If you mention Chevrolet Impala in a motorsports context, most people will think of 409-cubic-inch V-8-powered coupes blasting down a quarter-mile stretch of pavement. One particular 1961 Chevrolet Impala, featured in the latest Petrolicious video, traveled across the pond to England at the direction of Dan Gurney. And it almost topped the podium in its first race.
The Impala was ordered new by Gurney in police-spec. That meant bigger brakes and heavy-duty suspension—a great start for racing preparation. Gurney rebuilt the engine, put the car on a boat, and sent it straight from America to Silverstone in the UK. He led a saloon series race from the flag, but was forced to retire as a rear wheel broke with two laps to go. New NASCAR-spec wheels were fitted, but due to homologation paperwork, Gurney never got to race the car again.
Covered in a dark-blue-and-white paint scheme, with a gumball 37 on the door, the car’s connection to Gurney what sold it for Ed Foster. Following a conversation about adding an Impala to the race group for the Goodwood Revival vintage races, his interest was set aflame. He hadn’t heard of a road-racing Impala previously, but once he learned of Gurney’s connection, he wanted to find the car.
Foster hoped to buy a collector car as an investment but also wanted one that he could enjoy. He watched the Porsche market rise and move off into the distance, knowing a flat-six from Stuttgart was not going to be the best use of his money at that point. His search for the Gurney Impala led him Stateside, where he called every phone number registered to the owner’s name until he located the right guy. It took a few weeks to finalize the deal, but the car eventually headed back to England with Foster.
Foster initially planned to race the Impala in the Goodwood Revival, but the changes to the car that were required to pass the tech inspection proved to be too much to a mostly-original car. So he now enjoys it on the backroads, where the booming exhaust note can reverberate off the trees as he holds tight to the thin-rimmed steering wheel, trying not to slide around on the bench front seat. Sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon in a pretty special car.