My Uncle Jerry was a very cool guy from West Philadelphia. He had eleven kids, but still drove his turquoise and white two door 1957 Chevy Bel Air. He had no second car! In 1966, he traded the Bel Air on a new 1966 Impala convertible; navy blue with a white top and two tone blue interior. For me, it was love at first sight. I promised myself when I was old enough to buy a car, that would be the one. I was twelve at the time.
Upon graduating in 1972, I set out to keep my promise. I found a 1966 Impala convertible in Marina Blue with black top and interior. 53000 miles; 327 four barrel for $550. Yeah, you could buy a nice car for little money in those days. I washed and waxed it almost every day for three weeks. Then I wrecked it on a VW Karman Ghia who ran a light in front of me.
Insurance gave me $600 for the car and I went out and bought a 1966 Impala convertible; white with a red interior. 60000 miles; 327 four barrel; factory air and power windows! That car made me the mechanic I am today. There wasn't one thing on that car that didn't break at some point over the next couple years before I gave up the rusted remains. Many memories and close calls with that car.
I got through the rest of college with a variety of summer (convertibles) and winter cars (beaters). Upon starting my first job, I started looking for another 66 and found it. An Impala Super Sport convertible this time. Again, white with red interior. 80000 miles, 396/325 TH 400, 12 bolt posi, power windows, tilt, Comfortron A/C for $800. I called it my Fred Flintstone car as it had almost no floors. The quarters and trunk were mostly gone too. Drove it a couple years and parked it while I raised my family; all the while accumulating parts for a restoration. I even drove to Chicago to pick up an NOS left quarterpanel.
I lost my job in 1999 and decided to get serious about putting it back on the road. I tuned it up, renewed the suspension, brakes and tires and sent it off to the body man. Old Gold Restorations in Lebanon, PA did a fantastic job. Over the next few years, I had a top and interior while adding factory headrests to the bucket seats installed at Hamm's Upholstery in Aston, PA; the motor rebuilt at Mahler Engine Service in Sharon Hill, PA; the transmission by Craig Harkness in Drexel Hill, PA. In the meantime, I have added an AM FM multiplex, front disc brakes, console clock and tachometer. I still have power bucket tracks, tilt telescopic column and cruise control to install. I'll get the Comfortron hooked up after that and I should be done.
A true labor of love; 36 years in the making. Unfortunately, we lost Uncle Jerry far too soon at the age of 72 a couple years ago. He always got a kick out of setting me on my automotive path (I was raised on Fords).