Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cars Part 5: 1972 Chevrolet Impala Coupe

File photo, but mine looked a lot like this one.

1972 Chevrolet Impala Coupe—Mr. Korns was a friend of my dad’s.

Mr. Korns had a small used car lot on the south side of town.

Dad suggested I go see Mr. Korns for a new set of wheels.

There, I found a blue ’72 Impala coupe. It look pretty good…not much rust, ran well, and wasn’t beat up.

That would come later.

Another file photo

It was previously owned by an old man who used it to pull an AirStream trailer, so the car was equipped with groovy outta-sight real-world hand-fabricated custom modifications…like a heavy duty Reese hitch, an after-market trailer brake, and an external transmission cooler…none of which I would really need, because I would use the car to pull chicks.

It had a small block 350 V-8 and a TurboHydroMatic transmission.

I would later equip it with an ear splitting stereo and a dual exhaust system with glass packs.


I test drove it and decided to make the purchase.

Mr. Korns and I worked out an agreeable, gentlemanly deal. I could saunter into his office at my convenience and make intermittent cash payments at my leisure on the vehicle.

Hell, he even gave me the title to the car that day!

Apparently, Mr. Korns was not blessed with a lot of intelligence, or perhaps he owed my dad a lot of money or a few favors.


Anyhoo…I had me a new set of wheels, and life was beautiful.

My buddies Eddie and The Shimster in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

At this point in my story, it might be helpful to update you on a few things.

-I was still serving in the Marine Corps Reserve.

-I was living at my uncle’s palatial estate (he had gotten married, and moved out). I was paying rent and utilities, mowing the substantial acreage with an antique International FarmAll tractor, and being somewhat responsible.

-I was working at an automotive refinishing supplies warehouse. I’ll call it Moogans Auto Paint for the purposes of this story.

-I was beginning to seriously date the woman who would eventually become my wife.

-I was still drinking too much. I just wasn’t driving afterwards. I was a wise drunkard.

The Impala needed a nickname. All cars with character need nicknames. This car had two nicknames…The Impaler, and The Blue Bruise.

It also needed a new paint job, and I worked at just the place for a motivated do-it-your-selfer to get all his refinishing supplies at cost!

Under Dad’s tutelage, it took me all spring and summer to do the preparation work…and I actually did all the work!

Dad never laid a hand on the car.

Filling, sanding, a little spot putty here and there, more sanding…I meticulously went over every square inch of sheet metal that was to be painted, until the surface was as smooth as glass and ready for paint.

For the color, I decided to use Polymax Gulf Blue Metallic paint. I supplied the primer, paint, and the reducer, and the local body shop supplied the skilled painter. (I had never shot paint on a vehicle, and I wasn’t about to try painting my car and risk fucking up all my nice prep work.)

The Impaler looked amazing the day I picked it up from the body shop.


The experts say that the prep work prior to paint is the most important thing when refinishing a car, and I was very proud of my handiwork.

The car was beautiful, and I played a huge role in making it so. I created rather than destroyed something for a change.



Dad once commented, “The military is an honorable profession. You’ve really taken to it and applied yourself. Too bad you didn’t do the same while in school.”

Dad had a way of building a guy up! Even though I valued Dad’s opinions, like a dumbass, I oftentimes ignored his sage wisdom as well.


Pops allowed me to fail sometimes. A lot of times…

My Marine Corps career was going pretty well. I had achieved the rank of Corporal. I was a non-commissioned officer now…a leader of men, and I had gained the reputation of the higher-ups as a real motivated go-getter.

When something needed to be done, Cpl. Zoomie was the guy to call.

Cpl. Zoomie was also the guy to call when there was extra beer lying around, or when a group of Marines, in town for drill weekend, needed to find some local frivolity to get into.

Drinking beer with fellow Marines was one of my most favorite activities.

One drill weekend, I loaded up The Impaler with Marines, and we shuffled off to the small town of Tipton for their annual Tipton County Pork Festival.

Among those in attendance were Smitty, Pete, and Baldo…all seasoned drunks.

Having had all I wanted from the DUI scene, I was abstaining from over-drinking this night. I would observe, protect, defend, and laugh at all the other fools instead.

The Pork Festival was a kind of small-town street party. I guess its purpose was to celebrate the local pork industry and hog farmers.


They closed off all the streets and offered much BBQ and beer for sale.

My merry band of brothers went into this one pub and got rather rowdy.

Baldo, who was a Tipton-area native, tore a stuffed and mounted piranha from the wall and took a big bite out of it.

Poor fishie!

Then, Pete, also a local boy done good, went out on the dance floor, tore his T-shirt off, and did a horrendous version of some kinda dance nobody recognized.

I think we were asked to leave shortly there after…

Later, while cruising down a country road, Baldo decided it would be a good time to vomit.

He must have eaten some bad pork or something.


Baldo was in the back seat, and he couldn’t get out of the car quite fast enough, and he blew chunks all over Smitty and the floor of my car.

Smitty was pissed, and I was pissed that my car’s interior was now decorated with the putrid contents of Baldo’s stomach.

I made Baldo clean the mess up right there at the roadside.

Smitty needed some new pimpin’ duds, as his were covered with hurl, so we went over to Baldo’s house to get some replacements.

Now...Baldo was no where near the same size as Smitty. Baldo was a short and skinny country boy, while Smitty was tall and wirey, so Baldo’s clothes were in no way gonna fit Smitty. But, that was all that was to be had. Improvise, adapt, overcome, and conquer… That’s what Marines do!

You shoulda seen Smitty trying to wedge his ass into those little pair of jeans. The pants were so tight, Smitty could barely breathe…or walk.

I damned near shit myself from laughing!

Later, we would park The Impaler and take a ride in someone’s new pickup truck.

A bunch of us were riding in the open bed, cruising up and down the streets of Tipton…hooting and hollering and being a general nuisance.

Unbeknownst to me, one of the Marines, I don’t remember who, had brought along his K-Bar fighting knife…just the thing to be carrying on such an occasion.

In a display of youthful exuberance and high-spiritedness, and much to the chagrin of the truck’s owner, the K-Bar was plunged through the cab roof.

Oh well. It's a Nissan. Who cares?

Better his vehicle than mine, and I bet that didn’t buff out either!

I don’t remember much more about our little adventure in Tipton.

It must have been dreadfully dull otherwise…


Back at my uncle’s palatial estate, things were going great as well.

I could have impromptu kegger parties at the drop of a hat.

I could crank the stereo all I wanted and not worry about getting the law called on me.

It was a 5-minute drive to work, or a 15-minute bicycle ride, which I did when the weather was nice.

A co-worker buddy from Moogans Auto Paint, Mike, loaned me his drum set, which I put in the large living room.

I was livin’ large and livin’ single, but part of the deal with my uncle was that I would take care of the grounds.

As I previously mentioned, I would have to use Unk’s antique FarmAll tractor to cut the grass.

Its mower deck was suspended directly underneath it, instead of being towed behind it bush hog-style, making it a more compact lawn cutting vehicle.

Demon tractor from hell

Unk gave me a quick class on the FarmAll’s operation and quirks, and I was off to the races.

It was an all day affair to properly tend to the grounds, but I didn’t mind. Driving the tractor was cool, and cutting grass is good for the soul.

One day, I was just finishing up, and I noticed a small patch of tall grass I had missed…easy enough to do as the tractor’s turning radius was about the same as a battleship. The patch was right next to the driveway where my freshly painted Impaler was parked.

I figured I could pull up and cut that patch, and not have to get out the push mower or the weed whacker.

So…I ease up close to The Impaler, releasing the clutch ever so gently and giving the engine a little throttle.

My clutch foot, damp with dew, slips off the clutch pedal, and the FarmAll wildly careens into the right rear quarter panel of The Impaler!


Now, it truly was The Blue Bruise.

Another car, torn-the-fuck-up, and, once again, I was stone cold sober!

I was thoroughly disgusted.

I shut the tractor off and just sat there on it, dejectedly, with my head down…the tractor still resting against the car.

I think I may have even cried a little.

I could not fucking believe what I just did.


It’s a good thing my neighbors were some distance away, but I bet they heard my exclamations anyway.

Did I get that patch of tall grass?

You bet your ass I did!

I shoulda used the weed whacker.

No shit.


It was at about this time in my life that it hit me like a ton of bricks that I wanted to marry the woman I had been exclusively dating for a year or more.

Surprisingly, she agreed to my little scheme, and we set about to creating our little home together at my uncle’s luxurious estate.

Now…I once heard a radio interview with Hoosier rock ‘n’ roll legend Johnny Cooper Menstralkramp, where he said something to the effect of, “Women are great because they civilize us guys.”

What I think he meant was…women won’t give us what we want if we act like fools, so us guys will give up acting like animals in order that our women will give it up.

Or something.


Hoosier hill-rod, philosophizer, and rock 'n' roll legend Johnny Cooper Menstralkramp.

Anyhoo…once I was married, my self-abuse tailed of dramatically.

Thanks to my dearly beloved wife, I was becoming civilized.


However, with half a year’s worth of blissful married life under my belt, ominous clouds began looming.

One day while I was at work at Moogans, I received a phone call from my Marine Corps Reserve unit.

The balloon had gone up.

It was time to do what they paid us for.

I was going to war.

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