Bill Frye's '65 Impala two-door hardtop didn't end up a mean-spirited car, nor did it start out life as one. "I got the Impala from my father-in-law in 1990 after he sold a cherry Ford Galaxie convertible for $1,900 without telling me," Bill says. "He said he would have given it to me if he'd known I wanted it."
Bill's father-in-law did make amends by offering to go into "partnership" on an Impala he had sitting in a vacant lot. Bill agreed and once the car was deemed roadworthy, he made the trek up to Michigan to move his in-laws to Colorado. The Impala made it the entire journey problem free. In those days, loyalty and innocence seemed to be the Impala's main traits. Little did Bill and his family realize the terror that would come upon them.
Well, actually you might not call it "terror," per se, but it could've been a scene out of Stephen King's novel Christine. The Impala became the Frye family's second car for a short time after its mission from Michigan. One day, Bill's mother, visiting from California, asked to borrow the car. As she backed it down the driveway, Bill's son, Adam, at the time a jubilant, carefree 4-year-old, spied his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in the Impala's path. "Save me," cried the helpless hard-backed little action figure. The young Frye dove under the rolling carcass of steel and rubber reaching for the cloaked reptilian assassin. Presently, the Impala is equipped with Baer brakes, 14-inch rotors, and four-piston calipers, but at the time it was running stock units. A lot happened in the driveway that day, but let's put it this way: The brakes didn't work quickly enough.
Fortunately, the small Frye survived this mishap and is today a rabid Chevy enthusiast. He even has his own Impala SS.
Soon after acquiring the Impala from Michigan Bill and his father-in-law's "partnership" quickly turned into a sole proprietorship. "When we got here I immediately started looking for replacement fenders and other miscellaneous parts and I think I made him nervous about what it might cost to do what I wanted to the car," Bill says. "I'm pretty sure he felt his cheapest way out of the partnership was to just give me the car. That way all the restoration expenses would be mine. Which was a good call on his part."
Once Bill got controlling interest of the project, the first thing he did was replace the front fender, remove the interior, and sand blast the body. Six C4 Corvette taillights brighten up the rear and the door handles were shaved, too. While Bill is a financial advisor by day, at night and on weekends he ditches the suit and turns into a superhero, hands-on type of guy. He also applied a fresh paint job and replaced the car's 283 with a rebuilt 350 while he was at it.
As we said, Bill acquired the car around 1990 and throughout the next decade he went through a number of wheel and tire combos going from 15-inch Cragars to 17-inch American Torque-Thrusts until finally settling on the 18- and 20-inch Intro Pentias you see tucking in the pics. They're 8 inches wide fore and 10 aft. The tires wrapping these rims are 245/40 Nittos in front and 275/35 Nittos in the rear.
Around this time, Bill started to go on the Hot Rod Power Tour, which became cherished events for him and his sons, Adam and Jason, to attend together. You see, both of his sons-including the one who got dragged under the car that fateful day-have Chevy SS models; one a Camaro and the other an Impala. Together they are a triumphant trifecta touring 10 towns.
After cruising around with the 350 for a while, Bill felt the need for more speed and torque so he yanked that motor and replaced it with a rebuilt 454. Along with it went Sanderson headers and a 2 1/2-inch Magnaflow exhaust that really lets you know of the Impala's imminent arrival. Along with the new motor, the existing Powerglide was swapped out for a 700-R4.
At this point, with the mechanicals sorted, Bill took the advice of many self-help gurus and decided to "work on his inner self." Well, actually he decided to spruce up the interior of the Impala with a custom billet dash, Auto Meter gauges, and a pair of Cadillac seats from a '96 El Dorado. While cruising along before another Power Tour with his bottom nestled cozily in the Caddy cushions, Bill decided that it was time to go down south-not only with the Power Tour, but with the ride height. He installed RideTech ShockWaves with tubular control arms fore and upgraded trailing arms aft. Sway bars got installed after that.
After slamming the ornery Impala down to the ground, Bill decided to add more to that 454 with Edelbrock aluminum heads and March serpentine pulleys. At this point he got the itch to put a stop to all this mechanical treachery with the aforementioned Baer brakes.
A freak accident nearly took away Bill's son that day when his Impala got jealous, but instead of losing his offspring, he gained a cruising buddy. Now Bill and his sons are rolling three deep on the SS trip from show to show with all their limbs intact.