Malibu Tanning Machine

Doug and Susan Wisecarver's California Convertible

Andrew Schear Oct 8, 2003 0 Comment(s)

When many of us think of California, we think Malibu coastline: sandy beaches, crashing waves, and '64 Malibu convertibles rollin' down Pacific Coast Highway. While there may be truth in this picture, the same '64 might be seen driving in almost any town of your choice, namely Hanford, California, located in Central California between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The fact is simple. Owning a convertible is part of the American dream, not just part of the Southern California dream. Why else would Chevrolet have produced 23,000 Chevelle convertibles in '64?

For Doug and Susan Wisecarver a '64 Chevelle was like a match made in heaven. When Doug realized that he couldn't take his wife and kids on the family Harley Softail, he knew he had to get creative. We don't often become hot rodders out of necessity, but Doug's choice to roll in an A-body roadster makes perfect sense. Given that Chevelles offer comfort in both the front and back seats with plenty of performance, qualifies them as the perfect family cruisers. As such, Doug built his '64 with the idea that they'd be spending plenty of time on the highway. According to Doug just finding the right starter car was quite a task. After looking at heaven knows how many rusted-out pigs, Doug finally ran a want ad in the local paper. To his surprise 2 days later he was the proud owner of an original California '64 Chevelle convertible. With the installation of a new battery the Chevelle fired right up and was driven home the same day.

Once at home, Doug was faced with the task of determining who would restore his Malibu to its former glory. Having no prior experience in the restoration world Doug turned to family friend Bill Verboon of Gold Top Restorations. Having had the experience of having built many hi-tech Vettes, Verboon advised Doug to give the experts at D&P Classic Chevy a quick call. After a telephone conversation with shop owner Darryl Nance, Doug was securing plans to send the '64 to Huntington Beach, California to begin its restoration.

Once at D&P the '64 was torn apart to see the extent of the project. As might be expected there was a bit of wheel well cancer, but nothing the metal gurus at D&P couldn't handle. The body remained virtually stock with the exception of the removal of the upper bodyline molding. With the body straight and in primer, the '64 was dipped in multiple coats of Corvette Torch Red urethane, color sanded, and polished.

After the frame was welded and smoothed, the suspension was re-worked with airbag suspension and dropped spindles. To go along with the new G-machine look, an LT1-injected powerplant backed by a 4L60-E automatic tranny was installed. Power was transferred through a custom driveshaft and 10-bolt limited-slip rearend.

With the '64 almost drivable, it was time to address the interior as well as the details. Black vinyl was used to cover the seating surfaces while OPG carpet and door panels covered the floors and doors. A custom carbon fiber dash was made to accommodate the trick Autometer aftermarket gauges and complement the black seating surfaces. To finish off the interior, Vintage Air and an ididit steering column were also installed.

With the '64 nearing completion, Doug's anticipation began to reach unbearable levels. After waiting an entire lifetime for a ride this cool, Doug figured what's a few more weeks! By July 2003, the 31-month project was finally finished and on its journey to Central California where it would serve a new family of Bow-Tie lovers for years to come. We asked Doug what his first impression behind the wheel was like and he responded quickly with "Fast," much faster then he ever expected! Definitely the right response for a first generation musclecar owner.

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