20 year 61 Bubbletop project from Vermont

Bubble

Member
Supporting Member 1
#1
Just wanted to share my story with you guys.
When I saw my first 61 Chevy as a kid I knew it was the car for me.
I finally had a chance to buy one in my early twenties and I scooped it up.
It was a 1961 Bel Air 2 door sedan, Tuxedo black with a 235 and powerglide.
It had 68,000 miles and came from New Hampshire.
Up top it looked great but underneath it was rusty.
I shelled out the $1000.00 and had my dream car.
I had such great expectations and was going to do a complete frame off restoration with 409 and 4 speed. I had little money and even less experience.



At first I just cleaned it up and drove it around for a while.
Then some guys from new York that were working on a road crew showed up with a 61 Impala 4 door HT. It was in primer but had a 283 with headers and a glide and not rusty. I purchased it for $500, and drove it for a summer until the brakes gave out.
At this point I decided to put the 283 in the Bel Air part out the 4 door and start my ground up restoration using the door slammers frame.



So I stripped the frame bare sand blasted, and painted the frame and just started to buy and install all new suspension components from PST.

At that point I finally found a 61 Impala Bubbletop in Stafford Springs CT for $1500.
It had ben sitting in a barn for years and had not been on the road since 1975, also it had been a drag car in the Baltimore area.



So my frame was mostly done and unfortunately I was unable to continue to store 3 cars. I had to consolidate and took the best of the 3 to make one car. This is where life got in the way and unfortunately the restoration had to wait. Thankfully I was able to keep it but you can't work on it when you only have a foot of clearance around it and all the parts are piled in or on it. So it sat like this for ten years.

About a year ago fed up with having lost sight of my dream, I decided to just make it happen. Every week I do something, and it will all add up in the end. In my mind this car was going to be the most perfect and authentic restoration possible. In reality now i have lowered expectations. Just get it running and make it as nice a driver as I can.
Not having the resources to make it perfect stopped me from doing anything at all.

So, for now no 409 or 4 speed. I'll have to settle for a 350 sbc and th350 and just be happy to have it.

Don't give up on your dreams and just make it happen.

 

Bubble

Member
Supporting Member 1
#2
Waiting for the snow to melt

Once these snow banks are gone I will be able to drive my car out of the garage for the first time ever. It's not road ready yet but all the brakes, suspension, steering, engine, transmission, rear end and exhaust have been take care of over the winter.













 

jim_ss409

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 5
#4
Looking good!:beerbang
I think you've got the right attitude. You just have to keep plugging away at it. Pretty soon it all starts to come together and you'll find that you'll really enjoy working on it.
There aren't a lot of people that can say they've totally built a car from the ground up.
 

Nuts

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 10
#8
Great looking project.... Thanks for posting picture, some of us can't read !!! :roll:roll

Only thing that would make it better is a "W" under that hood...

Bill
 

Bubble

Member
Supporting Member 1
#9
I do hope someday to have a W motor.
But for now I just need to get the rest of the car together.
Then I can think about a swapping for a W.
Just one step at a time...

Thanks for all the kind words.
 

Bubble

Member
Supporting Member 1
#10
My first sunday drive

I couldn't go very far due to the lingering snowbanks but it was fun to be able to pull it out of the garage under it's own power for the first time in the 20 years I have owned it.


:roll



 

jester

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 5
#11
I couldn't go very far due to the lingering snowbanks but it was fun to be able to pull it out of the garage under it's own power for the first time in the 20 years I have owned it.
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Excellent, another one saved. Drive that beauty and enjoy it.
 
#12
Good to see...

So good to see other "DREAMERS" projects takeing shape...It gives me more enthusiam for my projects..Glad that you took lots of pictures...I also had a two door 61 sedan but sold it and am still looking to try to find the guy who bought it as I know it is in storage....I miss that old car..Steve
 

Bubble

Member
Supporting Member 1
#14
The long wait is finally over. My car is at the body shop. Now I just need to get that Camaro out of the way and get busy.

 

1961BelAir427

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 3
#17
When I saw my first 61 Chevy as a kid I knew it was the car for me.
About a year ago fed up with having lost sight of my dream, I decided to just make it happen. Every week I do something, and it will all add up in the end. In my mind this car was going to be the most perfect and authentic restoration possible. In reality now i have lowered expectations. Just get it running and make it as nice a driver as I can.
Not having the resources to make it perfect stopped me from doing anything at all.
Don't give up on your dreams and just make it happen.

You just summed up my story. The part about "not having the resources to make it perfect stopped me from doing anything at all." really hits home.

I'm glad you are finally getting to enjoy your 61. Give an update when you can.
 
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