Midnight Ivy – Ian Coley’s Low ’n Lean 1964 Impala has Been a Long Time Coming
Believe it or not, there can be an upside to a custom car project taking years to complete. The longer the process stretches out, the less prone you are to adding trendy touches that will quickly look dated. You’re also more likely to consider the vehicle’s long-term use and to select parts and modifications that inspire more time behind the wheel.
Ian Coley is starting to realize some of those benefits with his 1964 Impala convertible, a car that has been nearly two decades in the making. Ian picked the car up when he was in his mid-20s, inspired in part by the lowrider scene he always appreciated when he was growing up. He credits his brother-in-law Matt Beckdolt for finding the car in an online search. “The body was in good shape,” Ian says,” although the baby blue color with poorly applied gold ’flake was atrocious.”
Ian had more enthusiasm than hands-on knowhow, so progress in those early years was slow and limited to both Ian’s budget and the skill levels of the shops he could find to work on it. An early voyage with his father woke him up to how much work the Impala needed. “It was kind of a crappy car,” Ian admits. “Basically, we found out that we were kind of taking our lives in our own hands. We had a guardian angel watching out over us while we were driving.”
Ian did make some progress in those early years. The car got a RamJet small-block crate engine upgrade, 700R4 transmission, and other modifications that made it more roadworthy, though progress was sporadic and slow as Ian and his wife Rischa got busy with careers, moved from Washington to California, and started a family.
During that time, brother-in-law Matt worked with Northern California’s Roseville Rod & Custom on a few different projects and suggested that Ian consider them for the Impala. The timing was right, as Ian and Rischa were at another transition in life and in the process of moving back to Washington. Knowing Roseville’s track record for turning out quality cars – and having Matt near the shop to serve as sort of a point man for the project – all seemed like positives for seeing the Impala through to completion.
“We just restarted,” Ian says, explaining that the Roseville team essentially took the car back down to its bare bones, rather than try to finish the various modifications initiated by other shops. Ian still wanted the car low but was also interested in comfort and reliability, so he opted for air springs instead of hydraulics. RideTech Shockwaves were used in conjunction with Strong Arm front and rear control arms, with Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes added at each corner to ensure precise stopping power.
That RamJet crate engine was still a strong runner, so the Roseville crew detailed it with a healthy amount of paint and polish, added a Billet Specialties TruTrac accessory-drive system, and coated the Sanderson manifolds that lead to a Magnaflow exhaust. It’s still backed with a 700R4 overdrive automatic for easy cruising.
Clean and smooth was the goal for the classic 1964 Impala body, which meant shaving the trim and door handles and untold hours of block sanding and fine-tuning gaps to get those long panels straight, sharp, and smooth. The project’s long timeline – exaggerated by an extended period with an initial upholstery shop – turned out to be a benefit for the paint color selection, which was originally going to be a bright blue.
“We finally decided, ‘we need to paint this something else,’” Ian says. Like other aspects of the build, Ian’s evolving tastes led him to a darker, more refined color – PPG Midnight Ivy. The finish was expertly applied by Roseville Rod & Custom and definitely has an elegant feel, especially when coupled with the bronze-accented Budnik 18×7- and 18×8-inch Crown wheels. “It’s a little bit more rich,” Ian says. “Has a little bit more staying power.”
The refined approach carried over to the interior, which was expertly done by Dave Putnam. Dave upholstered the seats and other soft parts in rich, brown leather in a style that’s clean, classy, and contemporary without looking too modern. It complements the bright chrome and stainless of the original dash, which also got a matching leather pad. Light-colored carpet adds a little contrast, while Vintage Air adds comfort. A complete custom stereo system with big-inch JL subwoofers in the trunk delivers the tunes.
It’s been a long time coming, but Roseville finished up the car late last year and Ian is looking forward to putting some miles on it this season. We asked him what he likes best about the 1964 Impala, and in true long-view fashion he indicated that the best is still to come.
“I think my favorite part about the car will be to take my family out in it,” Ian says. “Being able to take my wife in it and have my boys ride in it – let them drive it.”
We’re sure those family cruises this summer will more than make up for the long wait to see this sleek Impala finished. We look forward to seeing the Coley family out on the road!
Photos by Steven Bunker