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1961 Chevy Impala SS - Charmaine's Classic Cruiser

Three Generations Later, This Bubbletop Is Back

Mike Harrington Jun 25, 2006
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No doubt about it, the 409-powered Impala was the original crown prince of 1960s American muscle. Eulogized by popular songwriters of the era, the Chevy 409 made its mark with the American consumer. During this era, in Southern California, a young lady was doubtlessly affected by the mystique surrounding this vehicle and its powerplant.

As the story goes, Charmaine Hindeland purchased this car off the lot in 1962 for her father to own and drive. Several years later after her father's passing, Charmaine again came into possession of this '61 Bubbletop. Her husband, Rudy, immediately threw on a set of baby Moons to give the car the right look. And wouldn't you know it, the very next day the car disappeared from the driveway! Luckily, the car was found a few days later sitting on cinder blocks, minus its wheels and tires.

Sucp_0606_02_z 1961_chevy_impala_SS Rear_view 3/11

Years later, the family moved and Charmaine parked her daily-driven bubbletop in the family barn where it sat for nearly a decade. Rudy eventually started to get the car ready for the local demolition derby night, but Charmaine promptly put a stop to that nonsense. And aren't we glad that it never ended up as scrap?

Charmaine and Rudy had a couple of sons, Rudy Jr. and Clint. Both boys were coming of age and were also glad their mom's ride never got demolished, because now it was their turn to have a go at this bubbletop. Although Junior and Clint were now the carriers of this torch, it was still mom's car, and she wanted a show car to one-up her husband. Her sons were all too happy to help her get there.

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In 2002, the Impala was painted sunset pearl, lowered with a set of 20s on all four corners, and then sent to the upholstery shop. All this took place in Phoenix, Arizona, at Clint's home. But lightning struck twice, and the Impala was once again stolen from the driveway! Four months later, it was found on a trailer, minus the wheels, tires, stereo, and other good stuff. The thieves also managed to do some nasty stuff to the paint and body. Making lemonade out of lemons, the Impala underwent some extensive surgery to make it better than before. The car was once again repainted in sunset pearl, every bit of metal under the hood was chromed or polished, Clint installed the Air Ride system, threw on a set of 20-inch Intro wheels with Falken 255/35/20s. Now it was time for the interior. Five times Charmaine wasn't satisfied with the interior, and five times the car was sent back to the shop. After all was said and done, this Impala made its debut at the SEMA show in 2003 at the Meguiar's booth. And yes, Charmaine does enjoy one-upping her husband at car shows, and she's got the trophies to prove it. Sadly, she passed away in 2005. So in honor of their mother's memory and her car, Clint and Rudy will keep the 409 fired up for her.



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