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1965 Malibu With Old-School Style and Modern Performance

Elegant Assassin: Once left for dead, Dale Hodson’s Malibu is just killer now

Chris Shelton Jun 21, 2018
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“It was a dark and stormy night.” Just about every writer secretly (and perversely) wants an opportunity to start a story that way. But few do it. It’s actually the introduction to an English novel, and in the 188 years since it went into print that phrase has come to represent cliché sensationalism. To use it properly takes the knowledge that what you’re doing is probably a really bad idea and the ability to laugh at your own expense.

So here we go: It was a dark and stormy night when Dale Hodson went to look at a ’65 Malibu. His words, by the way.

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But that phrase does something magical. It makes the rest of the story practically write itself. Because you full well know what happens when you look at derelict cars on stormy nights. But hey, it was a real SS. For $700 even. What could possibly go wrong?

“Everything,” Dale laments, laughing while describing what he saw—or more accurately what he didn’t see as we talked about that night. “It was under a tarp in about foot-high grass,” he says. “It violated every rule I knew.”

We’ll state the obvious: what Dale bought for so cheap was probably too expensive at free. At the end of the day the car needed full quarters on both sides, both doors, a hood, trunk lid, and the floor from the firewall to the tailpanel. But Dale has a great command of idioms, like the one about sweet lemons. “I always wanted to take a car and build it from the ground up,” he says, spinning this potentially agonizing story in his favor.

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And that’s exactly what he did at his home shop. He even mounted it on a rotisserie so he could blast and prime it at his own pace. And best of all, his wife, Chris, was more than cool with it. In fact, she digs it (they still have the ’64 El Camino that they bought as a young couple in the late ’60s). Between Eric Rosenfield, who supplied original parts and info, and Al Duley, who dragged him to swaps to find the rest, Dale started to put the car back together.

“My vision was to create a refined car that was old-school based,” which, in his terms, meant retaining the components that made the car what it is, at least aesthetically. Even the engine that he mounted in the car is old-worldly, at least in the sense that it’s based on a production block and wears a carburetor.

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But how he interacts with that block and body is anything but old-school: five-speed, big brakes, tubular arms, double-adjustable dampers, big antiroll bars. It makes the car work in ways that no mid-’60’s GM engineer could’ve imagined.

In a sense, Dale built something akin to a James Bond co-star: a stock-appearing car that has many tricks up its sleeve, so to speak. Which may explain why Dale had Keith Russell paint the car Tuxedo Black.

But knowing what Dale started with and what it took, we’re thinking a Bond car might not be this car’s right spirit animal. No, this thing … after what it’s been through, it’s more like the Six-Million-Dollar man! CHP

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Tech Check
Owner: Dale and Chris Hodson, Gig Harbor, Washington
Vehicle: 1965 Malibu Super Sport

Engine
Type: Mk IV 454
Displacement: 468 ci
Compression Ratio: 9.6:1
Bore: 4.310 inches
Stroke: 4.000 inches
Cylinder Heads: Air Flow Research Magnum 305, 117cc combustion chambers
Rotating Assembly: Scat 9000-series crank, Pro Comp H-beam rods, Probe pistons
Valvetrain: AFR stainless valves, PRW Pro-Series 1.7:1 roller rockers
Camshaft: Comp Cams Magnum 290HR (0.578-inch lift, 232-deg. duration at 0.050)
Induction: Pro Systems 950-cfm 4150-style carb, Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold, NKR cowl-induction filter assembly
Ignition: HEI-style by DUI Performance Distributors
Exhaust: Lemons 2-inch headers, 3-inch exhaust with Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers by Pro Max (Tacoma, WA)
Ancillaries: DeWitts aluminum black-ice radiator, twin SPAL electric fans, Vintage Air Front Runner
Output (at the crank): 585 hp at 5,900 rpm, 589 lb-ft at 3,800 rpm
Builder: Machined and assembled by Ray Danielson (Silverdale, WA)
Tuner: D&D Dyno (Elma, WA)

Drivetrain
Transmission: Legend Gear and Transmission LGT 700 five-speed from Jody’s Transmissions, (Reading, PA), McLeod flywheel, Centerforce pressure plate and dual-friction disc, Quick Time bellhousing
Rear Axle: 1966 GM 12-bolt with Eaton Posi limited-slip carrier, 3.73:1 gears, 30-spline Tom’s Differentials Kick Ass axleshafts by Tory DiBlasi (Long Island, NY)

Chassis
Steering: Delphi 670 12.7:1 power-assist box
Front Suspension: UMI Performance control arms with tall ball joints and Acetal bushings, stock spindles, Viking double-adjustable coilover dampers, Hellwig Motorsports tubular 1 1/4-inch antiroll bar
Rear Suspension: UMI Performance boxed lower control arms with polyurethane roto-joints, adjustable upper control arms with roto-joints, tubular frame braces; Viking double-adjustable dampers; 2-inch lowering springs; Hellwig Motorsports tubular 1 1/8-inch antiroll bar
Brakes: Wilwood 13-inch rotors, six-piston Superlite calipers, front; 13-inch rotors, four-piston Dynalite Pro Series calipers, rear; Wilwood proportioning valve; Hydratech Braking Systems hydraulic-assist assembly

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Vintage Wheel Works 45-series 17x8 (4 3/4-inch backspace) front, 17x9 (5 1/2-inch backspace) rear
Tires: Nitto 555 red-striped by Diamondback Classics 245/45 front, 275/40 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Brad Henry at All Types Upholstery (Port Orchard, WA)
Seats: Factory buckets with Legendary Auto Interiors foam and covers
Carpet: Rayon 80/20 loop
Steering Wheel: 16 1/2-inch 2-spoke simulated wood by Original Parts Group
Shifter: Jody’s Transmissions (Reading, PA)
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital VHX
Audio: Delco AM pushbutton with single center-mount speaker
Wiring: American Autowire Classic Update installed by Gary Proctor at Emerald Shine (Silverdale, WA)

Exterior
Body Prep & Paint: Keith Russell of KR Custom Body & Paint (Seabeck, WA)
Paint: PPG 93000 Black, single-stage urethane
Trim: Custom fender badges by Mike Curtis Designs (Orange, CA)

Notes: N.O.S. and original used parts from Eric Rosenfield of The Road Association (Black Diamond, WA)

Photos by Chris Shelton

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