I drive a late model car during the work week because of business and I need something that can handle the hectic city traffic.
BUT…I can’t wait to park the car, and use exclusively vintage cars for evening and weekend enjoyment. Some days are more enjoyable than others, this turned out to be one of those days.
I was going up north to visit a friend on an island. Normally I would leave in the early morning on Saturday, but I was able to break away from work on a Friday mid afternoon. It was about 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. That about 27C for you metric dudes.
I opened the shop to get the 1958 Impala. There it was…almost two tons of American steel, stainless and chrome. Ever since I watched American Graffiti for the first time back in Sweden, I was determined to own one. Yes, I wanted a piss-yellow deuce coupe as well, but the American cars of the late fifties are something else. Unlike the Graffiti car, mine is black. The mostly original paint looks good twenty yards away, and the chrome is rather shiny.
One thing it does have in common with the Graffiti Impala is the six 1959 Cadillac tail lights that replaced the original rear lenses. Also, the “poor mans lowering kit” (two laps off the front coils) ensures that it has a tasteful rake.
I take a seat in the black tuck and roll covered sofa, pump the throttle twice, and…ignition. The unmistakable burbling sound of an American V8 echoes between the walls. It is not hard to hear it, since all the windows are down. Other than a top down convertible, any American hard top looks at their best with all windows down.
I back it out and leave it running while I close up the shop. When I get back to the car, the hot afternoon sun has already warmed up the metal and interior, justifying today attire: sandals, shorts and a T-shirt.
I slow down outside the house to waive good bye and then I hit the throttle about half way. The Tonawanda V8 lifts the left front fender a bit, as it effortless propels the heavy cruiser down the road. The 52 year old Powerglide shifts in to second gear, and we are on our way.
I roll through town and hit the freeway. I have a CD player hidden in the glove box, and I grab a CD in the pile. I find Eddy Meduza, a legendary Swedish rockabilly artist that unfortunately passed away too young. He enjoyed poking fun at common folks (himself included) as well as celebrities and politicians. He had a fondness for American cars motorcycles, and his songs reflected it. I pop in the shiny disc, and the first song is about a guy buying his first Chevrolet! How about that?! It is easy to enjoy the music, as the cabin even with all windows down is rather quiet, with virtually no buffering, even at freeway speeds. For some reason most American hardtops have very little wind buffering with the windows down. Try rolling down the windows on a Eurobox, and you get your head blown off. I always wondered about that, did they design it that way, or was it just a fluke?
I have to get on a ferry in order to reach the island, and as I sit in line the usual interaction starts. People slow down to look at the car, and some folks come up and ask something. I get ready for the most common questions asked of a 1958 Impala owner: Does it have a 348? Since it has a 283, it is one of those “I can’t win questions”…if I say, no, it has a 283, some folks walk away like I disappointed them or something. Sometimes I just lie, and say YES, of course it has a 348…and SIX Strombergs, Oh Yeah…
Owning an old car is a sure way of meeting people, if you want to be left alone, get an econo box.
I arrived at the island and continued up on a two lane black top that seemed to be made for a classic car drive. It was a GREAT day.
Have one yourself!
photo: Chris Shelton