Worth Fixing? 1960 Chevrolet Impala Tri-Power

Last registered in ’71, this 1960 Chevrolet Impala in Utica, New York would have been one high-rolling stunner in the tail-end of the Eisenhower era. Red over red, convertible, with the year’s top motor, a sporty four-speed gearbox, and convertible too, this Impala made a statement. Drive one in perfect condition today and anyone under thirty will think you’re piloting a space craft. The railroad tie-sized bumpers, exaggerated fins, and acres of brightwork reached a zenith of excess in the late ’50s and early ’60s that may never be equaled. Looking less than stunning today, the long-idled ragtop seeks a new owner here on eBay where at least a half-dozen bidders have driven the market value beyond $5000. For a hint of this car’s past glory, check out a factory-fresh ’60 coupe here at oldcarbrochures.

Technically, “Tri-Power” is Pontiac’s name for a trio of two-barrel carburetors. Chevy’s “Triple Two-Barrel” 348 V8 made 335 HP, top of the heap in 1960, identified only by a double-asterisk in the sales brochure. I’ve only tried rebuilding one ancient crusty aluminum carburetor and, friends, it did not go well. The odds against getting these three in tip-top shape seem bleak, but patience and money solve many problems. The listing does not mention if this 348 cid (5.7L) V8 turns freely or not, so bet on “not.” If those valve covers look familiar, remember the 348 big block evolved into the famed “409” the following model year.

A high-powered drop-top Impala may be the ultimate personification of Chevy’s slogan in those days, “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” Car makers changed *something* every year back then. Before the Internet, enthusiasts eagerly spied new models at the local (and I do mean local) dealer every Fall. During the Space Race years, many cars sprouted futuristic wings, tail lights, dashboards, and other doo-dads designed to delight star-gazers of all ages. From the rear it’s easy to picture this Impala blasting off and taking flight. A dented bumper won’t be cheap to replace, but most of the shiny bits look usable.

High style was the order of the day in the cockpit of this flashy red Chevy. Many full-sized convertibles would have been ordered for easy cruising with the automatic transmission, but whoever ordered up this hot red chili pepper wanted the maximum performance of four forward gears under his or her full control. Once the fabric envelope of a convertible gives way to the elements, rust takes over as you see here.

“Read it and weep,” may have been the motivation behind this owner-added run-down of the Impala’s technical high points, executed in Dymo tape. In the last year before the 409, this Chevy had plenty to brag about at the local diner.

White, chrome, and plaid compliment and contrast the sea of red on the door panels and elsewhere. That rocker panel is hanging by a steel thread, just a sampler of what it would take to put this nearly-broken beast back on the road. The seller suggests transferring parts to a solid-bodied donor car. New York salt worked against this car for a decade, no-doubt continuing slower erosion during its four decades of storage. Add it all up and it’s truly a shame, but hopefully something good can happen starting with the sale. Could you save this once-impressive Impala?

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    When the seller starts off with “UP FOR NO RESERVE AUCTION” and the entire description is in bold CAPS, you know it’s got to be a flipper.

    Like 10
    • terry brundage

      it is a flip, guy bought off craigslist last week for around 1k

      Like 5
  2. Jeff

    A few months ago a mint 1960 Sport Coupe sold for only 29K
    https://www.hemmings.com/auction/1960-chevrolet-impala-1

    Like 10
  3. Dave

    This is definitely a car worthy of restoring. It’s going to take a lot of time and money.

    Like 12
  4. Dave

    When this car was designed and built, the Interstate highway system was in its infancy. Sharing two lane roads like US40, US30, and US22 was a frustrating experience at best and a dangerous one at worst. Semi trucks of the time were slugs, crawling up hills at walking speeds and challenging the speed of sound on downgrades. Passing zones were few and far between and required patience and good timing to pass these trucks. Having two extra carbs gave you a nice edge when you were on the wrong side of a broken yellow line about to turn into a double yellow. Yamaha’s original V-Max makes a great touring bike for this very reason…when the tach needle swings past 6000 a passageway between carbs opens up and allows two carbs to feed each cylinder.

    Like 10
    • Troy s

      And hopefully you had enough to pass that semi, although the gruesome stories I’ve learned lead me to believe otherwise on most cars back then. Like the family trying to pass a truck in a six cylinder ’58 Ford, with the truck speeding up and head on traffic coming at speed. My dad figured they were all dead for sure but somehow my grandfather just barely made it. I hate slow cars from that story alone. Awful wrecks back then.

      Like 10
    • piston poney

      i did not know that about the Yamaha V-Max, that’s kind cool ngl

      Like 1
  5. 200mph

    My first car was this, but a 283 in Horizon Blue. It was large and in charge, but we made it handle with a set of Monroe shocks and low profile tires. Great date car!

    Like 5
    • Jon

      Had a ’59 the same color as my first car … paid $75 for it – 283 with three-on-the-tree … could wind second out to 90mph … dual cherry bombs made it sound bad … drove it from New Orleans to Chicago in 1971 where it was stolen … found it later stripped for parts …

      Like 1
  6. Mountainwoodie

    Holy Cripes! What bog was this dragged out of? What a crying shame. Maybe the engine grenaded in the early seventies and someone just put it away. And the shed roof and snow collapsed on it and there it sat until allabouttheloot found it and offered to remove it …….free…… of course :)

    Like 6
  7. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    Worth fixing? Maybe, maybe not, someone thinks it’s worth $7200 at this point, convertibles seem to get a better price than coupes, not always. I prefer a 58 or 60 over a 59, but as a Chevy fan I would take one of these, but I have a 55 coupe, so a 55 vert is top of my list. The matching tripower adds to the value, but old cars have better value as original, properly restored ones are like the stock market, up and down.

    Like 2
    • Jon

      Had a ’55 two-door hardtop in Orange … bought it for $15, two trays of eggs (my folks owned a chicken farm), and a half-used can of Turtle Wax… had a 409 4bbl with Edelbrock valve covers and a bubble hood – and a cracked block … straight front axle and only the driver’s seat … towed it to my grandfather’s barn with a tractor … after I moved to Chicago he sold it all for $25 that I owed him … just one of the many that “got away” …

      Like 2
  8. ACZ

    When the flipper, that is trying to pedal this thing, is telling you it’s a parts car, that gives you an idea how bad it really is.

    Like 2
  9. Super Glide

    Another “costs more than it’s worth” restoration. 348 was a truck engine and like the “poor old nine”, wasn’t really a race engine. They blew up at high rpms. That being said, these 1959/60 Chevys were looked at with distain for years. Now they are very desirable and I would own one today and be very popular at local car shows. 348 with 3 deuces and a 4 speed a must.

    Like 2
  10. HC

    Lord God that Impala is gonna take a Daddy Warbucks to bring her back all the way. Had a mechanic driend who had a clients 60 Impala like tgis for 10 yrs in way better shape and the project stalled and it sat for yrs.

    Like 1
  11. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Perhaps if the owner had redirected his energy to taking care of this forlorn beauty, instead of his labelmaker . .

  12. moosie moosie

    I copied this from the ebay ad just in case anyone overlooked it, the seller doesn’t even have a registration for the car,

    ATTENTION ! A CLEAR NYS REGISTRATION ” TITLE ” CAN BE APPLIED FOR AT A COST OF 400.00 AND IT TAKES 2 MONTHS FOR ACTUAL TRANSFERABLE REGISTRATION. IF WANTED THAT’S UP TO YOU. A NON TRANSFERABLE IS GIVEN RIGHT AWAY IN NY TILL TRANSFERABLE IS MAILED OUT. OTHERWISE CAR WILL BE SOLD WITH BILL OF SALE ONLY. N.Y.

    Not having titles until 1973 (I think) cars were successfully sold via the transferable registration.

    Like 1
    • Joey

      The registration was lost and it’s super easy to get a new one but as I stated clearly it takes 2 months and a cost of 400. I have to insure the car register the car I’m given a non transferable registration at 1st then the transferable one comes in the mail due to covid it’s taking up to 2 months. it use to take a few weeks. I’m happy to apply for one but not on my dime. But I will do it the purchaser just needs to be patient I didnt want to get paperwork and wait months to list it. Nobody is turning this car around in 2 months so shouldn’t be a issue.

      Like 1
  13. Jim Muise

    TLC (truckload of cash) will bring it back to its showroom appearance!lol

    Like 2
  14. Jerry

    I don’t believe a four speed was available in 60 and it would be 3 on the tree not the floor

    Like 2
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi Jerry – The ’60 brochure mentions the 335 HP coming with 3 or “4-Speed Synchro-Mesh,” and factory dual exhaust. Sweet! http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Chevrolet/1960_Chevrolet/1960_Chevrolet_Brochure_1/1960%20Chevrolet-21.html

      Like 3
      • J.D. McCown

        I had a friend with a four-speed 1960 impala only one I ever seen and I was born in 1950

      • Marty Parker

        The 4 speed was first available in Chevrolet full size cars in 59. Corvette in 57.

        Like 1
    • J.D. McCown

      You’re mistaken Jerry I was born in 1950 I had a friend with a four-speed impala hardtop 1960 it was a factory car we took the carpeting up and everything so we can examine the floor that was the only four-speed car I ever seen in a year but they was available

  15. Joey

    The registration was lost and it’s super easy to get a new one but as I stated clearly it takes 2 months and a cost of 400. I have to insure the car register the car I’m given a non transferable registration at 1st then the transferable one comes in the mail due to covid it’s taking up to 2 months. it use to take a few weeks. I’m happy to apply for one but not on my dime. But I will do it the purchaser just needs to be patient I didnt want to get paperwork and wait months to list it. Nobody is turning this car around in 2 months so shouldn’t be a issue.

  16. Geoff

    There will be nothing left after this thing goes goes to blast. 50K resto minimum. Shame since its a very collectable model. If the engine turns it might be worth something for parts but 9 grand

  17. Michael Acocks

    Forget this bucket of rust. How bout that chopped Merc next to it. Good starting point with the Merc.

  18. Ron

    I think I agree with Jerry and JD didn’t know 4 speed was offered from factory untilmaybe 62 had lots friends that had the big blocks from 58 up when new and seems most of them were 3 on tree usually maybe ovrdrive optioned Anyway 58 Impala 348 was my dream car and at 75 I know I will still never own one

    • terry brundage

      theres always a loan…

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