Waiting For A Drivetrain: 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS


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I sometimes think of drivetrain-missing cars as a blank canvas. This particular one is located in Pampa, Texas, and is for sale here on eBay for $3,500 with no reserve or here on craigslist for $4,800. You could go in a number of directions with a car like this, especially if it turns out it’s not a real SS (we have serial number but not cowl tag information). The obvious choice, and probably the best financial one, would be to restore the car properly, find a numbers-appropriate drivetrain (anyone for a dual-quad 409?) and it could be worth a mint. However, that takes a lot of effort, time and money. On the other hand, a generic small-block V8 would look relatively correct, but the car wouldn’t be worth anywhere near as much when you were done. Of course, it wouldn’t take as much money to put it back on the road, either. There are other options as well, including resto-modding the car or rat-rodding it; not one’s I’d choose, but I’m interested in your thoughts: what would you do with this blank canvas?

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  1. DENIS

    Would have to do a big block crate motor-I’m over trying to create high-dollar restos..build ’em the way you want ’em and the hell w anal-retentive numbers-matching crap.

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  2. SoCal Car Guy

    Per the seller’s description on eBay, this was a factory 327 car, by the photos on eBay it’s easy to see it was an automatic trans (i.e. Powerglide) so, there’s no way a “numbers appropriate” drivetrain could possibly be a 409 of any sort. Since a 327 and ‘glide in a car of this size and weight would be a dog and unless one fraudulently adds new “matching” numbers and a date-appropriate 327, this is a perfect candidate for a carefully thought-through restomod. Simplest would be a late (gen 2) smallblock crate engine and put a 200-4R wide-ratio automatic overdrive behind it. A 200-4R is the same overall dimensions as Powerglide or TH350, same bolt pattern (to engine block) , same input and output shaft splines. The trans mount is several inches to the rear of the P/G and TH350s (which can be remedied in most instances with a modified original trans crossmember, and at least one company (Shiftworks) offers kits to convert an original floor shifter to four forward positions from two. Another alternative would be an LS-series engine and matching computer-controlled automatic overdrive from a ’98-02 Camaro or Firebird, an ’04-06 GTO, a G8 GT or GXP or a fifth-gen Camaro. Motor mount kits (adapts stock 327 side-mounts to the slightly rearward mounting bosses on LS-engines). I’ve done 200-4R swaps and put an LS1 and 4L60E in a 1976 Corvette, so I do have a little experience here.

    There are lots of possibilites on this car, I don’t think this one is worth trying to “restore,” and an updated drivetrain would turn it into a blast to drive.

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  3. Andrew

    Big block crate motor 13″ wire wheels and you have the perfect southern California Sunday cruiser

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  4. Luke Fitzgerald

    Rat rod – otherwise it’ll suck you dry

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  5. 64 bonneville

    Go cheap, 350/350 combo and a cheap Maaco paint job. have fun driving it. Even at the 44800 CL price, you could be under $10K with a fun driver.

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