1961 Chevrolet “Bubble Top” Impala

For the model years 1959 to 1962, the full size Chevrolet line-up included what has become to be known as the “Bubble Top” hardtop.  This “Bubble Top” design had a thin rear roof pillar and an oversized rear window.

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (2)

1961 Chevrolet “Bubble Top” Impala

Of the years that this model was available, I believe that the 1961 model year is the most iconic of this design.

The wheels on the car shown in this post are clearly after-market wheels.

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (3)

Note The Thin Section Of The Rear Roof Pillar

On the wide side insert on the Impala, there is a standard Impala crossed-flags symbol.  This means that this is a “Sport Coupe” model.  Higher optioned models would have a “SS” overlay on this symbol which stands for the Super Sport option.  The Super Sport option included beefed-up suspension with higher rate springs and heavy-duty front and rear shocks.  It is thought that 453 1961 Chevrolet Impalas had the Super Sport option and of those cars, 142 had the very powerful 409 cubic inch engine.

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (6)

The “Bubbletop” Design Had A Large Rear Window

One design feature that was included on all of the 1961 Chevrolet Impala models was the use of three separate lights on each side of the back.  The Biscayne and Bel Air models only had two lights per side.

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (1)

The Chevrolet Impala Has A Small Block V8 Engine

This car had a small block V8 engine which is likely a 283 cubic inch V8 engine, if it is the original engine in this car.  In 1961 the available optional engines in the full size Chevrolet line-up were the as follows:

  • 235 cubic inch 6-cylinder  – 135 HP
  • 283 cubic inch V8 – 170 HP
  • 283 cubic inch V8 – 230 HP
  • 348 cubic inch V8 – 250 to 350 HP
  • 409 cubic inch V8 – 360 HP (available on Impala SS only)

It appears to me that this 1961 Chevrolet Impala has the four-barrel carburetted 283 cubic inch V8 engine that produced 230 HP.

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (4)

This Car Has A 4-Speed Manual Transmission

The 1961 Chevrolet Impala shown in this post had the optional 4-speed manual transmission.  Other available transmissions were the standard 3-speed manual transmission and the 2-speed automatic “Powerglide” transmission.

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (8)

A Floor-Mounted Shifter With The Bench Seat

This 1961 Chevrolet Impala appears to be fitted with air conditioning.  I believe that the air conditioning control is the unit hanging below central portion of the dash.  The girl on the dash was not a option as far as I know!

Chevrolet Impala Hardtop 1961 (5)

The 1961 Chevrolet Impala Has A Rather Nice Interior

The 1961 Chevrolet Impala was a full size six-passenger vehicle.  In 1961, the base price for the Impala “Bubbletop” coupe with the standard 170 HP V8 engine cost about $2,700.   By comparison, a base 1961 Corvette roadster sold for about $3,950.

The “Bubbletop” design was still available up to 1962, but by the 1962 model year, the “Bubbletop” design was only available in the slightly lower Bel Air trim level.

This post about the 1961 Chevrolet “Bubbletop” Impala is a good excuse for me to include one of my favorite photos.  The photo (Artemis Images) below shows Louis Unser during the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb in 1961 driving a 1961 Chevrolet “Bubbletop” hardtop.  He is driving to the limit!

Louis UnseratPikesPeak

Louis Unser’s Chevrolet At Pike’s Peak

Sights like in the photo above are no longer available as the road up to the top of Pike’s Peak is now paved.

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6 Responses to 1961 Chevrolet “Bubble Top” Impala

  1. Greg G says:

    That roof line was shared across the GM platforms, even staid old Caddy sported a version.

  2. dontwannascreenname says:

    The ’59 and ’60 models were more often referred to as the “batwing” Chevys while the ’61 and ’62 were more likely to be referred to as “bubble tops”.

  3. scOtt says:

    My 4-speed, dual-quad, posi-traction 409!

  4. K Harding says:

    I had always referenced my 60 El Camino as a bubble but I like the idea of the BatWing as well. Always learning

  5. Kasey Johnson says:

    I’ve been trying to get a print of that Unser pic for years.

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