This 1971 Impala Has Style, Grace, And Enough Power To Leave You Far Behind

03/06/2023

This 1971 Impala Has Style, Grace, And Enough Power To Leave You Far Behind

03/06/2023

Caddrick Spivey of Miami, Florida knows a thing or two about building fast high-riding machines. As the man behind Blue Magic Builds, a restoration shop that specializes in 1970s GM B-bodies that are backed by LS power, Spivey has been a fixture in the world of these wind big-rim rides since its inception.


“The culture really started down here in South Florida,” he tells us. “It started with neighborhood guys fixing up their cars and making them unique. Back then, these were cheap vehicles – twenty years ago you could get a mid-70s Caprice or Impala for about three grand. These were the Chevrolet cars that nobody wanted. Everyone wanted the muscle cars, the ’69 Camaros and ’70 Chevelles. But these cars were accessible to us, and we put them together how we wanted to. I remember seeing this local guy named Murph on an episode of East Coast Ryders – he had one that was fixed up really nice and it had this big block motor sticking out of the hood. When I saw that, I was just like, ‘I gotta do this.’”


Spivey Impala grille detail


The big-rim scene has evolved from a niche curiosity into a well-established segment of car culture over the years, and the builds have become increasingly sophisticated in turn. In 2015, Spivey built "Blue Magic", a 1973 Caprice that started as a show car but soon turned into more of a purpose-built drag machine. After a series of different powertrain combinations, he eventually dropped a 3,000-horsepower turbocharged big block into the Caprice’s engine bay, and Spivey says that for roughly a year, the car was known as the fastest donk in the world.


He also recently brought this stunning 1971 Chevy Impala out to an LS Fest East event, so of course we had to get the low-down on it. While this build also packs plenty of muscle to go along with its killer aesthetic, he tells us that this one is a little more of a balance between street-driven performance and style.


Spivey Impala front left 3/4


“These Impalas are the Rolls-Royces of South Florida,” he says. “It’s the one that really stands out down here. Back in the day we used to call them ‘hood trophies.’ It was the one that everyone aspired to have growing up down here, myself included.”


When he acquired the car as an unfinished project from a friend in Jacksonville, Florida back in 2018, Spivey knew there was a lot of work to be done in order to bring it up to his standard, but he couldn’t resist it. “It was basically a painted shell...it didn’t have any mechanicals, interior, top, none of it. I was just in love with the color of it.”


Spivey Impala rear quarter badge detail


The Impala soon scored an LS3 with Texas Speed crankshaft, Diamond pistons and rods, Frankenstein M311 cylinder heads, and a Kong Performance LSA TVS2650 supercharger. Running 19 pounds of boost and fed a steady supply of E85, the combination made 896 horsepower on the dyno. Spivey also selected a Holley Terminator X EFI system to manage the built LS.


“The Terminator X is just so easy to work with,” he says. “You don’t have to be a genius to just to put it together, it’s all very self-explanatory. You put some basic information into the display and the car starts right up – you don’t need to have a tune ready to go for the car or anything like that.” The powerplant is hooked up to a built 4L80 automatic gearbox and sends the grunt to the rear wheels through a Moser 9-inch rear end with 35-spline axles.


Spivey Impala underhood engine shot


As you might suspect, the Impala’s suspension system is also far from factory stock. A set of custom tubular control arms are paired up with double-adjustable Viking coilovers at the front, but the rear is where things start to get really interesting. “In the rear we relocate the shock towers so that the shocks are basically straight up and down,” he explains. “We make brackets on both the frame and the rear end in order to support that.” That relocation provides the necessary increase in ride height in the back, while a set of custom control arms allows for adjustments in order ensure that the clearances are equal on both sides of the car. The car rolls on a set of Corleone wheels that measure 26 x 9-inches in front and 26 x 10 at the back.


“Whenever we start on a build, the first thing we ask the customer is what size wheels they want to use,” he says. “From there, we can basically create a template. Most of us run a seven-inch lift, and that allows for a wheel with a seven-inch outer lip and three-inch inner lip to work without notching the frame – all you have to do is shorten a stock rear end by an inch and half on each side to provide all the clearances you need. If you go over three inches on the inside barrel of the wheel, that’s when you’ll have to notch the frame.”


Spivey Impala dash detail


The Impala’s interior was refurbished to factory spec and upgraded with a Dakota Digital dash, a custom audio system, and a steering wheel that was designed to match the Corleone wheels. Meanwhile the exterior brightwork was restored by a local specialist, and additional bling comes by way of 24K gold accessories like the grille, headlight buckets, door handles, key locks, and emblems. “The paint is totally unique to this car – it was created by Kandy Guru in Jacksonville, Florida,” he points out. “It uses a pineapple base with a root beer layer on top, and there’s plenty of pearl inside of it. To this day I have people in my inbox asking me what the name of the color is and who made it.”


In 2022, the car was actually taken back down to the frame and rebuilt from the ground up. “I’d had it for a while at that point, and I decided it was time to take it to the next level – really make it a show vehicle. I had another frame sitting around, so we powder coated it and swapped everything over.”


Spivey Impala wheel detail


He says that the project proved to be well worth the effort. “I documented the process on Instagram, and when we were done, people were just beating down the door trying to buy it. Eventually a player on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers called me, and he ultimately convinced me to sell it.”


Although the Impala has moved on to another owner, Spivey has a number of other projects in the works that are sure to head turn some heads. “Blue Magic is now my street car these days,” he says. “All of the racing stuff that we had on it before has been moved over to a ’71 Impala hardtop. That one is going to be called Magic Blue, and it’ll be strictly for racing. My plan is to be the fastest donk in the world again. That’s the only outcome that I see for that car.”


Considering the wild custom suspension setups, rubber band-thin tires, and curb weights that often exceed 5000 pounds, you might assume that donks are essentially all show and no go. But when it comes to Spivey’s cars, you would definitely be wrong. “When I had that turbo big block motor in Blue Magic, it was a low 8-second car in the quarter mile on 26-inch wheels with hard street tires,” he notes. “No one ever thinks that these cars can be that fast. And Magic Blue is going to be faster than that. My goal is to get it in the sevens.”

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