Pictures of Gary's Impala

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When I bought Betty in February, 1999, the interior was in decent shape, with most of the wear on the driver's seat, the carpet on the driver's side, and a few small splits on the top of the back seat, But since I drove her frequently, the driver's seat deteriorated rapidly. So in March, 2002, I restored her interior with original-style upholstery, carpet, and headliner. Still to come are the door panels—-- and I hope—-- a conversion to power windows.

Interior Before
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Interior After
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Compared to many cars from the early sixties, the '64 Impala's dash features clean, simple, handsome design. Other than a small crack in the left corner, the padded dash is in perfect condition, and everything works, including the Engine Cold light, the cigarette lighter (I don't smoke, but I do use it to charge my cell phone), the heater and air conditioner, the parking brake light, and as of December 2001, the electric clock. Compared to my Honda, however, the steering wheel is huge! The plaque on the dash was a 38th birthday present from my mother-in-law. Thanks, Vanna!

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Tachometer and Tissue Dispenser
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Like most early 60s cars, Betty only has an AM radio. I had bought an old Radio Shack FM converter on eBay, and stuck it in the glovebox, but the signals never came in very clear—too much static. I decided to leave the original Delco AM unit in place and put a new AM/FM stereo CD player in the glovebox. Problem was, it wouldn't fit. So it went under the dash. It didn't look bad there, but it wasn't what I had wanted.

The solution turned out to be the tissue dispenser that was a common dealer-installed accessory. The stereo box was 8.5” wide, 3.5” high and 8.25” deep. The tissue dispenser measures 11.25” wide, 2.75” high and 5.5” deep. So with some cutting, the tissue dispenser would fit around the stereo and hide it from view. A friend from work, Sam Womack, likes to tinker and figure out how to make things work, so he agreed to help me.

After taking measurements, Sam built a template for the stereo box from scrap sheet metal to use while he cut the tissue dispenser to fit around the box. He removed the front of the tissue dispenser and set it on hinges so it would flip down for access to the stereo. Sam used an epoxy to put four lock nuts on the tissue dispenser and attach it to the stereo box. Getting the stereo box reattached to the dash was tricky because we now had no room for the screwdriver used with the original screws attaching the stereo box to the underside of the dash. So Sam drilled new holes and used another set of lock nuts to reattach the stereo box to the dash. It's tight and rattle free, and best of all, it looks just the way I wanted it to.

I had also wanted a tachometer, but I didn't want to strap one to the steering column. So Sam took the discarded hinge from the tissue dispenser to mount the tach on the bottom edge of the dash under the lights and wiper switches. When I'm driving, the tach is easy to read through the steering wheel. And whenever I want, I can swing the tach out of sight under the dash.

Besides these modifications, Sam installed a set of 12-volt outlets in the trunk so I can plug in my electric cooler, which is great for road trips. And after I had left my lights on and run down the battery more than once, Sam also installed a chime behind the driver's-side kick panel and wired it to the dome light switch. That way, it only chimes if I have the headlights on and open the door. It's already come in handy.

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