Like millions of other car enthusiasts, John Engelberts, Jr. will be heading to the Detroit area this week to participate in the Woodward Dream Cruise, and he will be doing so in his dad's 1995 Chevrolet Impala SS. His dad – a former GM employee who had a vast collection of Chevrolets – passed away in 2013, and the Impala has been sitting in storage ever since. That is, until a couple months ago when the car was pulled out of storage, dusted off and prepped for a road trip from St. Louis to Detroit.
He posted a brief history about the car on the Underappreciated Survivors Facebook page (highly recommended if you like underappreciated cars from the '80s and '90s), and after a conversation with him, the story behind the car only got better from there. As it turns out, his dad bought the Impala SS brand new in 1995, and he had taken it on the Hot Rod Power Tour in 1998 and then again as a family affair in 2000, at the time John Jr. was eight years old and his sister was two.
His favorite memory of the car was in the first couple of years of his dad owning it:
"I was in the back seat along with my uncle, and my dad told us that he had nitrous installed on the car. He really had us convinced. He would smash the gas pedal and press a button on the dash, the car would accelerate very quickly, and the digital speedometer would jump incredibly fast. We came to find out many years later that he was pressing the button that would switch the speedometer from miles per hour to kilometers per hour at the same time he was flooring the gas pedal."
After posting to the Facebook group, he said many people (more than 130 comments) asked about the car with more than a few inquiring about perceived body work. He did some digging and eventually found out that in 1997, his dad was driving home from Shreveport, Louisiana when three men in another car brandished a gun and tried forcing him off the road. The big body-on-frame Impala SS held its ground and forced the other car off the road. In 2001, someone had broken out the window in an attempt to steal the car, but the Impala won again thanks to a security alarm that had shut off the fuel pump.
His dad grew up in the Detroit area and moved to Oklahoma City in 1982 for his GM job, and over the years, he had amassed quite a collection of Chevys including a 1957 Bel Air, 1964 Corvette 327 four speed, 1994 Silverado, a 1974 Nova SS (purchased from his father) and a 1966 Chevelle, which eventually became John Jr.'s first car. Most of these cars were still in the collection when his father died, and they were split up between he and his sister.
The coolest car might be their father's first brand-new car, a 1988 Monte Carlo SS with just 22,000 original miles on it today, and they will be meeting up at the Dream Cruise reuniting the two underappreciated modern classics. In the past few weeks, he has been preparing for the trip by giving the car new tires, belts, hoses, brakes and fluids as well as a full detail to get the paint shining again – he left the old Power Tour stickers on, though. The car isn't perfect. Its Dark Cherry Metallic is faded in places and doesn't match quite well from the repairs, but what it does have is lots of character and plenty of father-son memories.
And with only 92,000 miles on the odometer, there are still plenty of memories to be made!
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