The World Wide Web has greatly simplified our search for street rod fodder these days. Some think it's taken a bit of the thrill of the hunt out of the picture; others see it as an opportunity to find the gem they're searching for in short order-sort of a form of immediate gratification. Needless to say, many will still cruise the back roads while others cruise the Internet. Either way, the result is the same: finding the foundation for a cool hot rod.
One great example of electronic prospecting is Fountain Valley, California's Eric Sass, who stumbled across his latest gem while surfing the Net. Eric had always had a soft spot for bubbletops, and spied what looked to be a clean, solid '59 Impala during one of his forays into the Ethernet. According to the ad, it was a nice stock driver, with a set of wide whites and spinner hubcaps being its only custom touches. Eric instantly called the number listed and got the details he needed. Apparently, he liked what he heard because he jumped a plane for Oregon, checked out the Impala, and immediately drove it home to Fountain Valley-a 14-hour maiden voyage.
Once home, and driven for a while in its stock form, Eric began his rodstoration. The chassis was stripped and the suspension upgraded with a host of goodies from Hotchkis Performance and KYB. Eric enlisted the aid of Ponch at the Bag Man over in Anaheim to outfit the '59 with one of his remotely operated air-ride setups as well. With the chassis and suspension handled, Eric then outfitted the Impala with a quartet of Intro XLR custom wheels as the finishing touch on the car's foundation.
In our opinion, one of the coolest decisions Eric made was to retain the '59's 235-cube inline-six. Engine builder Ed Miller of Huntington Beach was recruited to add a bit of flash and muscle to the six-banger. Above and beyond a performance rebuild, Ed bored the block .030 over, and dropped in a set of forged pistons and a lumpy .487-lift, .274-duration camshaft. The engine was also meticulously balanced as well. The fresh new long-block was then outfitted with a custom-made intake manifold and a trio of Redline Weber-style injectors, an Eclipse ignition system, and a custom-made set of exhaust headers. A Centerforce clutch assembly and a Tremec five-speed trans back the now-muscular inline.
The exterior and interior must have really been in exceptional shape because all Eric chose to do was scuff and clearcoat the original factory finish on the exterior and add a few interior touches like Classic Instruments gauges, a Budnik steering wheel, and a completely hidden stereo system installed by Beach Auto Sound in Huntington Beach. All in all, you have to admit that this baby is one nice-lookin' cruiser; and cruise it does, as Eric drives his Impala almost daily.
There's nothing like the lines of a '59 Impala; its spaceship-like styling and bubble-like
The engine in Eric's '59 is absolutely awesome. "Wow" is the first word heard when he lift
The interior is as clean as a whistle, and, in stock form, plays perfect host to a couple
Speaking of wheels, road wheel choice can make or break a street rod. Eric's choice of Int
Horizontal tailfins and cats-eye taillights are the hallmark of the '59, and it looks like