FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Sport Coupe -

First, let’s pause to dis­cover that Jeff’s first ex­pe­ri­ence with clas­sic cars was ac­tu­ally with those of English ori­gin — al­though he soon dis­cov­ered through ex­pe­ri­ence that they were, as he put it, “un­mo­torable”, and so he de­cided to try some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, per­haps some­thing like an Amer­i­can clas­sic. First up was a 1936 straight-eight Hud­son, which he pur­chased in the early ’80s, be­fore de­cid­ing to move on to some­thing a lit­tle more mod­ern — a 1950 Chrysler and then a 1961 Dodge.

From then, Jeff de­cided that a con­vert­ible might be the way to go, so he placed an ad in a lo­cal news­pa­per to see if he could turn any­thing up. Sure enough, the owner of a 1964 Chevro­let Im­pala — a car that had been sit­ting in a shed in the Waitakere re­gion for over 10 years — con­tacted him. On in­spect­ing the Im­pala, Jeff re­al­ized that the car was ba­si­cally sound and un­mo­lested, and, with that in mind, he was un­de­terred by the level of work that would be re­quired to bring this Chevro­let back up to scratch. A deal was bro­kered, and the Im­pala passed into Jeff’s hands.

Jeff has now owned the Im­pala for around 15 years, and, dur­ing that time, he’s treated it to a new coat of bright-red paint and a new in­te­rior and has also seen to it that all the car’s iconic bright­work got re-chromed. Look­ing to fur­ther en­hance the Im­pala’s sport­ing pre­ten­sions, Jeff has re­placed the orig­i­nals with a set of chrome Cra­gar SS wheels.

Other than that, the Im­pala re­mains com­pletely orig­i­nal — sport­ing its orig­i­nal 4.63-litre (283ci) en­gine, auto trans­mis­sion, sus­pen­sion, and brakes.

As a real point of Kiwi in­ter­est, Gen­eral Mo­tors orig­i­nally brought this par­tic­u­lar car to New Zealand in 1964 es­pe­cially for the Pe­tone Auto Show, and it is one of only 68 right-hand-drive 1964 Im­pala con­vert­ibles to have been built in Canada.

The ’58 Im­pala

The Im­pala fu­elled Jeff’s pas­sion and fanned a de­sire to in­crease his fleet of Amer­i­can cars. He went on to ac­quire a 1972 Pon­tiac Grand Prix, a 1961 Oldsmo­bile Starfire, and, his all-time favourite, our fea­tured 1958 Chevro­let Bel Air Im­pala Sport Coupe. A few years down the track, Jeff re­al­ized that own­ing four huge Amer­i­can cars was per­haps a lit­tle ex­ces­sive, so he sold off the Pon­tiac and the Oldsmo­bile — but he wasn’t ready to part with his two Chevys.

Jeff has al­ways ad­mired the 1958 Chevro­let Bel Air Im­pala Sport Coupe, and, af­ter watch­ing a very nice ex­am­ple take out the cov­eted Peo­ple’s Choice Award at the first Kumeu Clas­sic Car and Hot Rod Fes­ti­val in 1995, he sim­ply couldn’t help think­ing, Wow, what a car! If only …

In 2008, Jeff de­cided it was time to take steps to re­al­ize his dream. The search was on for a 1958 Chevro­let Bel Air Im­pala Sport Coupe, the trail even­tu­ally lead­ing him to this fine ex­am­ple in Texas. The car was pow­ered by a 4.63-litre (283ci) V8 en­gine, and, to­gether with its gleam­ing red paint scheme and Con­ti­nen­tal kit, this was enough to en­tice Jeff to con­tact the Texan owner.

Jeff says that Paul, the car’s owner, was more than oblig­ing, and only too happy to pro­vide all

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