Gerry Burnett was a rookie firefighter on his first day of duty in 1969 when he drove his then-new Chevy Impala to the fire station. Gerry purchased the car from a local GM dealership and used the car as a daily driver that suited his family man role as well as his need for speed.

The Chevy left the factory with an L72 big block 427 conservatively rated at 425 horsepower by the General in 1969. The Impala’s 427 was beefed up with aluminum heads to lighten the weight and boost the horsepower in the process.

Jim Sutherland

Gerry added his own custom touches to the Impala, including a wild 4-exhaust pipe system, hood stripes, a red steering wheel, along with hood scoops donated by a Dodge Dart. The result was a garish mix of custom automotive touches that suited Gerry’s tastes but did not impress his son Darren who was an impressionable kid at the time.

However, Gerry sold the car in 1970, only a year after he purchased the ’69 Impala-but not before Darren developed a strong interest in his dad’s car. Darren recalled his first day of school included a ride in the Impala and never forgot that moment, or the ones where the car was used to tow a snowmobile trailer to winter races.

The muscled-out Impala was sold to a woman who used it as a daily driver from 1970 to ’77 before she parked it until 1983 when Darren persuaded her to sell the car to him. Darren was a recent high school graduate in ’83 and wanted to bring his dad Gerry’s Impala back into the family.

The Impala’s exterior had become a blank canvas because its previous owner had begun a restoration process but had not advanced much beyond the primer stage, so Darren was able to return the car back to its factory look- without the busy custom additions applied to the Impala by Gerry.

Darren was even able to replace the Impala’s custom red steering wheel with the factory steering wheel because he rescued the factory version from the garbage bin when Darren was a kid.

As mentioned earlier, the ’69 Impala is an all-out factory muscle car in a large body because it has a legendary big block engine coupled to the legendary Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, affectionately known as the “Rock Crusher” in Chevy circles.

The car also has factory front discs, stiffer springs and bigger sway bars to help keep the Chevy on the road when a driver chooses to unleash all those big block horses at one time.

1969 Impalas equipped with 427s can handle modern highway speeds with ease, but Darren told MyStarCollectorCar his big Chevy only gets about 10 mpg. However, his trip down memory lane is worth every penny to him because the same car that took Darren to his first day of school was used to haul his kids to their first day of school, including his son Nolan.

Nolan is now 26 years old and has a keen interest in the car, ensuring the car will remain a family legacy in the future. It is what we at MyStarCollectorCar would call a happy ending for both the Impala and the Burnett family.    

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.