The Car That Saved The Day

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From a picture of a 1961 Chevrolet Impala. This car has a 4-speed manual transmission and, probably, a big-block V-8. The ’61 Impala in my life had neither of these, but was the car that saved the day.

As I have written before, I was in an accident in my 1967 GTO two weeks before I was to leave for college for the first time. My father, understandably, was upset and threatened to cut me off from all cars. By this time my parents were divorced and my father had re-married. I think that my father’s second wife was younger than my older sister. I did not have a much of a relationship with his second wife and was indignant anytime anyone referred to her as my stepmother.

However, it was her insistence that my father let me have a car to get back and forth between college and home that led him to let me use his 1961 Impala while the GTO was being repaired. That Impala had the base 283 cubic-inch V-8 and a Powerglide automatic transmission. The two-speed (yes, just two speeds) Powerglide is much reviled now as modern automatics are so much better. The Powerglide was indestructible, though, and for basic transportation it was just fine. From 1953 through 1967 if a Corvette had an automatic transmission it was a Powerglide. For 1953 and 1954 that was the only transmission available in a Corvette.

My relationship with my father’s second wife improved after her intervention although we would never become really close. I have no idea if she is still alive and, if she is, where she lives.

I do, however, have a soft spot for 1961 Impalas. I have never been a party animal and went home virtually every weekend of my first semester in college. Without the Impala that would not have been possible. While I doubt I will ever own one, too many cars ahead of it in line, I will always appreciate the car that saved the day.



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