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A Family-Built Impala

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Miguelangel Felix remembered the blue 1964 Chevrolet Impala when its owner brought it into his family’s San Diego body shop. The car had been wrecked—again. Felix was the one who’d painted the baby blue car after its first accident.

But now the paint was scratched. The front and rear ends were smashed, headlights and taillights missing. The trim was falling off and the interior was ripped.

It wasn’t much of a surprise when the owner didn’t want to repair it a second time. Still, Felix thought the car had potential.

“It looked bad, but not that bad,” he remembers. “It had a lot of the original stuff and it ran well. I felt like there was something about this car; I knew I could do something with it and I felt like this was finally going to be the one.”

Felix had always wanted a low-rider. Specifically, he loved 1963 Chevrolet Impalas for their clean, classic look, and because his dad had owned one while he was growing up. The ’64 was close enough, and was considered even more iconic in some circles.

So, $1,700 later, the beat-up Impala had a new home at the Felix family shop, Triple A Body Shop & Paint. Felix’s dad, Angel, has owned the shop for almost two decades, and Felix manages the store. The car quickly became a family project.

Today, the car is nearly unrecognizable from the baby blue Impala Felix bought about seven-and-a-half years ago.

“We had it sitting there with the other projects we had,” Felix says. “We worked on it little by little, so I never really added everything up. … I’d put it at between $15,000 to $20,000 [investment] so far.”

The silver trim on the sides of the car has been re-chromed. The aluminum side moldings were purchased from a shop in Orange County called Truck Shop Car Shop, which specializes in restoration parts and accessories. The interior was replaced to match the original ’64 style of the vehicle, with a saddle or peanut butter–tan vinyl material.

Photos courtesy Miguelangel Felix

Though Felix aimed to keep the car as authentic as possible, he decided to change the transmission from a two-speed to a four-speed, mostly for fuel efficiency. He added an Edelbrock intake manifold and upgraded the 283ci motor’s carburetor from a two-barrel to an Edelbrock four-barrel. Felix was careful to keep the small block its original orange color.

True to low-rider fashion, he added hydraulics so the car can raise and lower while it rides on 14-inch, 100-spoke chrome wire wheels.

But the hardest part of the whole process was picking the color. Felix spent over six years trying to decide while his dad did spray outs of various greens–Felix’s favorite color. None of them were “the one.” Then in early 2013, like the Impala itself, the right color came to him.

“I finally found the color on a customer’s car,” he remembers. “[The color] was made by Kustom and it was deeper. I don’t know if it was the way the light shined on it, or what, but it was … a really, really pretty color.”

The car was painted Money Green Pearl—a color that looks a lot like a candy paint, but for a lot less, Felix says. The cherry on top is the matching steering wheel.

Though the car is finally ready for car shows, which Felix plans to do to advertise for the shop, he still has a few things he hopes to add.

“People tell me that these types of cars you never are really finished with them because there are always little things that come up that you want to do,” he says. “But to get to where I want it to be, $2,000 more should do it, for now.”


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