I am thinking about purchasing a 1964 Chevy Impala SS with a 327 engine. The car looks great, needs some rust work, but the engine leaks power steering fluid. Other than that the engine sounds like good, has no trouble starting and did not give me any problems when I test drove it. I know very little about cars, is this something that can end up being very costly?
As for not knowing about cars, you might also want to check on local mechanics to see if they’ll work on such an old car. I know I’ve been told by a lot of people that I should do my Chevelle’s next project myself, but I’ve never welded a day in my life, and I think welding something as important as the flood pan would NOT make for a good first time, plus, my garage barely fits the car in there to begin with, I dunno where I’d put the seats(2 bench), carpet, etc. at in there.
Make sure its actually an Impala SS. I have seen people find badges for these and put them on non-SS and even non-Impala’s. The Impala has three taillights on each side and the SS had bucket seats and a floor shift with a console.
However, even the SS version had brakes that are truly pathetic by modern standards, and the suspension was still far too soft for good handling. If the OP buys this car, he/she should be sure to drive very conservatively in comparison to how he/she drives a modern car.
And, be prepared for gas mileage that is poor. The Powerglide 2 speed automatic transmission was pretty sturdy, but having only 2 speeds seriously compromises the gas mileage.
However, all of that being said, this could be a fun car to drive on weekends, in good weather.
That’s the type of car a collector or mechanic might like. But it will be costly, use a lot of gas and it may be hard to find parts. If this is a car you will be driving every day, you should look for something more current and safe. I don’t remembere whether those even came with seat belts. If it’s a second or third car you want to restore or work on, go for it.
“If this is a car you will be driving every day, you should look for something more current and safe. I don’t remembere whether those even came with seat belts.”
No, they did not come with seat belts. Some people (very few, actually) did install lap belts back in the days before standard lap belts, but these belts offer very little protection by comparison with shoulder harnesses. And, the dashboard of Chevies of this vintage had some pretty vicious-looking surfaces with sharp edges.
Add in the infamous X-frame that affords no protection in the event of a side-impact collison, coupled with the poor brakes and ultra-soft suspension and you get a car that would likely be a nice car for occasional weekend jaunts to vintage car shows, but this is not something that should be driven on a daily basis.
By 1964 the big four all had front lap-belts standard. My 64 LeSabre came with four lap belts, in a car that can easilly seat 8.
Just make sure you understand what you are getting into, Be very careful of buying a car with any rust, it can be expensive to correctly fix all the damage. Getting maintenance and repair parts may also be a challenge, so you want to do some research before you take the leap. Owning any 40 year old car will not be cheap, and using it on a regular basis will increase the amount of maintenance it will require. However, IMHO cars a meant to be driven, so have fun.
Actually, you are at least 1/2 correct. GM, Ford, Chrysler and AMC did indeed make front lap belts standard in 1964, contrary to my recollections. If your Buick had them in the rear also, someone (the dealer??) opted for this feature since it was not standard equipment. Or perhaps your state had regulations requiring 4 lap belts. Back in those days, state laws frequently led Federal requirements by a few years.
The requirement for 4 lap belts came later. In fact, Federal law did not even require front lap belts for passenger cars until 1968, thus letting foreign manufacturers off the hook until then.
Hey goodlife, you got a lot of replies but nobody answered your question…The power steering has little to do with the engine. They use a single-unit pump/reservoir made out of steel that was used reliably on MILLIONS of GM cars. Your leak is probably just a failed hose, a $30-$40 repair.
The only real weakness of the car would be the points ignition and mechanical distributer which requires attention every 10,000 miles or so.
As others have pointed out, with rare models like the Impala SS, beware of cobbled together “clones” whose VIN does not support the SS claim. There is a regular underground industry cranking these things out.
You might consider enlisting the help of a vintage car club.
Something like the Vintage Chevy Club
If you contact them and explain your problem, perhaps attend a meeting, you probably will be able to find someone very knowledgeable about this car, and willing to look over the car for you.
Rust problems can be very expensive to fix correctly.
What are your plans for this vehicle?
Like was mentioned : very poor miles per gallon (8 or nine IIRC), to be refurbished ($$$$), and only used on dry sunny days, stored out of the weather, to be joined to a club membership (for fun and show) and don’t forget the insurance you’ll need for seasonal use. (Some ins. cos. won’t allow you to put on insurance for a short time without a penalty of some kind, shop around).
AS for the rust and leaking steering fluid, have a tech inspect it all and give you a ball park estimate.
Be aware this will not be a cheap endeavor, although it CAN be a fun one.
Plus, you’ll meet a lot of interesting people with the same interest.
Sure am thankful for that edit pencil.
One last comment here: Here’s another site you may enjoy: http://www.chevytalk.org/fusionbb
Yes, that’s true, although simply in my recollections of riding around in various old beasts, it seems to me that four seatbelts was pretty common by the mid-60’s, and I’d imagine an SS with all the bells and whistles would have 'em. Not that the lap belts are really going to do much!
But, to the original poster, what is your intention for this car? Do you have some sort of nostalgic dreams about the 64 SS Impala? This is a model that’s very much in vogue amongst collectors these days and, assuming it really is an SS, you will likely pay a steep premium for that specific model. If you’re just looking for a funky old car to drive around, you can find any number of cool old cars that aren’t popular amongst the Barrett-Jackson crowd that you will be able to find for much cheaper and in much better shape.
Also, you sort of rattle off “needs some rust work” casually-- do not take any sort of rust issues lightly. Rustproofing was in its infancy in 1964, and any rust at all can belay a much larger hidden problem. Definitely take this to a mechanic, preferably a body shop that specializes in classic restorations, before even considering this car.