If you look up the word “cherry” in the dictionary, there is a photo of this: a deep blue 1969 Chevrolet Impala, with black tuck and roll upholstery, and a black vinyl top.
The single-owner car with 50,000 original miles had been recently purchased at the curb. A “For Sale” sign propped up in the front windshield attracted the buyer.
It is nice.
Near mint except for some (expected) wear to the driver’s seat upholstery.
I’m not a “car guy.” Never was. While all the other kids (guys) on the block could identify the make, model, engine type and size, and special features of a barely visible vehicle still blocks away, I had to wait to read what it said on the side or back of the car.
But I am a child of the 60s.
And maybe that’s what drew my attention to the Impala. Nostalgia. Reliving my childhood – I was just getting my license in 1969. (And struggling to graduate from high school.)
The Chevy’s original owner had passed away. The car was sold by his grandchildren.
They didn’t want it.
Gas-guzzler. It probably gets a negative 5 mph.
But when the ignition lit up the engine, it roared. A full and deep-throated rumble. None of this namby-pamby humming noise that today’s cars apologetically make.
This was a real car. Nearly two city blocks in length. The trunk would accommodate any adult’s complete inventory of possessions.
It was Sleek. Elegant. Cool.
The car’s only “negative” was that it had automatic transmission. Somehow, I was able to get passed that.
I admired the car as it sat in a parking lot at a strip mall in Pennsylvania. When the owner showed up, he was an 18-year-old kid. And he wouldn’t shut up.
Couldn’t wait to tell me all about the Impala. Engine. Radio (kept the old AM radio with twist knob tuner, installed a new sound system that made my ears bleed). Tranny. Where he was going to get the upholstery fixed, and how much it would cost; another (middle-aged) bystander quickly offered a suggestion for an alternative upholsterer.
Three guys. Strangers. All admiring the same thing. It wasn’t anything genetic. And it sure wasn’t the closeness of age.
This wasn’t just a car. It was an objet d’art. And it was perfect.