1959 Chevrolet Impala
A 1959 Chevrolet Impala complete restoration.
As part of our family fleet, I have been driving this unit back and forth between Bakersfield and Corcoran quite often. With the 3.08 gears, this B-body cruises long distances effortlessly. Everything works and its weight gives it a great ride. It has also become quite useful in helping clients with decisions about all avenues of upgrades. It has all our “usual” pieces from top-to-bottom / front-to-rear. We finally slapped an EFI unit on, which was about the only thing it was missing.
BODY & PAINT:
This car needed EVERYTHING. It had rust on all panels including holes in the roof. After some of the hard-core metal work was accomplished, the body (on rotisserie) took a ride to Visalia, CA for media-blasting. The vendor that handles our powder-coating performed the media-blast and metal prep. They had recently upgraded to a coating oven big enough for a vehicle frame. So, we decided to try coating the WHOLE BODY. There is never an “easy” way to deal with getting primer or sealer onto a bare-metal body directly after stripping. There are so many nooks and crannies that need to be covered. Since powder-coating uses an electrostatic process to draw the powder towards the metal, it made sense to try powder-coating the entire body. This way, the trunk area, underneath, door jambs, body braces, EVERYTHING would be coated in one swing. It makes a great base to simply scuff and paint areas that don’t need bodywork. Where work was needed, it was simply sanded off and then normal bodywork, primer, and paint. After the red powder was cooked onto and into the car, it returned home to its black powder-coated frame.
Since we are partial to red, we wanted something that would really show off the body curves. In daily traffic, I started noticing a medium red metallic that I was seeing everywhere I went. It is called Barcelona Red Mica and since about 2008 or 2009 it is on a bunch of TOYOTA sedans. Camrys, Corollas, even on several models of Prius. For the side trim, we didn’t want to go normal black or solid red. Toyota has another color I wanted to use, which is called Magnetic Gray. It is quite dark and can even look black in the shade. It is very “neutral”, meaning it doesn’t have any other colors within the mix. No pearls or colored metallics, just gray with silver metallic. Since it was also a Toyota color, it seemed appropriate that it be used as an accent color for this paint job.
Coincidentally, the 64 Pontiac LeMans Convertible ended up being painted Barcelona Red. As I mentioned above, this 59 has been used a few times to allow clients a hands-on opportunity regarding options. In this case, the LeMans clients were debating between solid red or a metallic red. I happened to have the 59 at the shop the day they were visiting. They saw the 59 out in the sun and the decision was unanimous.
Although it is “proper” to paint a metal dash in semi-gloss or even low-gloss paint to reduce sun glare, it has become one of our signature moves to paint the dash areas just as we paint the exterior of the car(s). I’ve even sanded and buffed a few. Yes, there are definitely times when a harsh glare is present, but it is only once in a while. The car must be heading into the sun just right for it to be any type of annoyance. For us, the form outweighs the function. This car is a perfect example. Every time I drive this Impala, the curves of the dash and instrument cluster are beautifully presented.
When the body was finally ready, the PPG Barcelona Red base was applied in / out / and around. Multiple coats of PPG clear was hosed on top, sanded and buffed. All the trim was re-polished, the bumpers re-chromed, and the quarter-panel Impala trim pieces were painted with the Magnetic Gray.
CHASSIS / BRAKES / SUSPENSION:
After the original frame was blasted and powder-coated, work began on making it roll again. There are not near as many suspension upgrade choices for X-frame B-body GM vehicles. At the time of this build, GLOBAL WEST had the most complete system. Their entire kit with tubular A-arms, sway bars and 1.25” drop coil springs satisfies the handling and ride requirements. KYB shock absorbers deal with dampening uneven roadways.
Stock spindles remain up front, as does the 55P rear axle setup. Yet another complete drilled and slotted 4-wheel disc brake kit was purchased from THE RIGHT STUFF DETAIL handles the stopping chores. Hydroboost was used for the brake booster and CPP got the nod for the show-stopper master cylinder as well as the 600 series steering box. MOOG steering components receive direction via an IDIDIT tilt steering column.
WHEELS and TIRES:
Our friends at CIRCLE RACING WHEELS in Fresno milled us up a set of their fully polished 105-series wheels. 18X8 in front and 18X9.5 out back. NITTO NT555 tires are used at all four corners.
We had a decent inventory of “W-motor” parts. Mainly, 348 components since it is very difficult to located serviceable 409 pieces. Right from the start of this build we decided it was going to be powered by a W-motor or nothing at all. So, a usable 348 ensemble was dropped off at RPM in Tulare. The stock steel crankshaft went back in since we didn’t have a need to increase the stroke. Hypereutectic pistons ride on stock steel connecting rods and the entire rotating assembly was balanced. A COMPETITION CAMS XR276 hydraulic roller cam and lifters was put to use along with their pushrods, roller rockers, and appropriate valve springs. Since all new valve seats were needed in the heads, they were bumped out to utilize standard big-block Chevy intake and exhaust pieces. A pair of PML valve covers keep out the dust and debris.
Prone to overheating, the W-motor is cooled by a RON DAVIS aluminum radiator with dual SPAL fans. Dakota Digital handles the fans appropriately.
Originally, we set up a complete progressive 3×2 “tri-power” setup including proper end carbs. After break-in and the first handful of miles, one of the floats began to stick and began to dilute the oil. The two barrels were taken off and an EDELBROCK Performer RPM 4-barrel dual-plane intake was put in their place. An Edelbrock AVS carburetor worked just fine for the first few years. A complete PERTRONIX system, including their billet distributor handles combustion ignition chores. E3 Spark Plugs seem to work well in this engine and a MARCH PERFORMANCE polished serpentine system handles the accessory drive department.
After installing a few HOLLEY SNIPER EFI units we decided to bolt one on to this engine. It was really the last part needed to make the car drivable in all climates. A WALBRO fuel pump pushes fuel through SUMMIT dash-6 braided fuel line. A GF652 filter keeps the 91-octane fuel clean prior to arriving at the throttle body. A K&N air filter handles dust removal.
A TH700-R4 overdrive transmission was put behind the motor and I used the air-conditioning kick-out feature of the Sniper EFI to unlock (kick-down) the lock-up converter at about 40% throttle. A PERFORMANCE INDUSTRIES driveshaft with polyurethane bearing support transmits power to 3.08:1 ring and pinion gears. Stock axles are driven simultaneously from a stock 55P Power-Lock positraction carrier.
DOUGS HEADERS scavenge exhaust gases from the ports and funnel down through a complete stainless-steel mandrel-bend exhaust system from MAGNAFLOW.
MARK’S UPHOLSTERY covered everything in leather and put carpet down on the floors. The trunk was dressed out on this car as well. DAKOTA DIGITAL VHX gauges provide engine information, speed control and gear selection. The VINTAGE AIR Gen-IV unit keeps the interior warm or cold respectively. Power window regulators tie the side glass pieces into the elegant theme.
We used our normal AMERICAN AUTOWIRE complete harness powered by the usual OPTIMA red-top battery. As always, a CTEK on-board 4.3 amp maintainer was hard-wired and mounted. Dakota makes the very functional LED replacement tail/brake lights. HELLA replacement headlamps upgrade the forward lighting with H4 and H1 bulbs.
VENDORS / SUPPLIERS:
#Global West Suspension #KYB Shock Absorbers #The Right Stuff Detail / GetDiscBrakes #Dakota Digital #Vintage Air #American Autowire #Holley Sniper EFI
#Ron Davis Radiators #Edelbrock #Nitto Tires #Circle Racing Wheels #Lucas Oil #Doug’s Headers #K&N Filters #Magnaflow Exhaust #PPG Automotive Finishes
#Meguiars #Optima Batteries #Mark’s Upholstery #CTEK Smarter Chargers #March Performance #CPP #RPM Machine #Walbro fuel pumps #Summit Racing
#ATECH Motorsports #Performance Industries