One of Chevrolet’s most expensive full-size cars during its heyday yields as much excitement today as it did when it debuted in 1962 for one couple who decided that their typical restore-a-classic-and-sell-it routine wasn’t going to happen with this treasure.
The classic cream-colored Chevrolet Impala may not have been a part of this year’s Ol’ Marais River Run Car Show without the gem being discovered in a shed 14 years ago and then brought back to life by its owner, Bill Stewart.
That vehicle, as well as hundreds of others, will be on display at the 27th annual Ottawa car show, which began Friday night and continues today and Sunday at Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St. The Over the Road Gang is playing host to the event, which will offer attendees a look at sweet rides, a taste of fun foods and a host of other games and activities throughout the weekend.
Stewart, Pleasant Hope, Mo., has attended the Ottawa car show four or five times now, he said, and has worked in the construction business for more than 40 years. About 14 years ago, while working on a project in Springfield, Mo., one of his co-workers told him about a car that was in a lean-to shed.
“A guy on the job told me about it,” Stewart said. “(The owner) had it in a shed.”
The car was a 1962 Chevrolet Impala. When Stewart found it, the car had the original paint, carpet, spare tire in the back and all of the original paperwork, which stated that is originally was sold for a little more than $3,700.
Although Stewart said he could not remember the man’s name, he did purchase the car from the owner after his co-worker found it. According to Stewart, he is the third owner of the car.
“The first owner is in Huntsville, Mo., where the car came from originally,” Stewart said. “The second owner had the original title.”
Stewart said he loves to fix old cars, and, while the Impala had most of the original accessories of a classic car, he did do some work to it.
“The tires aren’t original,” he said. “I added an air conditioner.”
The car has been in Stewart’s possession for about 14 years, which is a great deal longer than the time frame he normally keeps the classic cars he fixes up. According to Stewart, his wife, Sue, loves the car and has not allowed him to put it on the market. Normally, Stewart sells the cars he fixes right away.
“I get more pleasure out of putting a car together, but when I’m done, I’m done,” Stewart said.
While he has owned and sold many cars, Stewart said he has no plans of selling his Impala. Instead, he hopes that the car stays in his family.
“I’ve got a couple of grandsons who’d like to have it, so one of them might get it,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he plans on driving his car in the car show’s cruise night, which takes place at downtown Ottawa from 6 to 10 p.m. today.
Sunday events will include a church service for those who wish to attend, the awards presentation and the announcement of the major door prize winners.