Classics Series

1965 Chevrolet Malibu — ‘White Lightening’ and Dodging the Cops…

1965 Chevrolet MalibuWhy is it when you go into an auto repair shop, grease is seemingly everywhere? You don’t want to touch anything and fear getting it on the bottom of your shoes because you’ll never get it out of the white carpet at home. And let’s not forget the guy in the greasy coveralls who wants to shake your hand after wiping his on an even greasier rag.

Obviously, you’re not at Jim’s Classic Garage and Restoration in Gig Harbor. At Jim’s, you’ll find the shop floor is shiny and clean, as are all the workbenches — and the mechanics.

Jim’s Classic Garage and Restorations does full-blown, ground-up restorations of classic — and not so classic — cars, as well as repairs and custom-built hot rods. All it takes is money.

Owner Jim Sullivan, a very unassuming and personable fellow, is also a stickler for details, something critical in doing restorations — things like number matching each and every part of a car. That perfectionism translates into everything being neat, orderly and, above all, squeaky clean at his shop.

1965 Chevrolet MalibuOur first visit to Jim’s included a ride-along, with us blowing past a cop car while bumping on triple digits in third gear. Sullivan was at the wheel of a recently restored ’65 Chevy Malibu SS convertible — with the top down. We hightailed it back to the shop. However, I think if the cops really wanted to, they would have known exactly where to find that pristine Malibu, a.k.a. “White Lightening.”

On the day we visited, in the shop was a partially finished Model T Ford (black, of course); a showroom-condition 1934 Pierce Arrow getting the fuel pump fixed; a rare 1948 International Harvester KB 2 pickup, with a small block Chevy sitting in the engine bay; a 1969 Mercedes 280SL, completely torn down to its shell; and, of course, “White Lightening.”

“White Lightening” actually looks better than the day it rolled off the assembly line. It features custom, pearlescent-white paint; a “built” (405-horse) 350-cubic-inch GM-ZZ6 “crate motor” married to a new Muncie four-speed, replacing the factory 283; Performance-brand headers; disc brakes; custom chrome wheels; new interior; convertible top and much more.

But it’s the rumble of the exhaust and neck-snapping acceleration that gets my heart pumping. For more information, and to preview “White Lightening” as well as Jim Sullivan’s past and present projects, visit