All of us grow up with our favorite car (or two) in mind, and we dream and scheme hoping someday we will be able to make our dream a reality. Tommy Blair of Louisville, Kentucky, is no different than any one of us. His dream as a boy was to have a '62 Chevy bubbletop, and he stayed true to that dream until one day, about four years ago, when he became aware of the '61 Chevy bubbletop that had been sitting for seven years as a basket case. Well, as the saying goes, "Best laid plans ..."

Tommy was actively looking for a bubbletop project when he came across this '61, and all of a sudden maybe the '62 wasn't such a priority. After two years of build time and plenty of miles running the roads in Kentucky, he will tell you that he is much more pleased with the lines of the '61 and couldn't be happier. Couple that with the fact that, in Tommy's words, "it went together well, everything just fell into place," and he couldn't be more pleased with his Chevy.

Chevy built 491,000 Impalas in '61, and this was one of them, but rather than the notable 409 that came out midyear, this one was a mundane 283-powered bubbletop. Not so anymore! Tommy removed the anemic small-block and replaced it with a loaded 454-inch big-block Chevy sporting 425 ponies (with a helping hand from the 750-cfm Demon carb and Sanderson headers), and behind that a TH400 to get the power back to the Chevy rearend outfitted with 3.73 gears. The housing was narrowed 1 inch, just enough to pull the 20x10 Billet Specialties HiBoys under the sheetmetal. The rears and 18x7 fronts are all shod with Fuzion rubber measuring 225/40R18 and 275/45R20.

The front end uses dropped spindles to get it down to pavement level, while in back the boys at Cool Cars positioned an Air Ride system. You can also find disc brakes in front with drums in back, both operated by a '69 Camaro master cylinder, while the steering chores fall to a Saginaw 605 box that runs through a '70 GM tilt steering column topped with a stock wheel.

The '61 sheetmetal has retained its stock appearance, but nowadays the Viper Red comes by way of PPG. Randy Riall aptly handled the bodywork, while the application of the paint was charged to Mark Elzey and Bob Lathery, both of Louisville. For the record, they painted this car in a wooden garage-must be a really nice garage!

The stock-appearing interior has been re-stitched in two-tone leather (sand and buff) by Scott's Custom Interior, and the carpeting came from the Mercedes-Benz parts department in a German box weave. Modern appointments include Vintage Air A/C, Infinity stereo system, and John Renfro-shaped aluminum dash insert, which in turn was outfitted with Mooneyes gauges. There is also a Moon tach resting at the bottom of the dash just below the A-pillar.

You may not see this '61 on the grounds if you happen to attend the Street Rod Nationals, but you should see it running the streets of Louisville. Take the time to look-it's worth it.