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    1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

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    TheGingerLee
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    1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  TheGingerLee on Tue May 10, 2016 9:15 am

    Hello all, from Nevada and the West Coast at large, super stoked to find this forum! Seems like a huge amount of knowledge and exactly the spot I've been looking for. I've really enjoyed reading up on all the regular Cars on here, and I wanted to share mine for your enjoyment!



    From the moment I saw it on craigslist, it stuck in my mind. I cruise craigslist all day everyday and I remember watching the price on it fall for a few weeks, then it disappeared, and when it reappeared and I had the money, I called the fellow, got the story and drove 300 miles to pick it up on a uhaul trailer.



    (I couldn't help noticing on this forum, how many others are so inspired by these cars, to even trailer them home for the first time, usually on rented uhaul trailers. It says a lot to buy a car you can't even drive home... Did anybody else have to lie to the uhaul office because they claimed it wouldn't fit. I looked up the wheelbase and measured it out and checked the trailer, and my hitch and my tow vehicle, but the only way I was allowed to rent a uhaul trailer was if I told them I was towing a VW beetle with it... Anyone else have this problem?? Happened to me twice. But we'll get to that. Anyways...)



    Story goes that the guy selling it was finally being evicted from his mothers old mobile home after she had died a few years prior. It was her car, and he only drove it a few times since she died, including a short stint as a pizza delivery car (of course...), but obviously it didn't last long since a 50 year old pizza boys driving V8 Chevys rarely do. That, and he had tried to fix the rear brakes with his friend (The "helpful one," we all have them) and they couldn't get the rear left back together completely, so it was all just rattling around in the hub and basically disconnected. And the front brakes were leaky. and the tires were bad. I talked and dickered with him for hours while my friend I'd brought sat around. Then his friend (I'm assuming he was the helpful one) came over and joined in the haggling. I had him outwitted however, by giving MY friend $100 in 20s told hold for me for just this case, and after hitting my top dollar with the guy, "borrowed" the "last" 20 bucks from my friend, "And now we got no gas money man!" Works everytime. He swore it had 89,000 miles on it and he might not be lying. I've since put on about 25k more myself as it became my daily driver for the last two years.




    Took her home, and the love affair began. The little old lady who owned it, bought it from a Dealer in Seattle Washington and I still have the license plate frame somewhere... It's a 305 V8 with a turbo 350 transmission, Air conditioning, factory cruise control, am/Fm/8 track player (With Eagles "Hotel California" 8 Track tape still in the glove box), original owners manual, the windshield Antenna, Manual windows, Manual Locks, cloth seats and a single, manual Ddivers side mirror. It seems to have an aftermarket Windshield wiper delay (Apparently non functional) and a rear defroster (not connected) added, plus two extemporaneous switches, installed in the dash which I have not traced nor been able to ascertain the purpose. I don't have good pictures of those yet, but I'll share when I can.





    The vinyl top was essentially immaculate, and the body work is 99% straight with a few small dings and one golf ball in the nose. The paint is 80% on the sides and 60% on the trunk and hood. The car was stored in a carport, which afforded the trunk and back seat-top/shelf a good dose of afternoon/evening sun everyday for years, causing it to fade and patina the most.





    The reason the car caught my eye, was first the color combination. The green was described to me by the owners son as "After dinner mint green," does anyone else know the real name, or if that is the real name of this color? I've never seen a green one with a white vinyl roof either, AND the unique white pinstripe to match. Weirdly enough, I did find almost the exact same configuration of color on a Cadillac Eldorado in a wrecking yard. Same exact green, white vinyl roof, and pinstripe, with the same doorsill plate that read "Body by Fischer," of course. Were they responsible for color-combination selection as well as body design?










    Secondly, and most memorably, the wheels took me years to figure out, but I believe they are "American Appliance" brand, and this model is quite rare. I've never seen another set in person and never on an Impala or Caprice, new or old. Anybody have any experience with these or tracking down the center pieces?





    The car was christened by a friend of mine who takes care of these things for me, as "'ncreese Y'danger!" or, Chrissy Danger. I didn't like the name much from the beginning,  but it proved right the first and second time I took it cruising. First time out after bringing it home and an oil change (But without hooking up the back brakes), with my buddies loaded up front and rear seats, I locked the brakes and skidded it sideways from about 40mph, down a steep hill after some kids put a bunch of logs and rocks out in the road to mess with drivers. Miraculously, both the front and the right rear brakes locked, skidding me at exactly the right angle so that my tires wheels and fenders passed between all the debris. That night she earned a new nickname, for the the maneuvering she did so gingerly: 'The Ginger Lee," in homage to the greats.







    Gotta love these cars, I drove it for a year without fixing a damn thing except an alternator (Which I held on with bailing wire. Gotta love bailing wire) and a few oil changes. It leaked out the radiator like one of those peeing fountains, a steady stream and a green puddle wherever we went. Small gas leak from the hose at the fuel pump, and oil everywhere of course. I did put new tires on it at that time.










    About a year ago, loaded it with all my earthy possessions, trunk and back seat PACKED, and tried to leave town only to blow the transmission at the first freeway onramp. She was just like, "NO" haha. So she sat on the street in Seattle, while I moved on to find a way to bring her back to life. One month later, I was back with another Uhaul trailer that I had had to lie to procure. 700 miles later, in Northern Nevada, and one Transmission rebuild and a brake job later, I drove her all summer last year and then garaged her all winter, and now just got her back from a "tune up" that was long overdue.





    New Steering gear box
    New Radiator
    New Cap and Rotor
    New plugs and wires
    Removed the smog pump
    Fresh timing chain

    The plan is to keep her on the road under original power for as long as possible, but next is a 5.7 350. When the times comes. For now, I'll do the front end and I'd like to add a rear stabilizer bar and beef up the one in front, and add some cop shocks. Then a proper alignment, which my local tire store told me they wouldn't do unless I fixed the steering gearbox.










    Thanks for reading this much and I hope you like my ride!

    Any help on these Questions and more:

    With adding a rear sway bar to a 1978, I'll need to get new arms for the rear or drill holes, correct? I'll probably get new ones, and if so, how can I be sure the holes in the arms will match the sway bar?

    Any info on color schemes and the name of this color green?

    Anyone had much luck restoring original radios in these? Whenever you turn the volume knob on mine, it produces terribly loud static, but you can also hear the radio in the background of the static. Then, when you stop turning the knob, the radio comes in clear no static. Could this be a simple contact point issue inside the volume knob? How much of the dash do I have to take apart to get at the radio?

    It seem after this latest work on the motor that I have an increasingly loud tick on the right side, which I'm theorizing is a lifter. Can I remove that valve cover and tighten those lifters that might be loose, or do I need a proper torque wrench and fresh springs and rods?

    The speedometer needle started to bounce really bad the first winter, and finally stopped rising at all, sitting at zero. The odometer also stopped recording at that point... So must be Speedometer cable or gears?

    Currently, mine is mounted with a bench seat, no split in the front. What is the most comfortable front seat from which B body model, Chevy/Pontiac/Olds/Cadillac(?) to replace this with?

    What dash cover is most recommended to properly fit a 1978 Impala?

    Where does the 1978 Impala fall in the Chevrolet Line up? Was it above or below Caprice? I thought it was below, until I saw this car which looks seems top of line for it's day.

    Is the 1976 Cadillac Seville considered a B body like the Caprice and Impala, and is there any cross-use of parts between them?

    Thanks again, updates to come!


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    Gooched78Caprice
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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  Gooched78Caprice on Wed May 11, 2016 12:54 pm

    TheGingerLee wrote:
    Thanks for reading this much and I hope you like my ride!

    Any help on these Questions and more:

    With adding a rear sway bar to a 1978, I'll need to get new arms for the rear or drill holes, correct? I'll probably get new ones, and if so, how can I be sure the holes in the arms will match the sway bar?

    Anyone had much luck restoring original radios in these? Whenever you turn the volume knob on mine, it produces terribly loud static, but you can also hear the radio in the background of the static. Then, when you stop turning the knob, the radio comes in clear no static. Could this be a simple contact point issue inside the volume knob? How much of the dash do I have to take apart to get at the radio?

    What dash cover is most recommended to properly fit a 1978 Impala?

    Where does the 1978 Impala fall in the Chevrolet Line up? Was it above or below Caprice? I thought it was below, until I saw this car which looks seems top of line for it's day.


    Thanks again, updates to come!


    Here's your answer for the rear sway, bolt right up to your 78:

    https://www.gmbbodyforum.com/t152-get-them-before-they-re-all-gone?highlight=control+arms

    Radio access is super simple. Remove the dash piece that covers the heater controls and radio. You'll see the main bolts holding in the metal casing, theres also a bolt underneath that you'll have to remove the ashtray to access to slide out the radio, remove the 3 clips and the antenna in the back to pull all the way out. The radio control knobs just pull off.

    For a dash pad keep an eye out on ebay, a couple near mint ones, a red one and a blue one with no cracks just sold for around 140 shipped! That's less than the hard cover replacements. Matches to ours can be found in the 77-90 caprice or impala some have a single center speaker, most have the 2 outside speakers. I believe the Pontiac Bonnies and Parisiennes up to around 1985 are the same too. I recommend not to get a dash cap. There are seemingly decent full pad repops similar to the original being sold for $249, worth the extra $100 over a hard plastic cap you see on ebay around $150.

    If you go back to 1978 and compare base prices I believe the Caprice cost a little more than Impala. I also believe you could option either one out to be more expensive than a standard Caddy. The only thing Im missing is a power passenger seat compared to most similar year optioned out Caddies.

    That is one pretty four door, I love the green and white combo. Thank you for sharing you car and your story. Too bad you aren't still hiding out in the PACNW I would have wanted my Irene to meet your Ginger. I bet Nevada is glad to have her. Im sure some members can chime in on your other questions or add to my comment.
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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  Myloth on Wed May 11, 2016 6:37 pm

    Nice car the color combo is great so are your pictures. Personally I liked the split bench in

    my sisters 78 Lesabre it was pleated maroon vinyl and very comfortable compared to the

    mediocre cloth bench I ripped out of my 79 Impala to install PT cruiser buckets.

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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  TheGingerLee on Wed May 11, 2016 7:32 pm

    I appreciate the recommendations greatly! And when I am back up North, indeed, let's take a cruise.

    For the dash, I'd like to leave the original in place and just cover it with a "Dash cover" or I called it a pad. You know what I mean? Like a cloth/felt piece, cut and sewn in the shape of the dash, ostensibly to protect it from further sun damage... It seemed like you were describing more of a replacement dashboard?

    Thanks again for the replies. This whole forum is a really awesome resource. I did go back and read a lot of the tutorials and project pages. It's been cool to see some of these cars change hands over the years and see there is a real community of enthusiasts, such as yourself. Whats the story on your Impala?

    Been mulling over a few more questions:

    I've been thinking about an exterior, over-windshield visor? Ever seen any application that might fit?

    Howabout sourcing Front A-Pillar spotlights?
    Any resources for wiring them?

    Are there two different types of rear sway bar? One which bolts to the vertical side of the rear control arm, and one which bolts to the lower face of the rear control arm? It almost appears as if those control arms you suggested had mounting holes for both types?

    I love the color too!  I've found pictures of other ones this color green, and some this green and with the white vinyl top. But none with this green, the white vinyl top, and the white pinstripe. I think I've seen that pinstripe done in other color combinations. Was it part of an offered appearance package?


    (Also noticed that the 77-79 sedans have a Vinyl top that extends lower and the Impala script is on Vinyl, whereas the Coupes have the Impala script placed over metal)

    Which reminds me of another question. I keep reading the floor pan is the same... Between coupe, sedan and wagons? The wheelbase of a wagon is longer, correct? and somehow a wagon is 4 inches wider than coupe or sedan...??? That's a puzzler to me



    (sadly no clock... Can I pop out that centerpiece between the vents and add one?


    I'm still questioning how exactly this particular car "came to be," as it were. I always forget this, but it has, old faded Department of Defense stickers on the front and rear bumpers. All I remember about the story was it belonged to a little old lady, but for some reason apparently she was driving it onto a military base regularly enough to need the stickers... Or maybe her old man was a general? Or it was a parade/showcar?




    Here are the questionable add-ons




    Wiper delay seems to have no effect on wipers




    Mystery switches, The one on the left has an arrow to the right that says, "Dim," but does not seem to dim anything. The switch also doesn't switch anything...




    Story goes, the old lady herself knitted the blanket on the front seat, to match the car..



    Lastly, anyone know a good database for tracing and tracking vehicle ownership and records?



    These are Summer wheels, I'm looking for a set of steelies for the winter. Paint them green to match the body and put some studded tractor tires on them...


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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  Kit1078 on Sun May 15, 2016 12:49 am

    That thing is like a time capsule. Like someone parked it in a garage at the end of the 70's and never changed a thing.

    About the ticking noise in the motor. You do NOT want to just pop the valve covers off and tighten up the rockers at random. back then the lifter preload had to be set manually, nowadays motors are set up so you don't have to adjust anything. Long story, but I digress.

    If you go to the local library and look for either a Chilton manual or, better, an old Motors manual, they will have a valve adjustment procedure listed. I have a couple of these manuals and can scan the pages for you, just PM me. if you've never done this before, I suggest finding someone who has to act as kind of a mentor the first time, because it's a bit tricky. if you under adjust it, you'll hear the lifters tick. if you over adjust it, you run the risk of wiping out the lobes on the camshaft.

    As for where the Impala sits in the lineup: the Impala was considered the middle range in the chevy B body scene. up until 1976, you had the Caprice at the top, the Impala below that, next was the Bel Air, then the Biscayne. I don't know exactly what year the Biscayne was dropped, but by 1977 all you could get in the United States was either a Caprice or an Impala. They still sold the Bel Air in Canada until the early 80's. I've seen Impalas with all sorts of odd options, but generally they were your entry level cars, fleet cars, rental, and service cars (think Taxi or Police) The caprice was more of a statesman type car, so to speak.

    About the color: if you open the hood, on the wiper cowling on the driver side is a square plate about 2 inches by 3 inches, maybe smaller, with a series of number and letters stamped into it. this is the Fisher Body build plate. It will tell you the body style, build date, original paint color, exterior options, and interior color. Somewhere i have a fisher body build book for 1977, i'll try and dig it up, but you can find them online if you spend a determined evening on Google.

    Hope this helps.
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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  Myloth on Sun May 15, 2016 6:06 am

    My rear bar sits like this



    I have not seen a different style myself has anyone?


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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  blacknred79 on Sun May 15, 2016 2:14 pm

    Mine looks like this; but I think it is aftermarket. I don't care for the way it is set up; but it does look like the one from Classic Industries I think?

    http://www.classicindustries.com/product/1979/impala/parts/rsb943.html

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    Re: 1978 Impala Sedan, 2-owner, -Only one I've ever seen like it- Dealer Car?

    Post  Myloth on Sun May 15, 2016 3:53 pm

    They all attach at the lower arms and from there shapes vary a little and thickness.

    But they are all pretty similar either way.

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