From the very beginning of the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour some of the best builders in the country have turned out an eclectic selection of outstanding cars to prove that street rods built with aftermarket parts can be great looking, safe, reliable, and fun to drive and rack up well in excess of 20,000 miles in a summer. This, the 19th year of the Road Tour, tradition continues with a '59 Chevrolet Impala being built by Hot Rods by Dean.
Riding on a Roadster Shop chassis and full of parts from our official supplier, Speedway Motors, this Chevy takes us further into the '50s than we've ventured in the past. Nonetheless, this is a street rod through and through with the horsepower, handling, fit, finish, and attention to detail befitting the 19th edition of our Road Tour program.
Given the performance expectations for this car we quickly came to the conclusion the stock GM chassis wasn't going to cut it. The cruciform design, often referred to as an X-frame, lacked the torsional rigidity to meet our needs. As the saying goes, adding performance suspension to the stock 'rails would be like putting a $100 saddle on a $10 horse. The solution to this dilemma came in the form of a Roadster Shop '58-64 Fast Track perimeter frame with custom independent front and rear suspension.
Once the new chassis was delivered to Hot Rods by Dean the process of combining old and new began. There was rust damage to repair (primarily in the trunk) and due to the differences in the old and new frames, some modification of the Impala's floor were in order, but given the advantages of the replacement chassis they were well worth the effort. The majority of the modifications necessary were below the front seat, in the rear seat footwell, and in the trunk. Of course some of the modifications, notably the rear wheelhouses, were due to the massive Michelin tires.
With the floors repaired and revamped all the welded joints were given a coat of Eastwood seam sealer. The bottom of the floor was protected with Eastwood's rubberized undercoating, while the topside was given the vintage treatment with spatter paint (several color combinations are available from Eastwood in spray cans) before most of it was covered with Dynamat.
The AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour '59 Chevy is nearing completion and once again we're inviting you to jump in your street rod and join us on one of the eight separate weeklong tours taking place around the country.
1. Here's a sneak peak of what's to come, the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour '59 Chevy body in Ferrari Red. It's ready to drop on the new Roadster Shop Fast Track perimeter frame.
2. Our Roadster Shop chassis is everything the original wasn't—strong, stiff, equipped with high-performance suspension at both ends, and it's great looking to boot.
3. To accommodate the new chassis it was necessary to modify the passenger compartment floor.
4. The rear wheelhouses were cut away to be widened for the 285/35ZR-19 rubber.
5. The original trunk floor was rusty and need to be replaced. The floor between the wheelhouses would have to be narrowed to fit between the new wheel tubs.
6. The rear wheelhouses were completely removed; the factory spot welds were removed with an Eastwood spot weld cutter.
7. Mini-tubs were created by adding strips of sheetmetal to the middle of the stock wheelhouses.
8. Widening the wheelhouses meant pockets had to be built in to accommodate the trunk hinges.
9. Part of Hot Rod by Deans' trunk rebuild included fabricating new inner fender sections and floor supports.
10. This is the stock trunk floor, the centersection was rusty. Note the layout lines indicating where it will be cut.
11. The old floor viewed from the bottom. The gas tank reinforcements will be recycled; the proper distance between the supports was preserved by tack welding lengths of tubing to them.
12. The salvaged gas tank supports will be attached to the new trunk floor.
13. Once the locations of the gas tank straps were determined holes were cut in the floor and the caged nuts with ARP hardware were put in place.
14. With the nuts installed the holes in the floor were plugged.
15. This is a worm's eye view of the new trunk floor and the supports the gas tank will attach to via ARP hardware.
16. Hot Rods by Dean gave their new Eastwood English wheel a workout forming new tunnels for the transmission and driveshaft.
17. The transmission tunnel was fabricated in multiple sections and then welded together.
18. Likewise the driveshaft tunnel was made in two pieces then joined with a Miller welder. The new tunnel is taller than the original due to the car's lower stance.
19. Sheetmetal "boxes" were made and welded in place to enclose the floor in those areas where the new frame encroached into the passenger compartment.
20. The replacement floor panel was held in place with Eastwood clecos while rossete welds were used to secure it.
21. In the passenger compartment the floor was given a coat of primer, then all the joints were covered with Eastwood seam sealer.
22. The trunk was given the same primer/seam sealer treatment. Seam sealer is highly recommended to keep deadly exhaust gas out of the interior spaces.
23. Eastwood's undercoating gun can be used to heavy-duty antirust, rubberized undercoating, and spray-on bedliners.
24. For getting into hard-to-reach areas, like rocker panels, Eastwood supplies two 24-inch flexible wands—one has a straight spray tip, the other a 90-degree.
25. Eastwood's rubberized undercoating stands up to the most extreme conditions.
26. With the floor modifications and repairs made and the seams sealed all the surfaces were primed and then covered with vintage-looking spatter paint.
27. To most observers the floor appears original.
28. Like Road Tour cars of the past, the interior surfaces have been layered with Dynaliner and Dynamat to reduce noise and heat in the passenger compartment.
29. To prevent heat and noise absorption the underside of the roof was treated to a layer of Dynaliner.
30. All the rubber products, including the body mounts came from SoffSeal.
31. The body mounts register in holes in the frame. The lip on the bushing is to locate the lower portion of the mount; the metal sleeve prevents the ARP mounting bolts from being over tightened and crushing the rubber.
32. The second half of the mount is installed from below the frame or bracket and registers on the lip of the upper cushion, then the ARP bolts and washers are installed.