From 1958 until 1965, the Impala was Chevrolet's most expensive model, going head-to-head with the Ford Galaxie, and from 1960 to 1970 was Chevy's best seller. Apart from the outrageous '59 with its teardrop tail-lights under full-width fins, the Impala was distinguished by three tail-lights per side, and the model featured plusher seats, and more chrome trim outside, including a full-width aluminum-and-chrome panel to house the taillight assembly. The Impala was restyled into its third generation on the General Motors B-platform (shared with the Pontiac Parisienne and the Oldsmobile Starfire) for 1961 and for that year only Sport Coupe models featured a 'bubbletop' roof line - but the big news was just that: GM had entered the horsepower race with Ford, and from mid-'61 the new SS option could be had with the big-block 409 cu in (6.7 litre) V8: 360bhp and 409 lb ft of torque plus mandatory four-speed 'box meant that here was a mainstream Chevy that could turn 15-sec quarter miles: 'She's real fine, my 409,' sang the Beach Boys in the song of the same name, and a legend was born. But the SS 409 is a rare beast: of the 491,000 Impalas built in '61, only 453 had the SS package and of those, just 142 got the 409. All told, the 409 went into just 43,775 cars.

This rare, low-mileage SS Coupe has been the beneficiary of a three-year restoration with "virtually everything refurbished or replaced and over £76,000 spent", says the vendor, who describes it as being in "excellent overall" condition. The 409 engine has been overhauled with unleaded-compatible heads, twin four-barrel Edelbrock carburettors, Offenhauser Hi-Rise inlet manifold and matching rocker covers, Doug's ceramic-coated headers and handmade and polished stainless steel exhaust, and it drives through a new five-speed Tremec gearbox and Detroit locker rear axle. Four-pot calliper front disc brakes with servo stop it, and there are new Torque Thrust D American Racing wheels shod with fresh Cooper tyres, plus tinted glass. This extremely rare and desirable early muscle car in near concours condition and with mileage believed but not warranted to be under 21,000, was the subject of a four-page article in the September 2006 edition of Classic American magazine.

Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions

Chevrolet Impala SS 1961

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