Chip Foose-designed 1965 Chevy Impala takes 2015 Ridler Award
The Imposter, Don and Elma Voth’s Chip Foose-built 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Lead photo courtesy Pirelli, all others courtesy Championship Auto Shows, Inc. In 2008, when Don Voth asked Chip Foose to design a 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS for his wife, Elma, his initial requests were fairly straightforward. Don wanted a car with more contemporary handling, and thought that the Impala would look even better if shortened up a bit. From that starting point, Foose designed and built a car dubbed The Imposter, and on Sunday, at the 2015 Detroit Autorama, it earned the builder his fourth Ridler Award and the owners their first.
The Imposter 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS The Voths, and Chip Foose, pose with the award. Look closely enough, and it’s easy to see the origin of the car’s name. The hidden push-button door handles are a clue, as is the fuel-filler positioned in the center of the rear deck, immediately behind the rear window (and best seen in the video below). Those are Corvette traits, and beneath its altered 1965 Impala body, The Imposter is built upon the chassis and mechanicals of a 2009 Corvette, purchased new specifically for the build from a dealership just blocks away from Foose’s workshop. Per Don’s initial request, a total of 14 inches was removed from the Impala’s body, including 8 inches from the roof (which moved the windshield header back one and a quarter inches, steepening the rake) and 6 inches from the rear quarter panels and decklid. Despite these alterations, the Corvette chassis still needed to be stretched by 8 inches to fit the Impala’s modified wheelbase. Foose and his team went to great lengths to retain the Corvette’s stock wiring and dashboard (including navigation and OnStar functionality), making The Imposter a unique blend of full-on custom and production car. The Imposter 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Like the 2009 Corvette, The Imposter seats two and comes powered by 6.2-liter pushrod V-8. Underhood, however, Foose added a one-off cold air intake system, a Magnuson supercharger and a custom performance exhaust, in keeping with the car’s design inspiration.
The Imposter was built to answer the question, “What if, in 1965, GM’s Corvette studio decided to build a muscle car?” The Imposter 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS The Imposter was not built with the goal of winning a Ridler Award in mind, although achieving this milestone had been a lifelong dream of Don and Elma Voth. Originally, the car was meant to be a daily driver for Elma, as the couple had honeymooned at Disneyland in another 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Given all the work that’s gone into it since, The Imposter is very likely reserved for special occasions around the Voth household. As Foose told The Detroit News on Sunday, Ridler Award judges look for the worst areas on each of the “Great Eight” finalists, and the car with the best worst area is ultimately the winner. At Cobo Hall this weekend, The Imposter met that criteria. The Imposter 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Other cars in the Great Eight, pictured in the gallery below, included a 1959 Rambler American two-door wagon, owned by Dean Osland of Scottsdale, Arizona; a 1956 Plymouth convertible, owned by Gil Losi of Murrieta, California; a 1932 Ford roadster, owned by Al Nagale of Wilmette, Illinois; a 1937 Ford “woodie” wagon, owned by Mike and Belinda Terzich of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania; a 1965 Dodge Dart, owned by Willie Maise of Hokes Bluff, Alabama; a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, owned by Alan Reed of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and a 1969 Ford Mustang, owned by Tim Palazzolo of Houston, Texas.