One of the first times the name Chic Henry was printed in Street Machine was way back in April/May 1982, just the fifth issue to hit the stands. The shoot by Dick Coates was quite a memorable one, shot at the Old Brisbane Museum.
Street Machine Summernats was a long way off but Chic was already deeply involved in the formative years of our sport, having been involved with the first four Street Machine Nationals and running the fifth in 1982 as event director. That first feature didn’t mention anything about that — it was purely concerned with his ’62 Impala Super Sports.
The ’62 was an original 409, twin fours and four-speed car, but by the time he came to buy the car, all the good gear had been pulled out and replaced with a 289 and ’Glide. Chic’s solution was to replace it with an angry 427 rat motor and 727 TorqueFlite out of Wild Bill Shrewsbury’s LA Dart wheelstander. Chic mounted the push-button shifter for the auto on a custom stalk that is still in the car.
The car itself was the subject of a body-off resto under his house in Brisbane, with the chassis sandblasted and coated, while the body was taken back to metal and hit with a modified blue from the Lancia catalogue.
Chic had the car retrimmed by Keith Albury with brocade accents on the seats. “John Peterson was always ribbing me about that trim,” says Chic. “He reckoned I got them from the famous Melbourne furniture king, Franco Cozzo!”
Underneath was updated with HQ discs up front and a Watts link out back. Rims were the classic combo of Cragar SSs and BF Goodrich T/As.
In that form the Chev saw plenty of street use, tore up the go-to-whoa track at the early Street Machine Nationals and of course did plenty of drag racing at Surfers, where Chic was also a scrutineer.
“My favourite memory of that time is a particular meeting where I did my scrutineering, went out and qualified with a 12.8, won my class and took out Top Eliminator. So I got paid to be an official, nabbed some prize money and drove home!”
The ’62 went through a number of engine combos over the years, including a blown set-up built by Mick Atholwood. That engine later achieved fame when fitted to Wayne Barbour’s Corvette.
The Chev later ran a wild quad Weber set up that saw regular duty on the Summernats burnout pad each year.
These days the Chev runs a 540ci Shafiroff engine out of Chic’s Camaro. One thing that hasn’t changed is the push-button TorqueFlite. “It’s been a really strong ’box so I’ve had no reason to take it out.”
And did he ever think he’d keep the ’62 for so long? “Not at the time but I absolutely love this car. I like ’62s, not ’61s or ’63s. People tell me I should build a hot rod but I still love this car.”