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Muscle Wagon: 1961 Chevrolet Parkwood

Muscle Wagon

The problem with wagons is that few were ever fitted with the good engine/transmission combinations. Most weren’t even offered with the performance options because the average wagon buyer was more concerned with things like fuel economy. Every dollar counts when you are raising a family! A few sleepers still slipped through the showrooms though and I find it even more exciting to find them today than their two-door siblings. The seller of this 1961 Chevrolet Parkwood suspects that it was originally fitted with a 409 and 4-speed! Find it here on eBay in Hamilton, Montana.

Where's the big block?

Well, I’m not sure about it having a 409, but it very well could of had the 348 which was the first iteration of Chevy’s famous big block. It was an option on the Parkwood so the seller’s observations of the larger fuel line and extra motor mounts could be proof that more power once resided under the hood of this family hauler. Unfortunately, a 283 V8 has been bolted in its place. The seller does have a 409 that they would sell separately though.

Four on the floor!

Normally, you would expect to find a column shift anywhere there is a bench seat, but not in here. That floor-mounted Hurst shifter is connected to a 4-speed manual! The seats look clean and the seller claims that the engine runs well, so you could drive this one while you go through the problem areas and contemplate that big block swap. I would want to see if the options could be verified before paying too much for this project though.

Rusty rockers

There is a lot of rust here. So much in fact, that I would have passed it over if not for the powerplant possibility. The rockers need reworked as do the floors. I like the unassuming nature of this car though and hope that the seller’s suspicions are proven right. What could be cooler than combining musclecar performance with wagon utility? Even if this one turns out to be too good to be true, I would still be tempted to drop the 409 in it and drive it around just the way it is, mismatched panels and all!


  1. braktrcr

    My Brother had a 64 Biscayne wagon that had a 409 with 4 speed, and a factory tach. Worlds best sleeper. Wish it was still in the family. Great stories with that car

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  2. vince Habel

    Looking at the grille badge I would think it was a 348 from the factory. Never heard of a 409 in a wagon in 61.

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    • Lee taylor

      That is my dad’s car, it had a 348 with 3 deuces. He put the 283 in there after the 348 had problems. He also added the extra taillights in the back. He donated it to an organization that provides auto shop classes to high school students. I believe it has a line lock on it.

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  3. Caddy Lover

    The flag in the grill insert signifies a larger engine … In 1961 the 348 was available but I believe the 409 came out in 1962 from the factory … The steering wheel is also replaced with the 1961 Impala steering wheel … Much better looking … Had a 1961 BelAir in 1966 ….

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  4. Clay bryant

    Strange but true,I passed a “62” wagon looking about like this on U.S.81 in Nebraska yesterday up by Madison,Nebraska.Had a ladder rack on top and a cut out hole in the grill for a fog light.(bet that wasn’t done lately)Anyone know of this car?

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  5. Brian

    I’m with the gang on the doubts about the factory 409. It just seems alittle to good to be true. I’m sure there is some way to run the numbers? I’m guessing that odds are better for the 283 having been in there since day one. Wasn’t the 409 an over bored 348? I’m sure the local machine shop would be happy make one into a 409 – or something even bigger – for you if you wanted!

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  6. DT

    My first assumption would be a 348 with a three on the tree,not too many 4 speed wagons produced. But an option was a 3 speed with overdrive,I think more common than a factory 4 speed,but maybe…

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  7. Jeff

    Come on men. !961 was the first year for 409s. Al. 4bbl intake, solid lifters, 4 speed only, SS hardtops only, just around 160 +/- produced. This is absolutely not an original ‘9’ car. Tons and tons of 348s however.

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  8. Dolphin Member

    The listing is for a Chevy Impala Nomad. The car pictured is not a Nomad. True, the ’61 Nomads had 4 doors, unlike the early Nomads that had 2 doors, but they also had special trim, and the ones I have seen had 4 tail lights, not 6 like this car.

    The seller has added a note saying that he bought two Chevy wagons and that he made a mistake and listed the non-Nomad instead of the Nomad. I guess flippers can get confused about their cars, but I don’t think I would have much confidence in this seller. He might be advised to pull this incorrect listing since the description is for the Nomad but the photos are for his other non-Nomad wagon. I can imagine a buyer might seek redress if he doesn’t get what is described in this auction.

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    • Brian

      Flipping can be a game, especially if your not interested in being particularly honest and upfront about things. You can write and ad, car was a factory 409 car, Jackie Kennedy’s maid used it to drive her kids to school in it, blah…blah… Then, later add a note … ok so this might not have been a factory 409 car and it looks like a White House maid owned it but drove her own kids to school in it, blah…blah! There is always a certain sector of folks out there that will get sloppy, stop reading after Jackie Kennedy, bid way too much and win the auction THEN read the added notes and start complaining. The buyer is complaining to ebay but has no merit because technically the seller did disclose and buyer could have canceled his bid. So in the end, the seller has his money and a negative feedback (big deal – not his first nor last) and the buyer has grossly overpayed.

      Not saying this seller is attempted to defraud, just saying it happens often by seller who know how to work it and to buyers who either aren’t paying attention or just want it to be true alittle too much. The game is all about due diligence and control. If the deal seams to good to be true, it probably is! If the seller is doing the ole smoke ‘n mirrors trick, you’d better stay away! Just like every other big purchase in life – got to watch your back! All that is known for sure in you have a ’61 Chevy wagon needing work with a 283 and a 4 speed, anything more is just gravy. Most surprises are not the good kind. Bid on the car, not the gravy!

      Like 1
    • Dolphin Member

      The auction is still up, with about 1 day to go. The photos show one car (Belair), the description is of a different car (Impala Nomad). There has been no more clarification.

      And clarification sure is needed since the tag on the keys says “Red 61-Impala”, but thebigkahuna now says that the car on auction in the photos is a Belair. So why are the Impala (Nomad??) keys in this Belair?

      Pardon my French, folks, but this is one big POS auction. You pays your money and who knows what you get.

      The bidders IDs are not shown because the seller has made it a ‘private listing’, but ebay says there are 11 different bidders. I just wish they knew for sure what they were bidding on.

      Fishy. Real fishy.

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  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    I thought the flags on the grill designated high(er) performance engines, not especially the 348. A high performance 283 would qualify.

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    • John

      That’s true in the later years, for instance the 65s that had 327s, but in 1961, the large flags were on the large block cars only. Another giveaway are the little “flags” on the front fenders. They were large block Impala pieces.

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  10. John

    Another hint at this one being a big block car is the tail end. It has three taillights in each side. The more plebian models had two. The large block car had a larger “V” emblem with flags in it.

    But in 1961, the largest motor was a 348 rated at 250HP. It was vastly under rated. Probably well over 300. It was a goer.

    I spent a lot of hours looking out the rear window of my Dad’s version. He had one like this and another Four-door hardtop version (no center post). It was a great car in its day.

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  11. ConservativesDefeated

    My Dad bought a two tail light ChevyBel Air ( might have been the Biscayne) new in 1961. I remember gong to the dealer in New York City and picking it up with him.I was all of seven…..big deal for a kid. He traded in our ’57 Plymouth wagon….which followed the ’54 Mercury two door. Ever the practical cheap guy he was, it was a stripper. Had that cool overhang on the roof. Wouldnt a three lght indicate the Impala?

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    • geomechs geomechs Member

      You know, CD, back then most people were extremely conservative. When I was a kid, out town was full of station wagons: Chev was the most popular, with 6 cyl/3spd being the most common. Plymouth, was usually a step up with the 318. Then came Ford, which was unbelieveable because you could get a 352(!). But they were all Mom’N’Pop/family cars and considering the average family having (5) kids, a station wagon was a necessity, but the family budget dictated: cheap but reliable. I remember back in the fall of ’57 (when I was 4 years old), I was with my dad in his ’56 Ford and we stopped at the Chev/Olds dealer where Dad got swept off his feet by a Super 88–WITH FACTORY A-C! It was a hold-over because it HAD A-C, which at that time must have been some kind of crime, like air-condtioning would poison everyone (at a time when both parents of the average family in our community smoked and the interior of the cars was like LA on a clear day). Dad broke (2) molds that day: bought a car with A-C and stepped UP to an Oldsmobile. It probably took till the mid-60s before A-C gained any kind of popularity; the end of the 60s before you saw any vehicle that was considered a step-up.

      Like 1
      • ConservativesDefeated


        Yup it was a dfferent world. Fiscal conservatism was the norm if you lived through the Depression. still a pretty good path to trod for the long haul.

        We never had a car with airconditioning! I think Cadillac had a/c in 1949 maybe earlierif memory serves me right

        And an Olds? Pretty flashy guy your Dad was! lol. After the ’61 Biscayne came a ’65 Buick wagon..Special…the stripper.black again! I learned to drive in that car in ’69

        Different world…. theres nothing like sitting in an early sixties American iron…………wipes away the last 45 years or so just staring at the dashboard. Still one of the greatest feeling in the world imho

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  12. ConservativesDefeated
  13. Dirty Dingus McGee

    In 1966 my folks bought a 64 Chevelle wagon. Came from the factory with a 283 4bbl, 4 speed and a posi rear. I guess whoever ordered it wanted some excitement in the family hauler. Car was sold or traded in 68 for a new Chevelle wagon; 307 Powerglide. As an 11 year old aspiring gear head, I was sorely disappointed in the change.

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  14. Jeff

    In 1961, there were several 348 engines available, the base model being the 250HP unit w/ a 4bbl. Next was a 280HP version w/ 3x2bbls. Then a 305HP 4 bbl solid lifter engine, followed by the 340HP high compression version of the 305HP engine. The biggest 348 was the 350HP high compression w/ 3x2bbls

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  15. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    The auction reached $3,383.33 with 21 bids, but did not meet reserve.

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  16. Lee taylor

    That was my dad’s car, I’ve included a picture of the 348 that use to be in it. Since finding this post oh about 4 years late, I have since found the car again.

    Like 2

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