Although no one knew it at the time, 1961 was a important year in American automobile history, with the introduction of the SS badge and options package, which would in later years earn a cherished place in the hearts of fans all over the world, but particularly in the US. The 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS was the very first to wear the name, and what a car it was. Radically different from its contemporaries, the Impala SS was a real wolf in sheep’s clothing. Its design was much toned down from what was common at the time, with smaller, almost nonexistent fins and clean, straight lines. The SS dealer-fitted package meant leather-style upholstery, bucket seats, special wheel covers and more.
The Chevrolet Impala SS was V8-powered, obviously, with a choice of five V8s. The most powerful was a 6.7-liter, 360 horsepower beast that was strong enough to push the Impala to a top speed of 135 miles per hour, and to 60 in 7.8 seconds, where were truly impressive numbers. It was available with a choice of three- and four-speed manual transmission, or an optional two-speed automatic. The great thing about the Impala was that not only did it go fast and accelerate like its going it out of style, but it could also handle extremely well for a cars its size. For a little while, with drivers such as Graham Hill and Dan Gurney at the wheel, it even dominated British saloon-car racing.
The 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS remained in production, essentially unchanged until 1964. Although it didn’t know it, it was probably one of the first muscle cars ever made.