Sam Mascia's 1961 Chevy Impala SS (from March 2002)

In August of 1961, the same summer Sam Mascia graduated from High School in Massapequa Long Island, New York, his dad helped him buy a 1961 Impala SS. It was painted Roman Red with a rare 409 motor, 4-speed manual transmission, and 4.56:1 posi gears. The legend of the “Roam’n Chariot” was then born, fostered by races in the area. After 6 years of street and strip action Sam met Carol, who would soon become his wife. The Impala was sold to buy a house and raise the kids, and Sam went on to work as the Service Manager for Baldwin Chevrolet for 14 years. The dealership (along with the legendary Motion Performance) was eventually sold, and the Mascias found themselves moving to Jensen Beach, Florida.

Then 40 years after his father helped him get his first ‘61 Chevy, he did it again with the purchase of a basket case ‘61 Impala SS from Boonville, Arkansas. Sam, the owner of Port St. Lucie Auto Body, then turned the former hulk into a pristine piece of his past, and “Roam’n Chariot II” was born.

It is a numbers matching car with factory power windows and seat, to which other updates like power steering, disc brakes, and air conditioning were then added. The frame was powder coated red, while the suspension, inner fenders and radiator support were coated black. Urethane bushings were utilized, and a set of 2 inch dropped spindles brought the ride height down.

Under the hood resides the famous 409 motor, which was bored .030 over and fitted with 583 heads, plus a roller cam and rockers. An MSD ignition now sparks the flame, with the gasses exiting through a set of HPC coated headers. The 4-speed manual transmission routs the more than 400 hp back to a posi rear end fitted with 3.70:1 gears.

The exterior received subtle mods, including being nosed, and the removal of the Impala SS badges from the front quarters. DuPont single stage “Roman Red” paint was of course applied, then hand sanded and buffed to a flawless finish. All the chrome was replated, and accented with a set of Weld 17 inch billet wheels wearing BFGoodrich shoes. An interesting item is the vintage club plate hanging from the rear licence plate, which reads Paqua Cams. It is 42 years old and holds significance, as Sam was a charter member of the Massapequa Long Island based club.

The interior has been given a modern look thanks to the sculptured tan leather and tweed upholstery, and a one-piece headliner. A one-of-a-kind digital dash and lighted sun visors complement the factory padded dash and SS grab bar, while steering inputs are done through a billet half-wrap wheel (which matches the rims) atop an Ididit tilt column. An AM/FM stereo cassette deck with a remote CD changer and amp in the trunk provide the tunes, when Sam and Carol prefer not to hear the purring of the 409.

Sam has been grateful of the joy his father helped bring to him with both ‘61 Impalas. His father was with him when he won a first place at the All Chevy Show, and now with Roam’n Chariot II Sam’s wife, kids and grandchildren also get to enjoy it as well. Yes, the legend still lives....some 40 years later. CN