Amazing 1961 Chevrolet Bel Air 409 Survivor

Seemingly too good to be true, this absolutely gorgeous 1961 Chevrolet Bel Air “409” survivor needs nothing obvious to be a show-winner or terrific driver! It’s listed for sale here on eBay where bidding has reached $25,300 but has not yet met the reserve figure. This pristine classic is located in Boxford, Massachusetts.

The 1961 Bel Air departed even further from the “fin era” than the 1960 model Chevrolets and was known for its substantially more subdued but still distinctive styling. While the ad states that this car has original paint, I suspect it is actually an original color (Ermine White), but a repaint, due to masking evident in door jam pictures and paint on the wheel weights. Even so, the paint job looks to be of high caliber and accentuates the styling of the fifth-generation Bel Air.

All the brightwork is said to be nice and certainly looks the part in the pictures! This one of the 153,988 Chevrolet two-door sedans produced in 1961 was manufactured in Norwood, Ohio, and was the 11,589th full-size Chevy produced in 1961 according to the VIN. However, here’s where things get interesting; if this is an original ‘409’ car, it’s one of only 142 produced in 1961! I’m questioning that because the 409 engine wasn’t introduced until late in the 1961 model year, which doesn’t seem to jive with the early production number, but I’m not aware of any way to confirm this–can a knowledgeable reader help me?

The interior looks absolutely pristine, with a few aftermarket period-looking gauges tastefully added. The odometer is showing 50,198 miles and if this is indeed the original interior, I’m surprised the car has covered that many miles!

What a clean interior! While the car is obviously equipped with a manual transmission, we don’t know if it’s the three or four-speed version.

I just don’t see how an engine could be kept this clean (or cleaned up this well) after 60 years! Nonetheless, it is stunningly nice! Of course, the 409-cubic-inch engine was made popular by the Beach Boys (trivia time; they were actually singing about the twin four-barrel equipped version that became available in 1962) and in 1961 was only available in a single 360 horsepower version, equipped with solid lifters, a high lift cam, and a 4-barrel Carter AFB carburetor–still a very potent package! I think that you’ll agree with me that “she’s real fine…” whether she’s restored or original!


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    If the column is original, then clearly this car came with a 3-speed on the tree.

    Like 17
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Big 409 with three on the tree maybe. Unless you have original paperwork the vin tells you very little. Bidding is leaning that way.

    Like 4
  3. flmikey

    Nowhere in the seller’s ad does it say it is an original 409 car…it may have been a 6 cylinder/ 3 on the tree…but someone did what most of us would have done…ok….some of us….stunning find!

    Like 17
    • Bob Gee.

      A 409 with a standard three speed stick column shift was available after February of ‘61, but a dual quad 409 was not available in ‘61 model run.

      Like 3
    • Llouis200

      I agree with you . Three speed 409 not sure about that and with that mileage and condition I would walk softly biding on this . It is a nice car.

  4. Doug from MD.

    Lets forget the original or three on the tree or restored stuff. Whether this car came this way or not. The fact is it’s a very nicely done car and will bring good money. I’d love to own it and drive it and would if I could win the powerball or fall into a load of cash. Nice car.

    Like 25
  5. Brian

    That engine looks like a ’62. The vin for this car says it was born a V8 Belair. The 142 409s in ’61 were all SS Impala’s, never heard/ read of Belairs getting them unless this was a dealer conversion back in the day. This car may have been a 348 car originally, who knows.

    Like 10
  6. Norman K Wrensch

    I you look closely you will see that it is a dual four 409

    Like 2
  7. A.G.

    GM documents indicate the 409 (RPO 580) was made available to the full-size Chevy lineup (manual transmission only) in February 1961. The seller makes no claims about the car rolling off the line with a 409. This would explain the car’s low sequence number.

    Whether this Bel Air’s engine was originally one of the optional 348s or not is a tough call. The only thing saying yes is the grill emblem.

    Just say no to painted wheel weights.

    Like 7
  8. Will Fox

    Doubt the supposed ‘pedigree’ of this Bel Air. First, the paint is not original; now way–discrepencies already mentioned by the author. Second, the interior is a brand new re-pop of the original material, not original as in production line. Third, other are correct in saying the 142 409’s produced that year were all SS models; none were Bel Air 2dr. sedans. This car has dual quads, which weren’t even available on ANY `61 409–those didn’t appear until `62, so I’m strongly guessing this engine is a transplant. It was probably a 283 or 348 when new.

    Like 8
  9. gbvette62

    The seller never mentions the car’s engine or trans, and is very careful not to make any claims about the car, other than about it’s finishes.

    The engine looks like a 62 2×4 409/409, and the labels on it claim that’s what it is. I can’t see a dipstick in the pictures, so it appears to be a 409 block. A left side dipstick would indicate a 348, 409 dipsticks are on the right. Besides the 3 speed column, the shifter and boot are Hurst items, not the original round Muncie shifter and round shift boot, further evidence of changes made to this car.

    I love 59-64 Chevy’s, especially 348 & 409’s, and this is a pretty sharp example, that doesn’t appear to need anything. I just wish the seller had provided a little more information about the car and it’s background. I’m always a little suspicious of sellers that seem to go out of their way not to provide pertinent information.

    Like 15
    • Camaro guy

      That would not be a Muncie transmission 61’s had BW T-10’s Muncie transmission’s weren’t available until 1963/64

      Like 3
  10. DRV

    This is just a bad ass killer ’61 post car no matter how original or otherwise. It’s at the top of my Chevy builds .

    Like 7
  11. Brad

    Who would paint a wheel weight?
    Car guys (or most of us) would put new weights on the inside anyway. Grievous oversight…..
    Bet all valve stems are painted also. Rims are the first thing I look at on cars. Can reveal a lot!

    Like 3
    • Clay Bryant

      Wheel weights only on the inside? Ever truly balance a tire or just the inside?

      Like 2
      • Brad

        Mag and alum. wheels we use stick on weights on inside only. Industry has done that forever.

        Like 2
  12. Larry D

    Once the seller produces proof that this is indeed a ’61 factory-409 Bel Air, I’ll believe him but not until then.

    I agree with @Brian that the 409s were only installed in the Impala SS cars.

    Like 1
  13. Danny V. Johnson

    Neat car. I found three more 409 (RPO 580) two door sedans. It was a special order deal. My Dad had ’59 Chevy two door, with a 348 CID and Tri-power. It had a three in the tree and a “Posi rear end. It was one of the first cars that I drove. It was a rocket. He sold it, to keep me out of trouble. That didn’t work. :-) Ha! Ha!

    I’m wonder if this car was originally a 348. Easy exchange.

    Like 3
  14. John

    It has the 348 flag emblem on the trunk lid. But I don’t care. Its a great looking car no matter what. If its not a four-speed, I’d spend some more of the lottery money to make it one. The rest of the money would have to go for gas.

    Like 3
    • Danny V. Johnson

      John, look at the interior, again. There’s an aftermarket stick on the floor. I suspect that the 4 speed conversion has already been done. This little car is perfect, just like it is. Although, I would put the original wheels and “Dog Dish” hub caps away. It would look great with some American Alloys and narrow with wall radials. But that just me.

      Like 2
  15. Larry D

    The simple answer as to whether this car came with a 409 would be if the seller would post a picture of the engine ledge which shows all the information about the engine, including the VIN derivative of the car.

    If you read his description on ebay, he never does say the car was equipped with a 409 from the factory. He is very vague..

    I believe I will write him thru ebay and ask for such a pic and see what his response will be.

  16. Charles A Simons Jr

    “She’s real fine my 409” comes to mind

    Like 1
  17. CaCarDude

    Back in the mid 60’s my Father had a ’61 Impala white on blue, 283 auto, that was one nice driving beautiful car. After only 2 years sold it and bought a ’64 Impala SS, that turned out to be his favorite Chevy ever. My Brother had a rare ’61 Impala 2 dr sedan, yes a post car back in the late 90’s, sold it before realizing how rare it was. How many readers here have seen one of those?
    I would like to have this Bel Air sedan, especially being a 3 pedal car. You can bet it would be the only one at your local cars and caffeine.

    Like 2
  18. Rj

    I Love this StreetMachine

    Like 1
  19. Larry D

    I received a reply from the seller of this ’61 Bel Air on ebay. He says this 409 engine didn’t come in this car. He says it is a 409/409 from a ’62 Chevrolet but declined to say what engine this car originally had. And he may not know since he bought it with the 409 already in it..

    But at least that answers that much.

    Like 4

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