“This car saved my life.” So says its owner, Tim Roach of Tennessee. He has an emotional bond with the Malibu that goes far beyond the attachment that normally forms between an enthusiast and his automobile.
The plan was to use the 1964 Chevelle to pull an Airstream trailer around the country, traveling with his wife. That was the plan they formulated after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, she couldn’t beat the disease and died before the dream could be realized. According to Tim, driving the convertible helped him deal with the depression he felt after she was gone. It kept him sane.
As with most classic vehicles, the A-body eventually started showing its age. Rust had started bubbling up through the paint, and there were mechanical issues as well. The choice was quickly becoming either fix it or sell it. For Tim, getting rid of the ragtop simply was not an option. He decided to ship the Chevelle to the Roadster Shop in Mundelein, Illinois, for repairs and upgrades. Like a lot of builds, the further they dug, the worse things got. The owner decided it was time for the Chevy to become a full-on custom, something like what he recalled from his youth. But this was no throwback build. Tim sketched out a design for the rear panel to change the taillights and spell out Chevrolet between them.
“The taillight sketch turned into every inch of the car being tweaked, customized, reimagined. However, it always stayed true to the car’s original lines and clean, simple design,” according to Tim. “And of course, me being in the tech world, these one-off modifications could be handled with state-of-the-art technology not available in 1964 or even five years ago.”
When your author first saw the Chevelle dubbed “MaliciouSS” at the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the first thought was this is what the Malibu would look like if Chevy brought it back as a 2016 model. It has classic lines, but with thoroughly modern lighting and an interior that’s totally 21st century. It succeeds where a lot of OE efforts at retro styling have failed. We love what the Roadster Shop created for the grille, a modern design with classic touches. The tailpanel is in a league all its own. Inspired by the ’65 Chevelle, it uses cutting-edge lighting for a one-of-a-kind look. Don’t go searching for any of these parts on the Internet. They’re all one-of-a-kind.
The body sits on a Fast Track Roadster Shop chassis with billet control arms and spindles, Penske double-adjustable coilovers with Hyperco springs, and rack-and-pinion steering up front. Making sure it handles like a modern sports car is a Roadster Shop independent rear suspension carrying 3.50:1 gears. Rolling stock consists of one-off six-spoke rims from Greening Auto Company in Nashville, Tennessee, (18x9 front, 19x12 rear) wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (225/35R18s and 335/35R19s).
Under the hood is a 416-inch LS3 built by Wegner Motorsports (Markesan, Wisconsin) that uses ported LSA heads, a Callies crank and rods, Mahle pistons, a Comp cam, and Edelbrock E-Force supercharger. Horsepower is more than double anything offered by Chevy in the ’64 Chevelle—813 at the flywheel, with 789 lb-ft of torque. The folks at Wegner said it could tweak this further, but Tim figures that’s way more than enough to crush any import-style vehicles he’s likely to encounter. A 6L90 six-speed automatic handles the gear changes, with pushbutton controls on the console.
Paul Atkins Interiors in Hanceville, Alabama, handled the unique cockpit and convertible top. There’s a drop-down iPad mini that comes from the center of the dash, a narrowed stock gauge cluster opening, and a custom-designed center console housing pushbutton controls for the transmission and engine starting. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in a vintage Chevy.
“MaliciouSS is my tribute to GM’s design, the simplicity of the car’s roots, a modern take on mid-1960’s design, the start of an era of Chevelle Malibu as a muscle car, to the advancement of technology and engineering available to us today, and above all, a tribute to my late wife, Katherine Clark,” noted Tim. “The car has been reborn and so have I. I have found a wonderful, understanding wife. We are starting a family together, all made possible with the help of a 1964 Malibu that reminded me that I could be happy again.”
The A-body went back to the Roadster Shop for some final tweaks after SEMA, and is slated to do some major shows in 2015. Then Tim said he’s going to start piling on the miles. “I put a lot of money into it so I can drive it,” he said.