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1961 Chevrolet Impala Spent 28 Years in a Junkyard, Now It Runs and Drives Again

One of the most desirable classics, the Chevrolet Impala debuted in 1958 as a top-of-the-line trim on the Bel Air full-size. In 1959, Chevrolet turned it into an independent nameplate that soldiered on for nine generations.
abandoned 1961 Chevrolet Impala 7 photos
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Come 2022, and early Impalas are among the most sought-after Chevrolets. But as popular as they are with collectors, first- and second-gen Impalas (1959-1964) are also a common sight in junkyards. Some get saved and restored, while others rot away after decades of neglect.

This 1961 example, an early second-generation model, is one of the lucky ones. Retired in a junkyard in the mid-1990s, this Impala came back to life after 28 years of exposure to the elements.

Saved by YouTube's "Mortske Repair," the four-door hard-top agreed to fire up and turned out to be solid enough to hit public roads again. What's under the hood, you ask? Well, nothing fancy, really, as this full-size draws juice from a 235-cubic-inch (3.9-liter) inline-six.

Rated at 135 horsepower when new, the Turbo Thrift is a rather anemic choice given that Chevrolet offered quite a few V8s back in the day, including the 409-horsepower 409-cubic-inch (6.7-liter) Turbo Thrust, but having a running mill is a blessing after almost three decades of sitting.

So is this Impala worth saving? Well, it's surprisingly complete given its long stint at the junkyard. All the exterior trim is in place, and the cabin looks decent beyond the dirt, the bench seats, and the headliner. And it has a nice two-tone interior too.

Granted, there's not much you can do with the old inline-six in terms of upgrades, but the aftermarket is packed with LS-based solutions that fit under the hood. And why not? It could also be fitted with an original V8 from the early 1960s with so many other Impalas abandoned in junkyards.

But until it becomes a road-worthy Impala, let's watch this old gal hit the street under its own power for the first time in 28 years.

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