Roger Phillips’ 1961 Impala SS Hardtop
In 1969 my dad rescued for the sum of $60 off a Gippsland farm in Victoria Australia this 1928 Chevrolet with only 10,485 miles showing on the speedo, he then stored it for a further 41 years in his workshop until only a few months before dad was suddenly diagnosed with Leukemia in May of 2010. In conversation one day we spoke about getting it out of the shed now that dad had sold his business and was enjoying retirement and his reply was “We’ll get it running, but we’re not painting it all fancy” and that was about as far as the conversation went but at least that was a start.
Sadly this never happened as our fit, very active father passed away after a very quick, aggressive, 6 week battle with AML Leukemia on 14th June 2010 and it was 6 months after dads passing that the thought came into my head that the old dusty Chev needed to be brought out into the daylight, but I was a mechanical novice and a signpainter by trade. I love to maintain and detail my vehicles and motorbike but to rebuild a vintage car was far beyond my abilities. I knew however that I owed my father this restoration, so here is my story of “Monty” our 1928 Chevy.
Dad always said that the motor ran fine but because he found it under a tree the internal timbers were all rotten from the exposure to leaves and weather over the years, no upholstery was left at all on the seats and there was very little rust in the body panels only for a small section along the bottom of the rear tub, dad’s elder brother “Digger” confirmed with me that the mileage was correct at only 10,485 and that yes it would take very little to start and get running, he was so right!
After a few attempts I could not get it to start, basically I did not know what any of the dials and switch did or where the kill switch was hidden under the dash so I rang a mate Trevor who is into old stationery engines and has a 1936 dodge himself, Trev came around to the shed and fired it straight up.
After a few months of driving it around the block on Sunday mornings at 6:00 am as to not get caught be the local police which by the way I was very happy to keep doing, as to just have the car running after all these years and I say running in a loosely used term, was a great amount of fun, and I was starting to learn a little about its working, also the fact that it had only very low mileage on the speedo and was in original condition made me to begin searching for some more information about these cars on the internet.
It was at this stage around December of 2010 that I began to chat on a Chevy forum to a bloke by the name of Ray Dean from Melbourne, who had a fully restored 28 Chev and basically over the next 2 years after many many hours in the “resto shed” on weekends working on and rebuilding “Monty”, a very good friendship was formed and has been made and I would not have got this old car back on the road if it was not for the encouragement, guidance and constant reassurance from Ray and for that I once again say “thanks mate”.
Hours were spent rubbing back the steel frame, I went through 12 heavy duty wire wheels on the angle grinder and then we covered everything in “rustbuster” let it soak for 24 hours and then it would be hit again with the wire wheel, the end result was nice clean “chrome like” steel ready to be primed and painted.
The engine was left in the chassis during this time and also left unpainted and untouched to this day, also I have not open up the engine for any major repair work what so ever, I’ve just replaced the basics like points, spark plugs, spark plug leads, fuel and oil lines etc, I still use the original oil felt pad in the rocker cover.
Having only very basic woodworking skills prior, replacing the timbers internally was a daunting challenge to get my head around, so I jumped into it by starting on the easier straight sections of the doors, carefully pulling apart the rotten original timbers from the car and copying them as I went and I soon found myself making good progress over the months once the old confidence levels grew but to be honest I outsourced a few of the difficult and more accurate sections like the 2 x main rails, steering wheel and also the two curved corner sections around the top of the rear seats.
After 16 months, most Sundays and many many hours in the “Resto Shed” myself and Ray had finished what we set out to achieve and that was to get Monty back on the road with full road registration and in the form of a reliable “daily driver” that will cruise at 47MPH with no issues and left in the condition that my father wished for “We’ll get it running, but we’re not painting it all fancy” and that certainly was achieved.
Love ya dad
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