When '59 Chevys were new, stories were going around that the rear of the car would lift at speeds exceeding 100 mph because of the tailfins. As far as we know, it was never proven. At the time, it was a marketing war as to who could outdo the other, and GM seemed to have had that market cornered.
It's quite a different response when it comes to Rick May's bright red custom. Rick has owned it for more than 40 years, buying it from a friend, George Knight, who bought it new. The man customized it five times in five years; every year, there would be a new paint color-usually a candy color-new upholstery, and a new look. All the work was done in lead, and is still under that red paint today. Take a look and see if you recognize the parts lifted from other cars that were so perfectly blended into the original design. It has a '60 Mercury grille, pancaked and shaved hood, doors, and trunk, along with handmade taillight surrounds with '59 Caddy lens, and a peaked license plate surround.
In 2000, Rick restored the car, taking it apart until every nut and bolt was on the floor of his garage, and returned it to the look of 1963. It still has only 57,000 miles on the speedo, and is like a time warp when you slide in behind the wheel and plant yourself on the '64 Super Sport seats. The center console fits right in, even though it came out of a '62 Chevy. Al Lyda, a longtime friend who has done all Rick's cars for the last 20 or so years, stitched the all-red leather. Al's many talents cover all the bases in car restoration; he's one of the few real craftsmen still around today.
Lest you think this is just another leadsled-all show and no go-take a closer look at the photos. This car was specked out new with a 315hp, 348ci motor sporting three-twos and a four-speed rower. So, it can keep up with the best of them, even with its gargantuan size. Rick likes his cars low (he has a bunch of perfect customs), so his only deviation from its original configuration is the fact that he has added airbags to the suspension.
With his wide whites on reversed chrome wheels and custom caps, Rick has a period custom that shows today just as it did in '63. All in all, it's a very unique period piece of which you don't see much at car events today, but still holds its own from every aspect.
North Plains, Oregon
1969 Chevrolet Impala
|Frame / Manufacturer ||stock / GM |
|Modifications ||brackets for airbags |
|Rearend / Ratio ||stock / 370 |
|Rear suspension ||airbags |
|Front suspension ||airbags |
|Wheelcovers ||custom chrome |
|Front wheel make, size ||chrome reversed, 14x8 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||chrome reversed, 14x8 |
|Front tire make, size ||wide whites |
|Rear tire make, size ||wide whites |
|Make ||GM Chevrolet division |
|Displacement ||348ci |
|Camshaft ||factory 315 |
|Valve covers ||Mooneyes (Santa Fe Springs, CA) |
|Manifold / Induction ||three-twos |
|Make ||GM four-speed |
|Body style / Material ||two-door hardtop steel |
|Body manufacturer ||GM |
|Hood ||shaved & pancaked |
|Grille ||'60 Mercury |
|Bodywork ||Howard Pyle |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG / red |
|Painter ||Howard Pyle |
|Headlights / Taillights ||Mercury / Cadillac |
|Bumpers ||custom |
|Dashboard ||stock chromed |
|Seats ||'64 Chevy Super Sport |
|Upholsterer ||Al Lyda |
|Material / Color ||leather / red |
|Carpet ||red |