Wings, Glass, And Chrome

The Ultimate '50s Look, Enhanced by Alloway

Tony Kelly Oct 19, 2005 0 Comment(s)

As an expression of the era, the '59 Impala rivals any other big American car produced in the '50s. Ever actually measure the amount of glass area in one? How about the chrome? Of course we can't ignore the wings or fins; they were as out-landish as the times, and they make this model instantly recognizable. Add to that the fact that factory power was available with a Tri-Power 348ci engine, one version of which produced 335 hp, and was backed up with a floor-shifted four-speed trans. Not bad for a big hunk of cruisin' iron. This, then, is not a car easily modified, which certainly added to the challenge that builder Bobby Alloway took on when Chuck Rowe rolled the big Impala into the shop. Certainly, Alloway would be the person most likely to do this car justice, having earned prestigious honors including the Ridler Award, America's Most Beautiful Roadster trophy, and various Goodguys awards such as Street Machine of the Year and Street Rod of the Year. As we see, it couldn't have come out better.

Taking a somewhat aggressive approach to styling this car, Alloway and his crew in Louisville, Tennessee, began by cleaning up the finer points on the car. Door handles and emblems were shaved, and the Impala side trim gave way to Bel Air spears, which are trimmer. Custom pans were crafted to mount beneath the one-piece bumpers. As one might expect, much of the filling, smoothing, and finishing was done where we can't readily see it. But take our word for it, the frame, which has an Art Morrison front stub and IFS with Aldan coilovers, is filled and the underside of the floors are as smooth as the body. No use being subtle about the color either, so DuPont Guards Red paint was applied and Dan's Polishing in Adamsville, Tennessee, assured that the chrome and stainless would glitter and shine.

This isn't a "porch dog" either when it comes to running with the big guys. The 502ci big-block Chevy was built by Keiser Racing and makes snorting, thumping noises courtesy of a COMP roller cam, aluminum heads, Barry Grant carb, MSD distributor, and Sanderson headers. It rolls on 20x10 Coddington-machined ET-style rearwheels, and 17x7 fronts, with substantial Goodyear rubber. Connecting the power to the ground is a 9-inch rear and Viper coilovers. Wilwood brakes are at every corner.

You don't have a car like this and not be comfortable inside. The leather-wrapped '65 Impala buckets, door panels, and console, even though custom, have a look that's period perfect, thanks to upholsterer Paul Atkins. Dash instruments are Custom Classics with Alloway logos, a Vintage Air keeps things temperate, while the Sony stereo keeps the tunes comin'.

This is not a car for the meek or for those who just want to sneak into town without being noticed. Rather, this is a most impressive salute to the big car and we tip our hats to owner Chuck Rowe, builder Bobby Alloway, and all the other talented people who made this '59 one to remember.

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