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1963 Chevy Impala - Oh, One Owner

Les Boudewyn’s ’63 Impala

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“When you see one of these big X-frame cars hook and hold the wheels in the air for 100 feet at the dragstrip, you begin to understand why people like them.”

This statement came from Marty Stromberger of Stromberger Performance in Spokane, Washington. If you read the “Turbo Guys” story in the Dec. ’11 issue, you know all about the brutal street cars that are coming out of the Pacific Northwest courtesy of Marty’s shop. We showed you a lot of boosted, crazy, 9-second street machines in that issue, with the exception of this ’63 Impala. This one’s a little different.

The wheelstanding Impala got Marty interested in these cars, but it was car owner Les Boudewyns who brought his ’63 Impala into the shop for some work. “Les had a 9-second ’67 Chevelle that was too race oriented to be a daily driver, so the Impala project was born,” says Marty. “We wanted to build a fast cruiser that makes good power and is still easy to drive.”

The car was purchased new in 1963 by Les’ father and only driven seven months before it was sold to his son. Les ended up using the car as his daily driver from 1964 to 1985, taking frequent trips from Spokane to Seattle towing a 27-foot enclosed trailer. In that time, the original brown-and-tan paint combo gave way to Porsche Indian Red (twice) before getting its current Viper Red paintjob. It’s received four different transmissions and three different engines, including a PAW 400 small-block with ported heads and a Torker intake that was state of the art in 1991. The time had come to either buy a new car or rebuild this one, again. Les was sick of the waves from a paint stripping accident in the ’90s, and LS power had him intrigued. He went to Marty for help.

Even though these guys are seemingly cutting edge with their style of cars, they are just starting to play with LS engines. That changed when they came across a low-mileage 5.3L in a local wrecking yard for $900. Marty, along with Marshall Shaw and Erick McCarthy from SMC Customs, laid the pipe work for a single 76mm turbo from GodSpeed. “We set the wastegate at 10 pounds, so it probably only makes 500 hp,” Marty says. “It also only has a 3-inch downpipe, which limits it to 750 total horsepower.” The relatively small pipe was a result of the X-frame design and its space limitations. The upside to the X-frame design is the comfort and handling. “It’s one of the nicest cars I’ve ever driven,” Marty says. “In terms of ride quality and power, it’s a lot more like a sports car than you might think. The car is much more than the sum of its parts.”

For now, the car is as close to a garage queen as you’ll see from these guys, but since it’s the favorite hot rod car to hop in and drive, it always manages to get out on the road. “Eventually we will turn it up and run race gas and make 600 at the wheels . . . but not yet.”

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