The 1958 Chevrolet Impala gained a new life after the legendary movie ‘American Graffiti’ because people realized how cool it was as a car star.

The American Graffiti ’58 Chevy was a two-door hardtop so that elevated its status, but the less glamorous two-door sedan can also be a car star—in the proper hands.

Jerry Sutherland

Dallas Van Dresar is the proud owner of one of the coolest, most drivable ’58 Chevys in the world because he (along with his wife) had the right vision for the car. He found a barebones ’58 Chevrolet Delray two-door sedan fifteen years ago thanks to a tip from a friend.

Dallas owned a ’58 Chevy when he was eighteen years old, so he was in an unofficial search for one when his buddy told him he knew where there was A ‘58 for sale. His friend’s uncle won the car in a bingo game, and he liked it so much the Delray became a daily driver for years.

This was a base model car, so it came with a thrifty six-cylinder and three-on-the-tree transmission. Dallas drove it like that for two years. He admitted he “ripped off the front end” one winter and suddenly Dallas found himself in the middle of a major project.

Dallas said the project took nine years because when he had time, he didn’t have money and when he had money, he didn’t have time—the mantra of the car guy. Eventually he found the 327 small block and the 700R4 he wanted for the Delray, so the powertrain was covered. He upgraded to electric fans so hot days don’t intimidate him because this car runs at 138 degrees—then the fans kick in. 

The car was in good shape because it sat in a shed its whole life, so it didn’t face the nastiness that bad weather throws at cars. The front fenders were a little rough, so Dallas found some replacements and saved himself a lot of work. He went with a factory Sea Foam Green color plus he added some trim to give the Delray a little more flash.

Dallas fitted in a Monte Carlo interior that looks like it came with the car and there are other touches like a functional console and digital gauges. His wife had a few requirements for the car and the biggest one was air conditioning. She also wanted a nice ride, so the Delray is also air-bagged at all four corners.

There are also disc brakes at all four corners because Dallas wanted a driver that could handle the demands of today’s traffic. His wife has one more request—she wants Dallas to dial down the rumble of the side dump exhausts so that is on the winter things-to-do list.

Dallas hates trailer queens because he can’t understand why someone would build (or buy) a vehicle they don’t drive. He loves driving this ’58 Chevy because it is such a well-mannered, easy car to drive. He runs it at 75 miles per hour with ease and he said the car runs 2000 rpm at 60 miles per hour thanks to the 700R4 transmission.

He called this ’58 Chevy a back-alley project, but Dallas built one of the coolest ’58 Chevys to ever hit the street—with all due respect to American Graffiti.

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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