Sunday, February 15, 2015

Show Car Sunday returns with a satiny black spaceship!

I was walking through the south side of Williamsburg many months back when the weather was warmer and I happened upon this amazing ride:

Such a sleek yet tough cruiser! What we have here is a 1961 Chevrolet Impala hardtop coupe. In '61 the 2 door hardtop was known as the Bubbleback due to the rear window curving up onto the beginning of the roof much like the top of the windshield.

This is the Space Age for vehicle design so everything is sleek and futuristic. Since Sputnik was launched into orbit in '57 the public was fascinated by the notion of spaceships, rockets, and martians. Most illustrations of the era for spaceships and futuristic driverless cars looked much like this Chevy.

The clean lines of this ride make this one of my all-time favorite Chevys. I would like to give a shout-out to the owner for NOT hanging fuzzy dice on the mirror!

Not every car can get away without hubcaps but this one does it really well. The fact that this is done up in the mildest Rockabilly style with satin black paint and chrome lugnuts helps the cause.

This is before safety regulations when the imagination of the designer decided every little detail. This windshield is a great example, wrapping around the sides as well as curving slightly up to the roof. I love the rounded outline of the door glass with only the thinnest strip of metal separating the side and front window trim. The red interior is MEAN on this ride.

The steering wheel has been replaced with a somewhat generic version but it's less offensive than most. Too bad a better interior shot was impossible at night because the dash is great.

Here is the namesake Bubbleback rear window in all its glory. With those tiny pillars holding up the roof this was not the car you wanted to roll over in an accident, but the look is very light and elegant.

The years leading up to this one had fins that were more like batwings and gobs of chrome. This year moved in a very restrained and subtle direction.

One of the trademarks for the top-of-the-line Impala was having 6 individual lights on the rear. The lower Bel Air and base Biscayne each had 4 total lights making the Impala easy to identify.

This is an older style Chevy logo entering its final years of use before evolving. 1955 saw the first year of this edition.

Bumper cars of yore mimicked this rear end. This Impala's in fantastic shape for being 54 years old!

This fuzzy picture isn't the best but those checkered flags next to Impala made an impression on me as a kid. I have drawings of cars from when I was 6 or 7 and one of the details I liked to add were checkered flags which I must've seen on somebodys ride.

On a clean design without the excess gaudiness of the '50s these little details are plenty to convey sportiness. Faux vents never looked so good in my opinion. The ridiculously cheap looking '80s rear deck speakers would be pretty unforgivable but the car's so cool that it doesn't matter.

If I were a hitman I would insist of driving around in this thing.

Just further proof that this Impala is ready for orbit.

In high school the father of a girl I knew had a 4 door '61 Impala sitting on jackstands in their driveway. I asked him about it and he told me I could have it for $50 because he put a new radiator in it. The quarter panels were rusted to oblivion and it had a straight-6 cylinder in it but I was obsessed with the lines. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn't have a driveway I could tow an old wreck to so I had to pass. I've wanted one ever since and couldn't contain my excitement finding this beast!

In '61 the blue bow-tie logo was tiny and ensconced within this wider emblem. In the coming years the red and white portions of this emblem would fall away and the bow-tie on its own would become the Chevy logo (which is how it started back in 1915).

One more look at this righteous beast before wrapping it up. The inspection sticker in the windshield was the 10 day temporary kind that you get when you first register a car in New York State. Who knows if this was a recent purchase by the current owner or if it was in storage until the warmer months arrived, but either way it's awesome. These are getting seriously collectible as the bubbleback roofline was 1961 only, but they did build a bunch of them so they are available. I'm guessing this ride in this condition will run you around 15 to 20 grand, with restored originals going much higher. If the Mega Millions ticket I'm about to check is a jackpot you'll see me in one right away!

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