1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Resto-Mod Build Thread - Impala Tech
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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Resto-Mod Build Thread

This 1965 Chevrolet Impala came to us after and restoration was started at a different shop. The car has been in the owner's family since 1970, so we were honored and excited to bring this one back to the road. The recipe calls for a 6.0 LQ9 V8, 6-Speed manual transmission, and updated Ridetech suspension, all while keeping a smoothed-out stock appearance.







This car had seen years of daily driving and occasional racing use, and was showing signs of deterioration. It arrived in our shop having been media blasted and sprayed with a black epoxy primer. At first glance, we noticed some rust around the window frames, in the deck lid, and that the previous repairs were not complete.







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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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After a thorough inventory of the supplied parts, the crew began the metalwork.

The first project was to close the stock antenna hole using a steel insert. The piece was made and fitted to the hole, MIG welded, and ground smooth. We're using an HTP MIG 200 welder for this task.










Next, the crew began the rust repairs around the rear window frame. These window channels held water and rusted all the way through. The rusty metal was cut out with a thin 3M cutting disc on an air grinder. A new channel was fabricated using a shrinker/stretcher, welded in, and ground smooth. Gray primer prevented further rust.











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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Similar repairs were made to the window channel around the windshield in the areas where the metal had rusted thin.





Next, the rear window filler panel was removed for additional rust repair.



The rearmost edge of the structure had rusted away.



A new channel was bent in the Mittler Brothers Box Pan Brake and contoured to the correct shape.





Then it was welded in place with an HTP Quickspot II resistance spot welder.



Next, the middle part of the structure was measured, and a cardboard template was made to assist in fabricating a repair section.





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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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The upper portion of the repair section was punched with a dimple die on a Mittler Brothers brothers punch in order to replace the original flared holes. These holes provided strength for the panel.



Then, the curved lower section was TIG welded to the upper. Soon, the rusty portions of the structure had been completely replaced.



A contoured lip as added to mimic the shape of the original.

[img]http://www.v8tvshow.com/1965_Impala_SK/slides/1965_Impala_SK_10.30.13_17.JPG[img]





Once the piece was welded in place, it was cleaned with a wire wheel and 3M rowlock abrasive discs, and then sprayed it with primer.



A new filler panel was obtained from Classic Industries, and welded in place over the lower structure to complete the repair.





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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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The tail pan section was rusty and damaged, so the crew removed the original panel by drilling out all the spot welds holding it in place.





Note the support rod welded in to keep the decklid opening the correct size.




A new panel was obtained from Classic Industries, and it was fitted and welded in place. Note the fitting of the deck lid and tell light packets in this process to ensure all the panels fit properly before welding.





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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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The dash steel at the base of the windshield had rusted through, so we replaced the steel after fabricating some new pieces in-shop. The challenge here is that this is 3 layers of steel welded together, so they had to be replaced in the same manner.















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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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A close-out panel was made and welded in to smooth the firewall.



The rear package tray was damaged, so new panels were cut to size and welded in place.





The panel was strengthened by adding ribs with a Mittler Brothers bead roller. They were held in place with some Eastwood panel clamps.



After welding, the panels were ground flush to complete the repair.



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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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The rear passenger floor was riddled with rust pinholes, so a replacement piece was ordered from Classic Industries.





The perimeter of the panel was punched for plug welds, and then sprayed with weld-through primer.





The welds were ground smooth to complete the install.

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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 02:55 PM
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Have you ever considered moving the VIN tag to the top of the dash like on a modern car just for Giggles?

I noticed that you used a shrinker to form the radiused corner to the rear window frame. For those who have not seen one in use and wonder whey they would need to buy a cheap Chinese made one from Eastwood to add to their metal working equipment could you get a couple of shots showing how it works.

Big Dave
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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Have you ever considered moving the VIN tag to the top of the dash like on a modern car just for Giggles?

I noticed that you used a shrinker to form the radiused corner to the rear window frame. For those who have not seen one in use and wonder whey they would need to buy a cheap Chinese made one from Eastwood to add to their metal working equipment could you get a couple of shots showing how it works.

Big Dave
Hey Big Dave,

We use shrinkers / stretchers all the time. Good idea on the how-to, I think that would make a great video. We'll shoot one and post it up. Let me know if there is anything else you'd like to see!
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post #11 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 08:18 PM
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Excellent work, another one being saved, Can't wait to see more updates and of coarse the final results.

Last edited by 6366; 10-17-2015 at 10:51 PM.
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post #12 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 02:01 PM
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Glad to see you posting project pics here Kevin.

It's great to hear the owners are saving it and doing a full-on resto with lots of updates ala Pro-Touring style.

The pictures make feel like I was practically in the shop with you guys! That old ride definitely had it's share of rust in the trouble areas. Keep up the good work and updates!

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post #13 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 04:54 PM
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Great hands on photo's. From just looking at the first photo's you wouldn't know how bad the rust was. Please keep posting.
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post #14 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Excellent work, another one being saved, Can't wait to see more updates and of coarse the final results.
Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BA. View Post
Glad to see you posting project pics here Kevin.

It's great to hear the owners are saving it and doing a full-on resto with lots of updates ala Pro-Touring style.

The pictures make feel like I was practically in the shop with you guys! That old ride definitely had it's share of rust in the trouble areas. Keep up the good work and updates!
Thanks for the kind words, we will be adding lots more updates.

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Great hands on photo's. From just looking at the first photo's you wouldn't know how bad the rust was. Please keep posting.
These cars can certainly hide their ugliness... now we sniff it out and make it go away!
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post #15 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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The owner wanted the 6.0 LQ9 engine to sit as low as possible in the chassis, and he had a Cadillac oil pan in mind, so we notched the cross member to make it happen.







The doors had been butchered with speaker holes, so repair panels we made and welded in.







Under the car, this home-brew control arm support is going to be removed. The concept is solid, that is to reinforce the control arm mount for better traction and control, but the execution is below what is desired for this car.



The crew then lifted the body off the frame to be able to work on both sides of the floor on the rotisserie. There were still a ton of little holes to fill, and they wanted to get a good look at the repairs previously made to the bottom of the Impala’s body structure.





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post #16 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 02:55 PM
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Boy when they are talking perimeter frame they weren't kidding where they? I know Chevy, well all of GM's cars were really interested in a smooth ride back in the sixties (hence the twist-o-flex X frame cars of 1958-'64), but I thought they had a bit more substantial frame on the 1965-'70 models. Did you cut off any cross members that would have made that into more of a ladder frame (such as the transmission cross-member)? It doesn't give me a boat load of confidence looking at that frame as I see it in your shop when you consider the power levels of a modern engine. Squares are not the most ridged of constructs which is why all buildings have triangulating reinforcing beams in the wall and roves.

I would weld in two cross-members if that where my car (one a permanently installed cross-member that I could bolt a mid plate to and the second a safety strap and cross-member at the back of the tail shaft) that I would triangulate with additional braces to try and stiffen it up. It looks to be almost dropping under it's own weight.

Big Dave
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post #17 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Boy when they are talking perimeter frame they weren't kidding where they? I know Chevy, well all of GM's cars were really interested in a smooth ride back in the sixties (hence the twist-o-flex X frame cars of 1958-'64), but I thought they had a bit more substantial frame on the 1965-'70 models. Did you cut off any cross members that would have made that into more of a ladder frame (such as the transmission cross-member)? It doesn't give me a boat load of confidence looking at that frame as I see it in your shop when you consider the power levels of a modern engine. Squares are not the most ridged of constructs which is why all buildings have triangulating reinforcing beams in the wall and roves.

I would weld in two cross-members if that where my car (one a permanently installed cross-member that I could bolt a mid plate to and the second a safety strap and cross-member at the back of the tail shaft) that I would triangulate with additional braces to try and stiffen it up. It looks to be almost dropping under it's own weight.

Big Dave
In this pic, the transmission crossmember is not shown, which adds some rigidity in the stock design. However, we had the same thoughts, so we did add structure to the chassis. You'll see that in a future update!
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post #18 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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A previous shop welded supports to the floor to make the transmission crossmember. This isn't a good idea, as the engine and transmission are bolted to the frame, which moves independently of the body, albeit slightly. Also, the floor of the car was never intended to support a transmission, much less a manual behind a high horsepower V8. We removed it in favor of a traditional frame-mounted crossmember.





New fuel tank supports were installed, as these were neglected when a previous shop installed the floor pans. We also finished welding and grinding all the floor welds.



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post #19 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 11:10 PM
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Interesting Build.

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post #20 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
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I noticed that you used a shrinker to form the radiused corner to the rear window frame. For those who have not seen one in use and wonder why they would need to buy a cheap Chinese made one from Eastwood to add to their metal working equipment could you get a couple of shots showing how it works.

Big Dave
I don't recommend anyone buy the cheap stretchers from Eastwood or Harbor Freight. They are just that, cheap, and mine broke in the first 5 minutes of use. I returned them and bought USA made Lancaster tools and they are far away better products.

If you're going to buy fabrication tools, get good tools and they will work much better and last longer.

Nice work on the Midwest rust bomb. I see the quarters have been skinned with the oversize cover up panels. Are you planning to leave them or replace ?

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post #21 of 66 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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I don't recommend anyone buy the cheap stretchers from Eastwood or Harbor Freight. They are just that, cheap, and mine broke in the first 5 minutes of use. I returned them and bought USA made Lancaster tools and they are far away better products.

If you're going to buy fabrication tools, get good tools and they will work much better and last longer.

Nice work on the Midwest rust bomb. I see the quarters have been skinned with the oversize cover up panels. Are you planning to leave them or replace ?

We've got some Eastwood shrinker / stretcher tools as well as shrink & stretch jaws for our Mittler Brothers press. I think we've rebuilt the EW tool once, but they've been going strong for about 5 years. The Mittler tool is more versatile and nicer to use, but they all have their place.

The driver quarter is a repro quarter skin installed by a previous shop, the passenger side is a GM quarter panel that was installed back in the early 1970s. The customer wanted us to leave them in place, so we fixed some details and worked with what was there.
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post #22 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Meanwhile, the crew was preparing to trial fit the Ridetech Street challenge suspension system on the Impala’s frame.



This kit consists of tubular upper and lower control arms, specific rate coil springs and coil over shock assemblies, and an oversized front sway bar. We were also installing an upgraded quick ratio steering box.





The original front suspension design used a straight lower control arm and a radius rod bolted to it. The Ridetech design is a vast improvement, using an “A” shaped tubular lower arm with an articulating end in the forward mount rather than a rubber bushing.







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post #23 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 02:14 PM
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Pricey stuff but top of the line too. That car is getting the lovin'!

HOW A NOVICE REBUILDS A 66 IMPALA CONVERTIBLE:
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post #24 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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The rear suspension consists of tubular control arms with adjustable upper control arms, and a stronger panhard bar with improved bushings.





This frame had some old-school hot rod tricks, like these control arm support brackets that were stick-welded in. We removed them and reinforced the frame to appear more original.



We disassembled the rear axle assembly and media blasted the housing.
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post #25 of 66 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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After epoxy and Imron enamel in satin black paint were applied, a new gearset was installed along with bearings and seals to make this 12 bolt rear axle like new again.




Here, the yellow paint illustrates the proper gear mesh contact pattern ensuring quiet operation.
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