- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The flamboyant styling on most cars offered in 1959 was lost on young Butch Myrick. Fresh out of high school, he was busy pumping gas at a station in College Park, Md.

It wasn’t until after he had completed a hitch in uniform with Uncle Sam that he first encountered a 1959 Chevrolet Impala on a first-name basis. He bought it off a used-car lot and it gave him no trouble for the brief time that he owned it.

Since then other cars have come and gone in his life, including some antiques that were basket cases when he acquired them.

After having breathed new life into hopeless cases, Mr. Myrick was determined that his next antique car would be one that he could drive home.

In early 2002, Mr. Myrick decided what he did and did not want in an antique car. He wanted one that could keep up with modern traffic. It would also have to be dependable and have a suspension able to handle modern speeds. After years of wrestling with 6-volt electrical systems, he insisted on a car with a 12-volt system.

Finally, he did not want another project. He wanted a presentable antique car he could get in, turn the ignition key and drive home.

With those parameters in mind, Mr. Myrick began winnowing out the ones he didn’t want.

When the dust settled, the last car standing was a 1959 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop.

Now the only problem was to find an affordable car that hadn’t been cut up or hot-rodded.

He began his quest at the annual antique car event in Hershey, Pa., in October 2002.

He went not expecting good results. His expectations were realized after inspecting the first two 1959 Chevrolets he encountered.

Eventually he came across an original one-owner Pennsylvania car that a dealer had bought from the estate.

That dealer had sold the car for a quick profit to a North Carolina dealer who had brought the car back to Pennsylvania looking for his quick profit.

Not counting the two profit-mongers, Mr. Myrick considers himself the second real owner of the 1959 Chevrolet.

He purchased the amazingly original Chevrolet with only 41,000 miles on the odometer and by chance found an acquaintance at the Hershey event that could drive his new purchase almost all the way home to Front Royal, Va.

Mr. Myrick followed his friend as he drove the Chevrolet as far as Falling Waters, W.Va. Mr. Myrick then drove on to Front Royal, where he got a return ride to Falling Waters to retrieve his car.

For the first time Mr. Myrick sat behind the two-spoke, two-tone steering wheel in the 17-foot, 7-inch-long Impala. It felt good. He especially likes the octagon pattern headliner that is exclusive to 1959 models. When he fired up the reliable Turbo-Fire 283-cubic-inch V-8 engine, it felt even better.

The single two-barrel Rochester carburetor feeds the engine to produce 185 horsepower.

Once Mr. Myrick got his new old car home, he gave it a thorough examination and found no rust. Then he replaced all the brake wheel cylinders, all eight spark plugs and packed the wheel bearing with grease. He also straightened the right front fender that had grazed the edges of too many garage doors.

The car is quite nimble with a turning circle of 43.6 feet.

The Chevrolet Impala features the following extra cost accessories:

• Heater

• Power brakes

• Power steering

• Disc wheel covers

• Padded dashboard

• White sidewall tires

• Front bumper guard

• E-Z-Eye tinted glass

• Clock and cigar lighter

• Powerglide transmission

Mr. Myrick is happy that his Impala doesn’t have power windows.

“I like to crank the windows down and let the air circulate. That’s what two-door hardtops are all about.”

After owning the “cat’s-eye” Chevrolet for more than a year, Mr. Myrick says he has accumulated 2,000 miles.

The longest trip has been the one from where it was purchased.

“I have no idea,” Mr. Myrick answers when asked about gas mileage. “When the gas gauge drops below half, I stop and fill it. I’m not worried about it,” he says.

What does the future hold?

“Saturday-evening and Sunday drives,” Mr. Myrick says while adding, “when the opportunity presents itself.”

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