They call her “Dinky,” but the beautiful Aquamarine 1962 Impala station wagon is anything but small.
The well-preserved wagon is the latest addition to Doreen and Kevin Kaiser’s automotive collection and it represents a change of pace from the high horsepower hot rods that have populated their garage.
“I just like my son’s car and I thought it would be cool to have something I can drive, something practical,” said Kevin. Son Shawn has owned a red ’62 Impala wagon equipped with a late model LS-series power train for several years.
Kevin had looked at several cars online, including Chevy II wagons, but kept coming back to the ’62 Chevy wagon as his preferred choice. He finally found what he was looking for in Maryland.
“I did something I’d never done before. I bought a car sight unseen,” he said. The owner told him the car was in great original condition, with just one repaint and no rust issues.
It would be a long haul to go and drive it back to Kansas, so Kaiser arranged to have the wagon transported to Kansas. Unfortunately, the transporter didn’t show up as scheduled. It had broken down and was awaiting parts. Then it was delayed again because the wrong parts had been sent.
“I finally asked them, ‘Where are you guys?’ and they said, ‘Topeka.’ So I said I’ll just drive up and get it,” Kevin said. And he was not disappointed when he saw it.
“The guy had represented it pretty well. It shows just over 80,000 miles and I think that’s correct,” Kaiser said.
“I think it’s been garaged most of its life. I wish these old cars could talk and tell you their stories, where they have been,” he said.
“Then, when I brought it home, she said, ‘Oh, I like that. That’s my car.’ ”
And that’s where the car got its name, “Dinky.” Doreen was given the nickname by an older brother shortly after she was born and was much smaller than her twin sister. The vanity plate on the rear of the wagon reads “DINKY.”
The wagon has been lowered and sports genuine 15-inch Halibrand mag wheels and front disc brakes. It also features power steering, a rebuilt master cylinder and factory air conditioning. The interior is in immaculate condition.
“It’s all original, except for the carpet,” explained Kevin, who had Ross Harrison at Downey Auto Upholstery create a custom center console that mounts a pair of cupholders and a high-end stereo that feeds a speaker box in the cargo area behind the rear seat. Both of those pieces were wrapped in vinyl to match the original upholstery.
“That car’s got more room in back for storage than my Suburban does,” Kaiser said, opening the hidden cargo bay beneath the rear floor. That was made possible by the factory placing the gas tank inside one rear fender panel, the spare tire in the other.
Under the hood resides a venerable 283 V-8 engine topped by a 2-barrel carb, factory original, as is the 2-speed Powerglide transmission.
“Of course, I had to put new exhaust on it,” said Kaiser, well known to car collectors as the owner and operator of Kevin’s American Muffler shop. Fresh pipes and a set of Flowmasters were bolted up to the stock cast iron exhaust manifolds.
“It’s kind of funny: four-door cars aren’t very popular, but a four-door wagon is about as popular as a two-door now,” he noted. He took the car on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour and discovered it drives great.
But he still would like to upgrade it to a more powerful LS-series V-8 with fuel injection and automatic overdrive.
“I keep talking about doing the engine swap on it, but she says no,” he mused.
“I told him when I’m dead, he can do what he wants to it, but it’s staying just the way it is for now,” Doreen replied.
Mike Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org