Remember the catch phrase "Where were you in '62?" It was the tagline used for the film "American Graffiti," where a group of teenagers spent the summer of 1962 sorting out their young lives in mid-state California. Jim Bostick, of Rancho Santa Fe, California, could have lived out most of the scenes in "American Graffiti," as he was about 18 years old then.
Born in Kentucky, Jim moved to Southern California in 1961 and it afforded him a whole new outlook on the world, especially with the emerging SoCal car scene. And just as Steve Bolander (Ron Howard's character) in "American Graffiti" drove a '58 Chevy, so did Jim when he was 18, though it was the mid-level Biscayne, not the Impala found in the film. In the early '60s, one of Jim's buddies drove a '58 Impala, but Jim never owned one-that is until just recently.
Spending the next four decades in SoCal, Jim got on with his life and built a successful asphalt paving business. Through the years, he had always wanted to get more into the car scene, but that didn't happen until he started attending local rod runs, namely the Goodguys Del Mar show near San Diego.
Being a closet enthusiast (someone who had always liked cars but never got around to actually collecting them), Jim had already splurged on a finely built, red 'n' white '55 Chevy, but he still didn't own the car he had wanted from his teen years: the '58 Impala. And try as you might, don't tell Jim that '58 Chevys are ugly-he already knows, though he likes to say they're "sorta ugly" (kind of the way a buddy would tell another buddy that his girlfriend isn't that cute, just to soften the blow).
The Impalas came from Chevrolet...
The Impalas came from Chevrolet with a fair amount of brightwork, and it has all been reworked and freshened up with Jim's ride.
Undaunted, Jim got motivated in trying to find a nice '58 to build, as he'd already decided what some of its design elements would be: a 502 engine, Torch Red paint, tan leather with offset piping, classically inspired wheels, etc. To accomplish this, he also began noting who was responsible for some of the fine-looking vehicles he'd seen at the Goodguys show. As it turned out, many of the better Tri-Fives he'd check out came out of D&P Classic Chevy, owned by Darryl Nance.
D&P, based in Huntington Beach, California, uses the "Bone Stock To Big-Block" phrase to let people know what they do, and it's something they've been doing for many years with the kind of results you'd expect from professionals. And though they had built their reputation with Tri-Fives, D&P did not have any trouble fitting a '58 into their build schedule (they've even been known to work on a Ford or two in their time too!).
The seats, covered in tan...
The seats, covered in tan leather at D&P Classic Chevy's own upholstery shop, are Lexus buckets. The center console is custom.
But where were you going to find a super-nice '58 Impala to start with? Most ugly cars of the '50s didn't survive the '60s, let alone some 50 years later, as most found their ways to junkyards and/or the crusher. Good, rust-free candidates are few and far between, but Darryl was able to track down one such car in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a stock, black, Impala sport coupe (still equipped with the factory 348), and it looked to be a very solid car.
As it turned out, the car was originally a California car, so it seems destiny brought it back to SoCal where Darryl and his team could begin the work of turning a sow's ear into a silk purse. But as D&P has learned, there are a few things different between the Tri-Fives and a '58. Even though the engine bay is huge in the '58s, it doesn't lend itself to a 502 or the routing the headers would have to take. Also, suspension-wise, off-the-shelf tubular control arms are few and far between for that year Chevy, and motor mounts and oil pan clearance problems had to be looked at too.
The custom gauge panel, which...
The custom gauge panel, which is filled with Auto Meter gauges, and an ididit column supports an Intro steering wheel.
But in typical D&P style, they started by stripping the car of its trim, interior, and drivetrain, and then sent the body over to have the paint blasted off (with an aluminum oxide media). Once back at the shop, D&P added trailing arms to a new 9-inch rearend (3.50:1) and used a custom-fabbed set of control arms up front. Baer disc brakes, with polished calipers and cross-drilled and vented rotors, went on both front and rear, and big 18- and 20-inch Intro wheels were wrapped in Toyo rubber.
Jim-having originally looked at a 572 engine for his project, but also wanting a certain amount of reliability and drivability-decided a 502 crate engine would be more than enough. Besides, after D&P added a camshaft from COMP Cams, an Art Carr 200-R4 trans, and a set of special Doug Thorley headers, Darryl knew Jim would not have a problem getting out of his own way whenever he felt the need to stand on the gas.
From the factory, the most amount of chrome and brightwork of any of the three levels of '58 Chevys the factory made could be found on the Impalas (Impala scripts, crossed flag insignias, fake air scoops, etc.) and the Impala sport coupe was the top of the line, with its tell-tale reversed air scoop (non-functioning) mounted on the roof next to the backlight.
Both Darryl and Jim liked the '58 for what it is, so it was decided the only exterior modifications that would be done to the car would be the removal of the radio antennas from the tops of each rear fender. But that also meant a lot of chroming and polishing would need to happen, too, for the rest of the pieces they decided to leave on the car.
A Chevy in a Chevy? Easy,...
A Chevy in a Chevy? Easy, right? Not so fast! Because of some internal structure inherent to the '58 Chevys, you just can't drop a 502 into the engine compartment without doing some suspension work, pan swapping, and allowing for header and exhaust routing. D&P Classic Chevy did their homework, so the work they did on Jim's '58 is unobtrusive. Besides an upgrade with a COMP Cams bumpstick, the internals are stock on the big-block. A SPAL fan and a Be Cool radiator help keep everything at a lower temp, and there is enough polished aluminum and chrome in the engine to be seen from outer space! Trans wise, the 502 backs to an Art Carr 200-R4 unit.
While the chrome work was happening, D&P began the paint prep work, as one of Jim's prerequisites, a Torch Red paint job, was about to occur in D&P's paint booth. D&P Classic Chevy is a full-service business, so much so that they even have their own in-house upholstery shop. Another of Jim's desires, a tan leather interior with contrasting piping, was created by covering a new set of Lexus bucket front seats, the custom center console, and bench rear seat.
D&P also cleaned up the dash area by mounting the stereo in the custom center console (just above the B&M Quicksilver shifter, which was color-matched to the console), and by adding a billet aluminum panel for the group of whiteface Auto Meter gauges. As a final touch, an ididit steering column, painted red, now sports an Intro steering wheel (half-wrapped with interior-matching leather).
As you might guess, there aren't many '58 Chevy Impala sport coupes left, though GM originally made 142,000 or so of them. Jim feels lucky to own one now, and double lucky because of the way it turned out. We believe when "American Graffiti's" Terry "The Toad" said "This might even be better than Darryl Starbird's superfleck moonbird" after being handed the keys to Steve's '58 Impala that he'd have to take that statement back if he had seen Jim Bostick's D&P-prepped super coupe.