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Hey Guys,

Well, after 5 plus years in California of doing cars no older than the 90s, I have finally managed to get my hands on a classic automobile. And what a car it is, a beautifully kept and customized 1960 Chevrolet Impala SS coupe, owned by our very own member Troytag.

I dubbed this build “old school meets new school meets old school” for these reasons:

Old School: the car itself is obviously very old school, classic lines that you just don’t see today, it’s also modified in a way that’s very clean and traditional.

New School: the car features certain audio equipment that is definitely modern age, such as Alpine F1 status systems, IDQ subs and Morel speakers

Old School: this refers to two things, first are the very old school Zapco Amplifiers that was used, Troy himself has amassed quite a collection over the years and we picked out the best four to be used in the build. The other part of the old school theme is the design itself, we talked about it and wanted to maintain an understated, clean and classic look to the build, not something that would be more appropriate on a newer import for example

On another note, I could also call this build "Operation Hematoma" on the account that I banged my head on the low slung trunk lid no less than 50 times over the course of the project. :D

So...first the goals of the build...I also want to mention that EVERYTHING except the subs was provided by Troy.

Goals:

1. The goal of this build IS NOT to go compete or achieve the highest possible SQ from a strict sense, rather, the goal is to be able to go extremely loud, stay clean and just be all around rock-out car. As the car, when the engine is on or rolling, is quite loud to begin with.

2. To create an old school themed build that is fitting of the car's overall design and execution. obviously, this is not a daily driver so there was no need to make things stealth or trunk usable, but, this isn’t just a trailer queen either (as evident by Troy taking it down to the Alameda meet last year with his family), so things needs to be durable , not easily damaged or fall apart.

3. On the interior, which has been redone from the original; goal is to alter or modify as little stock things as possible. So everything that was built in the inside of the car can easily be removed, no glassing of dash or A pillars here :)

4. to utilize all the gear that was picked out for me and install it in a proper manner and to work around the air suspension system installed previously in the trunk. this, turned out, to be quite the challenge as you will see later.

so...onto the pics.

first the shots I took of the car, which is just gorgeous, all my neighbors came over and marveled at it lol

First two pics are of the car in the UP position with the air suspension:





a peak at the beautiful engine bay:



then I dropped the car to the ground, and snapped a variety of pics from all different angles...this car just LOVES a camera I think.









 

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now we have gotten done with that eye candy, let’s move to the audio.

first let’s take a look at all the gear that’s going into the car....with my simplicity approach, I normally can stack all the boxes of a build on a bench top and have tons of room left over, this time though...not quite lol

here is part one:



Full Alpine F1 status system, DVI, TMI and PXI
Alpine F1 status 3 way comp set for front stage
Morel Ovation for rear
4 x image dynamics IDQ10 subs

here are the amps:



two studio 500s, one powering the midbass with 2x150 watts, the other powering the four subs with 1000 watts total

a z400 powering the front midrange and tweeter bi-amped through the alpine passive xover, with a VERY underrated 50 watts a piece

and a C300 powering the rear morels with 150 watts each.

so yeah...quite a lot of stuff :) But of course, when I first laid eyes on the trunk, it seemed immense...but as I found out slowly over the build, space was quite an issue here.
 

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first up is the headunit mounting.

now what you will see here is perhaps an interim solution.

the original idea was simple, troy gave me a standard ABS Din pod, and said to just install the DVI (without the TMI monitor) under the dash somehow. well, I check out the mounting location and it wound work right. so then we decided to just build a pod myself to hang the DVI.

then, towards the end, the decision was made to put the TMI monitor in the car as well...hence the hang off dash pod idea was thrown out.

at this time period though, we don’t quite have the budget or the time to build a full center console from the front of the dash to the seat, so after some thinking, I came up with a very simple console that sits at the front of the center hump, directly under the dash, to house both units. simple and effective, and I intentionally gave myself a lot of slack on the wires so if we do decide to mold in a full length console, we can easily do it without any wiring changes.

so here are the two units off in the console:



and here they are, turned on...yes I know its SpongeBob! hahaha it’s the only DVD I had lying around :)

I had to build it so that when the TIM flipped, it wouldn’t interfere with the air bag system display in the ashtray area, and of course, the console needed to back far enough that it would clear this obstacle as well:



here is another view:



a few quick build pics to the console, which consists of a cosmetic outer shell, seen here, that actually houses the units:







and a structural inner shell, bolted securely to the center tunnel, and all the wires that lead into the units:



so when you slide the outer shell into the inner one, it forms what you saw earlier.
 

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okay, onto the front stage. as mentioned before, the alpine F1 status 3 way set was given to me. and the decision was made long ago, to mold all of them into the stock kick panel area.

with the way the car is, I also wanted to make sure the kicks didn’t protrude into the interior that much, so for the most part, the drivers are aimed off axis.

here are the finished results, trimmed in red carpet:









if you ask why the speakers are laid out in the way they are, it’s simple, with the stock vent behind the kick panel, this is the best way to lay it out to put the deepest speaker (midbass) in the area with the most amount of room, this configuration also allowed me to give the midrange the most available sealed internal air space.

here is a shot of everything upfront:



not to the build pics of the kick panels.

first the stock (well, they are aftermarket replacements that use to house some pioneer coaxials), was heavily reinforced with 8 layers of fiberglass mat:



then that was cured, they were trimmed to the correct shape I wanted:





then, a layer of sound proofing was put onto the back mold, and I attached the ring for the midbass.

 

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obviously, with a three way kick like this, it’s important to separate the air space for the midbass and midrange, so the mold for the midbass, vented to the back area behind the kick, was made first using grille cloth. I used grille cloth to add as little depths to this mold as possible to make sure the overall mold didn’t reflect a rise where this initial pod was done:



then that was coated with resin and allowed to cure, and the baffles for the midrange and tweeters was aimed and secured as well:



next, fleece was pulled over the entire shape forming the overall kick panel pod:



once that was dried, the entire structure was beefed up thoroughly from the inside with a combination of fiberglass mat, and duraglass/resin mixture. once that hardened, it was trimmed and sanded:





then, a layer of modeling clay was put onto the interior of BOTH chambers:



followed by another layer of sound proofing material to hold the clay in place and to provide additional resonance prevention:



and finally, it was wrapped in red carpet. now it was ready to back into the car via the original mounting screws of the stock kick piece. and the speakers installed, forming what you saw earlier.

 

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next up are a few quick wiring pics f the bundle going to the back of the car, since it has a totally flat floor, I made the wiring bundle flat to the ground, they are secured and routed to the trunk behind the back seat:













final shot is of the front seat tuning option with the alpine F1 990

 

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moving onto the rear speakers. Again, keep in mind the goal is overall volume and clarity. I was provided with a set of Morel Hybrid Ovation 6.5" two way components.

I fabricated a baffle and cosmetic panel that houses both the speakers and a vent grill. wrapped it in cream white colored vinyl, and here is the finished result. the red carpet/cream vinyl theme is used throughout the install to match the original interior.

it was kind hard to get a picture at a good angle on this piece though:







a few build pics of the rear deck.

here first is the original rear deck panel, a thin piece of wafer board:



I made the cutouts for the speakers and the vent:



here is the mounting baffle I made, with a rabbet for the more to sit a bit more flush:



and then it was wrapped in vinyl and the grille mesh, painted bright chrome, attached:



then the baffle was secured to the stock trim piece:



the rear deck, with its original cutouts was then heavily sound proofed:



 

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to ensure the trim panel wouldn’t bounce up and down on the rear deck to create a buzz, I put down a layer of foam on the bottom of the trim piece. when installed back into the car, this puts a lot of pressure in between the foam and the rear deck, forming rattle proof piece:



and here is the result, ready to go back into the car, the midbass was installed after that:



here is the rear deck done, also seen is the rear battery compartment with the air tank/compressor/regulator system behind it. all this was installed previously:



and off the battery itself, since it’s such a short run (4 feet or so), a single 0 gauge was plenty fine for the system.




okay, so that’s all done with the interior stuff, let’s move onto the main attraction, the trunk.
 

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as mentioned, the idea was an old school look that is clean and classy. and of course, to work around the air tank system.

When I first looked at the bare trunk, I didn’t realize just how much room the air component system actually took up, while the air tank itself is relatively recessed, the regulators and various hoses comes out quite a bit past the threshold of the trunk opening. Here is a pic to show what I mean:



once I measured the trunk to the front part of the regulators, I realized that instead of having a huge amount of room to put stuff, I really needed to design things carefully to make sure everything fits correctly with enough clearance and air space.

so here is what I came up with. obviously, since the stock trunk was all just bare metal, every trim panel had to be built to cover up everything.

so...when you open the trunk, here is what you see. the four IDQs are in two banks, on the left and right sides of the trunk, on the floor, the four zapco amps are displayed, and on the front wall, facing backwards, are the alpine processor and the alpine and morel passive xovers. on the back wall, there are also two trim pieces to add a bit of color to the entire design. as you can see, the red carpet/cream vinyl theme was carried out through the trunk.

















 

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the white trim panel on the top of the front wall is there not only to add some color, but also is a blank slate for some graphics we will put on there. I had one designed, but my decal guy's cutter broke down, and plus I wanted to make some more changes to the design, so for now, it’s blank, but we will get something on there soon :)

while I was building the car, I decided to throw in a little extra touch and utilize the space available on the rear wall, so two red LED flood lights was flushed into the trim panel. not to go crazy with lighting, but just to be able to bath the trunk with a warm red glow in the dark.

here are the leds on:



 

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So lastly, the buildup pics of the trunk.

First is a pic of the trunk with just the foundation boards bolted in.
all the cables are run into the trunk as well:



the first thing that was done was the processor/xover rack. here you see the rack in bare MDF, all the holes cutout and grommets test fitted:



then, the rack was wrapped with cream white vinyl and grommets snapped in:



next, all the components were installed and bolted to the rack, and all the wiring done and lead out from the appropriate grommets:



the wiring on the back was neatly organized as well:



and the entire rack bolted into the vehicle, and additional wires attached to the various components:







next comes the sub enclosures. this is another instance where I thought I had more room than I actually had. if you look at the outside shots of the car, you will see that right below the rear fins, there is a drastic concave shape to the quarter panel, well in the trunk, this corresponded to a 5" or so protrusion, so I made the enclosures the slimmest possible while still maintaining enough air space.

the two sealed boxes have roughly 1.7 cubft of air space for each pair of IDQ10s.

here are the boxes, you can see the shape on the back to accommodate the bulge in the sidewall:



and the front of the box was then trimmed in white vinyl:

 

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the boxes were then loaded into the car and secured:





Next, I fabricated the sidewall beauty panels, which consists of a 1/2" MDF vertical element mated with a 1/8" Hardboard top element. After that was done, I cut out the center portion that will be wrapped in white vinyl to trim around the subs.

here are the bare pieces:





and here they are wrapped in red carpet and white vinyl and mated together:



they were then promptly installed into the car:





next came the back trim piece. this is a slightly more complicated build, involved quite a few pieces. but here is the basic frame jig I assembled to go around the factory nooks and crannies:



 

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next, fleece was pulled across the shape:







resin was applied, allowed to harden, and the entire shape strengthened a little from the backside, and sanded down. I also molded in the ring to house the switch for the LEDs







here is the structure test fitment in the car:



next the part was taken out, and wrapped in red carpet, and the switch installed and wired up:





 

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this piece was then loaded into the car and secured in place. the next item was the front trim piece, and here it is in bare wood and also wrapped in carpet:





and here are the floor beauty boards, once again done the same way, though I forgot to take the finished picture after I wrapped them in carpet and vinyl:



and finally, here are the two LED panel pieces and the blank plate on top of the front panel, in bare MDF, and also in white vinyl:





the LED flood lights were then sunk into the panel:





these two were then wired up and pressure fit into place on the back wall.

here is an overhead shot of the wiring of the amps:



and two last pics of the grounding spot on the frame, first shot is the metal sanded bare, followed by a pic showing the area painted over with truck bedliner.





So that’s it. despite the physical pains associated with this project, I am extremely honor that Troy gave me the opportunity to work on his car...the sound so far, I think is quite good, and with some further tweaking, it will only get better. and boy can it get LOUD….

Okay, no more typing, gonna go rest my mangled arms and hands and my bruised and scarred head. lol
 

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Another great build!!!
 

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IMO, subbass really does find a way. the trunk isnt nearly as air tight as it may look. i played the sub a little with the front panel on and off, and to be honest, it seemed to may very little difference to my ears. in my experience, some pressure fit 1/2" mdf panels really dosnt seem to do much to the overall bass response.

my car for example, i have a non permiable sealed rubber mat, extremely thick and heavy, over my subs, yet my bass actually sounds better and appears to be louder with it in place rather than having the floor board open with the sub just sitting there.

in the past, i have also tried making cutouts in panels for hte bass to "vent" i guess, but after a while, i kinda realize they made very little difference in terms of overall sound. so i stopped.

my take on it anway hehe :D
 
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