I love my two ’58 Chevys, and there isn’t enough money in the world to buy them from me. It would be like parting with a family member.
On October 9, 1961, I walked onto a small used-car lot in Dearborn, Michigan, and drove off in my first 1958 Impala. My fiancé and I had been driving down Michigan Avenue when I spotted the Snowcrest White convertible. I’m not sure why, but at the time, I knew I wanted it. We went back the next week, but the Impala was gone. I was heartbroken. We pulled into the dealership to ask if someone had purchased the car. Turns out, it was in the back of the lot being detailed. I put down $400 cash on the spot and financed the rest at $55 a month. I even paid it off a year early.
The car was loaded. Automatic transmission, factory Continental package, push-button radio, rear speaker, heater, clock, whitewalls, door-handle shields, rear dual antennas, and dual spot-lights. As a 21-year-old, I was in heaven. I drove that Impala every day for 12 years. In the winters, when I got home from work, I hooked a garden hose up to the basement faucet to wash off the road salt from my beloved car. My diligence paid off, too—it never became a Michigan rust bucket.
Sometime in 1966, after I’d owned the Impala for about five years, I remember thinking, “I want something new,” so I began shopping around for a more modern car. Over the next few months, though, I started to find notes on the windshield of my ’58 when it was parked in my driveway or in a parking lot. People wanted to buy my car. The interest in it made me realize that, despite the age, I’d better hang on to that old convertible. It continued to serve as my daily driver until 1973, when my father passed away and I inherited his 1969 Chevelle. I still have that car, too, but that’s for another story.
On my 35th birthday, in 1975, I attended a Kruse collector car auction 30 miles down the road in Mason, Michigan. I was there for a reason. Pictured on the show’s flyer was a 1958 Chevy Impala hardtop in Honey Beige with a tan, cream, and orange interior. I thought it would be so cool to have a matching pair of ’58 Impalas. In addition to being equipped with everything my convertible had, including the 348-cubic-inch V-8, this hardtop had factory air, power brakes, power steering, and fender skirts. I had to have it. When the gavel dropped, I was the high bidder at $2000. I drove the car home that day.
Over the years, I’ve freshened up both cars. In 1981, I had the convertible repainted inh the original Snowcrest White. It is still a numbers-matching car. The hardtop is all-original, too, save for its two-speed Powerglide transmission, which I installed after the Turboglide decided to hang it up for good.
Showing my Chevys wasn’t something I’d ever considered, but back in 1974, a couple of car guys I knew from a shop nearby recommended I do it. I’ve taken the pair to shows ever since, mainly in Michigan but as far as Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They’ve placed at least once in every event they’ve been to. One of my proudest moments came at Detroit Autorama, the giant indoor car show in the heart of the Motor City. My convertible, the car of my youth, won second place, five years in a row.
I’ve always done most of the service work on the Impalas, and I still do. My husband, J.D., helps me out sometimes, and we make a great team. We met on Mother’s Day in 1985. I was selling my 1952 Chevy, and J.D. and his son stopped by to look at the car. He really wanted the ’69 Chevelle sitting in my garage. We got married the next year—and he got the Chevelle.
Back then, I was halfway through restoring a 1965 Pontiac Bonneville (which I also still own). I did all the paint and bodywork, and J.D. and his sons helped with assembly. We took the Bonneville to a car show, and it scored 97 out of 100. Several locals have taken notice of my little collection, including the police. They stop me from time to time just to check out my cars, but I don’t mind. I’m extremely proud of my assortment of old rides, especially my pair of pristine Impalas.