Streetside Classics-Dallas/Fort Worth
5400 Sandshell Dr
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX
There are only a select few cars that have been cool from the moment they were built, and the 1961 Chevrolet Impala Bubbletop is one of them. No matter what a build may change, it remains an American icon that will forever look fantastic. This frame-off restored, SS427 resto-mod packs insane big block power via a 427 V8 Corvette crate engine mated to a smooth-shifting AOD transmission, meets the road a narrowed-and-tubbed rear end, and turns heads with its blazing Torch Red on Red color combination that practically sears the eyes. Full stop, this might be the first time that anyone has actually improved upon a '61 Imp Bubbletop. If that's not a compliment, then I don't know what is.
If you're getting tired of the somewhat ubiquitous styling of the 1950s, this dazzling 1961 Imp is the antidote. Fins are gone, replaced by sleek, sculpted quarter panels that look fast just sitting still. And with that much sheetmetal, it would be easy to go astray during the restoration, yet the guys in charge of putting this one right took the time to eliminate any potential ripples, they aligned the gaps precisely, and bolted everything together with far more care than the factory could ever manage. The Torch Red paint is about as close to perfect as you can get (seriously, if 'perfect' wasn't such a subjective concept, we'd definitely use it here they don't get much better than this), and it has a depth and clarity that you simply don't see on resto-mods. It's obvious that a large portion of the restoration was spent on paint and bodywork and my goodness did they get it every square inch of this sled right. The long trim spears with contrasting inserts make the already Imposing Imp look about a mile long and low enough to limbo, and with the beefy, tubbed-out rear-end out back, it looks like a crouching tiger, ready to pounce and collect the pink slips of an-and-all challengers. Bumpers are beautifully re-chromed, the trick gun sight ornaments atop the front fenders are crisply rendered, and all six taillight lenses (an Impala staple) are in outstanding condition. We could go on and on, but bottom line, all you need to do is picture the best looking '61 Impala you've ever seen, and then understand that this one is even better.
Bright red is the smart choice in your Torch Red Impala, because if you're going for it you might as well go all the way, and the fully restored interior in this one looks downright amazing. The pristine red seat covers replicate the originals exactly and offer true six-passenger comfort, although we'll have to take the builder's word for it because it sure doesn't seem like they've ever been sat in. Exquisite door panels are spectacularly ornate pieces with silver inserts and jet-exhaust-like armrest trim, and the gorgeous carpets replicate the original weave and texture and are protected by black vinyl mats with Bowtie emblems. The two-tone steering wheel mounted atop an Ididit tilt column was restored back to stock, and you guessed it, it looks completely untouched, while the bright gauge bezel just ahead of it is now filled a vast array of digital/analog units that look so good you'll struggle to keep your eyes on the road. The same goes for the dash, which was impeccably restored and lined with bling to a level GM never dreamed of, and with a reproduction All Transistor Radio in the center it maintains the spirit of the original design. That center console is the largest deviation from stock inside, but it's a welcome sight filled with a big VDO multimedia screen that handles the entertainment and a back-up camera, a set of billet cup holders, and switches for the power windows. An under-dash Vintage Air A/C system was installed to look like it always belonged, and the modern hardware and R134a refrigerant inside fills the spacious hardtop coupe with ice-cold air. As you might expect, the rear seat is so clean Howard Hughes would comfortably kick his feet up back there, and the giant trunk is extremely clean with a gray mat set, relocated battery, and oversized fuel cell.
In 1961, the top motor was the mighty 409, but this Imp does it a few better by packing a thundering L-88 427 cubic inch big block Corvette V8 under the hood. It's clearly dressed for show with black enamel on the block and a bunch of polished and chromed bits, ranging from the aluminum intake, to the blacked-out '427 Chevrolet' valve covers, to the serpentine drive system. The firewall was smoothed and coated with Torch Red paint, while the inner fenders are gloss black, and with ceramic-coated Hooker headers, a chrome open-air cleaner decked out with proper decals, and chromed-out alternator, compressor, and master cylinder all add so much bling under the hood you'll want to pop the hood everywhere you go. Other upgrades include HEI ignition, a giant aluminum radiator with dual electric fans, and a Holley 770CFM 4-barrel carburetor that all help
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