5-6 October 2017

The Ralph Whitworth Collection

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Lot 174

1961 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 Sport Coupe

  • Chassis no. 11837L155023

Sold for $115,500

  • Offered from the estate of Ralph Whitworth
  • One of only 142 Super Sports equipped with the 409
  • Beautifully presented in Arbor Green

California is the home of car culture, so it is no surprise that the car songs of the 1960s came out of the surfing crowd. Chief among them were the Beach Boys, whose “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Fun, Fun, Fun . . . (’til her daddy takes the T-Bird away)” ruled the charts. It all began, however, with Chevy’s legendary 409, the inspiration for the song by that name released in June 1962 as the B-side of their first single for Capitol Records, “Surfin’ Safari.”

The car that gave birth to the song was announced in December 1960. Coinciding with the debut of the Impala Super Sport option, the 409 was a bored and stroked version of the big-block 348, introduced for the 1958 season. Initially rated at 360 bhp with a single Carter AFB four-barrel, it had solid lifters, a new forged steel crankshaft, 11.25:1 compression, and a more aggressive camshaft. The only transmission choice was a four-speed manual.

The Super Sport package included both trim and chassis enhancements. “SS” emblems were prominently displayed, and the springs and shock absorbers were beefed up. Other ingredients were power steering and brakes, metallic brake linings, a column-mounted tachometer, spinner wheel covers, and narrow whitewall tires. Most prominent was a grab bar for the right front passenger, hinting at the power that the Super Sport could deliver. Just 453 Impalas received the SS option in 1961, 311 with 348s, and a paltry 142 with the 409.

This example is among those few optioned with the 409 V-8. It has been beautifully restored in its original Arbor Green and presents exceptionally well throughout. Offered from the collection of the late Ralph Whitworth, this ultimate ’61 Impala SS sport coupe would be a crowning piece to any collection of American muscle. Rare in its day and rarer today, this is the archetypal 409.

“Nothing can catch her, nothing can touch my 409 . . . ”

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more