West Coast Report 38th Edition by John Gilbert

Rare ’61 Chevy Impala SS Convertible — It’s Raining in So Cal — Blast With Both Barrels


wce-38-report-01We’ll get to the ’61 Chevy Impala SS convertible, but first welcome to the 38th edition of the West Coast Report. It’s the first report I’ve written in a long time while it was raining outside. Its no secret we don’t get a lot rain here in Southern California, in fact where I live in Orange County the temperature seems to average around 70-degrees most of the year, and things stay pretty dry.

WCE-38-REPORT-02Tri-power 348 with a 4-speed / Of course there are the rare days in the winter where the temp drops down to the 50s, and then there’s the summertime where its not unusual to have a week that will hover in the 90s. When it does rain in California, I always seem to get caught with my windows down. My ’64 Chrysler 300K doesn’t have all of its windows, my ’77 Ford LTD II laid out on bags is frame deep in mud, and my ’69 Buick Riviera still in original paint is starting to rust through on the roof and hood.

WCE-38-REPORT-03Rare? It’s estimated there were 27 ’61 Chevy Impala SS convertibles built. Speaking of my 1969 Buick Rivera did any of you get a chance to read the article I wrote in the April 2014 edition of Street Rodder on media blasting? Its titled Blast With Both Barrels, and the subtitle is The Do-It-Yourself Way To Bare Metal.   http://www.streetrodderweb.com/tech/1402_the_do_it_yourself_way_to_bare_metal/

WCE-38-REPORT-04The article appeared first in the print version of Street Rodder and then online almost immediately afterward. At the time I wrote the article I was a contributing editor, but have since joined the staff of Street Rodder. These days I’m editing the Early Iron column that’s what Street Rodder calls its Reader’s Rides section. Please feel free to submit photos of your street rod to Street Rodder, Early Iron, and don’t forget to include build photos from start-to-finish because we’ll run those in Street Rodder’s expanded web coverage.

WCE-38-REPORT-05A garden hose goes a long way towards flushing dirt held under stainless trim. In the links to Blast With Both Barrels on Eastwood and Street Rodder’s Facebook pages there were a few people wondering why I didn’t remove the Riviera emblems. As I mentioned in the article “First, I wanted to get a handle on the rust situation before the car rusted itself into a convertible, second, I wanted the Buick to look more presentable. The presentable part explains why I elected not to remove the stainless steel vinyl top, and window moldings before I started blasting, grinding, and spraying primer.” Explaining further by presentable I meant making the Riviera look better, but still being able to drive it. As anyone knows that’s restored a car had I removed the stainless steel trim, next to go would be the window glass… before I knew it, the Buick would have turned into a full-fledged ground up restoration. And I’ve witnessed it before with lots of other people’s projects a ground up restoration can take unforeseen years.

WCE-38-REPORT-06Media blasting. Masking tape underneath with duct tape that doesn’t leave a film works best. Here’s something to think about, do you want to get involved with a ground up restoration, or would you rather handle a few cosmetic upgrades, and be able to enjoy driving your car while you’re working on it?

WCE-38-REPORT-07Unlike some cars with emblems that pop off from the front, Riviera emblems are held in place with nuts located behind a trim panel inside the car’s interior. This would have meant partially taking apart the car’s brittle, but in mint condition headliner. Most likely it would have torn.

WCE-38-REPORT-08I admit it, I valued the cherry original headliner more than the Riviera emblem. To remove the Riviera emblem without disturbing the interior I used a die-grinder to cut the emblem in half.

WCE-38-REPORT-09Then I used my trusty Eastwood screwdriver to pry the emblem upward.

WCE-38-REPORT-10This close-up confirms the emblem is held on with nutted studs, and not a push-on type.

WCE-38-REPORT-11Look closely at the emblem grain and the vinyl top material and you’ll notice the emblem has a very convincing imitation vinyl pattern cast into it.

WCE-38-REPORT-12I left the remaining vinyl in place to protect the roof metal. I used a die-grinder to surface the mounting studs flat.

WCE-38-REPORT-13The flush surface of the ground studs appears at it would work for shaving the emblems, but they’ll move around and cause any paint finish to crack.

WCE-38-REPORT-14Eastwood epoxy primer is available in gallon sizes in just about every state and province except for California. Not to worry California, residents Epoxy primer is available in 2K Aero-Spray form.

WCE-38-REPORT-15Spelled with one p. Here’s my striper buddy Jeff Styles with a little preview of the West Coast Report 39’s coverage of the Grand National Roadster show. And yes, I had my roadster in the drive-in show on Saturday.

WCE-38-REPORT-16And here’s a behind the scenes look at an upcoming tech feature in Classic Trucks’ June issue. Look for it online at www.ClassicTrucks.com . In the middle of doing the tech on installing Eastwood Thermo-Coustic sound deadener I needed to move the Dodge. Pretty clean bucket seat install, eh?

WCE-38-REPORT-17Here’s a better look. At this stage it looks like I had my floor chromed… Has anyone ever chrome-plated their floor?

WCE-38-REPORT-18A regular attendee of the month-end, first of the month Sunday morning cruise-in at the Enderle Center in Tustin, California, its John Gilson’s ’57 Olds 98 convertible. The candy red beauty was featured in Street Rodder recently.

WCE-38-REPORT-19This homemade Mercedes-Benz El Ranchero is proof you never know what you’ll find at the Enderle show.

WCE-38-REPORT-20Correct me if I’m wrong but I’d say this red, and white ’55 Chevy is a Two-Ten model. Bel-Airs had just a little more stainless steel trim I believe.

WCE-38-REPORT-21Sorry about the bad photography, but the sunshine was just brutal when I shot this ’59 Chevy.

WCE-38-REPORT-22Back to the sun the image came a little better. Did I mention this is a ’59 Chevy?

WCE-38-REPORT-23Production started in 1957 this Lotus Seven is a 1960, the last year of the Mark 1.

WCE-38-REPORT-24One of my all time favorite designs here’s the Lotus emblem up close. In a year where a Lotus works driver was killed racing the emblem would be in black for those year models. I have both in my emblem collection.

WCE-38-REPORT-25Notice this example is RHD (right hand drive) it was sold originally in the UK and has a 948cc Austin-Healy Sprite engine under its bonnet (hood). The Mk1 Lotus Sevens sold in the US, I believe came with a Coventry Climax engine. Alright, enough Lotus gibberish, its time wrap the 38th edition up. Thank you for reading it, and please look forward to the 39th edition about a week after you found this one. Note those are the same exact Lucas taillights as a Cobra, or an MGA… just thought you needed to know.

— John Gilbert



  1. Hey guys, good morning! It’s 4am Saturday 3/8/14 and this edition of West Coast Eastwood’s 38th edition of the West Coast Report just went live a little while ago.

    Please look forward to the 39th edition of WCE next Saturday, and the 40th the following Saturday.

    I’m headed to Vegas to shoot a truck for Classic Trucks, and take a tour of Count’s Customs. Coverage in the 40th.


    John G.

  2. Good Morning John,

    My grandson Justin and me are restoring a 1964 Nova SS that I dated his grandmother in. It was our first family car. Were happy to be using Eastwood products in the restoration..

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