Our adopted family member, Ed, (we were his only family) was really only a few years older than me when he died too young at age 55. Things in his life had just stabilized, everything was going his way just before his death, and we found and bought his dream car, a 56 Imperial, a black one, with the gun sight tail lights and the Hemi. Ed loved that car. He drove it anytime it wasn't raining or snowing. That car sure made a statement, and he got lots of comments and he made a lot of friends because of it. Unfortunately, Ed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about a year after the Imperial arrived, and he died within days. The Imperial was in the funeral procession. A likeness of it is carved on his headstone. But that's not the end of this car story.
Ed left me the car in his will. He figured I was the only one who would appreciate it, and I do. I did a few things to it in the years immediately after his death; I had the engine rebuilt, I restored the interior, and took care of the running gear. It became a sweet, reliable ride--but it still needs a paint job. When Ed died, he always wondered if my daughter, his godchild, (12 at the time) would ever appreciate the car or even care about it. While I was working on it, she was pretty cool to it and non-committal.
Then came her driver's license; she got it the day she turned 16. She had her own car, a cool green 97 Aurora with a Northstar that made a pretty bold statement for a 16 year old whose friends all drove less interesting--and really boring-- cars. Her status as a "motor head" was beginning to blossom.....
And I knew that she was to be a full-blown "car person" when, near her 17th Birthday, she asked me for the Imperial keys. Our town was having a "cruise," a really big one, with hundreds of cars, and a 10 mile cruise route. I wandered down to the "main drag" and there in the cruise (unbeknownst to me) was my 17 year old and her best friend, cruising, and waving and discussing the merits of the 354 Hemi. The two of them cruised and chatted and had fun with a bunch of folks easily old enough to be their grandparents. She handled the Imperial, drum brakes and all 21 feet of it, like a pro. She had obviously been practicing driving it.
And that's when I knew that the 56 Imperial might just be around for a few more decades. My daughter is in college now, and she doesn't drive the Imperial much any more, what with all of her school obligations. But the old 56 is still in the garage, and ready for her when she is ready to get back to the old car hobby. I know that she will, and that she will probably buy and enjoy other classics. I wonder what her "dream classic" will be? A 90's Aurora, perhaps?