Live Auctions

Stunning Survivor: 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS Bubble Top

Oh, my. Get a load of this rare and tasty turquoise treat. The seller describes this 1961 Impala SS Bubble Top as “pristine,” and after drooling over the 24 photos included in the ad, I tend to agree. Except for one respray in the ‘80’s, the car is touted as “original with matching numbers, and original sheet metal and glass.” This two-owner time capsule can be found in Lancaster, South Carolina and is for sale here on eBay for $86,995 or best offer.

To many, 1961 was one of GM’s finest styling years across all of their lines (especially Chevrolet with its beautiful V-sculpted rear end and six taillights). The Bow Tie promised to usher in the Kennedy-era New Frontier with a “Trim New Size, Clean New Style, and Fine New Comfort.”  And they delivered with 20 new models including this svelte number, the Impala Sports Coupe featuring the new SS optional package. Although the SS package was available on all five Impala lines in 1961, only 493 Impalas in total left the factory with it. I couldn’t find how many of those were Sports Coupes like this one, but you can do the math. This is one rare survivor, especially in its like-new condition.

The seller doesn’t share much about this Impala’s history except that it was bought new in North Carolina where it spent most of its life. The Tropical Turquoise paint looks sea breeze smooth and all the chrome, trim, badging and other SS options, like the full wheel covers with simulated knock off hubs, look great. The restyled ’61 Chevy promoted their cabins as having “rich new fabrics, and bright new colors and patterns along with an exclusive new instrument console.” As the photos reveal, the smart-looking complimenting turquoise interior looks great as well, giving off a vibe of sporty luxury.

Ah, the desirable Bubble Top (or the “canopy roof” as it was called in Chevy’s sales brochure) with its thin A-Pillar and C-Pillar that seamlessly blends into the rounded rear glass. A true work of art. Although two hardtop options were available in ’61, the airy Bubble Top is far more desirable than the more squared off hardtop on the Impala Sports Sedan.

Like the rest of this fine car, the engine bay is extremely clean and tidy. The seller says this SS has the 348-cubic-inch V8 with a four-speed manual transmission with a floor shifter. Its odometer is listed at 27,800. This is a stunning survivor and definitely fits into the “investment” category given its rarity and high price tag. I’ve never seen many ’61 Impala Super Sports at car shows, especially in this color combination. It’s quite an example of one of Chevrolet’s finest hours.

Comments

  1. losgatos_dale

    Ron, the first thing I said was “Oh my look at that” when I saw the pic. Same as you. Big smile this morning!

    Like 16
  2. Will Fox

    I don’t speak ‘bow tie’, but my favorite Chevy is this model and year, in my favorite color! This is how I would have ordered one in `61. Beautiful.

    Like 15
    • Will Fox

      PS: “Survivor” my foot! A frame-off restoration does NOT a “survivor” make! Nice car and all, but let’s not water down terms on these cars.

      Like 40
      • John

        I agree, but where did you read “frame-off restoration?”

        Like 3
      • dale robson

        I agree.

    • Glenn C. Schwass Member

      Yes, my favotite too

      Like 3
  3. Steve Clinton

    “$86,995 or best offer.” Better hurry. this is gonna be worth $100,000 in no time.

    Like 9
    • Larry D

      I don’t doubt that but the one thing that will always hold this car back is that it’s a 348.

      The 409 cars will always be the most in demand in the ‘61 SS versions.

      It’s sort of like the 1970 Chevelle Super Sports. The 454 is more in demand than the 396.

      And as far as that goes with this car, I didn’t see any proof that it is a true SS. No pic of the trim tag, no pic of the engine ledge, no pic of the transmission code. Not even a written list of codes and dates for the car.

      I’m just saying when you get into cars in this price range and especially this degree of rarity, documentation is king.

      Like 8
      • Red Car Club

        Larry D says it all in three words

        DOCUMENTATION IS KING

        Like 5
      • GP

        Amen. Both my First Gen Monte SS’s have build sheets, the Protect-O-Plate, original matching numbers drivetrains, old registrations, license plates, receipts etc.

        Better to do your due diligence and get what you’re paying for than be unpleasantly surprised later. Prospective buyers need to understand they absolutely can NOT fall in love with a car based on a handful of pictures.

  4. A.G.

    This one gorgeous car. It looks too clean for 27k miles. Some documentation would be nice.

    There is one nit to pick. Regardless of body color the wheels should be painted black.

    Like 8
    • Bill Pressler

      Agree with A.G.; wheels should be black. That’s missed on a lot of big-buck restorations of ’61 Chevys. I love the ’61 but one small thing irks me….the radio pushbuttons that spell “CHEVY”. That’s so cheesy IMHO! It’s a ‘Chevrolet’; ‘Chevy’ would be used officially later only on Chevy II’s and Chevy Vans! I’d have had to buy a radio without pushbuttons that year. Sort-of like GMC pushbuttons saying “JIMMY”, or if an Oldsmobile or Mercury had only four buttons, using “OLDS” or “MERC”.

      Like 7
      • Mark

        Bill…..they decided to go with Chevy on the buttons after numerous tests showed that not only did a nine button radio look ridiculous but the typical driver couldn’t reach beyond the “L” button. Lol

        Like 13
      • Chuck Dickinson

        The wheels were not always black on these. As for the CHEVY on the radio pushbuttons, Buick did the exact same thing for 60.

        Like 1
      • Radio Rick

        Yes sir I’m almost 65. I remember my grandfather and father talking about push button radio and tinted window. That being desired options. And my father stating he’s going to steer clear of automatic transmission. Yes and a couple or three vehicles with that curb feeler added. A 56 Chevrolet with the signal light prism mounted on the dash.

    • Ron

      All the advertising literature I can find shows the wheels to be the same color as the body, not black unless the car was black. People may have preferred black wheels and repainted them sometimes but it doesn’t appear they came from the factory that way.

      Like 4
      • Ron

        Further research indicates that the SS models only, did come with black wheels regardless of body color and 1” wide white wall striped tires.

        Like 5
    • 57Chevy

      Not true, UNLESS black wheels were for SS model only. Wife’s ’61 came with white wheels. She is the Original Owner. I have photos to prove it.

      Like 1
  5. Sam Shive

    My first car was a 61 Bubble Top. NOT QRIGINAL. It had a very radical 327 in it. It started life as 348 but that was long gone in 72. It had a 4 speed and a posi. Sat nose high cause the springs were never changed but it came outta the hole like it was shot in the ass. I was at the 1320 one afternoon and when I dropped the clutch, she came apart. Dragged it home and sold it for scrap.

    Like 4
  6. Joe Haska

    I am glad you guys pointed out ,that the wheels should be painted black. For that reason I am out.

    Like 12
  7. CCFisher

    This is an amazing example of a very rare and desirable car. However, I question the “survivor” status. Chevrolet simply didn’t build them to this standard in 1961. It’s had far more than just a respray.

    Like 13
    • 57Chevy

      Plus in ’61, they still had the wider white walls!

      • Larry D

        Not on the Impala SS. They introduced the narrow white walls.

        Like 1
  8. JW454

    One re-spray and one nut and bolt restoration.

    Like 13
  9. delimad

    My red 61 Impala had red rims when new

    Like 5
  10. Chuck Dickinson

    The color is Seamist Turquoise, NOT Tropical Turquoise. This car is also a clone, not a REAL SS. No PS or PB (which were std on the SS) and it has the crossflags on the dash BEHIND the grab bar. On an SS, the crossflags were deleted due to the grab bar. It’s fairly easy to make a clone, but whomever did this one missed three key ingredients of the 61 SS.

    Like 21
    • Steve P

      See two belts on the pulley, rear one goes to generator, don’t know where forward belt goes

      Like 1
  11. trav66

    This is one clean, mean machine! Beautifully done and a good write-up.

    Like 1
  12. Mark Moriarity

    My original paint honduras maroon 61 Impala had honduras maroon wheels

    Like 6
  13. Courtenay

    Had a 1961 impala in 1969, 283, three on he tree, with the overdrive, that car could go. I could leave Chanute AFB in Illinois, at midnightt and pull into my parents driveway in NJ around 11 am next morning. Wish I never sold it, but a overseas transfer made it impractical to keep.

    Like 3
  14. Comet

    Beautiful restoration!

    Like 3
  15. charlie Member

    But just don’t roll over a bubble top, almost might as well be a convertible. Friend who had a convertible at the time had a roll over drill for the passengers, after market seat belts, duck down below window height (and steering column height, passenger to rear of driver’s back, driver to passenger’s lap. A,B,C and sometimes D pillars plus airbags have saved a lot of lives.

    Like 3
  16. Greg

    Nothing like sweet a classic like this, restored to show room condition.

    Like 5
  17. T. Mann Member

    Ron, this 1961 Chevrolet Impala is NOT ORIGINAL,
    it is NOT a factory SS, it is NOT a Survivor.
    Chevrolet did NOT…and….does NOT build cars to this perfection level.
    .
    Ron, we pay for and read BF looking for correct information and possibly an opportunity.
    We can read the seller’s BS on our own.

    Like 13
    • Joe Bru

      I agree with T. Mann & it’s boring to read a re-hash of sellers claims, especially if they’re not true. Better for writers to critique/discuss the sellers claims.

      Like 6
  18. T. Mann Member

    Ron, the seller does not know the correct name of the color.

    Like 10
  19. John Alliano

    In1966 had a blue and white ’61 Bubble Top with the 283, 220 horse power pack, 3 on the tree, 4bbl and dual exhaust. Pretty fast too. Loved that car. Loved cruising South Jersey near Philly. Totally original, not molested in any way.

    Like 3
  20. frank Orzechowski

    First of all Chevy only offered one roofline in 61 in 62 they offered two , I know I owned one brand new. And my wheels where painted white like the rest of the car.

    Like 4
  21. John

    This is a beautiful car with very desirable body style, motor, and gearbox options but there are surely some worrisome nits to pick.

    The intake manifold is wrong, the air-filter housing is wrong. The tachometer fastened to the steering column is wrong, the electronic ignition module on the inner fender is wrong. The wheels are wrong, the spinners on the hubcaps are wrong. The emblems on the trunk and sides are wrong, the dashboard is shiny instead of being a satin finish, the grab handle is wrong …… It goes on and on.

    I don’t know if factory data on the motor and transmission numbers are available for 1961models, but those would need careful scrutiny. Any buyer willing to pay the price asked is going to have a lot of questions.

    It is a beautiful car. But it is NOT an original survivor, and any major auction company would pick it to pieces. There is no reason for the lack of full disclosure. The car will stand on its own merits. Allowing it to be portrayed as something it is not will, in the long run, hurt its overall value. The car deserves better.

    Like 7
  22. Morley Member

    Bogus car, not a real SS. Nice restoration , worth about 1/2 of the ask. Morley

    Like 7
  23. frank Orzechowski

    First what alot of you people don’t understand is that different plants had different building codes back then. Also alot of times at the end of a building year they would put parts on a car from the previous year to get rid of them. The best way is to look at the vin and read the numbers that will tell you alot. about the car. If you are interested in buying the car you go look at it in person or have somebody do it for you. Alot of things could have changed on the car over the years remember it is 60 years old.

    Like 5
    • Bamapoppy

      Frank O, I agree with what you wrote. Two points; back in the 80’s I was in the car show circuit. A fellow Corvette person (RIP) told me years earlier he was talking with someone who had worked at the St. Louis plant who told him if they ran out of a certain item they might run to a local hardware store and get whatever they needed. Secondly, a few years ago I ran into a guy with a 1967 Corvette convertible with 22,000 miles, a 327 and a BB hood. He told me GM had the hoods at the end of the year, knew they wouldn’t be needed for the ‘68’s so his car guu oht one, and his window sticker supported this.

      Like 3
  24. Chuck Dickinson

    This car is a clone, and not a very convincing one at that. PS & PB were std on SSs. This has neither. When the grabbar on the dash was part of the package, the crossflags on the dash behind the grabbar were deleted. This has both, which is not how SSs were built.

    Like 5
    • corvette collector Member

      Thank you Chuck D.
      “THIS CAR IS A CLONE, AND NOT A VERY CONVINCING ONE”

      This is a wrongful deception intended to result in financial gain!

      Edelbrock intake, MSD ignition, wrong emblems on the trunk and sides.

      Like 5
  25. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    I have a survivor bubbletop in my garage, same color too, woo hoo!

    Like 5
  26. Russ Ashley

    I was going to buy it but you guys have totally made me not want it now by telling me it might not be a real SS. OK! I still want it but I don’t have the money.

  27. RMac

    There was not two rooflines on impalas in 61 unless you count the convertible bubble top was the only roof until 62

    Like 2
  28. corvette collector Member

    Russ, if this model car is your Dream, it is alright to buy the bubble-top, just have reserve cash to correct the shortcomings of that car.
    Realize that an actual 1961 SS has a 6 figure value, and this car will never get there. It will always be a Clone, even if you spend another $100K on it.
    One of my “drivers” is a clone 1970 SS 454 Chevelle.
    Others can not tell until I park. I do not use it much.

    Like 3
    • Russ Ashley

      I hope no one took my comment seriously that you guys had changed my mind about buying it because of your comments. I’d be proud to own it but had no intention of purchasing it. BTW, did anyone here see the old Scott Bakula TV show Quantum Leap where he crashed a 61 SS convertible into a concrete bridge piling? It was a maroon convertible. I saw it and told my wife I couldn’t believe what I just saw.

  29. john vititoe

    My Mom’s Impala had the same color rim as the car body from the factory, but all you saw was the little piece around the hub cap.

    Like 1
  30. T. Mann Member

    You have a cool Mom :-)

    Like 2
  31. Larry D

    @ Ron Denny
    I agree you haven’t seen many ’61 Impala Super Sports at car shows. They only made 453 so that answers that.

    Like 2
  32. George Mattar

    In the early 80s, when old cars got cool again and started bringing money, Terry Boyce wrote a great book, The Chevrolet Super Sports. If you want the real facts on the real 61 SS, read it. Long out of print. I have had my copy almost 40 years.

  33. Geoff C

    I guess what ‘Survivor’ means here is that: the car survived from 1961 till now 1) without being altered beyond recognition and 2) without going to the crusher. Glad it survived!

    Like 1
  34. frank Orzechowski

    I love all the comments here about the car. First he is asking to much for it,second when buying a car for this much money you do your homework like checking the vin and all the documentation on the car. And you go look at it and drive it. So to say it is a clone without looking at everything about it, you are stating a opinion not fact.

    • Joe Bru

      frank Orzechowski: Car is a clone because ss models did not have cross flag emblem under grab bar (holes not drilled there on SS models), also no power brakes, no power steering & more indicators on posts (see above), a long list contraindications. I owned a real one back in the 70’s.

      Like 1
  35. T. Mann Member

    As I said above:
    “This 1961 Chevrolet Impala is NOT ORIGINAL,
    it is NOT a factory SS, it is NOT a Survivor.
    Chevrolet did NOT…and….does NOT build cars to this perfection level.
    .
    Ron, we pay for and read BF looking for correct information and possibly an opportunity.
    We can read the seller’s BS on our own.”

    • frank Orzechowski

      I guess you should talk to people that restore them to a higher level than factory.. First he knows what he has and should be able to back up his claims.

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