Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Supernatural fans note: '66 Impala project!

Any Supernatural fan can tell you that Dean's 1967 Impala is as much a star of the show as Sam and Dean, if not more. The car is just awesome.

The '67 on the show is a four-door sedan, probably chosen because it's a lot cheaper to replace than the more popular two-doors, which are becoming rare and considerably more expensive. This particular model ran for three years, 1965 through 1967, with only minor changes each year. Most notably, the 1965 had round taillights and a smaller grill. The 1966 kept the grill but moved to square taillights. The 1967 added the wraparound grill and front disc brakes (the first year they were available for Chevy).

Any fan of Supernatural or muscle cars in general would love to get their hands on a car like this. Well, I did. Here's how it happened:

I've got a long history with classic cars. I love hot rods and muscle cars, and even old trucks and motorcycles. I had restored old vehicles in the past, but I eventually ended up selling them. Then, about two years ago, my wife and I were discussing the fact that our son was going to be driving soon and he'd need a car. Like most parents, I believe my kids should earn the things they have. I also wanted to teach my son the value and pride of good, hard work. I got the chance to do just that when I found an old, beat up '66 Impala for sale at a fire-sale price. I showed it to my wife and son, and we were all in agreement. A week later, we towed it home:

As you can see, the car was rough around the edges. Aside from some missing parts, the engine was blown and the transmission was badly neglected. The interior was tattered, the headliner gone. And there were some other problems:

 We went to work right away. We cut out the damaged body parts and welded in new sheet metal. We pulled the blown 327 and dropped in a fuel-injected 350. We bought the 350 from a local salvage yard, and it required a little cleanup as well:


I wasn't going to have my son driving around with the original manual drum brakes, so I purchased a disc brake conversion kit:


In the last two years, my son and I have worked very hard to restore this old beauty. I'm happy to announce we're getting very close. We've had the car running for some time, but we ended up pulling the fuel injection and going to a four-barrel carburetor. That was one of the best decisions we've made yet. The finicky computer just wouldn't be happy in that old car, so it's gone. We also painted - not the final paint, but a basecoat to keep out the rain and protect our hard work. This is what the car looks like now:

I'd say that's a change for the better! I'm very proud of all the hard work my son has done. I'm also happy to say we've salvaged one more classic from a slow, rusty death.