Neil Harper bought his first 1959 Chevrolet back in the fall of 1958.
He was about to embark on a new marriage with his wife Edith and his old ’52 Chevy became a casualty in the transaction.
Neil clearly remembered the salesman’s comment at the time in detail when he asked, “why is a young guy like you buying a new car?”
He didn’t have to ask…
Neil bought the ‘59 Chevy right off the showroom floor and he recalled, “ I kept it for 10 years . I think it was because it was only a 235 six, three on the tree car and I looked after it plus because it wasn’t a fast car it was easy to keep the speed down”. Clearly the skeptical salesman misread young Neil’s skill with practical solutions to automotive conundrums.
Neil realized he missed that ‘59 Chevy far more than he would admit, so he started a search for a 21st century stand-in for his beloved first car. He had a blessing from Edith because a ‘59 Impala would take her back to the earliest point in their marriage so she was solidly onside with the idea.
Neil is a hands-on guy so he didn’t simply flip through the old car ads and find a pristine 1959 Chevy 4-door sedan. He did some automotive detective work and found a restorable Biscayne at a farm and immediately cut a deal.
That car was only one third of the equation because he added a second ’59 Chevy when he bought a superficially solid Impala 4-door sedan. That car had some serious issues in the X frame so it donated some body parts and a goldmine of Impala trim parts.
The third car was a black 2-door sedan and it was rescued from a slough but it too offered up some valuable parts to the project including a brand new clutch. Most experienced car guys recognize how many donor cars can be sacrificed to the project gods in any restoration-Neil’s 59 Chevy four-door sedan was no exception.
Neil took on the bulk of the work on the car and the results are spectacular. The former Biscayne was promoted to Impala status thanks to the complete set of trim pieces from the donor car. Neil had an option that few car guys had because all 3 cars had full trim and bumpers so his decisions were made from quality stock pieces.
He did the motor from front to back and now the bulletproof Chevy six runs like the proverbial Swiss watch. Neil kept the car original in many ways, including the retention of the original single master cylinder. He addressed any handling concerns so the front end has new ball joints and tie rods plus the radials add significantly better road feel to the old Chevy.
Some superficial items were added, including a set of rear antennas-these were options that a young Neil couldn’t justify back in 1959 but in 2012, he was comfortable with the decision. He admitted that “he crossed the line when he added the Impala trim so this just added to the look”.
Neil added one more period correct option to the 1959 Chevy-a custom made bug screen. This used to be a common sight in the 50s and 60s so he thought it would enhance his trip back in time.
Neil finished the car in the spring of 2011 and since then the Harpers hit the car show circuit in a big way. They’d already rolled up a few thousand miles by early summer so the shakedown cruise was fully extended into a journey but ultimately this is much longer journey.
This old Chevy is a trip back to the fall of 1958 when a young couple needed a new car.
More car stories and journeys can be found here-https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/