Most people over a certain age know who Clark Griswold was because he set legendary standards for stupidity behind the wheel of a station wagon in the movie ‘Vacation’.
He should have driven this 1974 Impala because this bad boy would have offset many of his problems during that ill-fated road trip with his family.
For example, the burning skull decals down the side would have scared off the muggers in his big city misadventure.
This is actually an extremely rare wagon and its current owner, Derrick Anderson is well aware of the facts behind this unique ride. He summed up the options on this Impala, “It’s rare in Canada, one of 90 with AC, 43 with a 454 and one of only 3 made with a factory vinyl roof”.
This Chevy was far from pristine when Derrick found it over four years ago, “It was the original owner’s family car and she’d had a lot of offers for it including some that wanted to turn it into a demo derby car. It was stored out in the country and that’s where it got a little rust under the vinyl”.
Derrick is a pawn shop guy so he knows his way around people and he had the right pitch for this full sized family heirloom, “I showed up and told her I was going to show some love for it and it was mine”.
The cosmetics were rough and the mechanicals weren’t much better in this Impala, “It needed a lot of work, the motor had been blown at some point so bored it out to a stroker. Lots of money went into this engine”.
Derrick added a few post-1974 items to the list, “It’s got airbags now and the AC was turned into the pump for the compressor”. This big wagon probably would have survived Clark Griswold’s giant leap and bad landing in ‘Vacation’.
The car was originally green but Derrick had other ideas “I wanted the skulls to replace the woodgrain on the side so the car had to be black”. That was a good call because this car was outstanding even at a large show.
There were little things that made the job more difficult, “the 454 badging was a problem so I used nail polish for the letters”.
Clearly a 454 Impala station wagon with a built up big block under the hood is a different driving experience as Derrick admitted, “I have a tendency to make the foot hit the floor and this car surprises a lot of people. This is a 6000 pound car and she really goes, people go “Holy Crap’ was that a station wagon?” when I fly by them on the highway. But they have to remember this is 340 horses at the back wheel now and 410 foot pounds of torque”.
These road adventures are costly, “it can burn up 400 bucks of gas in no time”, so Derrick limits his time behind the wheel of this impressive wagon. It took a few years to reach this point with the Impala but the sheer presence of this Griswold-mobile on steroids was clearly worth the time and money for Derrick.
He’s proud of this rare Impala and he’s eternally grateful that it wasn’t a casualty in an ill-fated demo derby adventure.
* Follow this link for a look back at an MSCC story about another big wagon-a 76 Pontiac wagon.