Justin Zimmerman’s Sleek 1959 Impala Captures YoungGuys Crown
Like many young hot rodders, Justin Zimmerman was born into the old car scene. Both his father and grandfather are into old cars and Justin wasn’t about to let the hot rod gene die with his generation. To make sure of that, he started building his first car – this 1959 Impala – when he was just 14 years old.
“My grandfather owned five ’59 Chevys at the time,” Justin says. “He decided to give me his 1959 Impala project car and help me get started and teach me the ways. He and my father both grew up around cars, so I had no choice but to follow in their footsteps, which I do not regret.”
That sounds like a pretty cool grandpa to us. There was just one catch on this hand-me-down Chevy – it needed a lot of work. “The car was completely disassembled when I received it,” Justin says. “It needed two rear floor pans, trunk pan, and rust repair to the rear quarters and fenders. The hardest part of building this car for me was figuring out where everything went and how to put the car back together, being that I didn’t take it apart.”
To his credit, Justin dug in and saw the seven-year project through to completion – no small feat in this age of instant gratification. He honed his skills as he replaced and repaired the car’s sheet metal and developed his vision of cool as he selected which parts to use in the rebuild.
Among the parts Justin chose for the reconstruction were tubular control arms and air springs from RideTech, allowing the bat-wing Chevy to hunker down close to the pavement. Brakes from a C5 Corvette updated the stopping power significantly, while Forgeline wheels added both style and the peace of mind of the utmost in strength. For power, Justin went with a well-detailed, tried-and-true 327c.i. small-block V8 backed by a Turbo 400 automatic, though he’s already thinking ahead to something more modern. “In the future, I would love to put an updated LS powertrain in the car,” Justin says.
There’s no doubt that the long lines of a 1959 Impala need to be absolutely straight before paint, and young Justin gets credit for how sharp this silver bullet looks. “All body and paint work was done by myself,” Justin says. The silver paint is R-M Diamont by BASF, with a slightly darker shade on the bumpers. Polished factory trim sets it all off.
The silver exterior is contrasted nicely with brown and tan tones inside, including a satin-painted dash and other metal trim pieces. Justin used bucket seats from an early-’60s Impala and had seat covers made by Ciadella Interiors using OEM-style materials. Dakota Digital instruments look right at home in that distinctive dash.
After earning the Goodguys/Goolsby YoungGuys award at the 2019 Grundy Insurance Great American Nationals in York, Pennsylvania, Justin had the honor of taking his Impala to Vegas to star in the Goodguys booth at the 2019 SEMA Show. That’s a pretty cool feat for a 23-year-old’s first project, and a good indicator that the future of hot rodding is in good hands with enthusiasts like Justin.
Photos by Justin Zimmerman