In an age where the typical collector swaps classic metal faster
than Mister Rogers changes sweaters, it's hard to imagine finding a
low-mileage, 3-owner bombshell that's been documented all the way
down to an autograph from the time it was borrowed by Richard
Petty. But this exclusive, national award-winning Chevy is just
that, and, throughout 56 years of immaculate upkeep, heavy
servicing has been its sole alteration. If you're looking for a
one-of-a-kind, virtually unmolested collector car, here's your
chance to head the herd!
Introduced as Chevrolet's first foray upmarket, the Impala proved GM's volume car juggernaut had the strength to be all things to all people. It was the ride your upper class neighbors enjoyed and, like the original Bel Air, it wholly embodied the time of its creation. With that in mind, this awesome, second generation drop-top was immediately snatched up by its first owner in late 1958. That owner, Foster Harris of Dayton, Ohio, purchased the car from Williamstown, Kentucky's Piles Chevrolet as a gift for his wife. Unfortunately Mr. Harris' wife was more interested in birds than antelopes and, after 3K miles of use, the Impala was traded on a brand new Thunderbird. That's when the Chevy's second and long-term owner, Francis Mendenhall, entered the picture.
Mr. Mendenhall and his wife fell in love with the car, mainly using it as a grand Sunday cruiser that provided their family years of great memories. As those years passed, the Mendenhall's daughter, Joyce, formed quite a bond with the low-mileage Chevy and would eventually use it to complete her driving test. When the time came for Joyce to head to college, the Impala returned to its plaster garage where her dad promised to store and maintain it until further notice. After college, Joyce married a future GM manager who was a hardcore Chevy fan and long-term Bel Air owner. And, in 1984, Joyce's father called to say: "it's time for you to pick up your Impala." Ecstatic, she relocated the car to her new home and started hitting the national show circuit where, as you might imagine, the all-original, 21K mile drop-top was a big hit.
In 2006, after roughly half a century in the same family, Joyce and her husband finally passed the car to its third and present owner: a retired neighbor who also purchased their beloved Bel Air. That owner, looking to keep things fresh, commissioned a heavy engine servicing that included new seals, new freeze plugs and fresh block paint. And today, the car rolls as a fully documented national award winner that's seen only 28,910 miles of road time in the hands of three dedicated owners.
Lift this Chevy's long hood and you'll find an original, 348 cubic inch Turbo Thrust V8 that's branded with a correct 3755011 casting number, stated with a September (I) 19th (19), 1958 (58) casting date and detailed with a correct "G" suffix stamp. A staple of working-class luxury, this sturdy 250 horsepower big block is one of the many reasons the Impala model enjoys fantastic name recognition. And absolutely every item, from its thick coat of Chevy Orange paint to its unique, bowtie-branded valve covers, is functional, reliable and ready to hit the cruise-in. At the top of the bright block, a Satin Black, single-snorkel air cleaner funnels wind in to a big Rochester carburetor. At the sides of the block, clean exhaust manifolds allow oversquare cylinders ample breathing room by pushing spent gases through correct, true-dual pipes. At the back of the block, a traditional points distributor sparks familiar Packard TV R Suppression cables. Cooling is provided by a beefy Harrison radiator, which circulates water through a series of pliable hoses. Charge comes courtesy of a Delco yellow cap battery, which jolts a tagged Delco-Remy generator. All the right details, including a stainless fuel line, correct decals and a factory brake booster, are present and accounted for. And the car's Satin Black engine bay serves as an ideal backdrop for the engine's many different textures.
Park this topless full-size on a lift and you'll find a solid undercarriage that, despite the car's Midwest roots, appears to have never seen seriously inclement weather. Straight, undercoated floorpans perfectly complement a sturdy, Satin Black X-frame. A rugged Powerglide transmission, which hangs a correct 3742349 casting number above an October (J) 31st (31) 1958 (8) casting date, spins a beefy GM drop-out that literally sails the engine through its power band. Under that capable drivetrain, a lucid suspension mixes factory power steering with big, power-assisted drums. At the center of the floors, a true-dual exhaust system utilizes correct turbo mufflers to weave an aggressive, full-throttle rumble into a subdued and classy idle. And at the corners of the chassis, great looking 8.00-14 BF Goodrich Silvertown whitewalls frame dent-free hubcaps.
For GM products of the 1950s, interiors are always a highlight. Naturally, this Impala continues that trend with an eye-popping tri-tone Green interior that presents very well. At ground level, Fisher sill plates anchor old school carpet under thick, color-keyed floor mats. Adjustable bench seats wear retro plaid covers that remind us of family picnics. The padded and stainless-trimmed dash plays host to factory instrumentation, a correct radio and chrome accessory pulls. In front of the driver, a traditional Impala steering wheel spins speed-drilled spokes around a storied cross-flag emblem. At the sides of the car, expressive door panels found simple exit handles between jet-age armrests and traditional window cranks. And behind the passengers, a cavernous trunk hides a correct jack and full-size spare tire between pliable mats and a vintage decklid decal.
Over the years, this Chevy has acquired some pretty serious accolades. Here's a categorized, chronological listing of the car's significant milestones:
Scored 942 out of 1,000 points to earn a Vintage Chevrolet Club of America Junior Award in July of 1989
Scored 950 out of 1,000 points to earn a Vintage Chevrolet Club of America Senior Award in July of 1990
Invited to participate in the 1991 Meadowbrook Concours d'Elegance
Scored 972 out of 1,000 points to earn a Gold Award at the 12th International Late Great Chevy Convention in June of 1992
Scored 952 out of 1,000 points to earn a Vintage Chevrolet Club of America Preservation Award in July of 1992
Scored 980 out of 1,000 points to earn a Vintage Chevrolet Club of America Preservation Award in July of 1993
Earned a Designer's Choice Award at the Eyes on Classic Design Car Show in June of 1995
Participated in the 1987 Detroit Wheels of Freedom Automobile Show and Parade
Featured in the September/October, 1992 edition of FRIENDS Magazine
Featured in the June, 1993 edition of Late Great Chevys Magazine
Featured on the cover of the January, 1994 edition of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America's newsletter
Featured in the June, 2010 edition of Chevy Classics Magazine
Featured in many local and neighborhood newsletters
Here's a categorized list of everything included with this drop-top's sale:
Vintage marketing materials
A vintage Owner's Manual (signed by Richard Petty)
Vintage dealer and tax paperwork documenting Francis Mende...for more information please contact the seller.