When North Carolina’s Chuck Hora was attending graduate school at University of Massachusetts Amherst, his everyday driver was a ’63 Bel Air. Unfortunately Chuck’s ’63 got T-boned in a traffic accident, and the rest is, as they say, history. Now let’s flash forward to the year 2012: Hora, now retired and a multiple U.S. patent holder in the chemical process industry (Chuck was the principal engineer behind the creation of GM Goodwrench Vehicle Assembly Epoxy, as well as the magnetorheological fluid used in the suspension systems of Cadillac CTS, Corvette, and Camaro) is still every bit the car guy he ever was, and his Classic Motorcar-restored ’63 Impala SS is certainly proof of that.
According to Chuck, Classic’s Gary Slurkanich found the clean Palomar Red SS up in Detroit. The minute it arrived at Contemporary’s Erie, Pennsylvania, shop, the frame-off rebuild commenced. While it looks factory except for the Corvette knock-off wheels, it has been given a major upgrade under the giant hood. We’re specifically talking about the 11.1:1-compression Lamar Walden Automotive/World Products aluminum-alloy re-pop of GM’s famed W-Series engine that powers this beauty. Obviously, original 409 owners never had it this good!
Dyno’d at 656.4 horses and 676.7 lb-ft, Hora’s 509-cid W-mill features a 4.500-inch bore with an Eagle 4.00-inch stroker crank riding on Clevite 77H main bearings. A set of 6.12-inch Eagle H-beam connecting rods and 11.1:1-compression LWA 4500 pistons with Total Seal piston rings complete the rotating assembly. The heart of the beast is a custom-grind LWA/Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam with duration of 248 degrees (intake) and 258 degrees on the exhaust, and 0.665/0.665 lift.
Bolted up top is a pair of LWA/Edelbrock CNC ported aluminum alloy cylinder heads featuring 2.25-inch diameter stainless-steel intake and 1.72-inch diameter stainless-steel exhaust valves with Edelbrock valvesprings. Bolted between its lifter valley, a polished Edelbrock 2x4 intake sporting a pair of 650 Street Demon carburetors beneath an OE 409/425 HP factory air cleaner. This engine also features one of Walden’s billet-aluminum 409 Accessory Drive systems, LWA/Edelbrock aluminum water pump, and Griffin four-core-aluminum radiator and SPAL electric fan. Exhaust scavenging comes in the form of a set of Jet-Hot-coated GM “High Horse” cast-iron exhaust manifolds spinning spent gasses back through a set of 2.5-inch diameter inlet and outlet 409 mufflers and Show Cars 2.5-inch exhaust system. Working in concert with this monster is a TCI-prepared Chevrolet 700-R4 and TCI 3,000-stall torque convertor. Power is transmitted back to the 3.70:1 Posi-Traction and Moser axle-equipped drop out rearend by an LWA two-piece driveshaft.
The Impala’s factory X-member frame was sandblasted and checked for any cracks or signs of stress prior to being powdercoated semi-gloss black. The front suspension on the car is stock fullsize Chevy, but has been updated with a set of KYB gas-charged shocks, a Hotchkis antisway bar, and a pair of SSBC 11-inch dual-piston front disc brakes. The GM Saginaw power steering gear is factory original. The rear suspension on the big Chevy consists of the aforementioned 10-bolt live rear axle using semi-floating four-link and coil springs, again aided by the implementation of a set of KYB gas-charged shock absorbers.
Slurkanich and Greg Felix massaged the Impala’s 51-year-old sheetmetal to perfection prior to lavishing it in multiple coats of GM Code 922 Ember Red protected by Lesonal clearcoat. Various N.O.S. trim items were used in the reassembly of the car, like side trim and grille along with the installation of N.O.S. date-coded tinted window glass. One obvious deviation from the Impala’s stock exterior are its wheels; in this case, a set of 1963 15-inch Corvette “Turbine” knock-offs rolling on a set of Firestone red stripe radial tires.
On the inside, Slurkanich and Felix installed a CARS, Inc. reproduction Impala SS vinyl kit with matching red carpet. Says Chuck, “I wanted to option this car out like I started to do with my Bel Air: factory cruise control, Autronic-Eye, four-way signal flashers, vacuum trunk release, two-speed rear window defogger, power windows, and power bucket seats—in other words, the works!”
In this particular case, “the works” required 2 1/2 years and an investment of over $100,000, but man, was it ever money well spent.