Autorama Centerpiece: 11.5 Mile 1963 Chevrolet Impala

As a writer, I don’t really like to re-hash other folks stories unless it is a REALLY good topic. I much prefer writing my own original stories, but sometimes there are things that someone else has already covered that we feel need to be shared with our Barn Finds audience too! The comprehensive original story by Phoebe Wall Howard and more photos can be found here on the Detroit Free Press website. Now, these days when you see a ridiculously low mileage older Chevrolet vehicle such as this 1963 Impala, it is fairly safe to assume that it is a Lambrecht vehicle. If you aren’t familiar with the Lambrecht Chevrolet dealership auction, that story can be found here on Autonews.com. This car was never sold, and when the Lambrechts closed their dealership in 1996 it still sat in the showroom. When the Lambrechts auctioned off their inventory in 2013, this Impala fell into the hands of Gary and Dave Leidich to the tune of $97,000. 

Why $97,000? Because this was probably the last chance for everyone bidding to get a brand new 1963 Impala. As can be seen from the pictures, under a coating of dust this car was just as nice as it was when it rolled into the showroom! Once the brothers won the auction, they scrambled to trailer the car back to Ohio. From Detroit Free Press, “‘One day, we’ll give this car to a museum, but not yet,’ said Gary Leidich, a retired utility executive. ‘Now we’re just having fun.'” This car does indeed deserve to be in a museum, but it is good that the current owners are taking it out and about and showing it to people. Unsurprisingly, this car elicited lots of emotional responses at the Detroit Autorama. Many folks gathered around the car, remembering it from when it was auctioned off from the Lambrechts. Interestingly enough, the radiator cap is the wrong cap for which the owners cite quality control at the GM plant when it was built.

Though the car is shown below in its dusty hideaway, the new owners have cleaned this car inside and out to make it look as new as it is. This car is truly in pristine museum condition with no paint touchups performed, and no maintenance other than the radiator and brake wheel cylinders. The original paperwork indicates a sticker price of $3,254.70. McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Insurance, is quoted saying “This is like something out of a time machine,” and he is so right. I wasn’t even alive in 1963, but I bet if I sat in this car it would feel like I was. I can only imagine what it felt like for folks who were kids back then looking at this car; it is no surprise to me that it brought folks to tears.

There are lots of dusty beauties in this photo, but in the dead center is the pretty red Impala. The Lambrecht auction gave way to many dream barn finds, and this photo shows exactly why. I would’ve loved to have seen inside that dealership in person, because that would’ve been like stepping back in time! The final quote of the Detroit Free Press article really aligns with the feelings of me and car folks everywhere: “Tony Grace, 32, a tire man from Alma, walked past the Impala and paused. He said people used to have a strong personal relationships with cars, and that’s gone. ‘Our lives have changed,’ he said. ‘Now, to get somewhere in the car interrupts your life. Life used to be about the journey rather than the destination. Now you can’t get to the destination fast enough.” Cars like this 1963 Impala are a great reminder of what once was, and how cars used to be. This Impala is from a time for journey cars, not destination appliances. What a great find! This is what people like us live for. The only question is…would you drive it?

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Comments

  1. Miguel

    I always thought it would have been great for a dealership owner to have chosen one car a year, the best offered, and put it away.

    After 20 or 30 years that would be one heck of a collection.

    This would have to have happened back in the ’50s to the ’80s.

    These days there is not much to put away.

    • Yoopermike

      Doesn’t GM have a couple barn full of cars ? Built cars and some one-offs ?

      • Mike B

        They still have their Heritage collection of about 350 cars.

      • r spreeman

        The GM Heritage collection is not all mint new cars – many of them are pristine but used examples of interesting models.

  2. Mark

    What a deal they got, I can’t even imagine what that car will go for today! As mentioned, it certainly would’ve been great to get into the dealership and see all those cars.

  3. Dirtymax

    Love it and would like to think if I had the money to buy it, I would also have the money to drive it and enjoy it. That’s what this car deserves imho

    • Neal Elden

      I would trade it for 2 or 3 road worthy rides. This honestly doesnt belong on the street.

    • Sal Monelli

      If you paid $97,000 and actually drove this car ….you would lose about $85,000!!!

      • W9BAG Member

        Who cares ? This a car made to be driven, with fun & adventure in mind. The mantra of preserving a “new” ’63 Impala shouldn’t be a factor. In my youth, my best friend had one with a 283 and a 3 speed. We had so much fun in that car ! Turquoise with a white top. I could write a book about the fun we had in that car !

      • Austin V.

        it would be werth it because there are geting hard to find i would by it if I was
        22 it would be a oner to drive it.

      • r spreeman

        No way would I drive that car. It’s an almost unique time capsule. Driving it would absolutely ruin that. If wanted to drive a ’63 I’d sell this one to a museum and buy a driver 63 and put $75,000 in the bank.

        Fun and adventure? Maybe take it off-road then too.

        1
    • r spreeman

      Buying a car like this and driving it is something I’d expect Justin Bieber to do.

  4. Bob

    Although I would like the car, I would really want the Cameo pickup in the background.
    Bob

  5. Smokey Member

    No, don’t drive it. I have one copy of every Beatles album ever recorded, still unplayed and sealed, and two copies unplayed and yet sealed of the White Album. I also bought albums I did play and transfer to tape also. As long as this Chevrolet is what it now is, leave it that way.

    1
    • Dan in TX

      I hope that the next owners who open those records and play them remember to thank you for your diligence!

      1
  6. Jbones

    As far as the Hagerty I won’t comment I’ll let my Shelby sit. Old new just to let the “real 1st” owner take claim.

  7. Alan (Michigan) Member

    I generally belong to the “Drive It” group. And, most of what crosses in front of me fits into that category. But this car…. very unusually, I’d go with “haul it around and show it as much as possible”. It really is a museum piece, looks great!
    I went to the show, but was with a group intent on spending less time there than I’d have given myself if going alone. So I missed this car, and now wish I hadn’t. Ahh well. The family had a ’64 Impala bought new, and I recall that car very well. If I ever found it’s clone, I’d drive it for sure. Unless it only had 11 miles… !

  8. Joe Haska

    We probably all remember the auction and many of the cars. It is great to hear the rest of the story, as it in not often you get to hear what happened after the sale. I am a firm believer in driving cars, but this one is a tuff call, I think for once, I would say, it is a one and only, preserve it as best as you can.

    1
  9. Frank Allen

    I was seventeen years old in 1963, and I can remember going to the local dealer looking at these cars. I loved the smell, the fit and quality of the American car. This really is a museum piece, because the present generation doesn’t know what American quality looked like back in the day. American cars were not only beautiful, but were fast, powerful automobiles, made with pride. This is factory correct because it is really NEW!

    1
  10. Superdessucke

    Wet blanket alert. If you would have put this car’s $3,254.70 original price in a mutual fund when the vehicle was new, you’d have had about $153,000 in 2013 if you averaged 8% annually.

    That’s pretty conservative given what our economy did during those 50 years. Actually, you would have had to have been a pretty lousy investor to only have yielded that much!

    This car is very cool but it also underscores that, economically, it just makes sense to drive and enjoy your car versus going to all the trouble to not drive it and pay to store it and maintain it in pristine condition. If you want an investment there are better ones that are much easier.

    • Mark

      You are correct from an investment perspective..however, given the amount of assets this gentleman acquired over the years it is obvious that this wasn’t about money…..and let’s not forget that at that time he had a stable of other cars he could enjoy driving at his leisure.
      Same holds true today…I think it would be safe to assume that the current owner who laid out $97k more than likely has his investment/estate portfolio in order. And the plans to put it in a museum someday is a great idea. Can’t do the same with the
      $153k you cite.

    • r spreeman

      It might not have been a good investment, but taking that 11 mile car and driving it now would result in an immediate 50% loss in the investment price. No way would I drive it. Cars can be investments but they are also much more.

  11. Mr Firth

    Danielle Schmidt Co had a 1971 Impala blue on black that had never been sold , the lady that had ordered it wanted a blue interior and refused to take delivery so the dealer kept the car the dealer was AJ Foyt’s , one of my favorite cars it was gorgeous.

  12. Righteous Bob

    Drive the heck out of it, Why save it for Someone Else???

    1
    • r spreeman

      Because it is something special. You can drive a beautiful 1963 that is NOT unique and special.

      1
  13. John Fredsall

    I got a great view of the car while attending Autorama and it is indeed amazing. It’s wonderful to see a truly original old car. Not totally perfect, there is some minor paint damage, but original. As much as I feel everything should be driven, this one does belong in a museum.

    1
  14. MFerrell

    Cars like this make me wonder… would anyone buy a 2018 Chevy Impala and keep it preserved and un-driven for 54 years? In 2072, would anyone care?

  15. Tyler

    This is only special today because of the mileage & where it came from. This was not a special car in 1962, it was just another Impala, not a 409 or even a SS.

    It’s a neat car, but not something I would ever want since it’s value is in the low mileage. I don’t care to own something I can’t jump in & drive when I feel like it. But that’s just me…

  16. Rube Goldberg Member

    That Lambrecht auction will go down in history, probably the craziest auction, in the States, anyway. ( that one in France was even crazier) I knew people that attended that auction, but when the bidding got out of control, they left. Like people were drugged with the house coffee. ( no proof on that) It’s only a matter of time, these cars begin to appear, at huge prices. I wonder if the reality sunk in when they got home.( wife split) Oh, it’s a nice Chevy, alright, but again, not a museum piece, and certainly not worth that, to me. I’m not sure that was enough repair for a car sitting 50 years.( engine, trans, electrics sitting that long?) Now all ’63 Chevy’s are going to be $90,000 dollars. And away the hobby goes,,,

  17. SquareLeft

    First… sorry for the fuzzy photo – it’s the only decent color one I have left of the car.
    When I first saw the red & white car in the Lambrecht auction photos, my mind flashed back to 1963. I was 13 and my dad had been looking at new Chevrolets for almost a year. I can remember going with him earlier to look at a black ’62 Impala coupe which we’d both liked when we were driving by the dealership and saw it one evening. In daylight, however, we found that it had a yellow/gold interior! It really didn’t look all that bad, but my dad was a bit too conservative when it came to colors to buy that one. The model year was drawing to a close and my dad decided to wait and have a look at the ‘63s.
    I was already ‘hanging out’ at the Chevy dealership by the time the ’63s came out. My cousin’s husband worked there as a bodyman and I’d drop by after school to talk to him. I knew that my dad wanted a 6-cylinder Impala coupe with a standard transmission and one day I saw a transport driver unloading a really pretty light blue Impala with a white top and blue cloth interior. I jumped on my bike and rode home to tell my dad. He and I went to the dealership together a couple of days later. He ended up talking to the general manager and asked for a test drive. We both really liked car, but it would barely run during the test drive. My dad raised the hood and was shocked to see the air cleaner moving around in a very unusual manner – turned out that the nuts on the studs that held the carburetor to the intake manifold weren’t threaded down even close to the base plate! We drove it back to the dealership and the general manager, who had riding with us, grabbed a mechanic and had him tighten the nuts. Restarting the car, the engine purred contentedly!
    My dad made the deal for the car and it served him well for nine years, after which I acquired the car from him and drove it daily for another four years. At that time, I decided that I wanted something more sporty and sold the Impala to a friend. Now, I definitely look back at it as one of the ‘ones that got away’.

    • Mickey Dorsey

      What a wonderful story. Cherish the memories.

      1
  18. Lagunaman

    It’s only new once . I agree drive it and enjoy it .Thats like seat covers and floor mats keeps everything great for the next person to enjoy .Even if you drove a few hundred miles a year it would still be low mileage .

  19. Rick Mahan

    In the fall of 1970, I was a senior in high school. On a used car lot was a white with red interior 1963 Chevrolet. The car was a 327 300 hp, 3-speed on the column. On a Saturday my Dad and I worked cattle, during the day I mentioned to him about the ’63, not believing it would go any further. We loaded some cattle took them to the auction barn and sold them. After the sale, surprising to me, my Dad said do you want to go look at that ’63. Of course you know my answer. We bought the car I believe for around $900.00. I was on cloud nine to say the least. I drove that car, drag raced that car, and Dad and I worked on it several times. No that Dad is in heaven, every time I see a ’63, it brings back good memories of the time he and I spent together. No one can go back in time, but I would love to have a ’63 now. Thanks for the post and sorry to bore you with my 1963 Chevy story.

    1
    • Dennis Brooks

      Thanks much for sharing, your awesome memory…you were very blessed, with a great Dad, who was also a great friend and example.
      As for the 63 Chevy, maybe one will come your way, that you can enjoy…their not all $97,000…
      Thanks again, Dennis
      Class of 1965

    • Bill Owens BillO Staff

      Great story, and a great dad!

    • Radarone

      Story was great, nothing to sorry about.

  20. Comet

    They are only original once, WOW!!!

  21. Maestro1 Member

    I would not drive it. I would drive the 6 cylinder 56 on the right hand side of the photograph or the Corvair, upper left.

  22. Robert White

    I’d drive it back & forth across CANADA until it had 100k on the odometer, and then I would put a four speed & a 409 with a six pack in it and drive across CANADA again to see what the gas millage was after pinning it to the floor like I had gum stuck to my shoe for most of the way, and then I would restore it as a clone SS with buckets n’ day-glow ‘House of Kolors’ black cherry or cobalt blue.

    Trailer queens are for non-car guys, and the car needs whiskey dings IMHO.

    P.S. Notice that the headliner is dirty?

    $100k?

    Good luck.

    Bob

  23. Tort Member

    There is a 63 Impala 2 door HT 283 powerglide with 27 thousand documented miles that looks brand new in Michigan at this moment on Craigslist for $23,000 if anyone is looking for one for less $90 grand!

  24. BadnikL

    The cars at the auction were pretty fun to see. I remember the three Corvairs
    and how the doors shut like they were brand new. I remember the one I liked best was a 64 Light green Impala Station Wagon.

  25. W9BAG Member

    I would drive it, generously. You paid big bucks for it. Why just let it sit for others to admire, albeit being “new”. Drive it. That’s what cars are made to do. Take it on a trip across America, on a fun filled trip on route 66, right to the Santa Monica pier.. Make sure that all of the “perishable bits” are replaced with O.E.M. GM hoses, ect., and have a blast participating “Cars & Coffee” events all across America. Put a cooler full of sandwiches, fried chicken, potato salad, and soft drinks in the trunk, and have a great time !

  26. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    I like the quote ‘Our lives have changed’. ‘Now, to get somewhere in the car interrupts your life. Life used to be about the journey rather than the destination. Now you can’t get to the destination fast enough.”

    That’s a little the way I feel. I live near Raleigh, NC and hate the traffic. Fun to me is taking my 1978 Thunderbird on some back roads and just driving enjoying the scenery. I was in Raleigh today on I-440, the Beltline, driving the speed limit (in my truck, not my Thunderbird). People were whizzing by me like crazy.

    • Radarone

      Traffic really sucks when I know for sure that I’m the only one on that stretch of highway that Really knows how to DRIVE.

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