Ed Pickering of Ed’s Upholstery in Ashland has “cherried out” his 51-year-old Chevy Impala and, as promised, presented it to his son Dwight, who was born in the back seat of it in 1985, while rushing to the hospital.
It’s a big family moment and brings a much-told family legend full-circle — with the now-sleek and beautiful 1966 car fully restored, maybe better than when it rolled out of the showroom of Selby Chevrolet in downtown Ashland.
Ed handed the keys earlier this month to his son, visiting with wife and new baby from Colorado, where he teaches engineering and robotics in middle school.
“This car has always been around our home, where I grew up (on Tyler Creek Road). Dad promised to restore it and present it to me when I was 30. I had my doubts it could be restored. It was dirty and beat up, but here it is. It’s an amazing job.”
Ed spared no detail or expense over the last three years, having the V-8 engine totally rebuilt, along with the transmission. The car was broken down to the smallest pieces and each part of the body was individually painted — Irma White and Artisan Turquoise — by a master painter in Los Angeles, then reassembled. Of course, Ed did the upholstery, perfectly matching the original, but in cloth instead of the original vinyl.
It was appraised by a rare car dealer in Los Angeles at $45,000.
Ed will drive the car locally to break it in (it has only 7 miles on it), then will drive it with his wife to Colorado next spring.
“It’ll make it, all right. I know that. I wouldn’t drive it in the snow. Too much of a chance of damage, so we’ll do it next spring.”
The car became a rolling birthing room Aug. 29, 1985, as it tried to make the 14-mile jaunt to the hospital. The powerful car easily did 80 on the freeway, where state cops saw the mother’s legs up in the air and left them alone, says Ed. The moment came on North Main and Grant streets. The midwife soon arrived and said all was fine, so they drove back home with the new baby, Dwight.
Ed, who has been in business here 39 years, shows pics of the Impala on his computer, as it looked when restoration started. The seats were greasy, paint was faded off fenders and a big rat’s nest sat on the engine.
It was a work of love and a beautiful machine — and its story will surely be passed through coming generations.
— John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at email@example.com.