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What’s it like to drive a 1963 CHEVY BISCAYNE with a 409?
It seems like a lot of people had this car when they were young. A seemingly normal Chevy at first, but when you take a closer look, it sneaks up and wollups you like Mike Tyson hiding in the bushes – whack!
Enter, Michael Cohen. When Cohen appeared at my Malibu Cars and Coffee show at the bluffs, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen this car. I had featured it on my Vlog a few times just sitting in the parking lot.
I said to myself, “Self, I need to do this car.” And the universe was listening, because in pulled Cohen bobblin’ his 1963 Chevy Biscayne with a 409 only a few weeks later.
Moments later at the show, we were talking about the car and he revved out these facts. “A two-door coupe with a 425 hp, 409 dual quad ‘W’ motor, T 10 transmission and a posi-traction rear end.”
OK, this was it — my next Ride of the Week. So we scheduled a spin. I called my buddy Ken for HB and said that the car that he had – or one close to it – was my next ride, and he needed to come up so we could do this thing.
As a survived and now retired Los Angeles Unified School District high school teacher at Temescal Canyon HS, Palisades Charter High School and Apex Learning Academy in Hollywood, Michael has had a life full of challenges. It makes sense that in 2011, when he purchased this car, he was going to be in for a change. The car came from Michigan to Los Angeles by auto transport, and the restoration took four years. It was well worth it as we scooted up and down PCH like a badger being chased by a bunch of bees.
“I bought the car for resale because I knew a numbers-matching 409 Biscayne is relatively rare,” Cohen said. “I have kept the car because I never expected the raw power it displays. Although I have had many Chevys, this one has the most ‘oomph’ Basic early American muscle.”
Cohen uses the car for Sunday fun rides, and also mentioned that it is rather expensive to drive because it only runs well on 100 octane gasoline. Ten bucks a gallon for a car that at best gets maybe 8-10 mpg.
“I’ve been driving PCH in Malibu since 1973 when I moved from Arizona to L.A.,” Cohen said. “I lived near Point Dume for almost two years and drove in Malibu daily while owning M&M Carpet and Furniture Cleaning company. Established in 1976, closed in 1997 when I got my first teaching contract. Enjoyed the people, the work and the beauty of the area. Put almost 100,000 miles in a 1970 B2000 Mazda pickup doing my business. Also had a 1962 Mark II Deluxe MGA with the top almost always down. Perfect for PCH driving.”
Some great Malibu history, but his favorite road is to Jerome, Arizona, through Prescott, Arizona, where he was born.
“It was the route to Phoenix from L.A. before the 10 freeway,” he said. “Called Yarnel Pass and one of the scariest roads to Prescott. A sports car road, for sure.”
We had a great time in Michael’s 409, and I appreciate his time in helping me rack up my rides. Both Ken and I sat in the back and will never forget the growl – and the smiles.
Classic cars do more than make people happy. They do a lot of things. But happiness is really all that matters in a cool car which is why I fill my days with them.
Whatever you love comes back to you in droves. Be sure you’re clear about what you want, because everyone has a Mike Tyson in the bushes, waiting.
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