1965 Chevy Malibu - Frost Bite

This Malibu thunders in from the frigid North

Eric McClellan Jan 24, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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After three years of an evolutionary collaboration, Lorne Plett of Ile des Chnes, Manitoba, Canada, has a car worthy of all the accolades it has been bestowed. When his ’65 Malibu was first shown at the 2010 World of Wheels show in Winnipeg, it walked away with a trunk load of trophies. The car Lorne has tagged The Shadow snagged the Ron Lechman Award Best Manitoba entry, Best Custom, and Outstanding Display. Then, a short time later when shown at our sister publication’s Car Craft Summer Nationals in St. Paul, where some 6,000 cars come to display their brand of hot rodding, it was crowned Top 10 in Show and the Perfect Paint winner. No small feat for even the most seasoned of builders.

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It exceeds all expectation and handles like a new car, Lorne says. It turned out almost too nice to drive! That became obvious when it won top awards at two huge shows. The crowd reaction was amazing with a lot of top-notch hot rod builders paying the car very positive compliments. I always thought if I could afford to restore a car I would like to do a ’65 Malibu. I really like the clean line.

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Lorne is the type of guy who helps out where he can and when he sees a good deal, he jumps on it. He was in the process of helping a charity buy a race car now that’s our idea of a charity!; it just so happened that buying the car, they also threw in a ’65 Malibu just to sweeten the deal. Lorne handed over the race car and kept the Malibu for himself. And that is the proverbial beginning of the end.

The vision for the project was to have an old-looking car to drive like a new one, Lorne says. My wife, Ingrid, and three sons, Matt, Justin, and Tyler, have had a keen interest in the development and design.

Lorne hired Sandale Fabrication to manage the build. They weren’t happy with the current body that Lorne had picked up, so they scrapped the entire project and started with a better hulk. It’s a pretty rare thing to nail everything right on a car, the stance may be a bit off or the interior could use freshening up. But, this one is an extraordinary example of the brilliant blend of visionary prowess, amazing metal-crafting faculty, and prophetic foresight into what the future of hot rodding could look like. Nothing looks out of place with subtle custom touches smattered all over the car; it’s almost as if this is what the original ’65 Malibu should have been.

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Powertrain
The guys at Sandale wanted a solid combination of reliability and giddyap; they stuffed a stock GMPP LS2 underhood. The unforgettable gleaming engine cover reminds us again that we aren’t dealing with the run-of-the-mill builds. Lorne utilized an AFCO radiator and the Vintage Air LS2 front runner system. The LS2 is coupled to a T56 that sports a custom shifter fabbed by Sandale. The 3-inch Bears chromoly driveshaft mates up to a ubiquitous Ford 9-inch with 3.70:1 gears and a Currie differential.

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Chassis
The skeleton of the ’Bu is an Art Morrison Max 6 chassis piece that allows the 45-year-old missile to plant the tires and keep body roll to a minimum. More Art Morrison pieces can be found at the polished stainless steel A-arms, antisway bars, and three-link united with a Watt’s linkage. The front suspension utilizes the Mustang II’s front spindles. Steering input is handled through a Mustang rack-and-pinion system. The stance is managed by Strange adjustable coilovers on all four corners.

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Rollers
A wicked car requires an equally wicked set of wheels to complement the paint and bodywork. Lorne chose a set of Foose 500 rims, measuring 18x8 up front and 20x10 at the rear. Lorne commissioned a custom set of center caps, adding yet another unique dash to an already striking car. The wheels are engulfed in Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR Radials measuring 26x8x18 and 29x15x20, front and rear respectively. Stopping the dashing stallion are Wilwood 14-inch Big Brake System rotors with six-piston calipers. If that don’t stop ya, nothing will.

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Digs
Lorne found another perfect partner in Omer’s Designs of Manitoba, Canada. They treated him with a full leather interior fit for even the most discriminating derrières. A custom dash insert stocked with Auto Meter gauges and a Billet Specialties steering wheel is what greets the operator. Another custom touch was a center console complete with Alpine CD deck, Dakota Digital keyless entry system, billet hinges, door strikers, and hood bumpers. Out back, the trunk houses the American Autowire Highway 22 cabling, fuse panel, battery, and hidden ECM tuned by HP Tuners for the potent powerplant.

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Body
Cahill Auto Body of St. Pierre, Manitoba, Canada, gave the old ’65 a fresh two-tone gray paint scheme. Owner Maurice Cahill tucked the factory bumpers for tight gaps all the way around the car. He also smoothed the firewall and added a distinctive twosome of inner fenders. The engine cover is also compliments of the fabricators at Cahill. The boys also added cunning stripes on the hood and trunk in a flat gray. They called upon Peter Tetrault from Winnipeg to add the pinstriping that breaks up the giant sea of gray beautifully. CHP

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