Power, Speed, and … Rust: Three Pedals ’61 Impala Bubbletop Build

Here at Three Pedals we love big cars from the 50’s and 60’s, and the ’61 Impala bubbletop is one of our favorites.  Follow along as we complete a frame-off resto-mod build up of our very own ’61, on a Roadster Shop chassis, powered by an LS7 and a T56 Magnum 6 speed manual.

A while back I – Josh Korsower – bought this ’61 Impala bubbletop, planning to do some bolt-on modifications while driving it.  Sounds easy enough when you buy a driving car, right?  That plan was sacked when I discovered that the floors and inner rockers were completely rusted out. Somewhere in its recent history, a prior owner riveted sheetmetal over rusty floors and bondo’d the heck out of it.  Some crafty undercoating hid things underneath, and they felt solid from above.  Next time, I assure you, pre-purchase inspection will include a good roll-back of the carpet.

The only way to repair it properly would be to remove the body from the frame, to enable access to the bottom of the body.  The rotisserie has now eclipsed the plasma cutter as my favorite tool.

My plan for this car always included a modern drivetrain, including fuel injection and an overdrive transmission, hiding under the old body.  And who doesn’t love big disc brakes? I plan to drive this car often, and pretty much like I stole it.  And yeah, air conditioning is a must.

In terms of the right frame for this car – I’ve always hated the x-frame that comes under ’58 – ’64 full size Chevy’s. There are a lot of bolt on parts that help you put lipstick on the pig address the twisty x-frame, but now that the Roadster Shop has come out with their new frame for these cars, I had to have it.

Here’s the build plan:

  • 1961 Chevrolet Impala “bubbletop” 2 door hardtop with some subtle body mods
  • Roadster Shop chassis with independent rear suspension
  • GM LS7 engine – 505 HP stock, but we won’t leave it stock
  • 335/20 rear and 275/19 front tires on Grudge wheels – designed by Grip Equipped and made by Forgeline
  • Baer 6 piston front / 4 piston rear disc brakes
  • Subtle interior mods – mostly factory look, with a lot of custom mods
  • Last but not least, a Tremec T56 Magnum 6 speed manual transmission

Thanks to Ben Hermance for the excellent rendering you see above.

Follow our build here.

As purchased, she was pretty shiny

But she had a bad case of rust.  Here’s a shot of the driver’s side rocker, after the floors were cut out.

So the body had to come off

And the paint was stripped

And a Roadster Shop frame was ordered

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