When it comes to putting a project together, there are many things to consider.
For most of us, the first question is stock, restomod, or custom? Tony Albanese of Wasilla, Alaska, faced this same conundrum when starting the restoration process on his 1965 Impala SS in August of 2015. “My initial intention was to restore it back to original,” Tony explained. “It came from the factory Artisan turquoise with a white interior.”
A well-optioned car, it was equipped with a 327ci engine under the hood, a Muncie four-speed, and a 12-bolt rearend. A great candidate for an original restoration, but Tony knew the country was saturated with just that kind of car. “I decided to go a different direction and began seeking inspiration for a build like no other in Alaska,” he said.
If this story seems a little familiar, that’s probably because it is. We featured Tony’s car two years ago as a Reader’s Hardcore Project, while he was still in the beginning stages of the build. Now, after a couple years of hard work, he’s out driving and enjoying the fruits of his labor.
Tony embarked on a journey to complete a task, that to many, seemed impossible. That all changed when Tony met Carl Vallee. “Carl ended up being somewhat of a metal working prodigy,” Tony explained. “So in November of 2016, we moved the body into Carl’s little one-car garage and he got to work.”
Carl replaced the trunk, floor and both quarter-panels, and rebuilt portions of the inner and outer wheelwells. Carl also cut open areas of the body that were closed off from the outside, repaired and treated these areas, and resealed them. “During the 18 months Carl worked on the car, he put in an unknown number of hours,” Tony explained, “but every one counted.”
While Carl was hard at work on the body, Tony focused on the chassis and interior. Tony replaced two rotted areas on the chassis and detailed it before sending it to Advanced Powder Coating in Wasilla, Alaska. The standard small-block 327ci Chevrolet engine was replaced by something with a little more go-power: a 383 stroker engine that puts out an impressive 486-horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm. Tony says, “I wanted raw power to go with the bare metal.”
The 383 is equipped with a Holley four-barrel Street Avenger carburetor, Trick Flow camshaft, Eagle rotating assembly, Silver Street Pro balancer, HEI distributor, Edlebrock Performer Intake, and Hedman long-tube headers. Promaxx aluminum heads and Magnaflow stainless-steel dual exhaust encourages breathing, while the original Muncie M21 four-speed keeps part of the history of the car intact. At the rear, Tony also kept the original 12-bolt housing, but added a Yukon 3.31-geared positraction differential.
Both the upper and lower control arms are custom built, and the springs are stock height with Monroe coilovers. The brakes were upgraded to a disc and drum setup with Wilwood 11-inch cross drilled and slotted rotors with dual-piston calipers at the front. The original strut rods were replaced with Global West’s adjustable rods. To complete the finish underneath, the brake and fuel lines were all replaced with stainless-lines from Inline Tube.
The interior of this build really shines, and shows the uniqueness of Tony’s vision. The saddle color contrasts nicely against the bare-steel exterior and compliments the overall look of the car. The carpet, door panels, and headliners are from UPI, while the seats are covered with hand-made leather upholstery over the original frames and springs. The upholstery work was done by Revilla Upholstery of Wasilla, Alaska.
The dash and steering column are bare metal as well as is the rear package tray, rear arm rest covers, and seat fillers, fabricated out of a sheet of steel by Tony. “The instrument bezel and gauges were all restored and rebuilt,” Tony said. “Red Line Gauge and Clock Repair did an excellent job.” Tony also removed the factory radio and added a original radio delete plate and an NOS RCA 8-track player from 1980 that he bought new off of eBay. “I also bought a few of my favorite 8-tracks that play nicely in the unit,” he explained.
When all is said and done, this is one good looking and unique build, with thousands of hours into the body alone. Tony’s put over 1,000 miles on the car since he finished it, and loved every one of them.