Cliff Taylor: Wheels Reader
The Car: 1967 Chevrolet Impala
My friend, Ed Crooks, dug this car out of a pile of snow at a Sunoco service station in Fenelon Falls and showed up with it at the Green + Ross Tire Store I managed in Oshawa. Buying it for $225 with 60,219 miles on it in 1979 was a good decision.
Built at GM in Oshawa, it was originally shipped to Regina Motor Products, in Saskatchewan. That year, 11,631 models of my Impala were made.
I loved the two-door hardtop roofline and realized its 1967 Centennial year connection could one day reflect an added value. Now 38 years later, it’s been appraised at $48,000.
I bought new fenders, inner fender wells and a hood. Maaco Auto Body in Oshawa put it all together with a fresh coat of Marina Blue paint.
Later, I reinforced the frame under the driver and passenger foot wells, mounted a bumper trailer hitch and my bride, Giselle, and I went on our Maritime honeymoon, towing a camping trailer. Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail made for a wonderful trip and memorable honeymoon.
In 1985, Brian Owens, who had worked for me as a mechanic, called about a 1968 Chev station wagon headed to an auto wrecker. He figured I could use its solid California frame and disc brakes on my Impala. Paying a mere $35, I had it towed to my tire shop.
My father, Cliff Sr., helped me remove the body mounts that weekend, and on Monday, a tow truck lifted it off the frame. The chassis was dismantled and its components were acid dipped, stripped and had a fresh coat of epoxy enamel applied at Redi-Strip in Brampton.
Over the winter, I assembled all the shiny, new frame parts. The scariest job was cutting the metal bands after putting the front springs between the control arms. They sprang into place with a jarring force that left me trembling for hours.
The old running gear was removed at Jay’s Autobody in Oshawa, and the new one went in. The car was repainted in a 1968 Corvette blue colour, slightly darker than the original Marina Blue, and the new disc brakes required 15-inch Corvette wheels.
The 283 cubic-inch engine was rebuilt, giving me 220 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The two-speed power glide was replaced with a TH350 three-speed transmission.
A few years later, my friend, Eric Carstenson, a body man, replaced the rear quarter panels with new ones. The rusted area below the windshield was patched with body filler, to be repaired years later.
I made many trips for parts. Carlisle and Hershey, Penn., were popular destinations, and I’d always come home with something from the Barrie Flea Market, when it just featured car stuff.
A variety of improvements were done at Oshawa businesses from 1986 to 2012; the interior by Citation Trim and Glass Works, seat repairs by Larry’s Auto Trim and Trim Tech Interiors, owned by Larry’s son, Jason.
In 2003, Don Butt Auto Body began a major exterior restoration and the engine was removed and detailed. By 2015, Exceltec Auto Services in Markham replaced the old motor with a 350 Chevy crate engine, and the next year, an Edlebrock 1405 carburetor improved gas mileage.
I also had a RetroSound Model 2 radio with USB and Bluetooth put in. The amp in the trunk gives the car a big boost in sound.
Last year, Exceltec replaced the brake lines with stainless-steel ones, installed new rear wheel cylinders, a chrome master cylinder and a Classic Auto Air conditioning system. Now it is a cool car.
It’s a pleasure to drive, and you don’t see many ’67 Impalas at car shows. My father used to give me $100 for my birthday, and one year, I put it toward personalized plates — 67 PLUS — that reflect the fact the body is a ’67 and the frame is a ’68.
My Impala and I have been regulars at my favourite car event, Oshawa’s Autofest, and now that I am retired, I just might do some more cruising.
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