The SS was a new package on Chevrolet’s aggressive looking Impala line for 1961. Although no body knew it at the time, it was really one of the first ‘muscle cars’ produced and this has helped earn it a place in auto history. Presenting a slimmer profile with a large glass area and virtually no rear fins, the Impala was a sub series of the basic Biscayne and Bel Air models that formed the backbone of the Chevrolet range, yet it was a very different type of car. The shape dated back to the sea gull wing 1959 design. The SS, a dealer fitted option package, featured leather grained vinyl upholstery, bucket seats, swirl pattern instrument panel inserts, a silver anodized rear panel and special wheel trims. Power came from a choice of the five V8s, ranging in size from a relatively ‘soft’ hydraulic lifter 283 cu.in. (4639cc) unit 230 bhp, to a wild solid lifter 360 bhp 409 cu.in (6704cc) limp.Thus equipped, the Impala was a real brute, capable of 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 7.8 seconds. SS models came with power brakes and steering, and had their suspension up rated with heavy duty shock absorbers and springs.
The drum brakes came with sintered metallic linings in an attempt to address the problem of fade during high speed use. The Impala spear head a brief American domination of saloon car racing in Europe where, driven by such legendary talents as Graham Hill and Dan Gurney, the Impala showed it could keep up with, and sometimes even beat, the MK II Jaguars who had grown used to having it all their own way in European competitors.