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Chevrolet Bel Air


1961 Chevrolet Bel Air and Biscayne

1961 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan
The 1961 Chevrolet Bel Air 4-door sedan
was toned down from previous versions.

The 1961 Chevrolet Bel Air and 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne clearly showed the influence of Bill Mitchell, who had headed GM styling since 1959. Though far from compact, the totally redesigned Chevrolets -- a tad shorter and narrower, but roomier than ever with their widened door openings -- were called "parkable."

Freshly sloped A-pillars nearly eliminated the annoying "dogleg" below the windshield. Final vestiges of tailfins disappeared.

The '61s were also claimed to have "the most quiet, vibration-dampened, relaxing ride you've ever tried," assisted in that quest by the rugged X-built Safety-Girder frame.

An easy-to-reach instrument console placed everything, including the glovebox, ahead of the driver. Seats were higher, but trunk sills sat lower, extending full width for easier luggage loading.

Billed as "America's most popular model," the Bel Air assortment included both a hardtop Sport Coupe and a Sport Sedan, along with pillared sedans. Low-budget Biscayne sedans sold the slowest, as usual. Six station wagons rounded out the lineup. Model-year output totaled 330,000 Bel Airs, 201,000 Biscaynes, and 168,900 wagons.

Chevy promoted 24 power teams, centered on five transmissions. Outputs for the 348 cubic inch big-block V-8 ranged from 250 to 280 horsepower (with 305-, 340-, and 350-horse versions listed as "special order" options) while the 283 cubic inch V-8 delivered either 170 or 230 horsepower.

1961 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan
Even the Chevrolet Bel Air two-door Sedan
shed its fins for 1961.

1961 Chevrolet Bel Air and Biscayne Facts

Model

Weight range (lbs.)

Price range (new)

Number built

Biscayne

3,390-3,505

$2,175-$2,423

201,000 (approx.)

Biscayne Fleetmaster

3,410-3,500

$2,230-$2,391

3,000 (approx.)

Bel Air

3,430-3,555

$2,384-$2,596

330,000 (approx.)

Station Wagon

3,845-3,935

$2,653-$3,099

168,900 (approx.)

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