Page 1 of 8 ... May 1995 - April 1997
These photos were taken in the spring of 1995 (shortly after Dad purchased the car). He started out using it as a daily driver during the summers of 1995 and 96.
The Impala came from the southern U.S. (somewhere in the Carolinas I believe) so the frame was rust-free. The rest of the body work looked okay from a distance, but a closer inspection revealed peeling and chipping paint due to excessive build up (about 6 or 7 coats). There was also some rust along the bottom edges of the doors and around the rear wheel openings. Many of the stainless and aluminum moldings were scarred up with sander marks and had some surface rust hiding under them.
The interior was a complete disaster. The seats, dash, headliner, and rear package tray had been covered with some sort of red corduroy material that was worn and faded. The metal part of the dash had been repainted with some orange-red paint and the door panels were torn and deteriorated. The carpet on the floor was the only half decent looking part of the interior but even that needed to be replaced.
This is the 283 cu. in. engine that was in the car. A previous owner had installed a late 70's 4bbl carb and intake topped off with a rusty chrome air cleaner lid. The right side valve cover had been replaced with one with an oil filler hole since the newer intake didn't have provisions for that.
The PowerGlide transmission was most likely original to the car. It still had the SS specific floor shifter mounted to the trans tail housing. The original neutral safety / reverse light switch was still there too but the linkage rod was missing.
It also appears as though this Impala was originally equipped with factory dual exhaust. The exhaust pipes had obviously been replaced but the hangers on the frame looked to be original. And it had the 3/8" fuel line running inside the driveshaft tunnel. According to my research, that seems to indicate that the original engine was likely a 327 (probably the 250HP version) since the only 283 offered in 1963 was the 2bbl equipped 195HP with single exhaust and a 5/16" fuel line.
Dad and I started the restoration on his 63 Impala SS by stripping the front end of the car down to the firewall and cleaning things up.
After removing several layers of old paint, we finally made it down to the original factory paint. Fortunately, those previous paint jobs hadn't involved much cleaning or prep work so the paint wasn't stuck very good and was relatively easy to remove.
With the firewall down to the factory paint, there was some evidence of minor rust damage around the heater box opening (probably had a leaky heater core at one time). However, the damage was not very severe and there were no holes or deep rust pits.
We also cleaned and painted the front frame section and suspension. Then the firewall was sprayed with a fresh coat of paint in the original Ermine White. According to an article in Late Great Chevy, 1963 was the change-over year to black firewalls. Early 63's (like Dad's) had body color firewalls and later 63's were black.
With the firewall all re-painted, we began installing all of the parts that were removed earlier. Several of the parts (like the wiper motor and heater box) were simply cleaned and painted. All of the seals and grommets were replaced with new ones.
As mentioned above, we don't think the 283 that came in the car was the original. And Dad happened to have a 275HP 327 (suffix code "HCR") out of a 1966 Chevy that would be somewhat "period correct" for this car.
My uncle rebuilt the 327 along with the original 63 PowerGlide transmission. I painted the engine with some Chevrolet Orange engine enamel before we installed it in the Impala. Next, we put the front sheetmetal back on and removed the interior before taking the car to a local body shop for some rust repair and a new paint job.