Granddad's 69 Impala Convertable

5950 Views 24 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Galyean
I was lucky enough to purchase my grandfathers 69 Impala convertible. I spent many years going for rides to the ice cream shop singing songs with my cousins. My plan is to work on it with my son and get it back into shape. I hope to and could use some help with the following items:

Upgrade Suspension
Tires and Rally wheels (Sizes?????)
Brake Upgrades
Replace Convertable top

I want to keep it pretty much original except for tires and rims. I'll keep the 14" original rims and hubcaps.

I'm gratefull for any advice.


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Wow...nice. And nice that you were able to score it. I'm sure the experts on what you want will be along shortly. I haven't made it that far on mine yet.
Guess I need to learn how to spell convertible first.
Welcome to the Team Samuel!

There is a free spell checker offered for this and all of the Team boards. Click on the check mark with the ABCX over it. Since you do not have the spelling checker installed it will offer to down load it for you. It is free so do not get out your credit card (that just means you clicked on one of the deceptive ads that are on that site by mistake).

Once you down load it and reboot your computer the next time you click on it, it will fix any spelling errors. It is also trainable so that you can teach it any new words it doesn't know that we use normally in talking about cars.

Big Dave
Upgrade Suspension , Just rebuild with good USA made parts.
Tires and Rally wheels, I run 235 x 15 tires and 15 x 8 Corvette rallys on one of my 65's
Brake Upgrades, If it has manual brakes, add a booster. If you want disc brakes, look for 69-70 original Impala disc brakes. You can also install SS brake lines.
Replace Convertible top
,Many places sell convertible tops but the problem is finding someone to put it on.
I've looked all over new england for 69-70 disc brakes with no luck. Unfurtunately all the salvage yards say high scrap value and cash for clunkers cleaned out the old cars. Any advice on aftermarket?
Welcome Samuel, that looks like a decent car to start with there! I love the convertible's also, so cheers to you on that one.

My first 2 thoughts for anyone looking to upgrade these old vehicles is:
1. How much are you willing to spend overall? What is the budget and over what time?
2. Intended use of the car.

Those 2 things can guide you to buying the right parts and to prevent you from going too big or too deep in one area. (like engine, or paint, or suspension)

Almost all of these older cars are going to need new springs,...or a conversion to air-suspension but the latter can get involved and pricey.
So, I assume you'll need to lay out a few hundred dollars on new springs. The folks at Eaton can help you pick the right set based upon your vehicles options (like A/C, big block, small block, aftermarket alum. heads, etc) or you can buy a set straight from a number of companies like Hotchkis, Global West or Year One and Classic Industries.
You'll want new shocks of course - standard HD type shocks are probably fine IMO.
Don't overlook good tires! An upgraded suspension on 7-10yr old tires is crap.

The next item will cause you to think a bit. Do you want rubber or polyurethane bushings? Poly lasts much, much longer but it is firmer, and can tend to feel harsh to some. (same decision for front or back suspension)
Part of the decision above, is to also ask how much you can spend. A handful of places are ready to sell you 'plug and play' parts! New A-arms, or rear control arms....ready to go, just bolt them in! The alternative is to attempt removing and installing the bushings on your parts yourself. (I would dare call that highly time consuming for a family man with moderate skills working in a typical home garage.
After you've answered that - you can look at the budget to decide if you want to spring for new front/rear swaybars. They will make it corner better, but with a car weighing 4000lbs +, of course it will probably never be chasing Porches.
Addco is a good place for swaybars.

Wheels/Tires. for the old look, a lot of people go with the 15" front and rear with anywhere from 225 - 255 up front, and 235 - 275 in the back. Depends upon what look you want to go for. (similar to the springs....Stock look?, or sitting lower?)

I was assuming your car probably had power disc brakes already, right? Your post above makes me wonder if yours has drums all around.
Some good quality rotors and ceramic pads on the front, new drum pads, maybe a drum in the back and you may be good to go, assuming everything else is in working order. Just take the time to visually look at every inch of brake line from front to back. If it looks rusty or deteriorated, you should get a new line. "Right Stuff' and other places sell those.
I think the 68-78 Vette spindles work too. Be aware that some brake kits using your stock drum spindles. A few on here report happiness with ''. It's a bit dizzying all the vendors in that space, I'm finding it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaffe.

I agree with the others about the Vert top, finding a skilled shop to do it is key. It won't be cheap either. :)
You'll want to decide up front whether you go with Vinyl/stock material or the less-shiney 'cloth' type which does cost a bit more. I chose cloth for my top.
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My priorities are vert top prob vinyl. I have someone locally to install it.

Brakes - I have drums all around. I will check out the site you suggested.

Suspension - I plan on replacing springs and plug and play bolt in kit.

Wheels/tires - My son likes the rally wheels. I think I want a slight rake with larger tires in the rear. I like your finished car what size wheels and tires do you have?

Finally the paint. Engine runs great so that will be last. I see it being a two year project with paint being next year.

I'm fortunate to get a great deal on the car so it gives me more room for restoration. Thanks for your response I need all the help I can get.
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Hey Samuel, what color is that? I'm thinking gold. Nice. I'm new here as well and just picked up this baby. Click on the link in my sig, it will take you to my album.
I think the color is Olympic Gold, not sure what color I will go with when I repaint it.
I think the color is Olympic Gold, not sure what color I will go with when I repaint it.

I don't think you could go wrong if you stayed with Olympic Gold. What interior do you have? I'm new to the Impala numbers game so I'm just learning. Can you provide a pic of the trim tag? You know what that is, the tag on the firewall behind the brake booster if you have power brakes or just above the master cylinder if you don't. I'm really curious where all those 1.6 million Impalas were made in 69. Mine was built in Tarrytown, New York.

I found this website last night. Has some good info if your curious.
My front wheels are 8.5", using a 255/50/17 tire.
My rear wheels are 9.5", using a 275/50/17 tire.
Gary I will check that out. The interior is white but black carpets maybe my grandfather replaced these at some time.

Allen Will these fit the wheelwells with no modification? Thanks for the tip on they have a conversion kit for the front but did not see one for the back but I need to touch base with them.
They fit my 66 just fine with no issues, but I can't say for *sure* on a 69-70. I would expect your wheelwells are as big as mine.

They do make a plastic $70 little tool for measuring tire clearance. Places like Summit and Jegs sell it. Sorry but I forget the name of the darn company.
Samuel, if the interior was white then the default carpet color will mostly likely be black. If it really looks faded and worn then it may be the original carpet in my experience. White and black interiors usually stayed white on black or black on black. I don't believe colors were mixed into those combinations. I'm just learning myself how Chevy did the interior trim appointments on the Impala, I'm sure if it's wrong someone will reply and make the necessary corrections. Can I assume the dash metal on you grandfathers car is black?
Well I ordered my disc brake conversion from Now onto suspension and shocks. I'll get tires and rims last. Hope to have is on the road for July 4th.
To clone or not to clone? I have access to a 427 motoor with hidden headlights. Any thoughts?
I'd grab it too.
I'm not concerned about the 427 as far as a motor goes, I would want a bigger motor than a 427; but an original 427 Impala with hidden headlights is a rare find.

If it isn't a bucket of rust I would be all over it.

Big Dave
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