406 is a sound he will never forget as they were neck in neck on that moonlight bathed blacktop until he hit second gear (yes he still had the 3-speed in the Impala) and thats when the 409 powered Impala jumped ahead a car length, then another and then another as he shifted in to third. At this point I noticed a tear run down his cheek. At the finish line he was about 6 car lengths ahead of the Galaxy and the deed was done. The mighty 406 had fallen and a resounding cheer from the crowd cut that cool night air. He says he never remembers a happier moment in his life than that night and the story of that race was told many times over for years to come by many in attendance. He grew silent for a moment as he was overcome by emotion. I told him that was the best damned story I had heard in my life! After a moment he told of how he had been drafted to Vietnam and he didnt have space to park the car in the family barn before he left but pulled it out into the pasture with his favorite horse. He drained the radiator, took off the dual AFB's and the air cleaner and stored them in the barn and poured a quart or motor oil down the intake before blocking off the open holes left when the carbs were removed. He said he was scared he would never come back and was worried about the motor ruining and he wanted to put it in a state of "hibernation" for whomever may get it if he didnt return. Well after he returned from Vietnam and sadly had seen the horrors of war that many had seen his life was never the same. He never took an interest in the 59 again when he returned and now all he said he had were the great memories of his youth and the memories of that legendary evening when he felt like the king of the world. He walked me out to the horse pasture and there she was just as he had left her before shipping off to the jungles. She was covered in honeysuckle and briers and much of the black paint had given way to rust. I asked when the last time he had opened the hood and he said it had been 15 years or more. I asked if we could try and he could tell from the excitement in my voice and gleam in my eye that I would gladly clear the briers and vines off with my teeth if he would just gave the ok. He said it would be fine and with a bit of work the black bonnet was lifted and there before my young eyes was the very first 409 I had ever laid eyes on. Not just any 409 but the one that had shown no mercy to the 406 that fateful night. He pulled the dipstick and it was on the full mark with clean oil just as he had left it decades before. We shut the hood and walked slowly back to his house and I explained my dream of one day owning such a motor in a 62 bubbletop. He said he was only familiar with the Impala body style and never remembered a bubbletop back in the day other than some 61 Impala's but had never heard of a 62 bubbletop. I thanked him for sharing his story, shook his hand and asked if it was ok to drop by upon occasion and chat and he said that would be just fine. So about every 6 months or so, usually on a Sunday afternoon after church, I would go see him and weather permitting we would sit out in that yard in those same old chairs and I would ask him to tell that story "just one more time". Each time he became emotional but you could tell he loved the gleam in my eyes and expression on my face as he told it. You could tell it transported him back to his youth back to the night he was a hero. He would ask if I had found the car I wanted and I always said I hadnt because I was away at college and money was tight. Well one Sunday I dropped by for a visit and we sat down and he started off with "You know I have been thinking. That car was once my dream but that time has long since past and I'm going to sell it to you." I was floored! I was speechless! I thanked him profusely but told him that sadly the body was so rough it may be beyond fixing plus I only had a very limited amount of money. He looked me in the eye and said "would you give $600 for the car?" I nearly passed out and said I would be glad to but felt the motor was worth much more than that. He said "$600 take it or leave it" so I did what any car nut would do and went home and got a trailer and two come-a-longs. After fighting briers and 4 frozen brake drums I got it loaded. I still remember as I pulled through his yard the old fellow coming out of the barn holding the dual Carter AFB's and black air cleaner and him putting them in my truck. I got it home,unload and took the pictures you see posted here. Months later I pulled the motor and put it inside the old house trailer you see to the left in the picture for safekeeping. The body was rough but somehow someone from NY found out I had it and I sold them the 59 body and I kept the 409 for many, many years but never found a bubbletop. Years later someone else heard I had the motor and they had a 62 SS they were restoring but it had no motor so I felt it only fair if I couldn't fulfill my dream then perhaps I should help them fulfill theirs so I sold them the motor for their 62. Everybody has dreams and its great when you can make yours come true but sometimes it means even more if you can help someone else make theirs come true.