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1965 Chevy Impala | Dream Machine

ISAAC MION April 12, 2022 All Feature Vehicles

There are a few ways to get a reaction when building a show car. One is to build something over the top, like a tricycle with three V-8s, or something really unusual like a decked FedEx delivery truck. But Jeff Showalter has managed to achieve that elusive “Whoaaaa!” factor with a ’65 Chevy Impala SS with a platform that would usually elicit mediated respect from other muscle car aficionados rather than the utterly astounded reaction that this SS usually gets. How did he get this result? Well, he followed his dreams.

While the chassis is original, it isn’t without modifications to deal with the extra stress that 430 hp puts on the Impala’s frame. The rear half has reinforcements welded in along with the mini tub, while Jeff reinforced the front’s upper and lower control arms. The rearend is a 10-bolt GM, while the panhard bar, roll bar, ladder bars and 4-link all hail from Hotchkis. GB gas shocks and Ridetech airbags let the Impala achieve its adjustable vertical ride height.
At first Jeff had planned on keeping the Impala primarily stock and painting it white. But as projects go, it got a little out of hand. “I ended up molding the front bumper into the body, removed the door handles and got the hood to lift backwards,” Jeff said. “That was one of the tougher items, getting the custom cowl hood to lift the other way. I had to try with all my effort and might.” Of course, the shape of the hood isn’t so noticeable with the feathered saucers flying around on top of it. You know, the ones that Jeff supposedly imagined without weed. Anyway, love it or hate it, you have to admit, this graphic done in collaboration with artist Darrell Mayabb definitely flies in the face of convention.
Colorado Customs supplied the wheels. The 4 Stars measure 17 x 8 fore and 20 x 10 aft, while the tires that wrap them are Falken 245-R45-17 up front and 295-R45-20 out back. The mini-tub allows what is essentially a truck tire to tuck nicely with 4 3/4 backspacing. Peek through the spokes of the black pinstriped rims and you can see the 14-inch SSBC rotors and calipers. Something has to stop the madness!

“The idea for the paint scheme came to me in a vision when I was asleep,” Jeff said. “The rest of the graphics I had sketched out before, like the jagged stripes and the ghost flames, but the coins came to me in a dream.”

This author recently showed the car to an artist named Chris Hovland, known for the wild graphics and trippy patterns that he incorporates into his clothing. When he first saw Jeff’s car even his reaction was no less than “Whoa! What the @#$%!”

Juan Arce of Interior by Juan in Aurora, CO, installed the majority of the upholstery. The steering wheel is from Colorado Customs, while the seats are faux leather. But looking at them makes you wonder if there are orange and tan alligators with tattoos somewhere on Mars. The custom all-steel dash displays a centered 1957 Chevy gauge cluster with Classic Instruments white face gauges. The transmission shifter was capped with a one-off billet aluminum whiffle ball.

When this author first encountered Jeff’s project at a show last summer in Denver, my exclamation was “Holy Sh–! What exactly is going on here?” I’d seen Jeff at a show earlier in the year and he said he had something for me, but I wasn’t expecting this. I just soaked in the orange interior, oval discs and the rest of the utterly brazen outlandishness the Impala represented. The car brings pain, confusion and a whole other set of emotions that ’65 Impalas just aren’t supposed to conjure. The graphics make you wonder where this guy comes up with this stuff? A lot of people smoke marijuana these days, and I wouldn’t want to guess whether or not Jeff partakes, but I did offer him a relaxing bowl of crack during the photo shoot and he politely refused, saying that Sizurp was more his style. Hey, whatever makes you come with the Quetzalcoatl craziness in your graphic scheme.

At the end of the day, all we can say is Jeff Showalter took five years to turn an ordinary ’65 Impala into a serious neck-breaker. And to think, he was going to keep it white!

The Impala looks evil whether it’s coming or going. When it’s coming, the coins conjure a cacophony of reactions, while it looks good going the reason is subtler. “I took a hood from a truck and molded it into the roll pan,” Jeff said. “I had to concentrate so hard that my eyes got real squinty.” You can also see from the rear that the drip rails have been removed, but the real allure is the molded bumper and the candy and Brandywine paint scheme that you only really see after a couple of minutes looking from behind after the effect of the front hood’s gold saucers with wings wears off.

The madness doesn’t stop at the engine bay. The bay and motor have received as much attention as the body, both inside and out. Jeff Taylor and John Gerloff of USA Performance had their hands in the motor’s build bringing the small-block’s displacement to 377 ci with a 4.155 bore and 3.480 stroke. CP Pistons and GM steel power rods, along with a 10.5 to 1 compression ratio, help bring the horsepower and torque to 430 and 400, respectively. The clean, crisp Colorado mountain air is brought in through a 600-cfm Edelbrock carburetor through the intake manifold from the same company before the 3-inch mandrel-bent Flowmaster exhaust system spits the nasty gasses back out into the environment.
After you remove the bodies, more Martian-orange crocodile leather pops out at you from the trunk as it nestles between the two 1,500-watt JL Audio amps that power 6-inch and 10-inch front and rear speakers, respectively.



Jeff Showalter

CHASSIS: Factory chassis, stock wheelbase with welded in reinforcements for rear half, reinforced front upper and lower control arms.

SUSPENSION: Front suspension: Stock modified, GM spindles, GM springs, GB shocks, SBCC anti-roll bar, GM steering box, Flaming River steering column, welded reinforced suspension mods. Rear suspension: 10-bolt GM rearend, 373 ratio, limited slip CJM posi-unit with Strange 31-spline axles, Hotchkis 4-link, ladder bars and panhard bar, Ride Tech air ride airbags.

BRAKES: Front: SSBC disc with 14-inch cross-drilled, ball-milled, rotors with four-piston calipers; rear: SSBC disc with 13-inch cross-drilled, ball-milled, rotors with four-piston calipers. Master cylinder: Classic Performance. Power Booster: Classic Performance.

WHEELS: Front: Colorado Customs 4 Star 17 x 8, 4 x 1/2 backspacing; rear: Colorado Customs 4 Star 20 x 10, 4 ¾ backspacing

TIRES: Front: Falken FK 245R/45-17; rear: Flaken FK 295R/45-20

BRAKES: Front: 11 x 2.25-inch drum; rear: 11 x 2-inch drum

WHEELS: Stock Ford 15-inch steel wheels

TIRES: Coker radials, 6.70 x 15 metric equivalent

ENGINE: GM 1965 small-block 377; machine work by USA Performance Engines (Denver); assembly by Jeff Taylor and John Gerloff; GM steel crankshaft stroked 3.480; GM steel 5.700 power rods; CP pistons with 10.5 to 1 compression ratio; Electric 77 bearings; CP rings bored 4.155, stroked 3.480, balanced and blueprinted; YR276HR Comp Cam camshaft, 502/.510 lift, duration 110; Brodix Dragen Slayer aluminum cylinder heads; stainless valves, rockers rollers and GM water pump; Spall fan; Griffin aluminum radiator; GM alternator; GM valve covers; Edelbrock intake manifold and 600-cfm carburetor; handmade one-off air cleaner; MSD ignition; Hedman 1 ¾-inch headers; Flowmaster 3-inch mandrel-bent 50 series exhaust; USA Performance Engines performed engine machine work (Denver), 430 hp at 3,500, torque 400 at 3,500

TRANSMISSION: GM 1970 Muncie M22 four-speed transmission, Centerforce clutch, Hurst fly shifter, shifter knob machined by John Ehrlide at Quad for rods, GM driveshaft

EXTERIOR: Shaved door handles; removed drip rails; fit bumpers and cowl hood; GM steel grille and insert; GM bodywork done by Jeff Showalter; PPG Candy Brandywine Orange paint by Jeff Showalter; graphics by Jeff Showalter in collaboration with Darrell Mayabb; Hagen headlights; handmade blue dot LED taillights; wine outside mirrors; front bumper stock molded, modified and shaved; door handles removed; smoked electric glass; chrome by Denver Metal Finishing; all other custom bodywork done by Jeff of Colorworks Customs.

INTERIOR: All-steel dash cluster; handmade insert; Classic Instruments; JL Audio amps; 6-inch Focal speakers; JL Audio rear speakers; 10-inch JL Audio subwoofer; stereo installation by Russ and Matt Wagner; Vintage Air air conditioning; insulation by Jeff Showalter; Vintage Air control panel; wiring by Jeff Showalter; Colorado Customs steering wheel; GM faux leather orange upholstery; tan carpet; custom-made door panels; custom console; seats installed by Juan Arce

A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2014 print issue of Maximum Drive 



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