1961 Chevrolet Impala / Photos, Specs and History

The Chevrolet Impala came on the scene in 1958. It was created as a new high level, sporty trim package created for the popular Chevy Bel Air. The Impala became a model of it’s own in 1959 in two and four door versions.

1961 chevy impala photo
1961 Chevy Impala

The car featured in this article is a 1961 Chevy Impala Two Door Sedan which was added to the line in 1961 and that year only. As a result there were not a great number sold and today the Two Door Impala Sedan is a sought after collector car. The Chevy Impala Two Door Sedan had a 1961 production total of about 153,000 vehicles.

Chevy’s New Super Sport

During mid year production for 1961 an SS “Super Sport” kit was also added. It was available only on the top-line Impala. Along with that was the new big Turbo Fire 409 cubic inch engine that delivered 360 horsepower. Both of these additions proved to be very popular with car buyers. It’s interesting to note that only about  443 of the Impala SS models were produced in 1961. You can run across some people today that may not even know that Chevy produced an SS model in 1961. These are certainly rare collector cars today.

To give you an idea of how well the SS models caught on, production totals for 1962 were approximately 100,000 vehicles…in 1963, approximately 153,000 vehicles and in 1964, approximately 185,000 vehicles. The V-8 hardtop and convertible model SS Impala are the top collector cars as of today.

61 chevy impala tail lights
Distinctive taillights on the 61 Chevy Impala

The 1961 Chevy Impala

The Chevrolet Impala is a full size Chevrolet and was the Chevy Division’s most costly passenger vehicle at the time during the early 1960’s. It was also the best selling full size passenger car in America. It held that position for about a decade. In 1965 Chevrolet sold some 1 million Impalas which achieved a record.

The 1961 Impala was the beginning of the third generation Impala and as such was restyled. Probably the biggest design difference and one you’d readily see is that the 61 Impala’s had no tail fins. The 61 model did still remain on the GM B-Body and kept the 119.0 inch wheelbase. The new 61 Impala was a bit shorter than the 60 model (1 1/2 inches) but still kept the three taillight design that the model was noted for. It was those tail lights that differentiated the Impala from Chevy’s other full size models. In fact, the three taillight design became an Impala trademark.

Chevrolet Impala advertisements for the 1961 model year stressed comfort. Touted were wider doors and bigger seats, easy to reach and see dashboard and an easy to load trunk. Impala was also advertised as elegant and luxurious and with a clean new style. In essence, Chevrolet advertising in 61 was saying…”No matter what you say, you won’t find a car that pays more attention to your comfort than the jet-smooth 61 Chevy.”

1961 Chevrolet Impala Specifications

There were five different engines available for the 1961 Chevy Impala including both six and eight cylinders. The six was called a High Thrift 6 which was 233 cubic inches putting out 135 horsepower. Among the eight cylinder engines were two versions of the Turbo Fire Eight 283 cubic inch models, one delivering 170 horsepower and the other 230 horsepower. The others were two versions of the Turbo-Thrust 343 cubic inch V-8, one delivering 250 horsepower and the other 280 horses.

61 chevy impala ss
Front view of the 61 Impala

As mentioned above, the Turbo-Fire 409 cubic inch V-8 came out during mid year that put out 360 horses. Chevrolet was known to spend a lot of money on engine development and the powerful 409 from 1961 was certainly a product of that.

Five transmissions were available in 1961 which included a Turboglide, Powerglide and Overdrive automatic along with a three and four speed manual Synchromesh.

Dimensions for the 1961 Chevy Impala included a wheelbase of 119.0 inches, an overall length of 209.3 inches, a width of 78.4 inches, and a height of 55.5 inches. Chevrolet Impala also produced a “Nomadstation wagon in 1961 with these exact same dimensions.

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61 chevy impala dashboard
Dashboard on 1961 Chevrolet Impala

The Popular 1961 Impala Collector Cars

The 1961 Chevy Impala’s represented the first model year of the third generation Impala. The distinctive new styling of that year is popular along with the rare Impala Two-Door Sedan offered for that year only.

Asking prices today for restored 1961 Chevrolet Impalas can be found in a range of, in general, perhaps $40,000 to $70,000 depending on degree of restoration and originality. You might find a few higher than this. In addition, 61 Chevy Impala SS models for sale have sold for $90,000 plus and another had an asking price approaching $200,000.

(Article and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline)