The 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS 409: She’s still fine

Everyone loves a bargain. That's why at beaches across the country, there always seems to be someone with a metal detector and why out-of-towners make the journey every week to yard sales. After all, as Antiques Roadshow can attest, there's really nothing better than paying $5 for a painting that turns out to be a famous (and valuable) work of art.

Still, despite all the stories out there, these discoveries tend to be pretty rare (only so many Tom Bradys have slipped to the sixth round), and as a result, it's hard to know when spending that extra money might turn out to be a good call. That was the situation buyers experienced when determining whether to upgrade to the SS and 409 SS versions of the 1961 Chevrolet Impala.

The car, while originally passed over by some car buyers, became a true classic, even inspiring the likes of Brian Wilson to craft an iconic song about its greatness, simply titled "409."

With an extra $50, buyers in 1961 had the option of getting the SS kit, and a truly great version of this muscle car with sport trim on the interior and exterior, power brakes, spinner wheel covers, stronger springs and narrow-band tires. And as the experts How Stuff Works attest, "only Chevy's toughest V-8s were offered with the SS kit."

Even though you may think this would have attracted more buyers initially, it faced tough competition from other muscle cars of the time. That's why of the roughly 500,000 Impalas built during this model year, only around 450 got the SS package. Of these, only around 150 buyers opted for the 409 version, which featured an engine with a number of added performance features.

Still, just as the song is a classic today, the 409s that are currently on the road are still testaments to the imagination of American carmakers. For a closer look at the '62 model, check out Cool Rides Online member timmig's photos here.