Car: Chevrolet Bel Air “Bubble Top” Coupe
What makes it special: Chevrolet’s Bel Air was produced by for the 1950–1981 model years. Initially only the two door hardtops in the Chevrolet model range were designated with the Bel Air name from 1950 to 1952, as distinct from the Styleline and Fleetline models for the remainder of the range. The Bel Air version of the popular 1961 Chevrolet “Bubble Top” is fairly rare, you just don’t see very many around anymore. Like all Bel Air models from ’59 forward, it was one trim level down from the Impala. It featured different exterior trim moldings and different interior.
What made it famous: For 1961, Chevrolet again had a totally new body, not just new sheet metal. Its wheelbase remained 119 in, but its length was now reduced slightly to 209.3 in. The Bel Air 2-door sedan used squared-off roof styling and large wrap-around rear window as opposed to the hardtop’s swept-back design. The Bel Air 4-door Sport Hardtop still used a different roof line than did the 4-door sedan. All engines options of the previous year remained in effect with the standard engines being the 235.5 Inline-Six of 135 hp or the 283 V8 of 170 hp. A range of optional powerplants included three 348 big-block V8’s from 250 to 350hp, and the 360hp, 409 V8. Bel Air’s were faster than the Impala models, turning quarter-mile times of 12.83 seconds with the new 409.
Why I would want one: I think anyone into cars wants a famed “Bubble Top” Chevrolet, whether it’s a Biscayne, Bel Air or Impala model. It’s one of the most iconic automotive designs of the 1960’s.
Fun fact: The last Bel Airs for the U.S. were manufactured for 1975. For 1976, a lower-trimmed Impala “S” four-door sedan was a one-year offering which had less standard equipment than regular Impalas and functioned as a replacement for the Bel Air.