The 1960 Chevrolet Impala
Originally a high-end Bel Air, the Impala – named after midsize African antelopes – was celebrated for being a long, wide, and luxurious family sedan. While it left the “cat eye” teardrop tail lights from the previous year behind, the 1960 model had accent stripes that stretched the length of the quarter panels, tipped with chrome rockets hinting at its slogan “Space, Spirit, Splendor.” The front and rear wheel openings were squared off instead of arced, and three bullet-shaped tail lamps flanked either side. Features also included a rear grille, an electric clock, back-up lights, an electric brake parking light, and optional power brakes.
The 1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible was Erwin’s family car when he was a boy. His mother drove it for a number of years, and after the family let it go, Erwin says his father always regretted the sale. Today, Erwin’s father Louis is 92 years old and a veteran of World War II. He survived the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which delivered the first operational atomic bomb to the island of Tinian in July 1945, before being sunk by two torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine. Last year, Erwin surprised his father with a newly restored 1960 Impala as he walked out of a local hospital following a chemotherapy treatment. Purchased in Chicago, it needed a few cosmetic repairs, but was otherwise in decent condition. Erwin rebuilt the engine and transmission, replaced the floorboards and glass, and had a custom blue convertible top built so it looked exactly like the car from his youth. He removed all the chrome and sent it off to be restored. He stripped the paint and replaced it with its original color, Horizon Blue. It took 3,600 man-hours to complete the job, but it was time well-spent to honor Erwin’s father and surprise him with the car he’s always loved.