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.
“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 @#$%!”
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!
OWNER & BUILDER:
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