Opinions differ about cars. But to my father, only one mattered – his. He was a Chevy man and that was what he drove most of his life.
Dad, who died in 2002, would not have considered owning a foreign car, a used car, or even a non-General Motors car for that matter. He derided Ford as short for Fix Or Repair Daily. Chrysler products were not worthy of mentioning, in his opinion.
And having lived through the Second World War, he would bristle at the mere mention of Japanese or German cars, especially Volkswagens, which he identified with Adolf Hitler.
I was thinking about my father’s love for Chevrolets when the news came last week that the 2014 Chevrolet Impala had gotten the top score from Consumer Reports Magazine for all sedans on the market. Its score of 95 beat out all the cars from Germany and Japan for the first time in two decades. In doing so, it beat the Audi A6, which costs $15,000 more than the Impala’s base price of $27,000, and the Lexus LS460 at nearly $72,000. I’m sure my father would have been smiling.
The first Chevrolet I remember in our family was a 1953, but there are pictures somewhere of earlier ones he and my mother owned. In 1961, he bought his first Impala, a white one. It was my favorite because that was the year I turned 16, and I was allowed to drive it to high school a few times. I was always careful to park it at the far end of the school lot, though, so my friends wouldn’t notice the Fingerhut plastic covers he had put on the bench seats “to keep them looking new.”
And when it came time for me to have my first car when I was a sophomore in college, it was, you guessed it, a used 1963 Chevrolet Biscayne. When I returned from serving in the Army in Vietnam in 1969, I decided to get my first new car.
My father assumed it would be a Chevrolet, but I wanted something smaller. To him that meant a Chevelle. I went along, although I really sort of wanted a Toyota. When the Chevelle was involved in an accident a few months later, I traded it for a Toyota Corona Mark II without asking his advice. He was taken aback. “Looks like a tin can,” he said.
He was a little happier in 1972 when I returned to the General Motors fold with a Pontiac Grand Am (the car with the squeezable nose), but his happiness didn’t last.
In 1976, when I traded the Pontiac for a BMW sedan, he was appalled: “Your best friend better be a mechanic,” he said.
He turned out to be right, of course. Repairs were costly and frequent and the engine blew up at 80,000 miles. But before he had time to gloat, I had bought a Japanese sports car. He sort of gave up, after that, as I added a Ford Taurus as a family car.
The years passed, and although I bought several other cars, none were his beloved Chevrolets. But I’m close with my two-year-old GMC Terrain SUV.
“GMCs are just Chevys in disguise,” he used to say.
He was right.
T. Wayne Mitchell, Gazette publisher, can be reached at 662-534-6321.