LS Swapped 1964 Chevy Impala Restomod

By Nick Licata   –   Photography by Jason Matthew

It’s not often a vintage car, especially one from the early ’60s, stays within the ownership of one family throughout its entire existence. But this ’64 Chevy Impala has been with Montie Sisco’s family since his grandfather purchased it new off the showroom floor back in 1964.

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For years the fullsize Chevy was used for typical family duties and was his grandfather’s daily. After serving its purpose back in 1970, he offered it to Montie for $650. Monte had just gotten his driver’s license, so he jumped at the chance and purchased the Bel Air for his grandfather’s asking price. Introduced to the car scene at age 12, Montie would hang out with his gearhead brother-in-law while he was wrenching on cars, and he also let him tag along on cruises and get-togethers at the local burger joint. That introduction ignited a love for everything automotive related and the ’64 totally fit the bill.

003 Restored Chevrolet Impala showcasing tail lights and rear profile

Read More: Nick Cincotti’s Asphalt-Burning 1966 Chevy Nova

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“I lived my teenage years in this car—my first girlfriend, second girlfriend, and just a bunch of great memories came from this car during the ’70s and 80s,” Montie says. “Life was good and this car was a big part of it all.”

Fast-forward to 2019 and it was time for a full restoration in the car. Montie visited some local car shows with the idea of scoping out a shop to handle the job. “I was told about a builder in my hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York, with a great reputation for building restomods: Joe Que’s Auto Body,” Montie reveals. “After meeting with Joe, touring the shop, and checking out their projects in progress, it was an easy decision as I knew this was the right shop to handle the restoration.”

005 Frontal view of a vintage Chevrolet Impala showcasing grille and headlights

Joe suggested starting with an Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) chassis decked out with a Strange 9-inch rearend hooked to a four-link and armed with Strange coilovers and Wilwood binders on all four corners guided with an AME rack-and-pinion steering system. Excited to get started, Montie was all in on leaving that land yacht handling behind in favor of late-model hot rod cornering and improved driveability. MetalWorks in Eugene, Oregon, handled the chassis assembly and mounted all the ancillaries prior to sending it to Joe’s team.

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002 Classic maroon Chevrolet Impala parked on an urban street side view

To Montie, a modern drivetrain was a must as he wanted ample power to carry the heavy Chevy down the road with minimal effort. An LS3 was sourced from Chevrolet Performance, a McLeod twin-disc clutch offers smooth shifting, and TREMEC Magnum six-speed transmission easily handles the power, with the overdrive being a bonus for effortless highway driving. Montie liked the idea of taking this fullsize in a manual direction as shifting at the rpm of his choice is an attractive alternative to the natural boredom that can accompany driving an automatic.

022 Custom five spoke wheels on a 1964 Chevrolet Impala

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U.S. Mags Rambler wheels with matte gunmetal machined finish wrapped in Nitto rubber keep the car in the proper era while providing a touch of modern flair. The ensemble offers a great look that accents the Impala’s timeless, classic style.

021 Iconic triple taillights of a 1964 Chevrolet Impala

While the chassis build was in progress, Joe’s crew pulled the body for a full frame-off restoration including a good blasting by Ramputi Restoration Services to reveal potential flaws to the 60-year-old sheetmetal. Fortunately, the car spent most of its road life in Texas, so the original sheetmetal showed only a few rust areas requiring attention.

Joe’s crew performed rust repair, aligned the panels to perfection, then block-sanded the body, creating a smooth canvas prior to spraying the PPG Cranberry Red Metallic. They followed up with multiple layers of PPG D8152 Glamour Clear for deep gloss, giving the car an outstanding finish that gives the vintage Chevy a better-than-new appearance. Other metalwork included smoothing the firewall and widening the transmission tunnel to make room for the six-speed transmission, while the original trim was treated to fresh polishing prior to reassembly.

012 Vintage car interior with tan bench seats and period correct styling

With the exterior completed, Benjamin from Joe’s team installed the Classic Industries factory interior bits. “I wanted the interior to give off a grandpa sleeper theme,” Montie explains. “The only upgrades inside are the Dakota Digital dash insert and VHX gauges, ididit steering column, and the Vintage Air HVAC system. With those modern elements, the car still carries that old-school demeanor.”

007 Engine bay of a classic car featuring a modern V8 engine swap

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“Due to the car being built during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were times when getting some parts was a nightmare,” Montie mentions. “It prolonged the build process, but when I turned the key for the first time and it fired right up, it was well worth the wait. It felt like my heart skipped a beat. Joe and everyone at Joe Que’s Auto Body did an amazing job on the restoration. I built the car in honor of my grandfather with driveability and looks in mind, so I’m positive he would approve, and I bet he’d get a kick out of it having a manual, six-speed transmission, not to mention the 495 hp.”

TECH CHECK
Owner: Montie Sisco, Wappingers Falls, New York
Vehicle: ’64 Chevy Impala

Engine
Type: LS3
Displacement: 376 ci (6.2L)
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Bore: 4.065
Stroke: 3.622
Cylinder Heads: Aluminum L92-style port
Rotating Assembly: Nodular Iron, powdered metal rods, hypereutectic pistons
Camshaft: Hydraulic roller
Induction: Stock intake, K&N filter
Assembly: Chevrolet
Exhaust: 3-inch stainless exhaust by Radd Auto (Wappingers Falls, NY)
Ancillaries: Champion aluminum radiator, Eddie Motorsports hood hinges
Output: 495 hp, 473 lb-ft

Drivetrain
Transmission: TREMEC Magnum
Clutch: McLeod twin disc
Rear Axle: Strange Engineering 9-inch, Eaton Truetrac posi, 3.73 gears, 31-spline axles

Chassis
Chassis: AME GT Sport
Front Suspension: IFS, tubular control arms, Strange Engineering coilover shocks and springs
Rear Suspension: AME four-link, Strange Engineering coilover shocks and springs
Brakes: Wilwood 11-inch rotors, four-piston calipers

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: U.S. Mags Rambler matte gunmetal machined finish
Tires: Nitto NT555 G2 235/40R18 front, 275/40R18 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Classic Industries
Seats: Stock recovered
Steering: Ididit column, GM steering wheel
Shifter: Hurst
Dash: Factory with Dakota Digital insert
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital VHX
Pedals: Stock
HVAC: Vintage Air
Radio: Custom Autosound
Wiring: American Autowire

Exterior
Bodywork and Paint: Joe Que’s Automotive
Paint: PPG Cranberry Red Metallic
Grille: Stock
Front Bumper: Stock
Rear Bumper: Stock
Headlights: Stock
Taillights: Stock

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of LS Swapped 1964 Chevy Impala Restomod.acp april 2024

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