1965 Chevrolet Impala - Reader Ride


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greg edminston greg edminston

This stylish sixties coupe was 'rescued' from a complete make-over

Chevrolet’s Impala name lasted an incredible time, from 1958 all the way through to 2020. This is a fourth-generation car, which ran from 1965 to 1970, though they underwent some fairly big styling changes through that period. As was usual for the period, you could get six-cylinder engines, but the real action was with a broad range of V8s. Canada was building right-hand-drive cars for the Australian market around this period, though the majority that came here were four-door sedans.

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This one has air con and a 327

This car was originally brought in (fairly recently) by another owner who had plans to do an LS engine swap. But it’s an original numbers-matching car with the 327 with fuelie heads. I couldn’t bear to see that drone, so I bought it.

It was a low mileage car and didn’t really need a whole lot done to it. It had been repainted at some stage and had next to no rust in it. The paint was a good job and seems to have lasted well.

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60s American coupes still turn heads

I ended up doing a complete suspension rebuild, with urethane bushings and King springs on the front and lowered about 20mm.

Apart from that it had a good solid driveline, so I tuned up the motor. It has a balanced bottom end, Keith Black forged pistons, roller rockers, solid lifter cam, electronic ignition, Edelbrock intake and carburettor and some long-run headers. So yes, it’s had some significant engine work done to it.

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Plus it’s had the Powerglide swapped out for a Turbo 350, so it’s got a three-speed instead of the slush box.

What appealed to me about it? I like this coupe body style with the sloping roofline. To me, convertibles don’t work - I think the roofline is 70 per cent of their good looks.

I always said if I could find a rust-free car I’d buy it, as that’s the one thing I can’t repair myself. Everything else I can do, such as diffs, trans, suspension and brakes.

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Signature Impala tail lights

The brakes have been done on this car. They’re drums all round, but I’ve converted it to a dual master cylinder, just to make it a bit safer.

There are a lot of details you get to like, such as the separate winders for the quarter windows - I love those – the Fisher body tags in the sills and the GM plates on the door frames.

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One of the General’s finest, the 327ci

I’ve done a bit of work to put in a sound system but not mess up the looks. So there’s an aftermarket radio in the glovebox and the speakers are hidden. In the rear, the factory speaker sits between the seats and has a new Sony unit underneath.

I worked for Ford as an apprentice mechanic back in the day, so I’ve grown up cars like this.

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Fabulous cloth insert trim complete with a shrunken head hanging of the review mirror

The trick with buying these is to buy the best one you can. Don’t start cheap thinking you’re going to save money – rust and paint can eat through 50 grand easily – you’re better off getting something solid. And American cars are good value compared to their Australian equivalents at the moment.

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Greg and his Chev Impala

It’s a fun thing to drive – looks good and makes you feel good.

 

From Unique Cars #461, Jan 2022

 

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