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“Royal Red” 1961 Chevrolet Impala Bubbletop

TOM GOMEZ May 09, 2023 All Feature Vehicles

Chevrolet Classic gets a Makeover

As automotive editors, we get to see some impressive cars and trucks at the various car shows and events we attend every year and while it’s hard to choose just one, one tends to stand out a bit more than others.

We found that one.

Our friend Braedon Roller over at Cruise Industries in Ventura Califotnia made us aware of a super sano ‘‘61 Impala Bubbletop that they had recently worked on and suggested we check it out. We found out the proud owners of this immaculate Impala were Robert and Thelma Callo of Ventura California – and this isn’t their first custom car.

Robert had a ‘63 Impala SS for a while and sold it so he could buy the Bubbletop. We assume most of you know the reference to the Bubbletop Impala, but for those of you who don’t know why it’s called a Bubbletop, we will enlighten you.

There is a bit of controversy about the name and when it was coined. To the best of our knowledge, the Bubbletop was in reference to the ’61 Impala because of the roofline and the large glass in the rear window. Some say it referenced the ‘62 Impala because that was the year of the popularity of the Impala brand and the Bubbletop was available in the Belair trim model. To this editor, and most all ’61 Impala owners, the ‘61 is the true depiction of a Bubbletop-styled GM car.

So there you have it. We’re sure this will always be a topic for conversation, or argument.

Now back to our story. Robert sold his beloved ‘63 Impala to buy the ‘61 and even though it was pretty much the way you see it Robert wanted to get some upgrades and make this build his own. So it was off to Cruise Industries for additional goodies that make this ‘61 even more of a badass.

Cruise Industries started with a set of dual 485 Viair compressors and 2- 5-gallon FLO tanks coupled to ½ AVS brass valves to improve the reliability of the air suspension. 2,600 lb Slam Specialties SS-7 airbags provide the lift and also as the name sounds, slam the Chevy classic on the ground. Braedon and his crew fabricated some new front and rear shock mounts for better performance and drivability.

The ‘61 is the true depiction of a Bubbletop-styled GM car

Robert chose the iconic U.S.mags to complete the look of this red classic. 20×81/2 up front and 20×10 on the rear.  Wrapped in Lexani  235/35ZR20 tires in the front and 255/35/ZR20 in the rear. This combo looks rad and keeps with the vintage classic look of this clean Chevy.

They also added a new SS Power battery 3400D because you need maximum juice to power the Viair compressors and all the other electronics on the car.

Robert tells us the car’s color is House Of Kolor Royal Red, hence the title of this story and he spends considerable time keeping this red beauty looking spiffy. We can attest to that. As we were prepping for the photoshoot, Robert was wiping down the red Bubbletop to perfection. Good job Robert!

We all like vintage original cars and sometimes they need upgrades for various reasons and if it makes it go faster, we’re down with that. With that said, the ‘61 got an upgrade to a 350 engine and 2004R transmission for those rapid merges onto the freeways of California.

Tech Spec:

“Royal Red”
1961 Chevrolet Impala Bubbletop

Owners: Robert and Thelma Callo

Builder: Cruise Industries

Engine: Chevrolet 5.7 350

Transmission: 200 R4

Differential: Stock  3.73

Wheels: US Mags 20×81/2 front 20×10 rear

Tires: LEXANI 235/35ZR20 front 255/ 35ZR20 rear

Suspension: Dual 485 Viair compressors / ½-inch brass valves Slam Specialties 2600 lb. SS-7 Fastbags Dakota Digital gauges.

Thanks: Special thanks goes out to Braedon Roller at Cruise Industries for not only tricking out this Chevy, but also for turning us on to it as well. And to Impala owners, Robert and Thelma for spending the day with us.

Cruise Industries
1783 Callens Road
Ventura, CA 93003

If you want your classic car or truck to look as trick as Robert’s Bubbletop give Cruise Industries a call.

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