MAY 30, 2015: LITTLE JOE CARTWRIGHT AND A DIFFERENT KIND OF HORSE: THE ’65 IMPALA

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I spotted a 1965 Chevy Impala SS 396 convertible at a recent car show and remembered exactly why I was blown away by these cars as a young kid back in late ’64.

 

The Impala underwent a major styling shift in 1965 and I felt it was a home run — then and now.

 

General Motors had a big introduction to their new car lineup in the 60s because they used the stars of the hottest TV shows as their pitchmen.

 

 

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The host for Chevy’s 1965 lineup was none other than Ben Cartwright, the famous patriarch on Bonanza.

 

The sight of new Chevys galloping up the streets of frontier Virginia City was a surreal event for me.

 

The moment got even better when the cars were driven by famous TV characters such as Ben’s oldest son Adam Cartwright, the first Darren Stevens (hot-tempered husband of TV’s hottest witch), Samantha herself with Endora riding on the trunk, and Napoleon Solo from The Man from Uncle.

 

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The crowning moment was the sight of Little Joe Cartwright behind the wheel of a 1965 Chevy Impala two door hardtop at the tail end of the Chevy stampede in Virginia City while the subtle background music played ‘See the USA in your Chevrolet”.

 

Little Joe was the famous owner of a very flashy pinto horse named Cochise on Bonanza. It was very hard to upstage Little Joe’s horse, but the sight of the fiery young Cartwright behind the wheel of a ’65 Chevy was TV magic at the time.

 

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These are the moments of childhood that stick better than a well-placed tattoo and the sight of a beautiful 1965 Chevy convertible in 2015 brought back this amazing memory for me.

 

The car had the roof down because it was a top-down kind of day and the owner was smart enough to celebrate this kind of weather with a vintage Chevy convertible.

 

1965 was a year of major cosmetic changes for many of the Big Three products. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors leaped into the back nine of the 60s with a brand new look in many of its flagship models.

 

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The bridge between 1964 and 1965 car styles got blown up and there was no looking back in the rear view mirror at Detroit for inspiration when it came to the new look.

 

The rounded lines of the 1964 Chevy Impala have become a legend in the car hobby and are considered to be one of the most desirable low riders ever produced for their loyal enthusiasts.

 

 

The ’65 Chevy Impala followed in the giant footsteps of the 1964 and became an acquired taste for the devoted followers of the ‘64 Impala. However, I had no such misgivings about the newer Chevy because of its long fastback roofline and was an immediate fan of the then-new look Impala.

 

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I spotted the beautiful white 1965 Chevy Impala convertible with its top down, in all of its mid-60s glory, and one thing came to mind:

 

This car still owns the road today as much as it owned the streets of Virginia City fifty years ago.

 

Jim Sutherland

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