(Didn't see part one?  Go here to find out how Max's story started:  http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/article-archives/the-impala/18716-rebuilding-a-classic-impala-from-scratch-one-supernatural-fan-s-story)

By October 2013, Max thought he was seeing light at the end of the tunnel, hoping “Black Betty” would be ready for delivery.  There was a complication though with the new powerful 396 engine, one that took months to resolve.  Max explained it this way,  “The engine has so much power that they were having trouble keeping it from overheating.  So after trying multiple radiators they finally bit the bullet and bought a radiator meant to go on a NASCAR with an additional intercooler.”

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The delay was also caused by the mechanic working on the car in his off hours, which was a little bit here and and little bit there.  Max conceded that was a big fallback of trying to rebuild a classic car on “the cheap.” 

There was also another problem with the interior.  The glass that goes over the gauges was badly scratched.   “They've tried to get it fixed but weren't sure if it's good enough (if direct sunlight hits it...might be impossible to read).  It's hard to find the right glass."  One possible solution was to install a digital gauge cluster like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/DAKOTA-DIGITAL-DASH-68-Impala-Caprice-6-Gauge-Cluster-/350540207899.”

Needless to say, the idea of having digital gauges in a classic Impala didn’t sit well with the guys and they found an workaround.  “They managed to polish it down. Now there's only a small scratch and it's barely noticeable. I'm much happier with that than I would have been with digital gauges. The little scratch on the glass is just added character and it doesn't obscure anything.” 

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As they got close to the end, the mechanics did a few “break-in” runs.  Once that went well, they had to drain all the fluids from the engine and put in a fresh fill, tighten up all the nuts and bolts and drive it again for more tests.  



Finally Delivery, But Still Not Done

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Max's Impala was finally delivered to him on July 3rd, 2014.  Driving the car for the first time was a stunning experience.  For one, power steering wasn’t exactly the norm back in 1968.  “One thing that's already surprised me...god that car is hard to steer.  Without power steering she's a real beast.  I'm a pretty strong/in-shape guy and it takes most of my upper body strength to maneuver her into a parking space.  Especially for the 5 point turn when she's standing still.”

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Plus, there was a little mishap with the gas gauge.  “Unfortunately I have trouble reading a gas gauge. I also learned something new - apparently you can't stretch the endurance of a car that gets 5 mpg.  No big deal, I've got AAA. So I call and the driver shows up with a couple gallons of premium. My tank is one of those old school rear gas tanks behind the license plate - so he puts a plastic funnel in to channel the fuel...and the funnel snaps in half and the lower skinny half falls into the gas tank (completely out of reach).  I end up following the guy to a AAA approved body shop where they had to take the gas tank off to get the broken piece out.  I didn't get my car back till Monday.”

Still, there’s one very nice bonus with the car.  “The engine sounds amazingly good - both the tow truck driver and the AAA guy who brought out the fuel said it was the cleanest sounding engine they'd ever heard.”

Max also got a state of the art alarm system installed, and got her officially registered.  He has decided to give the car a new name, finding that “13” was more appropriate.  “She’s already a pain in the ass, haha.”  

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Max has also ended up buying another vehicle as well for his every day car, because as mentioned before his rebuilt Impala only gets 5 MPG.  “It's funny - in “Supernatural” they never seem to worry much about gas mileage.  Maybe it's because they're using stolen credit cards (are they still doing that?).”  He also can't take his baby out on long road trips.  In Utah, there's a particular 120 mile stretch where there is no gasoline or services.  He wouldn't be able to make it on a full tank of gas!  It does make you wonder how Sam and Dean criss cross the country all the time!  

The plan after delivery was for Max to drive her for three weeks, and then return her for more finishing work.  As of today he still needs to return her to Joe and plans to soon.  He’s having a blast breaking her in though, even though there’s still a lot more work to be done.  

So what sort of maintenance does 13 still need?  Here’s the list so far:

-  Almost none of the gauges (including speedometer, odometer, and fuel gauge) work yet. "I just keep pace with other cars," admits Max.

-  Tail lights don't work so no night driving (although brake lights and turn signals work fine).

- Wiper blades aren't installed yet.

- The driver's side window doesn't roll up or down yet (they left it cracked open so I could get a little air). All the other windows work fine. We were waiting on a part that was next to impossible to find. Fortunately we finally got our hands on one so when the Impala goes back that'll be addressed.

- The air vents don't work yet.

- The radio isn't installed yet (apparently that's the last thing to go in). 

- The car needs to be stripped down and repainted (Joe isn't happy with the finish). 

- The cruise control doesn't work.  "Considering my gigantic engine only give me about 5mpg and I have to put in premium I think road trips are probably out (at least until I win the lottery)."

-  Almost none of the trim is on the car (including the Chevy logo on the front).  "All that will go on after the repaint.  Also the hood still needs to be cranked down (and air filter put on the engine)." 

-  As for an air conditioner, thats likely not going to happen. “I decided to have them hold off installing the AC.  They're putting in an AC Delete box anyway since I couldn't have the AC hooked up until the engine's broken in (4-5k miles which is going to take me a while).  I think AC would rob the car of about 45 HP...and frankly I plan on rolling with the windows down anyway.  I can always have it installed later on...but for now I'm thinking of just going without it.”

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So, after all this, was the experience worth it? 

“Absolutely.  Not knowing it was going to be as long a process as it's turned into actually made it easier.  Always made it feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  Everyone I talked to who knew about cars told me a frame-up restoration would probably take about 18-24 months unless I was willing to throw a bunch of money into the project.  Well...looks like they were right.  Granted, once I have her it's not done...

...This whole process (pushing over 2 years now) has been exciting at times and frustrating at others.  Most important I suppose it's taught me patience (something I've never had an overabundance of).  It's amazing to me how much my life has changed since I first bought her in August '12.  And for all the issues she's had it's been an invaluable experience.  Having something to hold onto and focus on got me through some pretty dark times.”

Max certainly isn’t taking for granted gaining a new friend in Joe through this experience, who also got a new lease on life through this project.  “He’s the first person I've met in a long time (my grandfather/parents/brother and sister aside) who will make a deal on a handshake and stick to it come hell or high water.  So as cheesy as it sounds - we both have "Supernatural" to thank so much.  For me - it helped me get through my divorce and gave me a project to be excited about.  And for him - I guess a new lease on life.”

Isn't it amazing how many ways a mere TV show can touch lives?  Here’s the most recent pictures of 13.  To think, the best is yet to come.

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Here are a few short videos from the POV of the driver's seat.  





Here's the gallery of all the photos shared in these articles, plus several extras that Max took through the rebuilding  process:



I want to give my full thanks to Max Hagler for sharing this entire experience with me through emails for the last year and a half and letting me put together his story to share with you all.  It's just another testament to how "Supernatural" can inspire fans to do something extraordinary in their lives.  Good luck to Max and Joe on completing the rest of the work on this classic beauty.  


AdmirorGallery 5.2.0, author/s Vasiljevski & Kekeljevic.

Comments  

Yirabah
# Yirabah 2014-09-14 14:32
I totally love this story. Please thank Max for sharing this story. I sure would like to go on a test drive with max and 13. I would came with at least 2 gallons of gas.

PS The vid links didnt work for me
Lilah_Kane
# Lilah_Kane 2014-09-14 14:44
It was truly a nice story and worth of the read. Hopefully when it is all done we will get the part 3? :)

- Lilah
Russ
# Russ 2014-09-15 05:45
Great read. Nice work Alice.

Max - Car is looking great mate. Love the black on black. People will move out of the way seeing that thing come down the road :)

Couple of things I'd like to comment on.

The 5 MPG thing? Something is not right. A 396, in good working order, a properly tuned carburetor, and mid-range differential gears, should net you about 10 MPG, and even better driving conservatively out on the freeway.

- Did you use the original diff? Did you change the ratios? The original engine was a 327, so chances are your diff ratio out of the factory was 3.55.
- Do you know the specs of the engine? Those heads, intake and carby are not original. It has definitely been rebuilt. Do you know what was done to it? Was it built, or purchased as a "crate engine"?
- The Carby. It's an Edelbrock. Do you know what model number it is?

The Radiator thing? Again, something is not right. Whilst it might be hard to believe for some, once upon a time these cars were new, and utilised for everything from driving to work in rush hour, picking up the kids from school, grocery getting, drag racing on the weekends, and interstate family road-trips - all day, every day. They don't need NASCAR radiator's to not overheat. Something is wrong.

- An original 3 core radiator should suffice (used on factory fitted 396 vehicles in '68)
- A 4 core radiator (used on Big Block AC cars) would be more than enough for a non-AC car - maybe a set of aftermarket thermo-fans for peace of mind on a modified engine. Still, NASCAR? That's bullshit. Something isn't right, and such a radiator will only mask it for the time being.

Not trying to kick a man whilst he's down, but you need to take it somewhere else. You need to find a shop that has a Dyno, with a mechanic that is familiar with carburetors. Your issues might be as simple as timing set incorrectly, and a Carby not jetted right. You'd be amazed at how a few simple tweaks can turn it into a different car. Problem is, tuning a carburetted vehicle is a lost art. Most tech schools don't even teach on them any more. Today it's all plug into a computer and see what it says.

Rather than discuss this on an open forum, drop me an email at russellmcw at hotmail dot com. I'll answer everything I can, and put you onto a forum full of very knowledgeable people that will help you more than I ever could, and also point you to quality shops to get work done right.

Again, great looking car mate, and best of luck with finishing it off. And as a car guy, thank you for bringing another of these old beauties back from the dead and away form the scrap heap.

All the best,
Russ
maximus3311
# maximus3311 2014-09-15 16:24
Hey Russ,

I have to keep this quick since I'm off to a fun afternoon of work - but a couple quick things (because you make really great points).

1) The engine isn't done being tuned yet...still in beta/break-in period.

2) it might be greater than 5mpg (not much though...but right now I'm guesstimating). Could be closer to 8-9...but so far almost no highway driving. All Los Angeles/sitting in bumper-to-bumpe r.

3) My understanding is that the mechanics really worked the engine for speed/power (at the expense of mpg). I'm fine with all the extra power since I don't plan on driving this car every day anyway. If it were a stock 396 though you'd be absolutely correct. But no that 396 is definitely not original - been completely worked over. I can go through my emails and see what was done to it (I know it was a lot). I think the engine overheating might have been just a product of a faulty radiator and they went overkill just to fix it...although I think I may have missed sending Alice and update on the radiator - it's actually not a Nascar radiator - I guess they were just talking about it. I think they just went with the radiator for big blocks (I guess the 4-core) and the engine has been running fine and not anywhere close to overheating.

Although to be fair there's still a ton of work to do...and no I don't feel like you're kicking me when I'm down at all! I'm still new to car restoration and I don't know a whole lot. It's my first project and there's still so much to learn (it's the journey, not the destination - right?)

But you're clearly more knowledgable than I am on cars (I know a lot more about planes than cars) and I'll drop you a line. After they finish up all the work I that's still due I'll probably will take it to an engine shop here in LA and see what they can do with it.

Lilah and Yirabah - you're welcome (and always welcome to bring gas for a ride haha) and will keep Alice updated so we can get some pictures on here when she's finally done :)
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-09-15 17:44
Thanks again for this article Alice. I very much enjoyed reading the progression of events (even if there is still more ahead) from the start to present day. Max and Russ it was even fun reading your posts to each other here. :) Good luck to all involved in this endeavor and would love to see an update someday! She is a beaut Max!