Second chance: ‘The Build’ rescues a wrecked Malibu

American Modern Insurance is mating the wrecked 1965 Malibu body (above) from a satisfied customer claim to the chassis of a burned GTO from another claim to create “The Build” (below), which will be used to promote the insurer.


By Angelo Van Bogart

American Modern Insurance is taking two wrongs and making a right, and also answering the question, “What happens to a totaled collector car after the accident?”

Rick Drewry, the senior claims specialist at American Modern Insurance, is taking two unlucky accident victims to create “The Build,” a 1965 Chevrolet Malibu project car that will promote the company’s collector car insurance coverage. ()

Unlucky car number one was a 1965 Chevrolet Malibu that was wrecked and initially used by Drewry as a training tool to teach adjusters how to do repairs on classic cars.

“It really started back in 2007 when we got the Malibu,” Drewry said, “and the story on the car was that [the owner] was teaching his daughter how to drive  a stick shift for the first time.”

The big-block, four-speed Malibu car hit an immovable object — hard — and was instantly 2 feet shorter, Drewry said. “It got absolutely hammered.”

Unlucky car number two was a 1965 Pontiac GTO that burned in a house fire. All that was salvageable from the GTO was its frame. Incidentally, it was the Malibu’s frame that made it a total loss, so Drewry put the two together in his brain and proposed the rebuild of the Malibu.

“[Two-door] GM A bodies in the 1960s all had the same frame,” Drewry said, “so I was able to use the GTO frame for the Chevelle, and that’s when the idea came about in 2007-’08 as a company project. We are building the car from the bare frame up.”



By October 2012, the rebuild was under way. Drewry is sourcing parts from swap meets and reproduction part manufacturers. Work to make the Malibu a resto mod is largely being handled by employees, with some engine machine work being completed by local shops.

“The cool thing about this project isn’t just the car, it’s the people,” Drewry said. “Anybody in the company can sign up and work on the car with me. I have had well over 80 people work on the car to date. They don’t have to have any background — we are teaching them on the fly. We have had agents that have come in and worked on the car – one even flew in from Washington state and one from Kentucky.

“I am taking people that have never picked up a wrench before,” he continued. “They are getting dirty and they are literally walking away completely covered and they are happy to do this.”

The build is being taped and posted to the online video service YouTube and on the . There, viewers have used the videos as tutorials and also offered feedback on the build.

“We are having people vote on things,” Drewry said. “They picked the valve covers for the engine.”

At this point in the build, the engine has been rebuilt and the body is back on the frame, waiting for the smoothed firewall and new quarter panels to be hung.

“I am hoping somewhere by January or February 2014 to reveal the car,” Drewry said. “We are talking about having a car show at our home office and part of the big thing of having that car show would be revealing the Malibu at that time.”

If finished in time, the debut of the car would be on the eve of the car and the company’s 75th birthday. We can’t think of a better gift than a newly lucky Malibu for such a momentous occasion.





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