Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

A 1962 Chevy Bel Air Bubbletop Taken to the Next Level

Next Level ’62 Bel Air

View Full Gallery

November 6, 1987—a date that most of our readers won’t recognize as having any real significance, but for Alec Kiln it changed everything. Earlier that year he picked up a 1964 Chevy Impala SS, taking it off the hands of the original owner. Soon after, ’64 Impalas became highly sought after for some weird reason.

Alec remembers, “For the two and a half years that it was in my possession, that car gave me many ‘glory days’ stories. It was the foundation of my automotive knowledge and means to keep me out of trouble.” After the two and a half years, it wasn’t his choice to let the Impala go. It was stolen. “I probably would still have that car but it was stolen while I was at USMC boot camp in early 1990. I was absolutely pissed and spent the next few years looking for a replacement,” he recalls. But every ’64 he found was either way out of budget or it was a lowrider.

If you’re still in the dark, that date we mentioned is the day a certain song was released called “Boyz-n-the Hood” that began with a phrase that quickly became iconic: “Cruisin’ down the street in my ’64.”

1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red Front Quarter 2/42
1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red Side 3/42

Alec gave up on his search for another ’64 Impala for a few years. Then, in the summer of 1997 he came across a ’62 Bel Air at a show in Costa Mesa, California. “It wasn’t the paintjob or tuck ’n’ roll that seduced me; it was the elegant body lines and those bubbletop windows it sported. I was done, I wanted no other car!” Alec exclaims. The heartbreak came quick, though, as he soon realized how much ’62 Bel Airs were going for. He lowered his standards to include clones, which were ’62 Impalas with the roof from a ’61 Impala but even then everything decent was out of reach. Thirteen years went by before a 1962 Bel Air popped up that he just couldn’t ignore. He first saw it on Craigslist in Orange County, California, listed for $65,000. Too much. Then a year later the same car came up again but the asking price had dropped by 10 grand. He wanted it bad but could only come up with $35,000. “I don’t know why I thought the guy would take 20 thousand less than his asking price, I just felt that this was the car I’ve been looking for,” says Alec.

The next day he called in sick to work and drove up from San Diego to Anaheim in Orange County to see the car. After a test-drive the negotiations began and long story short, Alec’s rock bottom price didn’t make the cut and he drove back home empty-handed. A couple of days later he got a call—the seller accepted his offer. After another day of calling in sick, Alec finally had the car he’d been longing for.

He’d taken the route of, “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” so when he came home from “work” with the ’62 his wife was in for a surprise. “My wife calls my Bel Air ‘The Mistress’ because of this insubordinate act,” jokes Alec.

The next five years or so, the car was in and out of shops. After spending way too much money and not finding any satisfaction at the first shop, Alec stumbled upon Shawn Dove, owner of EVOD Industries who gladly took on the build. They worked together to iron out the details, then EVOD mechanic and fabricator Chris took over the dirty work of turning Alec’s Bel Air into the masterpiece it is today.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red 4/42

For the exterior of the ’62, Alec wanted to, “not have to worry about the paint getting chipped but if ‘spit-shined’ could still draw a crowd at a show.” With that in mind, the guys at EVOD shot the car in black and then added a few minor exterior modifications to make it stand out. Then, The Bumper Boyz supplied stock one piece front and rear bumpers, and Classic Industries sent over a reproduction stock grille. To go along with the sleek look, Alec chose reworked, OEM-style wheels from Wheel Vintiques measuring 15x7 up front and 15x8 out back wrapped in 235/60R15 and 275/60R15 BFGoodrich Radial T/As.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red Interior 5/42

Inside it’s a similar story as everything appears mostly stock. Ciadella Interiors of Tempe, Arizona, took care of all the upholstery, wrapping the stock bench seats in red vinyl and cloth. The steering wheel remains factory, save for a thin leather skin, and the gauges behind it appear to be completely stock, but in reality they are Auto Meter GS Series dials retrofitted to fit in the stock locations. Three pedals and a McLeod five-speed shifter hint that there might not be the original 55-year-old powertrain under the hood.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red Engine 6/42

Speaking of which, Alec wanted to stick with a “would-be-stock” engine, so it had to be a W-block 409. But, like the rest of the car, this 409 might look pretty normal, but its builder, LWA Engines begs to differ. It’s really an all-aluminum version of the original 409ci engine, bored and stroked to 482ci. The rotating assembly is comprised of LWA forged pistons and a 4340 steel crankshaft all held together by ARP hardware. LWA also tossed in one of their own hydraulic roller camshafts with 248/258-degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift and 113-degrees of lobe separation angle. A set of Comp Cam roller lifters sit atop the LWA aluminum heads and an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold resides within the vee. Giving the all-aluminum 409 air and fuel is a pair of 625-cfm Holley Street Demon carburetor while an MSD magnetic distributor gives it spark.

The modern tech continues outside of the long-block where a Fluidyne engine oil cooler is mounted behind the grille to the left of the Griffin three-row aluminum radiator and a Billet Specialties Premium Tru Trac Serpentine System keeps all the auxiliary units in line. Edelbrock finned aluminum valve covers and air cleaner housing give the engine a little added flare to match the glorious noises that exude out of the custom exhaust. Jardine Performance Products supplied custom nitro-plated headers with 1 7/8-inch primaries that go into 3-inch collectors. EVOD finished up the rest of the exhaust with custom 2 1/2-inch stainless pipes exiting out Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers. On the dyno, Alec’s Bel Air puts down a solid 627 naturally aspirated horsepower and 649 lb-ft of torque.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red Wheel 7/42

Getting all that power to the rear wheels is a TREMEC TKO 500 five-speed built by Liberty’s Gears out of Harrison Charter Township, Michigan. A McLeod RST twin-disc clutch makes sure no power is lost between the 409 and the TKO, then a driveshaft from Inland Empire Drivelines in Ontario, California, sends that power toward the rearend. To make sure reliability would not be an issue, EVOD put together a Ford 9-inch from Currie with a 4.11:1 gear ratio and a limited-slip differential.

Alec, a smart man, knew that with all the power his ’62 would be loaded with, he couldn’t get away with stock suspension and brakes. With that in mind, EVOD fitted his bubbletop Chevy with all-new suspension front and rear, which included spindles, tubular control arms, and springs from CPP up front bringing the ride height down 1 inch. In the rear, the stock springs were swapped out for new CPP coils to match the 1-inch drop along with Global West control arms featuring double upper arms, which help keep the rearend centered. Bilstein RCD Classic shocks were installed at all four corners and CPP supplied the disc brakes, which sport 11-inch drilled and slotted rotors all around.

When he takes his Bel Air to local shows, he always draws a crowd. “I will have the old-timers, who actually were tearing up the streets with these cars, come up and share stories with me. I really get a kick out of that,” beams Alec. In the end, he might not have his original ’64 Impala, but what he does have is a 1962 bubbletop Bel Air that is one stunning piece of American muscle.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air Black Red Rear Quarter 8/42

Photographs by Robert McGaffin

X

Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS
TO TOP