‘Til Death Do Us Part: The Perfect Impala

Román Macias has gasoline running through his blood and an infatuation with muscle cars in his genes.

His father was in high school in the ’60s when Chevelles and Camaros were just about the coolest thing anyone had ever seen, and that nostalgia was passed down to both of his boys. Román’s older brother had a Camaro as a daily driver in high school, and Román remembers cruising around in the passenger seat. “It just felt right,” he says.

His brother traded the car for a ‘64 Malibu, and shortly after passed on the keys to a grateful Román.

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Due to this, Chevelles were always Román’s cup of tea prior to the Impala at hand. He had two of them before he even graduated high school — I’m definitely a little jealous of his high school prom date — and a third by the time he was out of the military.

This ‘62 Impala Super Sport is a very special fluke in Román’s Chevelle streak, and a car that he essentially fell in love with by accident.

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While indifferently browsing the internet for cars — we all do it — a ‘62 Impala popped up as a suggested listing. Román was never very partial towards Impalas, but he knew if he ever were to bring one into his life it would be a ‘62; while strolling through car shows this exact body style always seemed to catch his eye. The car in the listing was located just a couple of hours away in Stockton, California so he had to take a look.

It had a few hiccups and kinks to iron out, but Román figured the car would be a great beater to get him to the beach. The only issue was, Román is a car builder at heart and, as we all know, a snowballing build is inevitable with his kind.

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The vision of the Impala evolved quickly after he began selling off cars to fund this build, the ethos of the thing transforming from beach-mobile to a modern daily/muscle car mash-up. Román wanted a car that would be turn-key with heated seats and other amenities, while retaining all the ’60s muscle car flair.

When Román sold his last car – a reliable, comfortable and performance-oriented Volvo – the standard for the Impala was lifted even higher. He made a list of all the things he would miss after the Volvo was gone and set out to incorporate them into his ‘62 Impala.

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The result is a car with a ton of amenities, including a tuneable exhaust that features valved and adjustable Varex mufflers. They allow for manual operation via a cellphone app, or a geo-mode that utilizes GPS. This way Román can get up early for work without disturbing the neighbors, but pump out the muscle car soundtrack we all love on the backroads without so much as lifting a finger.

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This one addition helps to make the car quite reasonable around town and as a day-to-day vehicle. Román picks up his daughter from school and grabs groceries without glares from boring pedestrians, but he also gets a knowing nod from fellow enthusiasts. More importantly, the amazing sound of the LS3 power plant isn’t overly and unnecessarily strangled. At least, not all the time.

Have a listen in the video above, where you’ll notice the valved exhaust momentarily kicking in, before we dive into the powertrain.

Horsepower & Comfort
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Román opted for an LS3 swap to make the car reliable and trustworthy on the streets while still putting out a hefty 468hp. All that power is orchestrated by a White Lightning shifter that sits atop a T-56 Magnum transmission soured from American Powertrain. Exhaust exits via Hedman Husler 1.75-inch mid-length headers and passes through 3-inch stainless piping before heading out the aforementioned twin Varex mufflers at the rear. You’ll also notice an air conditioning compressor because, remember, this is a sensible vehicle.

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The whole setup spins billet 18×9.5-inch wheels sourced by Circle Racing Wheels, which have been tastefully powder-coated with a metal-flake gold around the bare center caps. Suffice to say, the car moves a lot quicker than anything else its age, and Wilwood disc brakes help to bring it all to a stop in short order.

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Moving on to the interior, Román continued to perform unique alterations to fulfil his distinctly individual and modern needs. An extensive and impressive modernization package was added to the interior alongside period-correct red vinyl upholstery that contrasts graciously with the flat black exterior.

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Power windows, a push-button electric parking brake, heated seats, a modified factory rear-view mirror with auto-dimming function, a BlackVue front and rear camera setup, LED lighting throughout the entire car, push button trunk release, Ron Francis push button start with a proximity-sensor key, power and remote entry door and truck latches, a Sierra Wireless GPS/WiFi module with 4G-LTE onboard WiFi, a completely hidden 1,000-Watt 10-speaker audio system; the list goes on and on. And on…

Best of all, the interior doesn’t immediately give away all of the upgrades, but hides most of the modern kit behind period fascia.

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Custom Dakota Digital electronic gauges are found on the dashboard, and the rear seats feature four-point harnesses for Román’s daughter’s safety. In the end, his ‘62 Impala really is fancier than a lot of 2020 cars fresh off the lot, and I don’t think there’s too much to miss when Román looks at the practicality of his old Volvo.

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It’s truly an all-purpose car, completely suited to meet Román’s needs. And it’s continuing to evolve as his needs change. Román decided he wanted to add quickness, so to do that he added lightness by switching to a carbon fiber hood and switching to lighter Jongbloed wheels. At this very moment, the car is also undergoing upgrades to prepare for an LS7 engine transplant.

It will be interesting to see the continued evolution of this car throughout its life. Román has owned lots of cars, but he insists that this Impala is different, saying “I will either die in it, or it will still be around when I’m gone.” It’s a forever friendship, one many car builders can relate to.

Sara Ryan
Instagram: pockowokosara

Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: trevornotryan

Cutting Room Floor
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Pic 48! Imagine this: After you walked for hours through the forrest in an autumn night you hear a beast of a car coming over the edge of the hill behind you, blasting full throttle. You reach out your thumb for a ride more as a joke than a possible chance since this thing is almost flying past you.
Shortly after it passes you, you see red light and squeaking brakes. It stand there with breaking lights on and suddenly yo have this view in the middle of the night.
Now look at Pic 48 again.


Beautiful car, and a great story told in an excellent article. Thanks for sharing this with us.


really like the reverse colour scheme, colour coded bonnet and roof with matt black body.


That hood was actually a loaner while my hood was at the composite shop for the molding process while the carbon one was made. The first guy I called to ask if he knew anyone with a hood said, "Yeah, I have one that's been sitting in my office for 5 years." Apparently, he painted a car for a guy and he never came back to get the hood. I was expecting some crusty P.O.S. and got lucky. The gold ended up matching the wheels close enough, and really made my car resemble the two cars that inspired the build; Smokey Yunick's '67 Chevelle he built for Daytona in '68, and Fireball Roberts' '62 NASCAR Pontiac, another Smokey-built race car. I called the painter back to tell him he can have his hood back, since the carbon one is now on my car, and he said he'd get it when he has time. It's now hanging from my garage ceiling by ratchet straps. Maybe it'll hang around until someone else needs to borrow a hood for another '62 Impala.


you have an updated pic with fibre bonnet?


It's really more than the hood. The car is a completely different thing now. As seen above, it was very tame and practical and simple. Very classic. The changes are really pretty radical, but for a reason. At top speed it was very unstable, so I devised a design to help manage the air...and added another 100 HP at the rear wheels...

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

There's a very modern feel to the exterior now!


The overall design was done in a way it would've been done back in the day. The aluminum ducting is attached to the hood with aircraft rivets, and the air dam was kept simple and angular. I plan to paint the hood to hide the modern material. Out back I replaced the six tail lights with '62 Buick LeSabre tail lights. The concept is, this car could've been seen in this form as a prototype super high performance GT car that didn't get approval. The 1962 Impala GT/SS.


It's simply astounding. What a complete design. Love the thoroughness of the execution as well. A few days' shy of Veterans Day, but thank you for your service and keep it up.


Right on man, thanks! Although I have countless hours, and many overnight sessions in my garage, I've had a ton of help in the fours years of almost constant work. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my long-time friend Matt Seret. Matt is the guy who executed all the sheet metal work. He's a self-taught, one-man operation at Seret Speed and Customs located in Vallejo, CA. Please check his IG if you're interested in seeing hand built custom cars and bikes done the old school way.


Are those shoulder harnesses mounted to the floor behind the driver seat? If so that is horrifically dangerous. The rest of the car is fantastic.


Only lap belts in front. I couldn't compromise the original aesthetics on the interior to put a harness bar for front harnesses.


VERY VERY awesome build! Not very familiar with these old Impalas, what is the second window crank for?


Thanks, by the way!


It opens the little wing window.



It was called a "vent" window.(laughing) I had a '66 Chevelle and everyone in my neighborhood(except moron across the street whose dad worked for F.O.R.D.(Fix Or Repair Daily) had Chevy's. God, Ford had some UGLY cars in the early 60's! Corvette, Nova, Chevelle, Camaro, Impala. What?!!!! Ford cars were BUTT-UGLY. You should've been in my neighborhood in the late 70's. Buddy of mine from h.s. had 2 Corvettes while he was in high school! And our other buddy had a Pro-street '62 Vette. Tunnel Ram, L60's in back and 4" drag tires in the front. This car was NASTY! And speaking of NASTY? Your '62 is NASTY! Very clean, VERY well-done! I also love '61 bubble-backs! Great job!


"Ford had some UGLY cars... Ford cars were BUTT-UGLY. "

Your optometrist called. Said forget carrots, you require ocular stem cells.


how come we dont have a lot of sema stories


sick car

Matthew Everingham

A. Maze. Zing.


Supernaturals all over ^_^


Car of the year!

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I am never a fan of the Impala, but this one's changed my mind about how cool they can be.

Great job Roman!


Long time reader of SH, first time commenting. This car is fantastic and I would love to see continued updates.


Killer ride Roman! I have a 62 as well and I was wondering about how you managed to tuck the 3" exhaust all the way to the back? I'm on 20x9.5" in the rear and there is no room for exhaust back there, let alone 3". Did you have to cut into the trunk area or what? Mine are currently side exit in front of rear wheels, but always looking for ways to clean up the look.

I also really like how you did the satin black over the whole rear trunk lid and taillight area. The silver rivets really set it off too. Nice work! These cars are beautiful in stock form, or modified, and I really like what you did to make yours different yet still classy and cool!


The exhaust tubes over the rear axle were "ovalized", smashed, to allow for inner tire clearance. And yes, the spare tire well was cut out in the trunk creating a flat trunk pan since there was no other location under the car where those massive mufflers would fit.

Those SS rivet bolts were an afterthought to cover the rear trim holes. I just wish the holes were evenly spaced. I contemplated filling, and re-drilling new holes so they had uniform spacing.


Also is that a TurnOne power steering box i spy down there? If so, are you happy with it? I have a saginaw 605 box and after LS swapping I feel like the steering is wayyy too light, twitchy and has no road feel. Great for a cruiser, but I have performance in mind in my build. Thanks for your time.


That's a quick-ratio Borgeson that wasn't quick enough. I sent it to TurnOne and they rebuilt it with a 10:1 gear and made it feel heavy enough so it wasn't too twitchy on the street. I absolutely love the ratio and feel.


Thank you for the reply, Roman. I will definitely be looking into one of their boxes. I contacted them regarding a fluid pressure reducer valve, but I would rather do it once and do it right when it comes to changing steering components... Do you have a build thread or an IG account on this car anywhere? I'd love to follow along as it progresses and take a closer look at what you've done.


I don't have any social media. I prefer making contacts like this or in person. I have a Google Photos album with 4 years of pics...I'd be happy to share it if you're interested in rifling through the Never-ending Story that is my car.


I dig it! Yeah I'd love to see some more pics. Out of all the 62's I've seen, I'd have to say that yours is one that sticks out to me in a good way. I feel like there's always something to be learned or gained by seeing how someone else has tackled a certain aspect of the car. In fact I'd really like to see it in person one of these days. I'm in the north bay, probably not too far from you guessing by the shop in Vallejo. Hopefully I'll catch you at a show or out cruising one day.


I'm in Fremont, you? I lurk on IG, and my wife is on there. What's your handle?


Very solid build. Nice solid power that you can get on at will, but still good for cruising.


I was thinking about how this car transcends the pro-touring genre so well that those words aren't even in the article. I think of those cars as having something to prove ("we can keep up with them farrrrners and their whaletails"), whereas this car is almost a middle finger to taking life too seriously. It took vision to build though, and I love the concept of the GT/SS that was too good, too punk, to be allowed into the racing series.