HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS

Pick of the Day: 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS

Was already fine before the Beach Boys


The Super Sport name is popular among Chevrolets during the 1960s, but the level of equipment can be confusing depending on the model. Look at the Camaro and the SS was a performance package but, for the Impala, it was a trim level with buckets and console for most years. However, for its inaugural year only, the SS was a performance package for the Impala, as exemplified by our Pick of the Day, a 1961 Impala SS with the 409 engine. It is being sold on by a private seller in Litchfield Park, Arizona. (Click the link to view the listing)

The 1961 Chevrolet is arguably the nicest of the decade, and it’s easy to see why, especially in Impala Sport Coupe form. Chevrolet eschewed the fins that had been a hallmark of the previous few years, now ushering a tidy design and proportions while maintaining the styling progression that made the brand America’s favorite. “If ever a car was right for its time, it’s Chevrolet for ’61! … Its clean lines are combined with a trim new size,” said the brochure. It was especially true when compared to Plymouth, which clearly had one foot stuck in the 1950s. Ford for 1961 was fine, but the Chevy was a step above.

Powertrain choices were similar to 1960, with the High-Thrift 6 and a wide range of small-block 283 and big-block 348 V8s available for every purse and purpose. Mid-year, Chevrolet would introduce the 360-horsepower 409, which would explode in popularity in spades starting in 1962 (going from 142 to almost 9,000) and be enshrined in popular culture by the Beach Boys.

Also new was the Super Sport package, which brought sports car style and power to the big Impala. The package required the big-block 348 with a minimum of 305 horsepower, plus four-speed or Powerglide. It also included a front-passenger assist bar, electric tachometer, padded instrument panel, special wheel covers on 14-inch wheels and whitewall tires, power steering and brakes (the latter with sintered-metallic linings), heavy-duty front and rear coil springs and shocks, and SS identification. Unlike for subsequent years, the SS package was available for four-doors.

This 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS is one of 453 built with the package, plus it is one of the hallowed few with the 409. “This car is all-original. It has not been changed since it rolled off of the showroom floor in the fall of 1961,” says the seller. Painted Tuxedo Black with red and white interior, it features a column-mounted 7000-rpm Sun tach, bumper guards, front antenna, push-button AM radio, and bench seat.

The cost for this nice mix of elegance and performance doesn’t come cheap (and, honestly, hasn’t in decades): $108,000. For that price, you get what might be the most historic full-size Chevrolet of the 1960s.

To view this listing on, see Pick of the Day.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


  1. Nice pick, Diego. My Dad had a black/white top/b&w interior real ’61 SS bought new. He worked for GM, at the Delco Remy plant in Anderson, Indiana all his working life. As a lil dude, I loved that car- the glass packs and flipped air cleaner lid made a joyous noise.
    Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy C’hanukah, and Festivus as well!

  2. 1961 was the first year for rhe 409. All 1961 ss came with the 409 and 4 speed. If you are going to do a article make sure you do your research and know what you are talking about other wise it makes you look stupid.

    • He’s terribly mistaken, but the 409 was introduced in 1961 so your friends either transplanted a 409 or they had 348s, which were from the same engine series.

  3. Diego, you are so right. 1961 was the year of introduction of the 409. My step Dad had a dealer friend in the Cleveland area who wanted him to try it for a week in 1961. He did and said it was very nice but he would have preferred an automatic trans.
    So if there were cars from the 50’s with a 409, they were mod’d after it came out in 61.


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