1961 Impala Bubble Top | Dirty Martini
Big Oak Garage has built this stunning 1961 Chevrolet Impala. I saw the car at the Grand National Roadster Show and spoke with Will Posey about the car. This car has had extensive fabrication done to reshape the lines of the bubble top and the do a reverse wedge cut to accommodate the 509 cu in W series big block. The car won several awards at the GNRS including the Sam Foose Design Award presented by Chip Foose, the Sid Chavers Stitch of Excellence Award for the interior, Al Slonaker Memorial Award presented to the best non-roadster vehicle at the GNRS, and the Von Hot Rod Award of Excellence. Big Oak Garage has put over 1,300 hours of work into this car and every nut, bolt, body panel, and finish has been modified.
This car has been sliced and diced and you know, cut just about every way you can cut a car.
Hi everyone welcome to Center Lane, I'm Bruce Hitchen. I'm here at the Grand National Roadster Show and I'm here with Will Posey of Big Oak Garage. Will, maybe tell me, you've built this car here...it's absolutely stunning! It's the one that caught my eye out of the whole show. Can you tell me a little bit about your company and and the kind of things that you do.
So Big Oak Garage is a hot rod shop in northeast Alabama, a little town called Hoax Bluff. And we focus on, you know, design, fabrication, and paint & body. That's you know, that's what we really are good at and that's what we like to focus on doing.
Tell me a little bit about this car. Who have you done it for, how long has it taken? I mean it looks like you've done pretty extensive work.
So we built it for a guy named Dan Duffy out of Marietta Georgia, He's been a customer of Big Oak for a long time and a dear friend. And he had a '61 Impala as he was growing up so it's one of the first vehicles that he bought with his own hard-earned money. And his really good friend, that's that's not with us anymore, gave him the idea of wedge cutting a '61 Impala. So he came to me and we were talking about it and I was like, yeah, I think you know that's something we could definitely do. So we got to, you know, we knew that he wanted to run a W-motor and I started measuring and I'm like, damn we're not going to be able to wedge cut this car without putting a cowl hood or something like that and I was like you know I'm not a fan of a cowl hood on cars like this so. We come up with the idea of reverse wedge cutting. So we actually added two and a half inches to the back of the car and used the A-pillar as a pivot so the front of the front fenders actually went down just a little bit. So the car has been two and a half inch, reverse wedge cut. And I'm not a big fan of the roofs of the bubble top. I think, you know, the windshield and the back glass are way too tall. They stick up above the side glass and the roofs are really just flat. So we decided, we cut four and a half inches off the windshield and the back glass and made a new roof that follows the drip rail better and actually rolls into the glass. That's the, you know, big major things we did. We flush fitted trim and then flush fitted the glass to the trim, we pocketed the cowl, extended the hood back all the way to the windshield and, I mean, it just every, every piece of this car has been modified and changed in some sort of way.
Tell me about what's under the hood what do we have here?
It's a 509 cubic inch all-aluminum W- motor. So it's it's an aftermarket block, it's a completely aftermarket engine is what it is but you know if you're building an Impala you know especially a '61/'62, it needs a W-motor, in it in my opinion. So it's a fully polished, all aluminum, 509 cubic inch. Just badass W-motor. It sounds good, it revs good, I mean it's just a, it's a pretty wicked piece.
What would you say...I mean there's a lot of things that are going on here... what would be the biggest challenge in doing a car like this?
Oh definitely the the roof on this car and then the challenge of building a car to this level is just, not giving up. You know, I mean every, every piece of it has to be nice. Finished to a high-quality, you know. You can't just pick any chrome shop to do the chrome. It's got to be the best of the best. We used Advanced Plating out of Nashville, Tennessee. The engine, you know we used the 409 guru, Lamar Walden Automotive, his son Rob Walden. You know, the wheels were one-off, cut by Shock Wheels. The glass is from AM Hot Rod Glass. I mean there, every, every piece that's on this car is extremely high-quality.
Was it the client's vision to do this extensive of a job when you started or did that evolve over over time and with the build?
When we sat down on the first day, we talked about that and we talked about the Ridler Award. That was not our vision. Our vision was not to go to Detroit. You know, we didn't build the car for the Ridler or the Slonaker. We still built the car for SEMA but we just detailed everything a little bit more than what you would normally do.
Is this just a show car? How is the client using this car?
So we will show the car really hard for the first 12 months and then he'll actually start driving this car.
He will drive this? Oh yeah, 100%. It's a roadster shop chassis, you know it it, this car was built to drive. It's extremely low to the ground but it still has full suspension travel. You know, we actually put him in the car when we were building it to get his driving position exactly where he wanted it. The shifter is exactly where it's comfortable for him, the pedals, the the placement of the steering wheel, you know, the height of the seat, you know it was tailored for Dan Duffy.
Sure, now tell me about the hours that have gone into a car like, a build like this. Is this an unusual build for you, is this much higher than your average kind of car that you put together for a client?
Right. It is higher than our average. You know there's 13,000 hours in this car. That's above average for what we normally do. We try to always have a car to this level in the shop at all times but that's not our main focus is building, you know, 13,000 hour cars. Most of our cars are a lot like the Cadillac that's over here, that's a whole lot less hours than that. But it's still, you know, it's still got to look and it still runs and drives. Just you know, the level of underneath may not be quite as as detailed or under hood or not as quite an elaborate interior or something like that but yeah, that's a little above average for us.
Well congratulations on it, it's gorgeous! Thank you for showing it to us. Thank you for stopping by and picking us to be on your channel.
So the competition's done and you've picked up some hardware. You know the awards that we got were actually given to us by our peers and by people that are our role models that we've looked up to for years, so to get an award from a guy like Sid Chavers and Chip Foose, you know, that's, that's to me, that's as good as winning the big trophy. You know I mean, we were, we were blown away by that.
Well a design award is a fantastic award to a win too because, you know to have a car as unique as this, as beautiful as this, to win the design award, presented by Chip Foose...it really means something. Yeah! That, that's you know, that's one of the big things of building hot rods is the creative side and the artistic side and you know, to be given an award from, you know, the most well-known designer and artist in our industry is pretty special.
Well, for sure! Well listen, I want to thank you, congratulate you. Really great job, beautiful car and thanks for telling us a little bit about it today. Thank y'all for stopping by.