Old Detroit steel ages beautifully. As is almost a metaphor for the rest of America, Detroit’s Big Three never thought to do things quaintly until the we reached the cocaine dusted 80’s. Even then Starsky and Hutch and their cocaine dusted decade couldn’t kill the desire to drive big.
Land yachts are what they’re called. As big as they were, the these highway cruisers had engine s that matched their larger than life persona. They had to be big. In order to propel these 4300lb barges they had to be fitted with the classic big American V8, the proper thing to make it a pleasure to cruise down the highway in style and luxury. Here a great example of one of America’s great land yachts (with an engine to fit), Mike’s 1974 Chevy Impala:
This is my sleeper 1974 Chevrolet Impala Sedan. It was a 400 small block, three-speed automatic, A/C car from the factory, and was originally delivered to Dodge City, Kansas where it lived for the first 35 years of its life.
I purchased it on eBay for $3,500 in 2009 in mostly original condition with 19,722 miles for a daily driver. When the car arrived, it was actually in much better condition than I had been led to believe, and I was furious because I didn’t have the time or funds to buy another, so I drove it every day for 5 years through rain, snow, sleet and hail, and even did an Autocross event on a completely stock setup.
Last winter my brother took the original motor and transmission for a ’66 Chevy pickup project, and upon debating selling the car, I decided I enjoyed driving it too much, and that I owed it a second life. I swooped up a 408 c.i. +/- 375-hp 1972 Chevy truck motor off the floor of my mechanics shop and commissioned a 700R4 transmission paired with 3.73 gears and a Posi rear end and resurrected one very large (18.55′ long, 6.6′ wide), very overweight (5,000-lbs empty), and now very angry vinyl-bench-seat sedan with homemade side exhaust exiting before the back wheels. It came back to life pissed off that I ever considered putting it down in the first place – but then again, nothing comes back from the dead in a better mood.
It is often quickly dismissed as a rotbox until either the hood is open or it roars to life, and people begin to investigate further: despite the genuine patina and weathered exterior, the interior is mint, the underside is spotless, and it drives straight as an arrow on the highway. My brother scrawled “What’s the matter with the car I’m drivin / Can’t you tell that its out of Style?” (Billy Joel) in permanent marker across the back of the trunk, and that pretty much sums it up. I still drive the car almost every day in the summer, now once again bearing my custom plates [MIKES7T4]. Even if it’s old junk, its Still Rock and Roll to Me.