Two Door Project Car: 1963 Impala Hardtop

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Yet another car for sale that makes me envious of those who live out in the country, without the confines of limited space provided by urban living. I’ve said this before, and it’s still true: If I lived in the country and had enough acreage that I could store cars without bugging the neighbors too much, I’d have a thousand of them by now. I’d be that crazy old car-hoarder-guy, that upon my death, my widow would have an auction large enough to take several days, and buyers with trucks and trailers would come from miles around to be there. Remember the Lambrecht auction in Nebraska? I’d make that guy look like an amateur.

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But the reality is that I live in town, and have to settle for aggravating my close-by neighbors with an even dozen or so. This 1963 Impala two-door hardtop appears for sale here on craigslist in St. Louis, Missouri. The asking is $1,500, which is a good deal if this car really is as solid as it appears. It’s missing a few parts here and there, but nothing that cannot be found, and lots of it is available new.

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Along with the interesting solid-looking body, we can also see this is a factory air car, which is not super common for an early sixties Impala. I’ve seen these A/C units sell on eBay for as much as $800, without the car included. The fenders, wheelhouses, radiator support and more, are all easy to locate for this car. All of the interior soft parts are available new, in any of the original colors, and even a color that wasn’t available when new (white).

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Like so many craigslist cars in this price range, the photos are awful. But they’re matched equally with a non-informative, lame description that conveys very little. The door panel in the photo above, suggests this is an SS car, but the red front seat and the different-color A/C vent housings suggests this car is a conglomeration of lots of parts that didn’t start out life on the same car. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to know what I was looking at. The VIN, cowl tag and what remains of the original parts have plenty to tell us about whether this car was an SS, or just a regular Impala. If it was white with gold interior, I think that’s an unusual color combination for this car. Note the black-painted inset area on the side trim, which is normally white with most other body colors, on this model.

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Subsequent photos show the car in a changed state and part of the description (which consists of three sentence fragments), tells us this is what the car looks like “after 20 minutes of power warshing.”  I don’t want to know if that misspelling is intentional or not.

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But at least to my eye, it really adds urgency to the idea that someone needs to get over and “save” this car, and fast. Stripping the paint off of it at this point is….well, pointless.

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I can’t tell if the dark surface underneath is old painted-over surface rust, or another color, or what. The door jambs suggest the car has always been white. The seller with his super-duper word economy, doesn’t mention a word about the condition of the floors, frame or trunk floor. Likely, he’s never seen them.

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The ad says he has a clear title. If luck or fate should have it that one of the Barn Finds faithful ends up with this car, I’ll donate a decent pair of fenders and wheelhouses to the project, and I may be able to find a few other parts for it around here too. Whatever you do, don’t bring me with you before you buy it. Or at least don’t tell my wife. If she hears about me looking at another one of these, all my dinners will start tasting like antifreeze. Somebody go buy this, so I don’t have to.

Great project? Trash or treasure? Any ideas for a potential drive train? How would you do it? Let us know what you think.

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Comments

  1. Fred

    I’m guessing that’s another color rather than surface rust. Paint would adhere quite well to surface rust and it would be hard to power wash it off, but with a poor prep job, it might be easy to wash it off another paint layer, especially if they slapped on Latex. Another hour of pressure washing and you could be looking at the original paint job, or a well prepped respray.

    • Mike H. Mike H.

      Agreed. I think that the mess all over the ground is the white paint which has been pressure washed off of it.

    • Robert White

      The white paint on it is latex paint, and that’s why it strips off with a power wash.

      Bob

    • Ed P

      It looks like maroon was original. It has a bit of a shine telling me that little prep work was done. Earl Scheib white is not my favorite color.

  2. Rando

    WTH is that on the windshield? Looks like a big hole? Or a warsh(sic) mitt? Not an SS car? The rear quarter badges should be SS badges. Maybe someone was trying to clone it? Cowl piece is burgundy. Color under white is burgundy. Maybe it was that color to start with? Someone put white paint on later? I dunno – the paint under cowl is whte as are the doors jambs. I love the mystery of these cars.

  3. Rock On Member

    Hey Marty,
    I’m all for having a large collection of weird and wonderful old cars, but at least I thought that you would want to store them in a barn rather than out in a field!

  4. Staab

    I believe all SS models had consoles and floor shifters ?

  5. AMCSTEVE

    This car needs to much work and it’s not even an SS. Do yourself a favor and buy one done already.

  6. Mike H. Mike H

    Hey, it was once a “v8 powerglad!

    Seems as though the seller literally spells the words as they sound. Sorry if this sounds like a personal attack. . . It’s not, it’s just an observation.

  7. Chebby

    I wonder if the crash that destroyed the front clip also put the passenger’s head through the windshield. Ironically, the license plate appears to read SHOEI; he sure could have used a helmet.

  8. Robert White

    Great deal of the century IMHO. I would buy this car in a heartbeat even if it ain’t an SS. Clear title and no rust on the rockers is good enough for me. This is one nice find Barn Finds. One cannot argue with the price for the sheet metal.

    And if it was an SS it would have had a four speed on the floor IMHO so this car is NOT an SS. Bottom line is who cares when everything else is there and a faux SS can be made out of it.

    Bob

    • Chebby

      How is this possibly the deal of the century. 40% of it is missing, and what’s there is roached.

      • Robert White

        The front clip is an easy find and the car is not ‘roached’ IMHO. I live in Ottawa CANADA and winter road salt kills everything around here. The rockers on this 63 Impala are solid and if the rockers are solid the car is not ‘roached’ given that at worst one would have to replace a floor pan or two.
        The body is relatively straight without much in the way of dents to pound out or panels to straighten. Bottom line is that the base substrate is excellent and this car is worthy of a ground up restoration to make it into a faux SS.

        Bob

  9. Marty Member

    Rock On, more acreage means room for more buildings. But you’re right. If I had a 100 car garage, sooner or later I’d own 101 cars. Then 102, 103 and so on.

    I’m surprised at so many naysayers on this car. I didn’t inspect the car in person, but both quarters looked straight and solid! That doesn’t necessarily mean the floors are good, but what’s visible here looks great. Anyone who has spent $800 and 25 hours over two or three weekends welding on repro quarters that don’t fit, or even trimmed used originals to fit, can testify to what a great deal this car was, because it didn’t need quarters or rockers, and this same person is well versed in the fact that the missing fenders take about 10 minutes to bolt on.

    I didn’t inspect it in person, but the absence of a front clip doesn’t mean it was wrecked. They could have been removed for restoration, and then sold separately. It happens all the time. This may have been a parts car for another restoration, and that’s where the clip, drive train, and gold bucket seats might have all ended up.

    As with many 50 year old cars, it needs new soft parts for the interior. All of it is available for this one. It isn’t cheap for any of them. The windshield and costs less than $200, and this includes the rubber.

    This car was a good deal. It’s sold now, so we’ll probably never know how nice it really was (or wasn’t!) Thanks everyone, for the comments.

  10. ric Parrish

    I don’t care about numbers matching drop in a 425 Horse, 409! I read the other day a 63 425/409 was the fastest either 0 to 60 or 1/4 mile car of the period. I know they were hot, but could they take a Max Wedge?

    • Ed P

      Since the motor is gone, put in what you want. Have fun!!

  11. Jim

    I had my share of 59-63 Chevy’s, the ’61 SS, which weren’t many only came with 283 or 348 stick but some dealers converted them to powerglides for the customers. ’62-64 all SS Impalas were available with stick or powerglide, ’65 was a new ballgame converting over to the 396 and turbo 400 trans or multiple manual transmissions. That maroon exterior with gold interior was popular, ’63 SS only came with buckets, that red seat was from somewhere else. Yes I’ve bought cars that were painted with latex and had a driveway full of ribbons in a few minutes too. This is a nice car, especially an original SS with A/C

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