Once left for dead, Dale Hod­son’s Mal­ibu is just killer now

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT & PHO­TOS: Chris Shel­ton

Once left for dead, Dale Hod­son’s Mal­ibu is just killer now

ÒIt was a dark and stormy night.Ó Just about ev­ery writer se­cretly (and per­versely) wants an op­por­tu­nity to start a story that way. But few do it. It’s ac­tu­ally the in­tro­duc­tion to an English novel, and in the 188 years since it went into print that phrase has come to rep­re­sent cliché sen­sa­tion­al­ism. To use it prop­erly takes the knowl­edge that what you’re do­ing is prob­a­bly a re­ally bad idea and the abil­ity to laugh at your own ex­pense.

So here we go: It was a dark and stormy night when Dale Hod­son went to look at a ’65 Mal­ibu. His words, by the way.

But that phrase does some­thing mag­i­cal. It makes the rest of the story prac­ti­cally write it­self. Be­cause you full well know what hap­pens when you look at derelict cars on stormy nights. But hey, it was a real SS. For $700 even. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

“Ev­ery­thing,” Dale laments, laugh­ing while de­scrib­ing what he saw—or more ac­cu­rately what he didn’t see as we talked about that night. “It was un­der a tarp in about foot-high grass,” he says. “It vi­o­lated ev­ery rule I knew.”

We’ll state the ob­vi­ous: what Dale bought for so cheap was prob­a­bly too ex­pen­sive at free. At the end of

the day the car needed full quar­ters on both sides, both doors, a hood, trunk lid, and the floor from the fire­wall to the tail­panel. But Dale has a great com­mand of id­ioms, like the one about sweet lemons. “I al­ways wanted to take a car and build it from the ground up,” he says, spin­ning this po­ten­tially ag­o­niz­ing story in his fa­vor.

And that’s ex­actly what he did at his home shop. He even mounted it on a ro­tis­serie so he could blast and prime it at his own pace. And best of all, his wife, Chris, was more than cool with it. In fact, she digs it (they still have the ’64 El Camino that they bought as a young cou­ple in the late ’60s). Be­tween Eric Rosen­field, who supplied orig­i­nal parts and info, and Al Du­ley, who dragged him to swaps to find the rest, Dale started to put the car back to­gether.

“My vi­sion was to cre­ate a re­fined car that was old-school based,” which, in his terms, meant re­tain­ing the com­po­nents that made the car what it is, at least aes­thet­i­cally. Even the en­gine that he mounted in the car is old-worldly, at least in the sense that it’s based on a pro­duc­tion block and wears a car­bu­re­tor.

But how he in­ter­acts with that block and body is any­thing but old­school: five-speed, big brakes, tubu­lar arms, dou­ble-ad­justable dampers, big an­tiroll bars. It makes the car work in ways that no mid-’60’s GM en­gi­neer could’ve imag­ined.

In a sense, Dale built some­thing akin to a James Bond co-star: a stock­ap­pear­ing car that has many tricks up its sleeve, so to speak. Which may ex­plain why Dale had Keith Rus­sell paint the car Tuxedo Black.

But know­ing what Dale started with and what it took, we’re think­ing a Bond car might not be this car’s right spirit an­i­mal. No, this thing … af­ter what it’s been through, it’s more like the Six-Mil­lion-Dol­lar man! CHP

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