Chantelle Cilia’s 1965 Chevrolet Impala

Chantelle's love of cars comes from her dad and she even attended her first rod run when she was just six weeks old

Photographers: Nathan Jacobs

CHANTELLE Cilia is studying psychology, so she can probably tell you a thing or two about the age-old ‘nature versus nurture’ debate. But it would be fair to say that the latter played a significant role when it comes to her love of cars. With a bona-fide car nut for a dad, Chantelle was immersed in all things automotive from day dot, attending her first rod run when she was just six weeks old!

This article was first published in the November 2020 issue of Street Machine

Your dad Tony has a pretty sizeable car collection, yeah?

He’s got everything – ’57 Chevs, XY Falcons, ’34 coupes, ’Cudas, a couple of HQs. So he doesn’t have a specific Ford or Chev or Holden preference.

What about you – do you like a bit of everything, too?

Look, I’m more of a Chev girl. I do like a nice ’57, a nice ’55. I like the size – you feel like you’re driving a big, luxurious boat. The comfort of them, the way you feel behind the wheel, the shape – I love ’em!

Your ’65 Impala is gorgeous! What was it about that model in particular that appealed to you?

My dad has a ’65 Impala on ’bags with 18-inch rims on the rear – he’s doing it up at the moment. When I saw his, I said to myself: “I really, really like this car.” Then one popped up on a Facebook ad, and my old man said to me: “If you don’t buy it, you’ll regret it.” I said to myself: “You know what? One hundred per cent!” So my fiancé and I went down to Mansfield to look at it. As soon as we saw it, it had to be in our shed! It was perfect timing, as we had sold my 1965 Pontiac GTO to put towards a house – but a house just doesn’t give you the thrill you feel behind the wheel of an old car!

What’s been done to it since you’ve owned it?

We’ve done a full resto on it. It was running and driving when I bought it with a basic 327, and it was a dark maroon colour, faded to the shit. The previous owner had brought it in from the US, drove it as a daily for three years and then said: “I can’t be bothered fixing it up; I’m going to sell it off.” It was a bit patchy.

So who helped with the resto?

It’s pretty much a family-built car. My fiancé Jake did the bodywork, exhaust and assembly, and I helped him with all of that. My uncle Wayne did bodywork, paint and polishing; he’s a spray painter by trade. My old man’s a panel beater and spray painter and he helped me with everything I asked for, gave me advice and did the engine build for me. It’s a matching-numbers 327 with a custom-grind hydraulic-roller cam by Johnny Marshall. It’s got 10:1 comp, 1.6-ratio rockers, heavy-duty springs, double-row timing chain, and we machined the heads and put a high-rise manifold and 600 Holley on top.

What sort of power does it make?

Ha! Look, don’t worry about power – it’s a heavy car! My dad said to me: “Now Chan, are we going for power or are we going for sound?” I said: “How much is power going to cost me?” He said: “A lot.” So I said: “You know what? Sound is good!” My partner has just bought himself an SL/R Torana and he is doing that up, so that can be the power car; this can be the cruiser!

And the rest of the driveline?

It’s got a rebuilt Powerglide with a 3500rpm stall, and the diff is just the original 12-bolt – for now. You know, in a couple of years we might drop a 540 in it and have to redo the diff.

The car looks awesome in red!

I knew I wanted bright red, so I was looking up heaps of stuff and decided I really liked Red Hot. There are two tones of Red Hot: the earlier years and the later years. The later one has a deeper look to it, and I said: “That’s the colour.” We painted the firewall to see if that was exactly what I wanted, and it definitely was.

Any future plans for the ’65?

Definitely fix up the interior – it’s pretty much all original, but I’m looking for bucket seats at the moment. And put a 540 in it for sure. It’s going to be in my wedding at the end of next year, for something different. Everyone always says to me: “Do you want to make it right-hand drive?” And no, I don’t. I like it left-hand drive; I actually enjoy it more for the American feel; it’s something different from your daily driver.

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