‘Awesome’ 1963 Chevrolet Impala Wagon wins Custom of the Year by GoodGuys

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Brad Ranweiler founded Automotive Show Cars to cater for an underserved segment of the aftermarket, the full-size 1958-64 Chevrolets. Based in Minnesota, their parts supplier was a neglected wagon from 1963. 63-64 wagons are incredibly rare, especially 2-door models. It is because it is the only one.

Nine years ago, his sons Brady and Cody decided to turn a 4-door station wagon into something unique. Leaving no body panels intact, they cut, channeled, fabricated and welded steel in this enchanting design. Building something better than Chevrolet ever could is the classic philosophical debate of simulation versus mockery, you never knew hot rods were this deep, right?

While it would be easy to drop a late model LS crate engine, they decided to start with a classic 409 big block. It was reamed and stroked at 509 ci (8.34 L) and topped with a Hillborn fuel injection. Everything under the hood was handcrafted to incorporate the same themes found throughout the car. This work of art sends 600 horsepower to a 4L80 automatic transmission and a 9-inch Ford rear.

Inside, they started with a 1960 dashboard. All of the metalwork was done in-house, using the same designs on the pedals, dashboard inserts, and sill plates. M&M interiors loaded it with Italian leather and a full-length center console between 59 Cadillac seats. Fortunately, the sitting position is a few inches back, people used to be shorter.

Behind the 2nd row is a stylish cargo divider which houses the rear wheel bins. It carries the same lines in the cargo floor, which looks clean enough to eat. This begs a question: as a wagon, how practical is this? With room for four adults and a weekend bag for each, this would make a great road trip with friends. Get on a Art Morrison frame, it has the steering response and coil spring comfort of a late-model sedan. The only aspect I would change is the transmission. A W-block stroker would be amazing with a six-speed stick loaded with a lightweight flywheel.

Attention to detail is that nothing seems out of place. To cut the roof, each pane of glass had to be custom made. Cutting out the pillars and structure of the rear doors and manufacturing a new tailgate takes countless hours which were appreciated by the judges.

This decade-long idea won the coveted Ridler Award at the Detroit Motorama last year. While that alone is worthy of any collection, it also won a SEMA entry. This year’s automaker battle was one filled with quality builds, but Impressive caught the attention of Chevrolet engineers. They awarded it their Chevy Designer’s Award 2021, placing this 63 among the most coveted cars in the world.

With a conservative differential ratio, the Hillborn injected big block will sip fuel at highway speeds while providing tire shredding torque in any situation. Now is the time to check out all the finer details. All brilliant work has the marks of the same manufacturer. The gauges are electronic, with guts of Classical instruments. Their lenses and bezels are custom-made to replicate the same themes as the taillights, grille, wheels, and even the shift knob.

Goodguys has 17 events planned for this season, and they are gaining new members every day. Your car must be older than 1988 to be eligible, and then you will be on the world stage. This award was sponsored by Snap-On, the leader in tools, technician training, and shop floor hardware for over a century.

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