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Projects 1961 Impala drop top B/B found in (pole) barn

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by LowKat, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. I'm always so envious of the cool cars being found and shown here on the HAMB. Well, it finally happened to me. Not a '32 Ford but still a great car, especially with the optional 348" engine. I do have an advantage to connect with 'projects" as I work at Chevs of the 40's managing a car collection and once or twice a month assemble cars at a high end restoration shop.

    About 1-1/2 years ago, Ron, the owner of tells me to go out to his storage and pick up any "good" cars to bring back to his new museum building. I'd never been to the barn storage before so took somebody with who had been there. Here's what I saw on one side of the building when I opened the door.

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    Notice the very rare orange 1970 Ranchero 429SCJ next to the Impala. The other side of the barn held the cars I hauled off. A nice pair of '57 Ford converts, a restored 55 Packard Caribbean convert, 71 Torino 429CJ.

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    Anyway, I'm walking around looking at each car deciding which ones to haul out and the guy with me is telling me what he knows about each one.

    We get to the Impala and he tells me it belongs to a friend of Ron's and it's been there about 15 years. Also says: "I'm buying this car as soon as I have the rest of the money together. I've had it running good, I think it was rebuilt and the owner (Ray) told me he'd listen to offers in the 9-12,000 range".

    I guessed it's a $7-$8k car and forgot about it.

    Fast forward a year and he tells me he spent his "Impala money" on a bulldozer and won't be buying the car. Well, I've known Ray (car owner) a few years and have him do outside work for the museum once in a while. I figure next time I have work for Ray, I'll talk to him face to face about the Impala since I'd done my research. Ray is a very cool 82 year old, hardcore gearhead that mostly does 100 point restorations on 1920's - 1930's cars.

    A couple months before I knew the car was available I went out to the barn and picked up more cars to transport. While I was there, I looked the Impala over for the guy that was going to buy it for an originality report and I snapped these pictures. I haven't been back to see it since then and based my decision to buy off of this quickie inspection.

    Last week I had work for Ray, he came by the shop and we talked about the car.

    He's the 2nd owner. Original paint and interior. A little over 80,000 miles with the original drivetrain that has never been out. He bought it 34 years ago as a restoration candidate. Had it for 20 years before driving it to where it's now stored. Started taking it apart then had other projects push it back.

    I offered him 9g's and he said he'd have to think about it and call him in a few days. I figure he's not really ready to sell but call him and he says I'm 2k short on my offer. I say OK and a deal is struck at 11g's.

    This is gonna be fun.

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    Last edited: May 11, 2017
    Dog_Patch, 61Cruiser, oj and 7 others like this.
  2. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,635


    Love those cars. My first car was a 61 2 door hardtop.
    Not a fan of that color, but what do you care. Great find, congrats.
    scrubby2009 and Doctorterry like this.
  3. Nice find!Bruce.
  4. xhotrodder
    Joined: Jul 2, 2009
    Posts: 1,607


    I guess location, location, location is the key here. I live in Kentucky, for some reason the cars around here sell for less, than out west, up north, and down in Florida. I probably would not have paid more that $6000 for that car, but that is just me. I also had a 58 Impala 2 dr. Hardtop back in 1970, and you could not give me a 348 engine car, after all the problems I had with it. But, that is me, you are happy with your purchase, and I wish you all the luck in the world on your build. Post your progress for us to see.

  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 47,808


    Sold mine in 1985 for $500, but it only had a small block.
  6. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,699


    My favorite Chevy. I bought one in 1967 when I was 17 for $90.00. It was a two door bubble top that was in an accident and needed a right front fender. Bought a fender for something like $10.00 and was up and running over a weekend. I drove that car for years. Finally yanked the 283 out of it and put it in my Dad's 62 wagon and he ran it for another 10 years. It was a three on the tree stick shift Impala. I loved that car and think about it everytime I see one of these threads. Thanks for posting about yours.
    belair likes this.
  7. That price was steep for what it looks like you'll have to do to it but hey, not the easiest car to locate. I thought your first offer was fat by two grand. Congrats to a great addition to your garage.
  8. dorf
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 1,087

    from ohio

    good for u .but it cant be a drop top and a bubble .and for all u johnny come latelys the only real bubble tops are 62 belairs
    Doctorterry likes this.
  9. That car looks familiar. Have you posted photos of it here before?
  10. rockfish
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 445


    Don't think the original poster called it a bubble top. The B/B in the title is for big block engine.
    Doctorterry likes this.
  11. draggin'GTO
    Joined: Jul 7, 2003
    Posts: 1,760


    Great find, the Impala rag tops trade for a good dollar and it looks to me like you did well. Solid convertibles still in mostly original condition aren't all that easy to come by.

    Glad you ponied up the extra couple grand and sealed the deal, wavering and not paying that 2K almost surely would have landed that car in the hands of another more savvy buyer.
    falcongeorge and greaser like this.
  12. slammed
    Joined: Jun 10, 2004
    Posts: 8,151


    Good snag. Rarer car, lots of parts, win. 1st year Bubble Top is 1961. B/P/O/C of the Generals stable. 1962 was just the chebby. Too bad, the other makes were dropped.
  13. slammed
    Joined: Jun 10, 2004
    Posts: 8,151


    Yes, he asked about removing the primer spots.
    BrandonB likes this.
  14. Yea, kinda expensive but check what they're selling for if you can find a complete one and this one has quite a few options. I know I bought it right. Plus I can buy most restoration parts wholesale.

    There's more to the story....

    After I made the deal with him, Ray says "Oh yea, I already had the front bumper chromed and I have a new convertible top for it. I'll toss those in since you'll need 'em anyway.

    HA, the deal just got better.

    I was supposed to meet Ray for lunch the following day to exchange cash for title but he stopped by my work that day which surprised me. He knew I wouldn't have the cash. My first thought was he wanted to back out of the deal but do it face to face like a man and not over the phone.

    Instead, he brought parts, new convertible top with window and interior material that he'd promised. (Also threw in a set of top pads and boot) the original front bumper backer bracket. Said he had to unwrap some bumpers to find the correct one. (he has a lot of cars and parts)

    Oh better still...

    Ray also gave me more new stuff, a molded carpet kit and insulation, pair of kick panels, gas tank, trunk mat and a NOS accessory 'bug screen'. None of that was included with or even talked about in the original deal.

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    Now the really good part......

    He tells me "I didn't realize how much I had collected for that car over the years until looking for your stuff this morning. There's a bunch of NOS parts and accessories at my place. I think the pile is worth a couple thousand but might listen to an offer".

    I asked what was in the pile. He says: "You better just come have a look" Then I asked him if he wanted me to come next week but he replies "Wait until it's not so hot, most of it's in my garage attic and it's hotter than hell up there". I say: "Man, at least give me a hint". He tells me "Have you ever seen cruise control on a '61 Impala? How about a NOS one for the 348? Also there's everything to completely rebuild the front suspension and steering but none of it's Chinese crap". Then he adds "That should hold you over 'till we get to it"

    I might be picking up the car this Friday if nothing gets in the way.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  15. BSL409
    Joined: Aug 28, 2011
    Posts: 549


    Great find! Congrats
    mrbeetle likes this.
  16. Drug the Impala home today. Lots of thumbs up going down the freeway. Stopped at store the on way home and a guy was waiting when I came out, wanting to buy it.

    More treasures found in the back seat. NOS headpipes for the exhaust, original fender skirts, new heater core, cop style spotlight, brand new unmounted WWW bias ply tire that matched the tires on car, new nylon car cover in the bag, the chrome pieces with bullets for the front accessory grille guard and an open box of Kleenex from 1985 for the tissue dispenser.

    Headed to the DMV tomorrow for a VIN inspection since it's an out of state vehicle. I have a pretty decent original 1959-63 Oregon "Pacific Wonderland" license plate in my collection that I should be able to use.

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    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
  17. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 6,097


    So glad you got it. Saw your other thread and now you really scored big!
    So the NOS pile is still at the PO's building? Knowing it's out there would cause me to loose sleep.

    *edit* - very stylish truck/trailer towing setup you have there.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
  18. 1959Nomad
    Joined: Jun 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,133


    Looking forward to the build, its a hard to find car and with all the extras seems like a fair price.
  19. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,075

    scrap metal 48

    Good for you.. Cool story...
  20. raidmagic
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,438


    Looks like one heck of a clean car. Good luck with it.
  21. I've known the PO for a few years. He promised me 1st shot on the rest of the parts and he's a man of his word. I'm not worried. About the tow setup: I work for a car museum and this is the shop truck.
  22. greaser
    Joined: Apr 30, 2006
    Posts: 857


    Congratulations Mark! I think you really scored big time! You sure wouldn't find an unrestored '61 Chev. from New England in that condition. Some guys living outside the rust belt don't realize how good they got it. Sounds like your plan is to keep it all original.
  23. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 893

    from SoCal

    Congrats! Awesome car! It has the 1-piece "California" rear bumper, as opposed to a 3-piece bumper. The front bumper should be 1-piece also. Is it?
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
    ARNIE likes this.
  24. oldcarguygazok
    Joined: Jun 20, 2012
    Posts: 401

    from AUSTRALIA.

    Well done buddy,my first chev was a 61 4dr Belair,you know the rear veranda roof job,with a cast iron p/glide that weighed a ton,good luck with your build mate!
  25. Chevy Gasser
    Joined: Jan 23, 2007
    Posts: 700

    Chevy Gasser

    You did good. By the way, Beautiful color!
  26. Yes they were all "bubble tops "in 61.. That's why they weren't called that until 62 differentiate between the Bel Airs and the Impala hard tops.
    Carry on...
    belair likes this.
  27. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    Saw this Bubbletop discussion on the Chevytalk web site. Lots of so called experts claim that the only real Bubbletop was the 62 BelAir. To me Chevrolet Impalas and BelAir Bubbletops were from 59-62.

    Thoughts, comments?

  28. slowmotion
    Joined: Nov 21, 2011
    Posts: 3,253


    Got my vote. But the term was originally used to note the '62 Belair only bubbletop model availabale(IMO). The term is since used in reference to previous years too.
    (No expert, but my first car was a '62, been obsessed with 'em ever since.:D)
  29. biscaynes
    Joined: Mar 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,648


    congrats lowkat :cool: '61s converts are great lookers
  30. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,635


    Good for you. Never made a deal that got better after it was done.

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