So you're living in upstate New york, you've built a handful of street rods in your life, and you stumble across a pristine '60 chevy impala that has lived most of its life in southern california. you think about buying it, mostly because your sister used to drive a '59 impala with a 348 and you've always liked them.
But then you find out that a little old nun, named sister Josephine, not only used to own the car, but she lived in Paradise, california. call it a sign from God, but rich Zavarella didn't need to be shown the light to know he wanted to have that chevy in his garage!
Rich, from Lancaster, New york, bought this '60 impala in July 2006 and had one cool ride rolling out of his home shop in less than a year. though rodders in the West don't think about rodding in the winter any differently than they do in the summer, it's a different case with those who have experienced the Lake Effect- where snow can fall in your driveway faster than you can shovel it off!
you don't need much else besides...
you don't need much else besides the finned valve covers from Moon Equipment and a tri-power carb system to make the underhood look sharp! Just the right amount of polished aluminum and a great attention to detailgot the job done.
Rich knows winter months are for rod building, and, though his chevy was very nice to start with, he decided a fullblown body-off was in order. First the chassis got media-blasted and then powdercoated before an Air ride technologies airbag system went in on each corner.
Dropped spindles from superior give the car the proper rake while camaro rotors with GM calipers provide the whoa (stock drums are used out back). Billet specialties 20-inch (8.5- and 10-inch) highboy wheels are shod in BFGoodrich g-Force Zr20 rubber (255/35 and 295/40), and, though several inches larger than what went on the car at the factory in 1960, rich reports no rubbing (but it is close when he slams the 'pala to the ground!).
Bruce Kalinowski, from BrK Performance in Aldan, New york, went through rich's 348 small-block adding .10-over pistons, a crane cam, and stock rods before topping it off with a set of finned Moon valve covers and a tri-power carb setup. Other engine items include a 140-amp tuff stuff alternator, a radiator from Wizard cooling, and HPc-coated headers. A Powerglide trans was fitted with a shift kit before being reinstalled and mated to the motor.
After hearing from an old-timer...
After hearing from an old-timer that a Mercury grille "bolts right in" to an impala, rich had to find out for himself. turns out it doesn't, and it was tough mating the Merc part to the opening, but it sure looks right!
Not being much of a "custom" guy (he'd built a '35 Plymouth, Model A pickup, a '34 sedan, and a couple of '37 Fords before this car), he looked to do something with his ride that would set it apart. On hearing from an old-timer that a '60 Mercury grille would "bolt right in," rich thought he'd give it a try. turns out the old-timer must have been high-the grille swap was diffi cult because nothing lined up, but the finished product looks like what the factory could have done.
Though much of the original exterior trim pieces were intact (needing to be spruced up), rich decided to shave the door handles and trunk trim before painting the car, but he had yet to pick a color. At Dover speedway one weekend with diffi his wife, rosie, she spotted a pair of cars over in the Dodge booth-a vanilla-colored Magnum with a burnt orange r/t pickup parked next to it. she asked rich, "What about those two colors?" and he knew it would work after seeing the two colors parked together. Working closely with his friend, Dave Gleason, in Dave's two-car garage, the pair did all the bodywork before spraying the Dupont-mixed colors. this month-and-a-half body and paint process was decidedly low-tech,with no downdraft exhaust system or even heat, but the paint job turned out great.
For the interior, rich turned to a 70-year-old friend named John salerno, who says he "has too much fun" doing interiors to retire. John did rich's car the old-fashioned way by stripping all the material out of the car, making patterns, stitching up the leather (using '65 Nova buckets up front), and creating a stylish contemporary interior. the dash had been painted the exterior's burnt orange, and it contrasts nicely with the tan leather and cinnamon carpet John laid out.
While the car was reassembled in rich's garage, his friend, Bill richmond, would stop by and help him by lending an extra set of arms when hanging fenders and the like, which came in very handy. Having only recently finished his ride, rich hasn't had an opportunity to go to too many car shows with it, but intends to hit as many Goodguys events as he can in '08.
For a guy who grew up in the musclecarera, 56-year-old rich has always liked cars (he even raced go-carts when he was 9). When he graduated in high school in 1970, all he wanted was a bigblock Nova, and, a few decades later, he recently got his wish. Now a proud owner of a 61,000-mile '71 Nova, he has plans to install a 396 and have some fun.
He still owns the '48 Ford convertible he'd built previously, so by this time next year, the trio of hot rods in his garage should be something anyone would envy-if it weren't one of those pesky seven deadly sins. After all, sister Josephine wouldn't approve of that, though she just might be tempted to take a ride in rich's too-cool chevrolet.
With only some minor shaving...
With only some minor shaving to the exterior, the interior was pretty much left alone, but all the trim was cleaned up and the dash was painted in the same DuPont burnt orange in which the exterior was done.
Even with the big-inch 20s...
Even with the big-inch 20s under each corner, rich doesn't have a problem with the BFGoodrich rubber scraping the fenders (he says you can achieve that with the proper wheel offset).