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348/4-Speed! 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS Bubble Top

Here’s an example of the car that started the Chevrolet “SS” craze, a first-year Impala SS. This 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS “bubble top” is in magnificent condition and the seller is looking for a new owner that will provide this Chevy the same level of care that he has. This Impala SS is located in Sunset Beach (Oahu), Hawaii and is available, here on craigslist for $75,000. Thanks to rex m for this so fine tip!

The seller refers to this Chevy as the “Holy Grail” of muscle cars. Well, that’s going to be a debatable point as everyone has their rare favorites that they will suggest as the holy grail. That said, Chevrolet’s 348 CI engine was discontinued in mid ’61 and replaced by a 360 gross HP, 409 CI motor. Research indicates that there were only 142 examples assembled with the new 409 engine so that could be considered as a holier grail. However it is viewed, a 348 equipped ’61 Impala SS, with a four-speed manual transmission, is a rare and valuable car in its own right.

There is a thought that every ’61 Impala is a “bubble top” a reference to the open, breezy appearance of the two-door hardtop. Actually, in ’61, there was an Impala two-door sedan produced, and to my knowledge, that’s the only year for such an arrangement. I have never seen one but the ’61 sales brochure clearly illustrates such a model. This Impala is as nice a ’61, Chevy, as you will find. The seller states that it is originally a Virginia car and it has had, “No body damage or repairs“. I was debating with myself, usually a confusing exchange, as to whether or not this Impala is original or has been restored. The seller states original paint, upholstery, etc. so I’ll go with his claim. The exterior truly appears to need nothing.

Under the hood is a 348 CI “W” head, V8 engine that was available in horsepower variants of 305, 340, or 350 HP. The 350 HP version had three two-barrel Rochester carburetors and this engine has what looks like a Rochester “dual-jet” carburetor upfront, equipped with a multiple carburetor fuel distribution line, so I’m suggesting it’s that top engine option. Additionally, the seller does refer to it as a “Super Turbo-Thrust Special” which is the correct designation for that motor. The engine is listed as a matching number item, and while there is no word as to how it actually operates and drives, it should still be lively with only 70K miles on its clock. As previously stated, the engine is connected to a four-speed manual transmission.

The interior of this SS is in keeping with the character of the rest of the car, it is in magnificent original condition, an amazing feat considering that this is a 60-year-old vehicle. The bench seat is correct for this SS model as bucket seats didn’t make an appearance until 1962. Notable is the presence of A/C – not that often found on a ’61 Chevy. I’m not sure which A/C option it is, as two were offered, either the “All-Weather” or the “Cool-Pack” version. And yes, it appears that the original radio is still in place.

The seller states that his price is firm and any interested purchaser will have to be “vetted”. He further states that it is an investment that will grow in value. I could find quite a few ’61 Impala SS equipped cars for sale on various websites and those that are represented as the most similar to this subject car are looking for the same kind of scratch that this seller wants. I’m not a soothsayer and cannot comment on future value, maybe this Chevy will appreciate and maybe not but it does seem to be too nice a car to actually drive and enjoy – thus the investment suggestion, i.e. purchase, store (hermetically?), and maintain. While this ’61 Impala SS is an extremely nice example, I think I would prefer to have a driver that I can actually use and enjoy, how about you?


  1. RGSmith1 Member

    I agree with you. I would much rather have a pretty driver than a beautiful static display!

    Like 29
  2. Super Rare

    This must be super rare! How many of these had A.C.?

    Like 8
    • Joe Sewell

      I find this interesting too. ‘All Weather’ is the in-dash unit, while the ‘Cool Pack’ is the under dash unit. I’m reading where ‘All Weather’ installs were limited (depending on the year) depending on the transmission and engine applications. ‘Cool Pack’ installs could happen in pretty much any application.

      Recalling a 1960 Bonneville Convertible with 389 Tri Power and factory in dash HVAC – presented as ‘factory correct’ and won many awards. Hoping these cars survive for a long time.

      Like 6
      • Joe Sewell

        Edit: The 1960 Bonneville in question had a 4 speed and every conceivable factory option also.

        Like 3
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Thx for the clarification Joe.


        Like 1
      • Camaro guy

        I’m not convinced this is a 340 or 350 HP motor I’m pretty sure you couldn’t get air with a solid lifter engine the tripower was available on the hydraulic lifter engine

        Like 4
    • Daniel Rawson

      There were actually 4 versions of the 348 available. 4 bbl with hydraulic or solid lifters, and tri-power with solid or hydraulic lifters. 350 HP rating was tops…I had one just like this, except blue/white. Impala, but without the SS trim pkg.

      Like 1
  3. Matt in LA Member

    I want this one so bad it hurts!! Lol! And it has a/c! My folks had a blue BelAir and a great aunt and uncle had a red Impala. One of my favorite years of full size Chevy!

    Like 10
  4. Mike Henry

    Now, that’s one of the nicest vehicles I’ve ever seen! Especially with the A/C. It would be too expensive to ship it back from Hawaii, though. So, I guess I’d just have to move down there to be with that beautiful car.

    Like 15
  5. Mountainwoodie

    Oh the pain!

    I have a clear memory as a seven year old going with my Dad to trade in the ’57 Plymouth wagon for a new Chevrolet. A ’61…………Did he buy the 4 on the floor Impala? Of course not. He got a 4 door stripper…black. I will never forgive him for that oversight.

    A stunning car. I wonder how many buyers cruising C-list have 75 K to put down on a car?

    Like 5
    • Robert Eddins

      many understand that long lasting feeling of if I,d or if
      Dad woulda just…….
      they never go away there are certain triggers in life that tush them back to the front of our minds.

    • Stan Marks

      With all due respect, what did you know, at seven yrs. old?

      Like 1
  6. John S

    A “Cool Pack” A/C is an under dash unit usually installed by the dealer. This car has factory installed A/C. Great looking car!

    Like 5
  7. Chuckster

    I’ve never been ” vetted ‘ , does it hurt ?

    Like 16
    • Larry McGaw

      The original post uses the term “vett”, which should be spelled “vet”. The review uses the term “vetted”, which is the correct spelling. Being vetted only hurts if you have something to hide. The seller seems to think an awful lot of himself and this car if he thinks he reserves the right to vet any potential buyer. If he finds someone gullible enough to part with $75k for a ‘61 Chevy, he should take the money and run, regardless of how the buyer may or may not treat the “investment”. It’s a nice, old car, not the next Attorney General.

      Like 18
      • Terry J

        I’d think that “vetted” simply means that the seller will expect that the buyer provide proof of funds prior to getting too involved in a serious dialogue. Not an unreasonable requirement considering the price and the abundance of tire kickers and scammers out there. :-) Terry J

        Like 11
      • Larry McGaw

        Terry J … I try to look at comments in context, and the context of the sellers ad suggests he is concerned about selling to a “special, committed owner”. Additionally, he is adamant about the price, insisting he will not budge. There is no indication that he is looking for proof of anyone’s financial wherewithal, especially since he won’t entertain any negotiations. Agree to my price, send me the money, and if I deem you worthy I will allow you to buy my car.

        Like 4
    • Stan Marks

      Only when you cough. Don’t forget to turn your head first.

    • Stan Marks

      Only when you cough. Don’t forget to turn your head first.

  8. Arby

    Seller can’t even bother to take a damp rag and wipe down the engine compartment.

    Like 14
    • Johnny

      Their you go. I thought the same thing and it is not perfet the way he state and Hagerty states. They state excellent–with no dust,dirt–nothing and the Excellent price is $16,700. Who ever buys it.Should be thier choice of what they did with it. Its theirs now. I,d drop the clutch and see how perfect it really was. It is a nice LOOKING car,let,s see how it REALLY runs. Sounds like he is only interested in money and the h–l with how dad took care of it all these years. If its true as I sucpect. He never spent much time with dad or he would have the memorys and not sale it at all. My uncle had a light green Pontiac ventra.3 speed on column -389. If you rode in the back seat on a sunny day. The sun would burn your head up and give you a head ache.

      • Rob

        I agree with the sun issue. Pretty on a starry night, but horrible on a hot sunny day!

  9. Jeff

    Nice car but if you want that kind of money at least detail the engine bay and motor. Also mirror on fender out to far sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Like 8
    • Tom

      The mirror mounted on the fender was supposed to be Cool back in the sixties! In retrospect, it does not look that as cool as it did back then.

      Like 1
      • JoeBob

        Maybe the mirror on the fender was supposed to look cool, but it gave a better view down the side of the car than the one mounted by the vent window. It was also a little more vulnerable to damage.

      • Sunshine

        Beginning in 1955 [!] Chevrolet offered a remote control mirror. I have never seen one in person, only in factory catalogue. Corresponding Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile had a remote control mirror as well, even on the “Senior Compacts” of 61-63. In the late 50’s & early 60s all these remote mirrors I have seen were on the fender. I believer this is a remote control mirror, but since we can not see all of the dash, I can’t confirm [control was on dash and not door]. Maybe this was a more stable surface and required less range of adjustment. This is still a bit before my time as a driver.

        Like 2
    • Chuck Dickinson

      While there was a ‘remote’ mirror listed earlier in the 50s on Chevys, it was a door mounted ‘rod-operated’ mirror similar to what Cadillac used up through 67. The mirror on this car is Chevys first real, cable-operated remote mirror. It should have a small bowtie embossed into the back of the head. The fender mounting of the mirror is due to the fact that it’s a copy of the Pontiac remote mirror which was fender mounted. This accy. mirror was very uncommon, and was dropped after 62. In 64, Chevy brought out a door mounted remote mirror option.

      • 61 Bubble Top

        Wrong. Remote mirror. This is a 1 year only style for 1961 Chevy and is 1000% legitimate. Do your homework.

    • Stan Marks

      You read my mind, Jeff. First thing I thought.
      And how about some pics of the undercarriage?
      For that kind of cash, it’s the least he can do.

    • 61 Bubble Top

      That is a factory option “remote mirror” that people offer me 3k for all the time.

      For all of you commenting above I will quote wise words I was once told, “In Life be as quick to jump at opportunity as you at conclusions!” I purchased this Factory 4C Code AC car for $35k and that included delivery to Florida. She fly from Hawaii to LAX in the belly of a 747! Enclosed from LAX to Florida.

      The seller was actually a woman who cherished the car dearly. It had nothing to do with money!

  10. Ed Hardt

    I’d roll that this winter in Illinois! Who know what tomorrow will bring?

  11. Skorzeny

    Even with the dirty engine, the ratty trunk weather stripping, the nasty whitewalls, and the ugh wheel covers, this is absolutely gorgeous!

    Like 3
    • Chuck Dickinson

      FYI, those ‘nasty whitewalls’ were original on all 61 SS cars. They came with a special butyl rubber US Royal tire with a narrow whitewall (the first regular usage of those).

      Like 1
  12. bobhess bobhess Member

    Wow! That’s a nice car.

  13. Charles Sawka

    Unusual for me to have no comment. DAMN

    Like 1
  14. MNGUY

    Oh my! Had a ’61 back in my college days. Blue convertible with 283/PG. Not quick but would run 80 all day. I had tickets to prove that. Took my bride on our wedding night and had to clean rice out of everywhere the next day. Thanks friends. Best looking Chevy of that era.

    Like 4
  15. Bill Pressler

    On full-wheelcover cars, weren’t the wheels black? I know later sixties Chevys were that way. Why paint them body-color when 99% of the wheel is hidden with a cover? Small thing that grates on an otherwise terrific car.

    • Chuck Dickinson

      No, not in 61.

      Like 1
  16. T

    Now that is sweet.


    Big money and he doesn’t clean the engine compartment?

    Like 5
  18. william levonne

    What would be the shipping cost from Hawaii?

  19. Terry J

    In my little Eastern Oregon town of Athena around 1966 the City tried out a replacement patrol car: A bright red ’61 2 door post with a small block and a stick and overdrive. It was originally a Fire Chief’s car somewhere. I got to ride around in it, but unfortunately the city fathers didn’t step to the plate. :-) Terry J

  20. Vince H

    Yes there was a 61 Impala 2 door sedan. There used to be one near me. Don’t know what happened to it. The new for 62 327 struck fear in those driving a 348.

    • Camaro Guy

      Yeah that’s why i sold mine and bought my buddies 63 327/4sp both 250 HP but the 63 was definitely quicker

  21. JP

    Love those ’61s! For this kind of money the owner could have at least detailed under the hood & replaced the faded out interior!

  22. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    This is a very special Chevy. If it’s worth $75 big is depending on buyers. I’ve known some people here in Houston who will pay more than $80,000.00 for a Japanese SUV, that will lose half its value in a few short years. Therefore, it’s economically positive position to buy a $75,000.00 classic you can drive daily, it if your very fortunate you might find a very nice car like Rex found for $1250.00 and daily drive that will undoubtedly increase substantially in value. I like The Rex did it, (good eye Rex) finding a non runner that could easily be made into a beautiful, and running car.
    Merry Christmas everyone.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  23. Browndog

    I never saw Knock-Off Wheels that far back has to be super rare

    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Larry is correct – and spinners go a few years back – 1957 Chevy’s had them.

    • Chuck Dickinson

      Wheel cover spinners were an accessory option on Chevys from 57-60. In 61, there wasn’t an accy spinner offered, but when the 61SS debuted in mid-year, those featured the spinners shown on this car, which repeated on the 62 SSs.

  24. LarryS

    Re the wheel covers. The ones on this car appear to be correct for a ’61 Impala SS. They look just right to me. The rims would have been body color in ’61.

    Like 3
  25. John

    My father had the four-hour hardtop (pillar-less) version of this car. His was a Turbo Hydromatic. I recall it being advertised as having 250HP. But it was a very fast car. It also had the bumper “over-riders” front and back and a swept back radio antenna on the back fender. It had “factory” air, which I always believed meant that it was not a dealer installed unit. In later years, I also found out that the distributor for cars with A/C had a different curve and the carburetor had one size larger jets. For some reason, I have always believed that his car had a Carter AFB on it. I knew every bolt in those days. I got my driver’s license in that car. I got to drive it twice before he traded it for a V6 Buick Special. I suspect the trade was largely premised upon his observation of my driving and a full understanding of the car’s potential (and my lack thereof). A very cool car. But every piece of metal in the body structure had its own resonance. It gave a whole new meaning to driving a tuned car. He also put Fingerhut clear plastic seat covers on it, but it was a cool car anyway.

    Like 2
    • JUST ME

      Just for the good old days readers, that may have remembered something like this happening to them like this. Back in the day when I was 17 in 1963 I had a good friend that had one of these cars. It was a SS Impala hard top just like this one. It was equipped with a factory high performance 348 solid lifters and high lift cam, 350 Horse Power engine, with 3×2 carbs. Also 4-speed transmission and 4.11 rear gears with Posi Traction from the factory. I had another friend that had a 1963 Ford fastback so called a 1963 &1/2 Galaxie XL model they came out about mid year if I recall correctly. It had a factory installed 390 engine 1 x 4 barrel carb. with solid lifters and high lift cam (but not factory installed.) It had 4-speed transmission from the factory, with a 4.11 gears. with Posi Traction ( but the gears were not factory installed.) Then there was the Plymouth ! I also had a friend with1958 Plymouth Belvedere 2 – door hard top that had a factory 350 engine with a 1 x 4 barrel carb. with a (push button ) 3-speed automatic transmission with a rear gear set that I don’t know the ratio of. My friend had torn the rear gears out and we installed a complete rear housing with the gears in it from out of a 1957 Plymouth Savoy that had a flat head 6 cylinder engine in it. I know the 6 cylinders mostly came from the factory with lower gear sets. Could this be the factor why? At the same place 1/4 measured mile with all three cars gave this drag race results heads up with the Chevy beat the Ford , the Plymouth beat the ford and Chevy both. We tried this over and over because we could not believe the results. We also tried it at 20 miles per hour kick down and at 40 miles per hour kick down and the same result were Plymouth beat in all races. Might a add that the Plymouth had NO POSI TRACTION ! Please no hate mail. I own all different makes in my collection. I love all old and classic cars and I wish I had all of these three cars in my collection now. I just would like to hear if anyone else out there thinks the rear end gears was the big difference !

      Like 3
      • MLM

        I love those 1957-58 Plymouth.My favorites.

      • stoney end

        Geez Louise! Hard to believe :-) but maybe…I guess

        If there were difference-makers, they could be the Torqueflite trans and probably circa 4:11 gearing (in the Mopar). In those days they launched really well (and the lack of posi would be less a factor with probably a weaker low-end power 350″) and the big block competitors here may have had trouble without tires and traction aids (…and the driver)… though you’d think the others should walk the Plymouth top end.

        Maybe :-)

        Like 1
    • Chuck Dickinson

      John, it was NOT a Turbo hydramatic. That didn’t come out until 64,and Chevy didn’t get it until mid-65, and only w/the new 396 engine. You had a Turboglide. In 61, if you got an automatic with a 348 (except for the 305 hp version) a Turboglide was the only automatic available, tho’ it was available on any V-8 Chevy. Turboglides came out in 57, and they earned a reputation of unreliability. That was mainly due to guys driving them as if they were a Powerglide and using the GR (grade retard) position like the L (low) on the PG. They were ‘similar’ to the Buick Dyanflow as they didn’t ‘shift gears’, and were very smooth. They weren’t as quick as a Powerglide (at least from my experience), but I owned two (both in 283 61s) and never had any problems with either. It was discontinued for 62.

      Like 4
    • LenB.

      Do you mean TurboGlide? Turbo HydraMatic wasn’t offered on Chevrolet’s until 65. Very rarely see them much in 65/66’s more 67 and after.

      • John

        Yes, I stand corrected. It was a Turboglide. My Dad traded a 55 Buick Super for the Chevrolet. It had a Dynaflow. I remember my dad talking about how similar the two transmissions were (he was a car guy, too). Thanks for the correction.

  26. Tom Haag Member

    I have an original paint 61 SS. Wheels are body color. Hubcaps on this car are correct for the 61 SS. One issue however…………among other things,
    Tach and grill bar the 61 SS had a grab bar on the passenger side of the dash. I don’t see one on this car. Also the requirement for a SS order was a 348 or at the end a 409. Any 348 however. Mine has the base 250 Horse. Remember GM built lass than 600 real Super Sports in 1961.

    Like 1
    • Camaro guy

      I had similar car 250 HP 348 originally came with turbo glide but converted to 4 speed with Hurst shifter don’t remember about the wheels i swapped them out for chrome reversed almost immediately I cloned an SS emblems on the trunk and rear fender the grab handle above the glove box and the little counsellete around the shifter mine was white with the same interior as this one brings back a lot of good
      memories wish I still had it my favorite year impala

    • Chuck Dickinson

      Grab bar is plainly visible in the photo of the open right door.

  27. Super Glide Member


  28. Joe haska

    I was a senior in high school in 61. I hung out, at the neighborhood gas station, worked on my 55 Bel-Air hard top and made friends with the older guys, that worked there (they were probably in their mid twenties) . One of them bought a brand new 61 bubble top with a 4 a speed, I was in love with that car. I still can’t believe what he did, he said do you want to take my car on your date Friday Night. I was in shock, but of course I said yes, a dream come true, my first love of my life girlfriend and the neatest car on the planet, However, it didn’t go as well as expected, I absolutely loved the car, you couldn’t get me out of it. Unfortunately, not only was she my dream girl, she was very smart. I think she instinctively knew, I was a guy who might love cars a little too much.

    Like 3
    • Camaro guy

      Been there done that 😁👴

      Like 1
  29. Sunshine

    Typically the biggest most powerful engines from the Detroit Big Three did not offer AC, especially with a 4 speed, citing insufficient room in the engine bay. This may explain how this has the 348 CI with AC, verses no AC in a 409.
    Also of interest, Chevrolet offered “in-dash” AC with at least side vents in the dash beginning in 1955. I recall a friend’s ’60 Impala with in dash/vents AC, and certainly ’63 onward. I can only imagine the dash for 61 & 62 got in the way of the rare Sunbelt option of AC, and only allowed for “hanger” vents like the BOP “Senior Compacts” for 61-63.
    Last observation: What’s with the hanging screw on the dash above the speedometer?

    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      That screw is to attach the dash pad, sunshine. Why it’s loose is anyone’s guess.

    • Joe Sewell

      Oh goodness, I recall a 1955 Bel Air 2 door HT with Factory A/C at an auto show many years back. I’ve seen images of a 1955 Crown Victoria 2 door HT (a couple actually) with the factory installed a/c. 1955 was the first year for both. Have always been interested in the history automotive HVAC systems.

    • Camaro guy

      Physicaly the 348 and the 409 were the same size only difference being the location of the dipstick as to the air conditioner the determining factor was solid lifter or hydraulic lifter engine

      Like 2
  30. Randolph Dull

    I don’t mean to pick but, don’t you think the seller might have noticed the screw backing out of the instrument cluster? Seems uncharacteristic of such a knowledgeable seller and this amazing gem.

  31. bikefixr

    $75 K and not a convertible, and a dirty engine bay. For that money, it should absolutely sparkle top to bottom. Dreaming.

    Like 2
    • Joe Sewell

      Just make the guy an offer. If he feels insulted, he won’t respond.

      In 2000, I made an offer on a brand new 1993 Suzuki GS 1100G with the factory touring package. $8,600 list; knowledgeable people I contacted knew the dealer, his rep and stated they wouldn’t pay more than $4,500 for the bike. I offered him $5,000 cash and he told me to leave his shop immediately and never come back.

      I did return in 2004-previous owner had passed, dealer was sold and changed names and the previous stock of unsold, brand new, non current bikes were gone.

  32. Gordon Mobley

    Fellow in our town ordered a new one same color . . His was a 348 , 3 2’s , 4 spd . . No air . . . I LOVE the bench bend 4 spd shifter . . Still do . .

    Like 1
  33. Joe Sewell

    RE: Camaro Guy

    I would like to know the answer about factory a/c in a solid lifter, 4 speed 348 350HP myself, as these super rare factory ‘pre muscle era’ cars are truly interesting. The subject car caused me to recall a ’67 Fairlane W Code 427 equipped with factory air, for sale locally, several years back. Love these rare ‘oddballs’!

    • Camaro guy

      Not real familiar with Ford’s but seems to me W code was a 4bbl hydraulic lifter engine, R code was dual quad solid lifter engine but I’m sure one of the Ford experts will correct me if I’m wrong which is entirely possible

  34. Joe Sewell

    RE: Camaro Guy

    I’m reading the 280HP 348 Tri-Power was available-for Powerglide only? 280HP for A/C cars? Strange situation until an expert on 1961 Impala SS comments.

    Like 1
    • Chuck Dickinson

      In 61, the only ‘big block’ to have PG available was the 305 hp high perf 348 w/a HD PG. All other 348 autos were Turboglide only. AC was not offered on the super hi perf cars since they could rev too high for the compressor.

      Like 2
    • Camaro guy

      That’s the way it was for the first few years but 61 changed some options and it’s kinda confusing don’t remember if the 305 hp motor was single 4bbl or 3 2’s or if the 280 hp engine was even available in 61 guess I’m going to have to look into that

  35. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Since the subject of automotive a/c has come up I’ll give my account. 1940 was the first year for a/c in a car. It was offered in certain Packard models and used ammonia as a refrigerant gas.
    The first car I personally encountered with a/c was in 1955. It was a Pontiac owned by my school teacher. It had glass tubes that transferred cold air to vents in the ceiling of the car via the rear package deck. The evaporator was in the trunk. I think it utilized R-12 as a refrigerant, with the compressor pulley driven from the engine with very long hoses from the condenser to the evaporator.
    The first car I personally owned with a/c was a 1965 Ford custom 500 that I bought in 1967. It was powered by a 289 2 bbl and 3 speed manual column shifted with overdrive. A 4 door sedan in gun barrel blue it was quite a nice car for a 20 year old newly married army veteran.
    God bless America

    Like 3
    • Chuck Dickinson

      The 54 Pontiac was the first car to have its entire AC system under the hood. Other cars still used the trunk mounted evaporator with the clear plastic (NOT GLASS) tubes running into the headliner. So, your school teacher’s car was not a 55 Pontiac which had everything under the hood. It could’ve been an Olds or Buick or Cadillac, however.

  36. Victor kelm

    I had a white 61 2dr hrtp same Interior. But mine had a 283 with powerglide. It was not real fast but it was a nice ride. I paid 2000.00 dollars for it in 1983. Wish i had it back!

  37. Courtney

    Not original paint it has been repainted a close up of the front wheel well shows overspray

  38. glen kay

    its amasing as a teen i could buy these for 4 to 500 dolards each boy the world has changed

    Like 1
  39. Thomas Haag Member

    I looked at it from my iPhone and couldn’t see for sure the grab bar. It is clearly visible from my laptop as is the 61 SS only console plate. My guess is the Air was added perhaps by the dealer.

  40. dave

    409 did not replace the 348.

  41. dave

    409 did not replace the 348 in 61. Both were optioned except for the 409 until a certain point in 61. 409 had core shift problems.

    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      The 348 was around until a certain point in 1961 and was not around in ’62 while the 409 was, continued from ’61 and on until mid-’65. Sounds like a replacement to me.


      Like 1
      • dave

        348 was available until 64 in trucks.

      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Yes, I know but I’m referencing cars, as in the Impala.

    • Camaro guy

      Yeah the 61 409’s were actually an enlarged 348 in 62 it was a whole new block and heads more meat around everything

      Like 1
  42. Gregg Bell

    one of the most beautiful sculptured cars of all time. my mom had a black convertible 61 and i was 3 or 4 years old washing it with her, hers was not an SS and it had the 6 cylinder..i remeber her having problems with that engine

  43. dave

    Close Ad
    MotorTrend Logo
    How To
    How To
    Chevy’s W-Series— The 348 And 409 – Gone, But Not Forgotten
    Chevy’s W-Series— the 348 and 409 – Gone, But Not Forgotten

    filterSEE ALL 24 PHOTOS
    Eric GeisertphotographerRon CeridonowriterAug 1, 2012
    When Chevrolet introduced the 265 V-8 in 1955 it was truly revolutionary. It was the little engine that could and set performance standards that all other engines would be measured by. But while the public went nuts over the new small-block, the engineers inside GM had some concerns. As good as the new engine was it did have some limitations on displacement and low-end torque. Chevy needed an engine that could not only haul around the heavier cars that were on the horizon but could be used in trucks as well.

    While the 348/409 series are often thought to be called W engines because of the shape of the valve covers, the designation actually came from GM engineers. To find a powerplant that would meet their future needs Chevrolet began working on several new configurations, which during testing were identified as engines W, X, and Y. The X and Y engines were the larger displacement versions of the 265; the W used a new block and heads and was larger and 110 pounds heavier. Ultimately, the W design was chosen and the letter designation stuck.

    One of the most unusual features of the W-series engines can be found under the heads. Rather than conventional combustion chambers in the heads, these engines have them in the cylinders. The decks of the blocks are at a 74-degree angle to the centerline of the cylinders, which, coupled with an angled crown on the pistons, results in W’s unique combustion chambers. (It should be noted that some marine and truck engines had small combustion chambers in the heads due to lower compression.)

    One of the advantages to the W’s combustion chamber design was the turbulence created and the resulting fast-moving flame front. This created an engine that had lots of low-end torque and was resistant to detonation—two qualities that made these engines suited to use in heavy cars and trucks.

    Like its smaller brethren, the W engines used tubular pushrods and stud-mounted rockers, and the blocks were cast iron with two-bolt main caps. A departure from the small-block design, oil was delivered to the mains by a gallery running low in the block on the left side. Of course, the W’s most identifiable features are the scalloped rocker covers. The 348

    The W-series engines were first introduced in October 1957 for the ’58 model year. They had a bore of 4.125 inches and a stroke of 3.25 inches and were available in cars through 1961 and trucks through 1964.

    When introduced the base 348 was called the Turbo-Thrust and produced 250 hp, the Super Turbo-Thrust with three two-barrel carburetors was rated at 280 hp. Late in 1958, the Special Turbo-Thrust with a single four-barrel was rated at 305 horses and there was more to come. For 1959 and 1960, horsepower rose to 320, and 335 for the Carter AFB-equipped four-barrel version and three-deuce edition, respectively. Then in 1961, horsepower was bumped to 340 with a single four-barrel, and 350 with Tri-power. The 409

    The 409 was introduced at the end of 1961. With a bore of 4.3125 inches and a stroke of 3.5 inches, it had a solid lifter cam, a single Carter AFB, and was rated at 360 hp. Due to the late introduction, there were just 142 Impala SS 409 cars produced, making them very rare.

    In 1962 the base version of the 409 produced 360 hp with a single Carter AFB, it was later increased to 380 horses, still with a single four-barrel. With the introduction of twin AFBs, better heads, and a more aggressive cam, the 409 grew to 409 hp. Thanks in part to the Beach Boys October release, everyone was singing the praises of the 409.

    By 1963 there were three versions of the 409: the 340 horse with a single four-barrel and a hydraulic cam, the 400 horse with a single carb and a solid lifter cam, and the 425 hp with 11.25:1 compression, solid lifters, and two four-barrels.

    The 409s available for 1964 remained the same as the previous year, however, the 425-horse version would be discontinued at the end of the production run. For 1965 only, the 340- and the 400-horse 409s were available, and by mid-year, the engine had been replaced with the 396. The 427 (Z11)

    A special version of the 409 engine was available from Chevrolet as part of Regular Production Option (RPO) Z11. A factory creation for drag racers, it included an aluminum 427ci engine based on the W design with a longer stroke, high-rise two-piece aluminum intake manifold, and dual Carter AFB carbs. With a 13.5:1 compression ratio and a wild solid lifter cam the engine had a ridiculously low rating of 430 hp. Telling Them Apart

    There are a few visual differences that distinguish a 348 from a 409. The most obvious is the dipstick location. The 348 has it on the left, or driver side; the 409 has it on the right, or passenger side. However, since the pans are interchangeable, it’s a simple matter to make one look like the other.

    Another telltale indicator is the crankshaft flange. All Ws had a forged crank; the 348 had a round flywheel flange and the 409 was D-shaped.

    Of course for absolute identification, the casting numbers are the best. They can be found on the back of the block behind the left head and can be researched on several Internet sites. Shaver Builds Them Both

    The Shaver family has been invoiced in racing since the ’30s when Offenhauser racing engines came to them for manufacturing and machining services. In 1976, Ron Shaver began engine development for his first sprint car engine built for Tom Hunt of Hunt Magnetos. Since then Shaver Racing Engines has grown to one of the premier race engine builders with the most advanced equipment and testing facilities around. He and his Shaver Racing Engine teams have compiled over 30 open-wheel championships through the ’80s and ’90s. Now, in the 21st century, Shaver engines prove themselves time and time again. Claiming victories at the most prestigious races across the country, including the Knoxville Nationals, King’s Royal, The World 100, The Gold Cup, The DIRT Cup, and Syracuse. Shaver has become the name top racers could count on for consistency and reliability with unmatched horsepower; he also knows a thing or two about 348s and 409s, and recently built both.

    To power the 2011 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour ’55, Shaver bored a 409 to 4.350 inches and lengthened the stroke to 4 inches to create a 474-inch torque. Equipped with JE pistons, a SCAT crank and rods, along with a COMP Cams hydraulic roller cam and gear, the big W cranked out 550 hp on the dyno. But thanks to the FAST fuel-injection system the engine started easily every time, idled without loading up, and performed flawlessly.

    The smaller of the two engines started life as a 348 and now displaces 440 inches, thanks to a 4.185-inch bore and a 4-inch stroke. It also uses SCAT rods and crank and COMP Cams valvetrain components, including a hydraulic roller cam.

    Regardless of the intended use, race or street, Shaver’s engine building reputation comes from a combination of scrupulous attention to detail and the latest and greatest equipment in an immaculate facility. When Shaver’s team builds an engine, perfection is the goal. Our 409 was line honed to ensure the main bearing bores were perfectly aligned, which eliminates any excess friction. From that true centerline, the decks can be made the same height and parallel to the crank, which standardizes the compression ratios in all cylinders.

    With the block blueprinted, the crankshaft and all the parts attached to it are balanced for smoothness and longevity. All clearances are checked and when it’s time to put it all together final assembly takes place in surroundings that are clean enough to make any mother proud.

    The final touch on our Road Tour engine was a dyno test and tune session. With timing and air/fuel ratios optimized, it was ready to go—and we can tell you it really does just that.

    Like 1
    • PatrickM

      Dave, we’re looking for a couple comments, not an editorial and tutorial. Not sorry.

      Like 2
      • LarryS

        I very much enjoyed Dave’s missive. Not at all sorry.

        Like 2
  44. dennis applegate

    348s and 409s during this period of time had aproblem with rod and main bearing going bad possibility of crank and rod problems

  45. 4501 Safari Member

    Looks like we all had a little “Christmas Time” to ponder BF’s listings. My contribution is more on remote mirrors. Pontiac had remote mirrors in 1953 and 1954 that used the spotlight pass through inner and outer fittings with a shaft and handle similar to a spotlight but without the switch and a slightly different handle. The mirror was a heavily chromed true vision “Chromar”, although I may have the spelling incorrect. They could be rotated 360 degrees in both the X and Y Axis. They are listed in the accessory information of the year. Both sides were available. I have a set of NOS 1954 remote mirrors and have yet to find a car worthy of them. No pot metal or ‘Korean Chrome” plating on these pieces. They are beautiful. Later, as mentioned in other posts, Pontiac’s remote mirror was the fender mount cable mounted mirror and eventually on the door. One of the most rare and desirable mirrors, for me anyway, is the matching non-remote passenger side mirror for 1964. There may be some out there but the only one I could find was just south of $500. I decided my Bonneville looked good with only the driver side, still…if you ever see a ’64 with both, it looks right. The owner got lucky or has too much money! We now return you to our holiday commentary on this car.

    • Chuck Dickinson

      I had a 62 GP that had a remote and matching right mirror. Sold it in the 90s. Last time I saw it, it was going across the stage at a Mecum or BJ auction (the car had an interesting original history, which they repeated during their description, so it WAS the same car). However, it’d had a 421 transplant, and both mirrors had been removed. I recall a customer at the gas station I worked at back then who bought a new aqua 64 Bonne coupe w/driver’s side fender remote. I suggested they get the matching right for symmetry’s sake, and they did. You didn’t see a lot of them with matching right mirrors.

  46. K. R. V. Member

    The 61,62,63 an 64, were among the most amazing full sized Chevys ever made. With all the following very nice also. My personal favorite is the 62, of which I had two beauties. A Hardtop Convertible Sport Coupe, 283/4 brl, 4 speed 4:10 posi. That was pearl white with red interior. The second, my favorite due to being loaded with every option available. Was also a 62, but a Sport Sedan, 4dr. without pilar posts that looks like a two dr with the windows down, with the flat top flying wing over the rear window. But by the time I got it , there was a properly built 327/4 brl, TH350 with a B&M kit, dual exhaust, with a 3:42 posi rear. But most importantly had factory installed AC, power windows and seat, with arm rests front and rear! Also in pearl white, but a very nice TRI color blue interior, with a silk like cloth inserts bench seats, with vinyl trim an piping! An matching headliner! With a set of 14×8.5 Keystone Classic Chrome wheels with blue painted shadow surface instead of black. I had rebuilt the front end an added Koni Shocks, with B F. Goodrich GT tires as wide as I could. Man I wish I still had that car!

  47. PatrickM

    I absolutely love the ’61 Chevy Impala bubble top. IMHO, ya just can’t beat the design. I sure wish I had a couple bucks, this would be in my garage (all the junk goes out to the curb for pick up). Drool, slobber slurp! This is a fine example of these cars. I’ve heard that the 348 might be a very good engine, but the 409 far surpasses it for maintenance and performance. So, cut from the same block, I would pull the 348 and put in a 409. Keep the 348 in case the next owner wants it, for the “original” package.

    • PatrickM

      BTW, it is Jan 1, 2021 and the ad is still active. Yet, I feel the price is a bit high. But, I’m not an appraiser. Also, no underside pics. Show us. Still, I love this car. Thanks for the find.

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