By Jim Krumel [email protected]
CRIDERSVILLE – Cal Klickman describes himself as a “true, die-hard original type of person.”
So it is no surprise the 74-year-old man had one requirement when it came to restoring his 1959 Chevrolet Impala Sports Coupe: Everything had to be original.
The car deserved it, he’ll tell you. It was a gift he received from his mother’s cousin.
“She and her husband never had any children, so I was like their adopted kid,” Klickman explained. “Her husband was more into Lincolns and Cadillacs, while she had the Impala. When he passed away, she told me, ‘I know how much you love cars, so I’m just going to give you the Impala.’ In 1974, I drove it home from Dayton.”
The Impala would sit in storage for 40 years before the restoration began. That lasted another seven to eight years.
“We got the car, but when you’re first married, you don’t always have money to repair it and fix it up. So until he retired, it wasn’t the project. It was just being moved from barn to barn,” said Vicki Klickman, Cal’s wife of 53 years.
Today the car doesn’t disappoint.
“I did a frame-off restoration,” Klickman said. “Everything is original, right down to the stainless steel moldings. The engine is a 348 cubic inch, three-barrel carburetors, which came from the factory that way. It’s got the original transmission. I had those all rebuilt. The interior, the seats, door panels and headliner are all original.”
Many hands were involved in the restoration.
“Six of us one day took the body off the frame. I worked at MetoKote, and our son Ryan and I put the frame and the rear end on a trailer and took it to a MetoKote factory in Grand Blanc, Michigan, where it received corrosion protection.”
The car’s bodywork and the painting was done by Phil High.
“He took it from looking bad to looking like it was brand new,” Klickman said.
What sticks out in your mind when you see the 1959 Impala is its length — 17 1/2 feet — and the rear taillights that resemble cat-like eyes.
“Vicki has to help me navigate it into the garage. It’s a tight fit,” Klickman noted.
Last year was the first time in which they really had the car out, taking it to four shows. He’s very protective of where he drives it.
“Of all the car shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen a ‘59 Impala. I’ve seen ones older and newer, but never a ‘59,” Klickman said.
The Klickmans also own a 1963 Corvette. That’s their “running around car.”
“We love putting the top down and cruising the country roads,” he said. “We drove it a couple of weeks ago to St. Marys and never were on the highway. We took all back roads.”