Classic DREAMCARS Mount Dora, Fla. (352) 385-1945 www.classicdreamcars.com

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1961 CHEVROLET IMPALA 'SUPER SPORT' CONVERTIBLE

BY 1961, CHEVROLET WAS NOT JUST SATISFIED WITH SELLING MILLIONS OF CHEVROLETS. THEY DECIDED TO FINE TUNE THEIR PERFORMANCE IMAGE AND BOOST SALES FURTHER BY OFFERING A "SUPER SPORT" PACKAGE . THE "SS" PACKAGE WAS REVEALED LATE IN THE MODEL YEAR INITIALLY, AS A WAY OF INTRODUCING SHOWROOM CUSTOMERS TO THE "ALL NEW" LATE ENTRY, 409 ENGINE OPTION. THE 409 WAS BASICALLY JUST A BORED OUT 348 BUT, IT QUICKLY BECAME KNOWN AS "THE TRUCK ENGINE DESIGNED FOR DRAG RACING AND STOCK CAR RACING". AFTER ONLY 142 ENGINES WERE ISSUED, PRODUCTION PROBLEMS, WITH THE HEADS WARPING, HALTED THE 409 OPTION SO, MOST OF THE "SS's" WERE NOT EQUIPPED AS 409'S. AS IT IS, ONLY 453 SUPER SPORTS WERE EVER BUILT AND ONLY A HANDFUL WERE CONVERTIBLES. THE FACTORY ORDERED 'KIT' REQUIRED AT LEAST A 348 C.I. MOTOR AND FOUR SPEED ( ALTHOUGH A HANDFUL OF 348/ 305 H.P. LESS DESIRABLE POWERGLIDES WERE BUILT). THE SUPER SPORT PACKAGE REQUIRED S.S. I.D. PLATES, HEAVY DUTY SPRINGS, SHOCKS, POWER STEERING & SINTERED METALLIC BRAKES. LET'S NOT FORGET THOSE GORGEOUS SPINNER HUBCAPS, PADDED DASH, 7,000 R.P.M. STEERING COLUMN MOUNTED TACH AND NARROW WHITEWALL TIRES. DEALERS ONLY CHARGED A PALTRY $63.10 FOR THE "SS PACKAGE" BUT, THE 'OPTIONS REQUIRED' HAD THE CAR 'STICKER OUT' AT OVER $4,000 ( MORE THAN THE BASE STICKER FOR A NEW CORVETTE !). OUR CAR IS FINISHED IN JEWEL BLUE W/ MATCHING INTERIOR AND WHITE SOFT TOP. SHE'S ALSO GOT FRONT & REAR BUMPER GUARDS WITH REMOTE HOOD OPENER, DUAL MIRRORS, CORRECT BLACK WHEELS, OPT. REAR ANTENNAE, THE ORIGINAL PUSHBUTTON 'CHEVY' AM RADIO AND WIDE WHITEWALL TIRES (ORIGINALLY HAD NARROW WALL TIRES) .IT HAS A COMPLETELY MATCHING NUMBER COMPONENT MOTOR, TRANMSISSION, REAR AND COLOR COMBINATION AND IS LOADED WITH THE SOLID LIFTER 348 / 4V CARB, AND 4-SPEED GEARBOX. IT HAS 32,000 ORIGINAL MILES AND ALSO HAS IT'S ORIGINAL SHOWROOM BROCHURE AND MANUAL. MY SON AND I PURCHASED HER OFF THE FIELD AT AN A.A.C.A. CAR SHOW AT HERSHEY IN 1996. NOT ACTIVELY FOR SALE BUT, OFFERS AROUND $138,000 'CONSIDERED'.

 

THE STORY:

Fifteen Hundred Cuban right-wing exiles, trained by the CIA, fumble an attempt to take over Cuba in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, 300 "Freedom Riders" risked death by riding a bus from Washington, DC to Birmingham Ala. to display 'the cause' of segregation, Audrey Hepburn made her screen debut in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's", Judy Garland played Carnagie Hall, Eddie Murphy & Dan Marino were born while, Earnest Hemmingway and Gary Cooper ( actor) died. It all happened in 1961.

The first Super Sport is seen by many as the PUREST big Chevy muscle car ever built. The 1961 Impala was downsized that year and this added up to a small vehicle with a very large engine. Even with it's base engine V8 at 283 cubic inches, the '61 Chevy was viewed as a "barn burner". Once Chevrolet added the 409/360 H.P. late in the year, it was not uncommon to see 7.8 sec 0-60 and 15.8 sec. quarter mile runs. The 348 wasn't far behind in performance.

Chevrolet targeted customers who (quote) "like sports car flair teamed with big car elegance." This advertising babble started the Super Sport 'phenomenon' which continued for the next 35 years. Incredible as it may seem, the new Super Sport option could be ordered on an Impala convertible, two-door hardtop, two-door sedan and even a four door sedan. But in reality, most were ordered in two-door Sport coupes. All the buyer had to do was check-off the 'tick' marked "SS" and for $63.10 one got a bargain by any man's standards. Of course, the engine cost a bit more. V8's ran between $344 and $500. A recent factoid just uncovered: in order to order the 'Super Sport Package', one HAD to also order a Padded Dash, Narrow Wall Whitewalls( Black- Only-Wheels), Sintered Metallic Brakes, Positraction, Four-Speed ( Or Powerglide w/ the 348/305 only) and a Column-Mounted 7,000 r.p.m. Sun Tachometer. In effect, this drove the 'new' Super Sport to over $4,100, which was more than a new Vette. Hence, the low build.

Engines varied from the small horse 348/305 4V hydraulic lifter motor to the 348/280 Tri-Power to the solid lifter Special Turbo Thrust V8 version with 11:25:1 compression and 340 H.P. (4V). The lone 409 option pushed out 360 H.P. Although only 142 were ever offered due to production problems with the heads warping. The Four Speed gearbox was $188 and you automatically got a Special Shifter plate, mounted on the floor ( there was no special chrome console with the column shift automatic) . Chevy experts claim the 1961 Impala SS is the hardest to restore as original SS name plates, dash grab bar and floor shift plate are damn near impossible to find. This car is seen as the ultimate collectible as it is the first of the series that didn't end until 1996, when Chevy folded it's tent on the Super Sport nomenclature.

If the 1961 Super Sports were virtually unknown, the opposite was true of the 1962 version that followed. Over 99,000 1962 Super Sports were sold making this earlier edition the most rare. Our car was born in Farmington, Mass and was reported to be garaged 'all it's life'. Restored frame-off, all the panels are original. This beautiful Impala is a piece of muscle car history.