Old School Crush: Charlie Rodgers's 1962 Chevy Impala
It's not unusual for a schoolboy to fall in love-with a car that is. Whether it's drop-dead good looks, a sultry silhouette, or a sweet voice.
The first car to catch a young boy's eye is bound to leave a powerful impression.
Charlie Rodgers's first car crush started with his 9th grade English teacher and ended with this gorgeous 1962 Impala SS. "My teacher had all the right curves and she drove a '62 Impala SS. I decided we'd get married someday and I'd get an Impala just like hers," explains Charlie with a big smile.
After graduation, Charlie put his wedding plans on hold and began to develop his car building skills, working his way through several projects including a sweet 1933 Chrysler Series CO street rod. He also logged some serious seat time as both a competitor and spectator at several local Ohio dragstrips. Years later, while watching some 1/4 mile action in Norwalk, Charlie would get a chance to fulfill a part of his schoolboy promise.
"I was standing by the fence at Summit Racing Motorsports Park, when the fellow next to me told his buddy he had a '62 Super Sport and his wife wanted it gone," says Charlie. Seizing the moment, he introduced himself only to learn the car was in a barn just a cornfield or two away from the race track.
"It was a mess and it looked awful. There were mice running in and out of the car and the interior was completely gone. I think the mice ate it," says Charlie with a laugh. As it turned out, the barn-bound SS was a matching-numbers car and it still had the original 327 under the hood.
"I checked the trunk and floorboards and they seemed solid, but I didn't really know what I was getting into. I didn't have a magnet with me, so I had no way of knowing how much of the car was metal and how much was filler," says Charlie.
Charlie went home and thought about the deal for a while. He called the owner with an offer and then returned to Norwalk with cash in hand and a trailer in tow. He then took the Impala (along with some uninvited guests) back to his home in Huber Heights, Ohio. "When I got back, I let the car sit outside for two weeks just so the mice could escape," says Charlie.
Once all of the rodents had scurried off into the sunset, Charlie pulled the SS into his garage and began the painstaking task of dismantling the Impala. "I removed the trim and the bumpers. I had parts stacked everywhere, and my garage looked like a swap meet," he says.
Charlie media blasted the bulk of the body and chassis and stripped the smaller parts by hand. What he found under the worn refrigerator-white paint was a pleasant surprise to say the least. "The car was almost completely rust free! It had some surface rust in the usual places, but that was it," says Charlie with a grin.
Enlisting some expert bodywork advice from his pal Brian Murphy, Charlie smoothed years of dents and dings from the Chevy's exterior and got the SS ready to receive its spectacular two-tone finish. We all know choosing a custom color scheme can keep a car guy up at night, so it's no surprise Charlie was in bed when inspiration for the Impala's new look came to him.
"I saw a Dodge Challenger in a TV commercial. I really liked the color, so I went to the dealership the next morning to get a paint chip," says Charlie. With the Chrysler Copper color identified, he still needed a complementary color, and it didn't take him long to find it. "I was driving home and I saw a silver Volkswagen that I really liked in another dealership lot," says Charlie. "I went in, got the chip, and that was that!"
Charlie and Brian tested the color combination on an old truck door, and were somewhat unimpressed with the results. "The colors were just too dark. Then we added some House of Kolor Pearl to each mix, and the colors came to life," says Charlie.
With the new hues perfected, Charlie set his sights on the Impala. "I started to paint the car but Brian grabbed the spray gun and finished the job himself. I guess he didn't like my technique," says Charlie with a laugh.
The SS was now wearing a show-stopping finish, and was in need of some equally impressive go power under the hood. Sure, Charlie could reinstall the stock 327 and keep it a numbers-matching car, but he had another idea. "I got a 4.8L, LS1 from a friend who races trucks," says Charlie. "The LS only had a few laps on it, but I opened it up and dropped in a COMP Cams® Thumpr® camshaft anyway."
For rolling stock, Charlie chose a sharp set of Status Retro 20" aluminum wheels wrapped in ultra low-profile Falken rubber. "I had planned on painting the wheel spokes to match the top of the car, but I like the way the original dark gray finish complements the lighter silver on the lower section of the bodywork," says Charlie.
If you think the Impala's beauty is only skin deep, just open one of the massive doors and check out the eye-popping interior. The car's original stainless and chrome interior accent pieces shine like diamonds against the sumptuous sandalwood leather covering the factory seats, door panels, and custom console. A leather-covered Billet Specialties steering wheel adds the perfect blend of old school style and modern hot rod attitude.
No doubt about it, Charlie Rodgers's 1962 Impala SS is a real class act. From start to finish, it took him about a year and a half to transform a rundown rodent habitat into an A+ custom. Talk about graduating with honors. Well done Charlie, well done indeed!
Photography By: Jim Maguire
Art Direction By: Aaron Gray
Story By: James Millar
Rear End: GM 10-bolt, factory ring and pinion, GM Positraction differential
Suspension: Factory front suspension and rear leaf springs, 3-link suspension conversion by Burton’s Kreative Motorwerks, RideTech CoolRide air bag system, compressor, and air tank
Steering: Billet Specialties steering wheel, Ididit steering column
Brakes: GM front disc brakes, factory rear drum brakes
Wheels and Tires: Status Retro aluminum wheels, 20" x 8.5" front/22" x 10" rear; Falken FK452 tires, 275/35R20 front, 275/30R22 rear
Engine and Transmission
Engine: Chevy 4.8L LS1, COMP® Cams Thumpr® hydraulic roller camshaft and beehive valve springs
Induction: Holley 4160 Street Performance 750 cfm carburetor, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, chromed factory air cleaner
Ignition and Electrical: GM ignition system, ignition coils painted to match exterior by owner, American Autowire wiring harness
Exhaust: Factory exhaust manifolds, custom 3" stainless steel exhaust system, Flowmaster 40 series mufflers, rectangular exhaust tips by owner
Transmission: GM TH-350 transmission, TCI Breakaway torque converter and shift kit
Other Items: March Performance serpentine system, Summit Racing Equipment aluminum radiator, Vintage Air SureFit climate control system
Body: 1962 Chevy Impala SS, bodywork by owner
Paint: PPG Chrysler Copper/Volkswagen Silver, colors lightened with House of Kolor Pearl
Paint By: Brian Murphy
Upholstery: Sandalwood leather upholstery, Auto Custom Carpet Burnt Orange carpet kit
Upholstery By: Dennis and Shane Gamble
Other Items: Custom center console
Special thanks to: Danny Hurd and my Godfather, George Wingo, who was my inspiration and lives on in my heart