Chris Coad remembers his excitement as an 8-year-old boy when he accompanied his grandmother to the Chevrolet dealership.
He was riding in his grandmother’s pink 1957 Ford Thunderbird to use as a trade-in for a new 1967 Chevrolet Impala SS. She wanted a car that would last, so she opted for heavy-duty components. Those selections led her to an Impala SS hardtop coupe with a base price of $3,003. It was one of 66,510 such models manufactured that model year.
Grandmother and grandson cruised out of the dealership in the new Chevrolet riding on a 119-inch wheelbase supporting the 3,615-pound car while listening to the push-button AM radio, a $57 option.
Accessories on the Impala SS included factory-installed air conditioning, power steering, power disc/drum brakes, tilt steering column, 12-bolt Posi-traction differential, F-41 suspension package and a 275-horsepower, Turbo Fire 327-cubic-inch V-8 engine.
In the next eight years Coad’s grandmother accumulated 100,000 miles on her Impala SS. Coad says his grandmother always thought any car was worn out after 100,000 miles. Her point of view was probably close to correct decades ago.
“We went on several road trips in the Impala SS — to Canada and the western states when I was a kid,” Coad says. As a result of those hours spent in her car he became acquainted with all aspects of the car.
In 1975, Coad bought the car for $400. Initially his grandmother wanted to give him her car. “However,” he recalls, “since I was a teenager she thought that she would teach me to be responsible by having me make monthly payments of $25.” Her plan worked.
With all the limited wisdom possessed by a teenager, Coad promptly disposed of the original 14-inch wheels and wheel covers with the SS at the center. He also decided to upgrade the V-8 with a more powerful 350-horsepower V-8. He remembers his grandmother chastising him for spending so much money on a pile of junk.
Coad is currently driving on his third 350-cubic-inch V-8 and his Chevrolet has traveled about 300,000 miles. He decided to renew his 17-foot, 9.25-inch-long Chevrolet and stripped it down before taking it to a body shop. “There were a few dings here and there,” he says.
As is the case with most restoration projects the effort costs twice as much as expected and takes twice as much time as expected. “Except for the paint and upholstery work, the restoration was done by me,” Coad says. He is an automobile mechanic by trade.
Coad located several needed parts at salvage yards and included some modern upgrades. “I wanted to keep the look,” Coad says. Most of the bright work was straightened and polished, but both bumpers were sent off for replating.
Coad says the suspension has been beefed up to the point where he says, “It feels like driving a 2-ton go-kart.”
Not every item on the car was replaced. Coad preserved some parts that had historical meaning for him. Little reminders of days gone by and memories, such as small chips in the left side window, dents in the chrome side trim from when someone broke into the car or the mileage figures his grandfather scratched into a piece of aluminum trim.
The project was completed to his satisfaction in 2007. “Since then the handsome, 4.5-foot tall car mostly sits in the garage,” Coad says.
The 1967 Chevrolet Impala SS now ventures out for fair-weather weekend jaunts or comfortable Sunday drives on the roads of Contra Costa County. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters