1965 Impala Hell Project Part 2: The Modifications Begin

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
1965 impala hell project part 2 the modifications begin

In Part 1 of this series, I described the purchase of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala in early 1990, for use as the raw material in a complex performance/installation art piece. Within a single day of taking ownership of the car, I began the process of modifying it to suit my artistic vision.

In harsh daylight, the body damage on the left rear door looked about right for the menacing appeal I had in mind, but those skinny bias-ply tires and Artesian Turquoise 14″ wheels just looked wrong.

The three dog-dish van hubcaps that came with the car added a certain goofy appeal, particularly in the context of UC Irvine’s bulldozed-by-The-Man “middle-class shantytown” trailer park, but they didn’t fit my idea of a car that touched each of the three automotive archetypes I had in mind (cop car/ghetto hooptie/hillbilly drag racer).

Identifying emblems also diluted the generic-steel-boxiness of the car’s image, so I enlisted the help of a cutoff-saw-equipped friend and we removed all but the small leaping-Impala-in-a-circle fender emblems. I thought about ditching the distinctive Impala circular taillights for something more generic (in 1990, 99.99% of ordinary people wouldn’t have recognized the profile of a post-’64 Impala), but didn’t have the heart to remove a styling feature with so much cool.

Flat black spray paint took care of the emblem holes and anything shiny on the car. I added some cryptic serial numbers on the doors, inspired by the numbers I painted on the Phone Police Enforcermobile.

The skinny-tire problem needed a very cheap solution, since I’d spent nearly half of my $400 budget purchasing the car. Fortunately, the friend to whom I’d sold my ’68 Mercury Cyclone still had the universal slotted mags with 295-width Radial TAs that I’d put on the car years before, and he sold them back to me for $50. A quick coat of flat black over the faux-gold coating, and the car looked orders of magnitude better.

The addition of some JC Whitney backup lights and the “No Other Possibility” bumper sticker from Negativland’s A Big 10-8 Place and my Impala was ready for its first real-world performance piece: “Lowering Property Values.” You can see the effect on UCI’s upscale parking lot already!

Next up: Part 3 — Lowering Property Values

1965 Impala Hell Project Roundup

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3 of 16 comments
  • Liljoe Liljoe on Jun 09, 2011

    Please don't get rid of the car without calling me I am interested in purchasing some parts from the car as 4 door with center post are hard to find. I need several parts to make mine complete. If interested call Joe at 360-888-9445.

    • 87CE 95PV Type 87CE 95PV Type on Jun 12, 2011

      @ liljoe I am possibly going out on a limb here and calling you a troll, but perhaps I am mistaken. This was in 1990, 21 years ago and Mr. Martin no longer has this car. In this article Mr. Martin says he got rid of his last carbureted car in 2000. http://ca.jalopnik.com/5551040/why-old-cars-suck Seriously, did you really think he still had this car!? Also, posting your phone number is a bad idea, but I will not be calling any time soon. Enjoy your car and Western Washington, nice looking place out there.

  • Liljoe Liljoe on Jun 09, 2011

    My entire car is Artisian Turquoise, for some reason I am going to keep it as is and fight the urge to change the color. My interior is all messed up though and I am in need of door panels, dome light, and a clock inside. I also need about 5 pieces of trim from the exterior.

  • FreedMike All 35 units, eh?
  • Kwik_Shift Good looking wagon.
  • Kwik_Shift I'm kind of excited to check one out. Local dealers are anticipating 3 months for the first one to come in.
  • Jkross22 We're all being a little unfair to GM. It could be worse. They could have partnered with Microsoft to deliver RT - that wonderful tablet OS that couldn't run any legacy MS products - and brought it to the car. Or Win 95 and Clippy.
  • JMII The change could help GM better collect data from its drivers and passengers, and it could also be used as a foundation if GM decides to charge for subscription services.Could? Like the sun *could* set in the west today?Things didn't so well when BMW tried to charge for this service. This will go VERY badly for GM. Can you imagine the customer service calls?Customer: hello I am trying to hook up my phone to my new car but it isn't workingGM: we offer Google services nowCustomer: ok I use Google all the time, but how do get the stuff on my phone to show on the screen?GM: its doesn't work that way, your phone is not involved at all, just enter all your personal information again into our system and we will manage it for youCustomer: ummm... my [insert name of competitive vehicle here] doesn't work that way.GM: but we've made it easier for youCustomer: seriously, you don't support Apple nor Android? Guess I shouldn't have bought this POS, I'll be sure to tell all my friends to never buy a GM product, have a nice day.GM: ...This ultra-mega-dumb even for GM. I assumed if anything moving forward technology wise more OEMs would stop developing their own systems as a cost savings measure and just let the phone OS handle everything. Seems data collection is more important. Well as long as TikTok isn't installed we are safe right?