Featured Vehicles

Thursday Is Garage Night: Joshua Adams’ 1961 Chevy Impala

(Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)

For a rag-tag group of car and truck fans around Flint, MI, there’s a long-standing tradition to get together on Thursday night for some car talk.

The cast of characters and the exact location can change from week to week.

Sometimes there’s pizza and cold beverages, and sometimes there’s a game on a radio, but it’s always in someone’s garage. This weekly tradition has produced some amazing builders with remarkable project cars, including Joshua Adams and his bubble-topped 1961 Chevrolet Impala.

“As a kid, I used to watch through the back window of a garage owned by a gentleman named Dennis Pelky as he built and painted cars,” Adams said.

He was eventually swept up into the Garage Night scene, learning to wrench beside his friends under the watchful eyes of the older members. They traded skills, tools, and favors to help each other with projects. For Adams, that included a 1992 Camaro and an air-bagged 1989 Chevy pickup.

Josh Adams’ dad, Gary, also liked cars, but he loved one above the rest.

“All he ever talked about was this 1961 Impala Sport Coupe he owned,” Adams said. “The way he described it, I guess I fell in love with it, too.”

(Josh even had the car tattooed on his forearm.)

So, when the opportunity arose on a rainy day in 2008, Josh sold a 1955 Chevy pickup and drove from Flint to Columbus, OH to get an Impala of his own.

It didn’t run, and a lot of the parts were in the back seat, but it had that beautiful round roof.

Adams trailered it over to his parents’ modest two-car garage, where he and his dad started to figure some things out.

That’s where the Garage Night scene comes in.

Over the next four years, Josh’s friends would stop by the garage on Thursday nights and pitch in.

Everyone had their own specialties, so they were able to tackle fabrication, body and paint, drivetrain, wiring, and even the air suspension without much outside assistance.

“I wanted to maintain the classic lines of the car,” Adams said, “but give it a smoothed-out California look. I also wanted to bring it into the 21st century with some upgrades like the sequential LED turn signals and the custom dual intake. I even got the color—Dark Tarnished Silver—from a 2009 Impala.”

When he acquired the car, it had a worn out 283 under the hood, and he didn’t have a specific plan for replacing it. Fortunately, early in the project, an amazing opportunity presented itself.

“My friend’s brother is an engine builder,” Adams said. “He had built this overbored 428 for his brother-in-law, but the brother-in-law backed out at the last minute, so he had this great engine just sitting around. I just bought it and dropped it in!”

Together, the regulars of the Thursday night group have brought home countless trophies, and Josh Adams is no exception.

“My favorite thing, though,” he said, “is to get home from a long trip for work, put my daughters in the back seat, and go cruising for ice cream!”

Proving once again that it’s who you know, Josh scored the fully-assembled 428 under the hood from a friend’s brother. It featured an .060″ overbore, a Lunati Voodoo camshaft, an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, and a Quick Fuel 750 carburetor. All that was left for Josh was to custom-build the low-profile dual air intake. (Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)

FAST SPECS

Chassis

Frame: Stock “X” frame with boxed factory trailing arms, restored by owner
Suspension: Air suspension with Firestone air bags, 2″ drop spindles, extra banana arm to make a factory-style four-link
Brakes: Factory drums rear, Classic Performance Parts discs front

Engine and Transmission

Engine Block: Chevy 428 with .060” overbore
Rotating Assembly: Lunati Voodoo camshaft (276˚/284˚ duration), roller rocker arms
Induction: Quick Fuel 750 carburetor with custom low-profile air cleaner, Edelbrock Performer intake manifold
Ignition: GM HEI distributor, mini starter, Haywire wiring harness
Other Modifications: SPAL dual 11” electric fans
Exhaust: Sanderson block hugger headersDynatech mufflers
Transmission: GM TH400 transmission, TransGo shift kit, 2,800 rpm stall torque converter, Hurst Pro-Matic shifter
Assembly By: Dick Esch, Dale Pelky, and Patrick Monaghan

Body

Paint Color: PPG 9116 Dark Tarnished Silver (from 2009 Chevy Impala)
Paint By: Dennis Pelky
Modifications: Shaved door handles and trim, billet grille, smoothed firewall, sequential taillights

Interior

Gauges: Classic Instruments V8 Red Steelie series 
Upholstery: Nu-Red faux leather
Upholstery By: Custom door panels and trunk by Gary Alumbaugh, seat and headliner by Bones Lonesway
Other modifications: Front seats from a Pontiac Sunfire, re-padded stock rear seats, dash from 1959 Impala

Special Thanks

“I’d like to thank my parents from letting me take up space in their garage to build one of my dream cars. Thanks to all my friends for the support and help along the way to help make this build possible. Hopefully we’ll help each other with many more projects over the years. Lastly, thanks to my two little girls Riley Lynn and Harper Mae, for understanding when dad spend so much time in the garage and being cool with it!” — Josh Adams

Josh’s overall vision for the project was to maintain the iconic lines of the car, while adding modern elements. (Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)
Inside is where there’s a lot of “mod” in this resto-mod. The discerning eye will notice the seats from a Pontiac Sunfire, while the really discerning eye will recognize that’s the dash from a 1959 Impala! Josh just liked how it looked more than the stock dash, so he made the swap. To keep the extra-red theme going, it’s equipped with V8 Red Steelie series gauges from Classic Instruments. (Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)
Among the Thursday Night friends, one of Josh’s best friends is Gary, who happens to be a great interior guy. He put together the custom door and trunk panels, and wrapped them in the reddest faux leather. The seats and headliner were stitched up by local hotrodder Bones Lonesway. (Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)
Josh was checking out new Impalas at his local Chevy dealer, but when the salesman came out to help, all Josh really wanted was the paint code for Dark Tarnished Silver, hidden in the trunk. The exterior also features shaved door handles and trim for that smooth California look, plus a billet grille, and sequential taillights. (Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)
See you at the ice cream stand! (Image/Todd Kaminski – Maguire Photo)

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One Comment

  1. It was very cool to read that the paint was done by Mr. Dennis Pelky, the guy who he had watched thru the back window as a young boy. Congrats on a beautiful car

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