If you are a fan of the TV show “Overhaulin’,” then you know that their style is to pick a worthy recipient and transform his or her automotive project into a work of art. In this case, the recipient was none other than the 7-foot-1, 325-pound NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Orchestrated by Shaq’s best friend, Anthony “Chicago” Hall, the “Overhaulin’” team created another prank to set the scene for this project. Chicago wanted to do something special for Shaq’s birthday and give back to the man who gives so much to his community without taking anything in return. With Chicago’s successful mock arrest, the team introduced Shaq to the legendary Chip Foose and set to work transforming the 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible into a work of art.
Body, Drivetrain and Chassis Restoration
As is typical with older vehicles, there’s often a lot of rust and poor workmanship hidden by body filler and paint. After dissecting this cruising classic, the A-team called on Classic Industries for a new floor, fenders, rocker panels, doors and much more. The engine in the car was sent packing to make way for a new GM Performance LS3 engine that’s mated to a 4L60E automatic transmission. All the goodness is bolted to a brand-new Roadster Shop Spec Series chassis to ensure that the car has a rock-solid foundation and will handle like a modern luxury sedan.
While most restorations focus on returning the vehicle to stock dimensions, building a vehicle for someone who’s more than 7 feet tall and wears a size 23 shoe takes a different approach. The team extended the steering column by 6 inches and dropped the driver’s side floor by several inches to give Shaq the room he needs to drive safely.
On the body, Foose removed several trim pieces and welded up their mounting holes. Chip added new Impala logos to the rear fenders and had the number 34 machined out of the aluminum for the driver’s side. On the passenger side, a number 8 was added in memory of Kobe Bryant, who had passed away a few weeks before the reveal of the Impala took place.
After the extensive bodywork was complete, the car rolled into the paint shop at GT Collision Center in Huntington Beach for a coat of metallic grey paint. With the primer and base coat applied, Foose and the team at GT Collision treated the massive machine to one of his trademark fade finishes. The fade involves spraying the lower part of the car with a darker color and having it blend into the main shade.
When the paintwork was done, the car was treated to a healthy dose of sound deadening. Almost every interior surface, along with the trunk, has been upgraded with Dynamat Xtreme damping material and Dynaliner sound absorption sheets. In total, six Bulk Packs of Dynamat Extreme and 10 rolls of ¼-inch thick Dynaliner insulating foam were used to cover 100% of the accessible interior and the inside of the exterior panels to make this convertible as quiet as possible for the massive audio system.
As always, the interior of the vehicle is a big part of an “Overhaulin’” project. For the Impala, the team called on Al’s Garage Custom Interiors. Alfredo Carcamo worked from Foose’s design to create a set of custom bucket seats based on original stock 1964 Impala SS seats to replace the original bench. Separate seats let the team mount them lower in the vehicle, so there’s more headroom. As for the rear seat – well, there isn’t one. What you see in the photos are custom trim panels, upholstered to match the style of the original vehicle in Roadwire Burgundy leather and new carpet. The panels in the rear seat area conceal a custom subwoofer enclosure built by the car audio team.
Custom Audio System Build
Fred Lynch from ARC Audio was called in for his expertise in making the audio system a key part of this build. Shaq loves his music, and Lynch, having had experience on previous projects for Shaq, knew this system had to be something truly special. He called together a team of industry veterans to join him on this grande-sized venture! Enter stage left, Tom Miller from Musicar Northwest, Gary Bell from Define Concepts, Bryan Schmitt from Mobile Solutions, and JT Torres of Automotive Entertainment Huntington Beach to help with the build.
While the car was in the metalworking stage, members of the “Overhaulin’” A-team worked with the audio team and welded together steel panels to create metal reinforced enclosures in the kick panel area for the front speakers. They also added steel reinforcement under the rear seat and the trunk floor that would ensure that the custom steel mounting brackets would be safe and secure should the car ever have to maneuver or stop abruptly.
The restoration and fabrication portion was delayed because of the level of rust and damage lying under the paint. To keep the project moving, the audio team sourced a second donor Impala from a friend of JT’s and set to work at JT’s shop to construct the subwoofer enclosure, the kick panels, the amp rack and the trunk trim. Chip traditionally prefers to have as much audio equipment as possible hidden from view. He decided at the last minute to move the amplifiers from under the false floor to the back wall of the trunk. The under-floor area would now serve as a concealed storage location for Shaq’s personal belongings so as not to clutter up the trunk.
The trunk panels are built from ½-inch- and 1-inch-thick CNC-cut expanded PVC plastic sheets to help limit the weight added to the vehicle. The right-side panel is home to five Stinger X-Link fuse blocks that connect the trio of amplifiers to a pair of Stinger SP1500 power cells. The left side has matching X-Link fuse holders that are configured as ground distribution blocks. The removable trim panels are held in place with neodymium magnets sunk into the PVC sheets. The magnets are installed in matching pairs to make panel removal easy, yet ensure that everything would be held in place securely.
The floor of the trunk and the subwoofer enclosure are constructed from ¾-inch Russian Baltic Birch plywood. The Stinger batteries were carefully placed in the back-right corner of the vehicle to corner-balance the car and offset Shaq’s weight in the driver’s seat. It’s subtle touches like this that make a vehicle truly special, and not just a collection of cool parts.
Concealed Subwoofer System
The subwoofer system for the Impala needed to be something special as reproducing deep bass in a convertible is no easy task. The team built an enclosure that replaces the rear seat and serves as a home to three ARC Audio ARC 12D2 V.3 12-inch subs. Each subwoofer is mounted on an angled ring that’s bonded to the bottom of the enclosure. The rings allowed the team to angle the subs to ensure that the cones wouldn’t come into contact with the floor when driven to high excursion levels by the system’s 2,500-watt subwoofer amplifier.
The back of the enclosure is home to a recessed panel that provides room for the original rear speaker grille piece in the trim. The team also incorporated compact enclosures for two sets of ARC 602 6.5-inch coaxial speakers. The kick panels in the front of the vehicle were reworked to hold a third set of ARC 602 coaxial speakers. The front speakers make use of the refined kick panel enclosures that the A-team helped make a reality. The passive crossover components were removed from the front speakers so they could be run actively with a four-channel amp and filtering from the digital signal processor.
A Sony MEX-GS820BT CD receiver with Bluetooth is mounted in the dash of the car. It feeds audio signals to an ARC Audio PS8-Pro digital signal processor that is mounted underneath the subwoofer enclosure. Channels 1 and 2 from the processor feed channels 1 and 2 of an X2 600.4 four-channel amp. Those channels drive the tweeters in the front speakers. Channels 3 and 4 from the DSP feed channels 3 and 4 from the same amp to power the woofers in the front speakers. Channels 5 and 6 from the DSP feed another X2 600.4 that drives the four ARC 602 speakers in the back of the car. Finally, channels 7 and 8 feed an X2 2500.1 that drives the subwoofers. In all, that’s 3,700 watts RMS of power on tap to ensure that every note comes through loud and clear. The system is wired with Stinger X2-Series interconnect cables and speaker wire.
The audio team worked with Al’s Garage to get all the trim panels finished. Alfredo took care of the interior trim panels while the team handled wrapping the burgundy leather around the trunk pieces and inserting the aluminum accent strips. LED lighting was added during the final assembly to make the system pop at night.
It’s always exciting to see the vehicle owner’s reaction when they get to see their project completed. The look of amazement on Shaq’s face told the tale of the blood, sweat and tears put into making his Impala truly one of a kind. We know that the sound system looks amazing, and Shaq saying, “I know the music is the top of the line because I sat down and heard it,” is a testament to its performance and the hard work of some of the best in the mobile enhancement industry.
You can catch the full episode of Shaq’s Classic 1964 Impala “Overhaulin’” build by visiting www.motortrendondemand.com. Of course, be sure to check out ARC Audio, Sony, Dynamat and Stinger Electronics to learn more about the great products that went into this stunning build.