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“Impressive” 1963 Chevrolet Impala Wagon Wins Custom of the Year by GoodGuys
We lost count of all the subtle touches and Easter Eggs crafted by the Ranweiler family. It takes a lot to impress the judges of the world’s largest hot rod association. That’s why this 9-year build spared no expense.

“Impressive” 1963 Chevrolet Impala Wagon Wins Custom of the Year by GoodGuys

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Brad Ranweiler founded Show Cars Automotive to cater to an underserved segment of the aftermarket, the 1958-64 full-size Chevys. Based in Minnesota, their parts runner was a neglected 1963 wagon. The 63-64 wagons are incredibly rare, especially the 2-door models. That’s because this is the only one.  

Nine years ago, his sons Brady and Cody decided to transform a 4-door wagon into something unique. Leaving no body panel untouched, they chopped, channeled, fabricated and welded steel into this enchanting design. Building something better than Chevrolet ever could is the classic philosophic debate of simulation versus simulacra, you never knew hot rods got this deep did you?

While it would be easy to drop-in a late-model LS crate engine, they decided to start with a classic 409 big block. It was bored and stroked to 509 ci (8.34L) and topped by a Hillborn fuel injection. Everything under the hood was made by hand to incorporate the same themes found throughout the car. This work of art sends 600 horsepower to a 4L80 automatic transmission and a Ford 9” rear.  

Moving inside, they started with a dash from 1960. All the metalwork was done in-house, using the same patterns on the pedals, dash inserts, and the sill plates. M&M interiors loaded it with Italian leather and a full-length center console between 59 Cadillac seats. Thankfully the seating position is a few inches rearward, people were shorter back in the old days.  

Behind the 2nd row is an elegant cargo divider that houses the rear wheel tubs. It carries the same lines into the cargo floor, which looks clean enough to eat from. That poses a question: As a wagon, how practical is it? With room for four adults and a weekend bag for each, this would make a great road trip with friends. Riding on an Art Morrison chassis, it has the steering response and coil spring comfort of a late-model sedan. The only aspect I would change is the transmission. A W-block stroker would be amazing with a six-speed stick loaded with a light flywheel.  

Attention to detail lies in the fact that nothing looks out of place. Chopping the roof required every panel of glass to be custom made. Cutting the jambs and structure of the rear doors and crafting a new tailgate take countless hours that were appreciated by judges.

This decade-long idea won the coveted Ridler award at the Detroit Motorama last year. While this alone is worthy of any collection, it also earned an entry at SEMA. This year’s Battle of the Builders was packed with quality builds, but Impressive caught the eye of Chevrolet’s engineers. They bestowed it with their 2021 Chevy Designer’s Award, putting this 63 among the most-coveted cars on Earth.  
With a conservative differential ratio, the Hillborn injected big block will sip on fuel at highway speeds while offering tire-shredding torque in every situation. Now it’s time to check out all the finer details. All the brightwork has the marks of the same maker. The gauges are electronic, with guts from Classic Instruments. Their lenses and bezels are custom-made to replicate the same themes seen on the taillights, grille, wheels, and even the shift knob.  

Goodguys has 17 events planned for this season, and they are gaining new members every day. Your car must be older than 1988 to be eligible, and then you will be on the world’s stage. This award was sponsored by Snap-On, the leader in tools, technician training, and shop hardware for over a century.  


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