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Nine-second big-block 1965 Chevrolet Impala

By Craig Parker | Photos: Chris Thorogood, 09 Feb 2019 Features

Nine-second big-block 1965 Chevrolet Impala

With a 1000hp, 600-cube behemoth up front, this full-size Chevy is good for 9.8-second quarters at 140mph

This article on Michael's Impala was first published in the January 2019 issue of Street Machine

IF 9.8-second quarters normally aspirated isn’t impressive enough from this hulking 2020kg (4450lb) streeter, there’s a 250hp NOS hit on standby to amp things up to 11!

Chev Impala“Both my dad and uncle had ’65 Chevs,” says Michael. “Before I rebuilt this car, they both used it as a parts car. I’ve still got dad’s four-door; it’s sitting in the shed alongside a two-door coupe project”

“This car has been in the family 40 years,” says owner Michael Vergis. “My uncle bought it originally, but after crashing it, he left it sitting in our yard for years.”

At the ripe age of 17, Michael decided he’d give the big ol’ Impala a new lease on life.

Read next: 700hp big-block 1966 Chevy Impala SS

Chev Impala sideJoe Papavero from BelAir Panels had his work cut out massaging acres of sheet metal into shape. Joe also wielded the gun when it came to lay on the custom blue hue – that was six years ago and it still looks fresh

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” he says. “As I started pulling stuff off, other parts started falling off. The more paint I stripped away, the more body filler and rust I found.”

Undeterred, he stuck at it. Consequently, what started as a three-month, $10k build, turned into four years and a whole lot more moolah. That was 27 years ago, and the Impala has been on the road ever since. Mind you, it’s had a couple of spray jobs, three gearboxes, three diffs and four engines along the way.

Read next: Ford GT40-powered 1962 Galaxie

Chev Impala front“It went 350 small-block, 400 small-block, 540 big-block and now the 600-cuber,” says the power mad Victorian. “It’s a big car – it needs a lot of oomph!”

Michael blames Eugene from Flowcraft Race Engines for the current donk.

“It was all his idea,” says Michael. “The 540 made around 800hp and ran 10.3@132mph, but I let Eugene talk me into going even bigger. He told me about this engine he had in mind and I said, ‘Let’s build it.’”

Read next: 1960 Chev Impala Bubbletop custom

Chev Impala bootEugene is a little secretive about the exact specs, however, the main highlights include Dart Big M block, Brodix alloy heads, Callies crank, Callies H-beam rods, 11.5:1 CP pistons, roller camshaft, Super Victor intake and an APD carburettor.

“APD custom made the carb for this specific engine,” explains Michael. “Eugene sent them all specs and they made it to suit. I think it’s something like 1150cfm.”

Watch next: 1966 Chev Impala sedan at the Victorian Hot Rod Show

Chev Impala engine bayThis 1000-plus hp, 600ci big-block sure is big – it needs to be to push the heavyweight Impala around at outrageous speeds

Although Eugene plays his cards close to his chest, when Tommy and Ali from Dyno House pulled the string, the numbers did all the talking; 1000-plus hp (NA) along with better than 900lb-ft of earth-twisting torque!

“That’s all on straight BP Ultimate,” says Michael. “I haven’t given the nitrous a run yet as I’m enjoying just driving it around too much. It’s a really good thing.”

Chev Impala engine bayJust to be on the safe side, the fuel solenoids for the 250hp Big Shot nitrous system draw C16 from a small tank located at the front of the engine bay. Fitted with its own fuel pump, it only feeds the nitrous system – the carby guzzles 98 PULP exclusively

The big engine was only the start of things, as it now needed a bigger trans and a bigger diff. Matt from M.D.T Autos stepped up to the plate and screwed together the transbraked TH400 with reverse-pattern shift. While John Lang put together the Pro9 chrome-moly sheet-metal rear end.

Chev Impala engine bayGeoff from Street Tech Fabrications was called upon to look after a host of fabrication – including the suspension. The factory four-link rear has been beefed up with a chunky sway-bar, along with adjustable lower arms (to move the diff back ’n’ forth) and adjustable top arms to fine tune the pinion angle for wheels-up launches. Tubular arms were also used up front and there’s double-adjustable Viking coil-overs on all four corners.

Chev Impala wheelMickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pros get it off the line. And to stop the fat, grippy rubber from slipping on the 15x10 satin Center Lines, Max Dumesny Motorsport converted them to beadlocks. Hauling all 2020kg back to a stop are disc brakes front and rear, assisted by twin, boot-mounted VH44 boosters.

Michael VergisDumping 1000hp of spent gasses is no mean feat, but Mikes Pipes are all over it; their custom headers sport huge primaries dumping into 4.5-inch collectors, which in turn flood into a full 3.5-inch system. And yes, the exhaust note is even bigger than the pipe specs.

Chev Impala interiorWhile Michael bolts in a harness when heading to the track, he feels that swapping the bench for race buckets would take away from the Impala’s character. “Fortunately, they haven’t pulled me up yet,” he says

Inside is very circa 1965 – especially that gorgeous pearl grip steering wheel. The rest is wall-to-wall Oxen White vinyl. Not so factory-looking is the brace of AutoMeter gauges and full ’cage. Thanks to interlocking tube couplers, the whole ’cage pulls apart and can be removed from the car.

Patto at Seabrook Auto Electrics refreshed all the wiring, which now incorporates an MSD Power Grid, along with Alpine head unit and Kenwood 6x9 speakers on the rear tray.

Chev Impala interior“I don’t really listen to the stereo,” says Michael, “I prefer to listen to what’s going on with the engine.”

The ’65 has been finished and racing for about 18 months in its current guise. Initially the 600-cube monster was topped with a Lexan scoop.

Chev Impala dash“When racing, air pressure started breaking them,” says Michael. “Just two days before heading to Ballarat for Street Kings, Geoff (Street Tech) managed to fabricate one out of aluminium – we even put hold-down cables on it to stop it lifting.”

The stout 9.8 was run at Calder with no giggle gas. The big Impala then proved its consistency by coming runner-up (out of 40 cars) to Matt Brame’s eight-second LH Torana at the recent King of the Street eighth-mile event (SM, Dec ’18).

Chev Impala interior rear“I’d like run it down the quarter again,” says Michael. “It’s really fast for what it is, and I know there’s a lot more in it. Plus, I love racing it. Especially when I line up next to something like a Torana – the Chev’s so big you can’t even see it!

“But at the moment, being such a good, reliable all-rounder, I’m more enjoying the street driving and the occasional events at Ballarat.”

Sounds just fine to us Michael – see you on the blacktop!

Michael VergisMICHAEL VERGIS
1965 CHEVROLET IMPALA

Paint: Glasurit Metallic Blue

ENGINE
Brand: 600ci BB Chev
Heads: Brodix alloy
Carby: Custom APD 1150cfm
Cam/lifters: Roller/Isky
Cam drive: Jesel belt drive
Conrods: H-beam Callies
Pistons: CP 11.5:1
Crank: Callies billet
Ignition: MSD Power Grid
Fuel system: MagnaFuel 500
Cooling: Race Radiators
Exhaust: 4.5in collectors, 3.5in system
Power: 1000hp+ NA
Nitrous: 250hp NOS Big Shot

DRIVELINE
Gearbox: TH400 transbrake, reverse-pattern
Converter: Ultimate 5000
Diff: Pro9 chrome-moly fabricated, Dutchman axles
Centre: Strange Ultra Case, 35-spline Truetrac

CHASSIS & BRAKES
Front Sus: Tubular arms, Viking coil-overs
Rear Sus: Beefed-up factory four-link with sway-bar
Brakes: VPC & Pro9 discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood, twin VH44 boosters

INTERIOR
Seats: Factory bench
Belts (Street): Lap belts
Belts (Race): 5-point harness
Trim: Oxen White vinyl
Steering Wheel: Pearl grip
Instruments: Auto Meter
Shifter: B&M MegaShifter

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Center Line; 15x6 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 6.40x15 (f), 315/60-15 (r)