It isn’t easy keeping a year-round convertible daily driver rust-free in Michigan, but Jan Fultz knows the secret. She was fresh out of school in 1961 and while riding with a friend on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn her attention was drawn to a 1958 Chevrolet Impala convertible parked on a used-car lot. Chevrolet first introduced the Impala in 1958 as a sub-series of the Bel Air model.
Fultz was in the market for her first car so she planned to stop at the car lot on the return trip. Unfortunately, the car was not on the lot when she returned. Luckily, she says, the Chevrolet had not been sold, but had only been moved inside the building for detailing.
Upon closer inspection, the used car proved to be as nice as she first thought it to be. The then three-year-old Impala had been driven 25,000 miles when she purchased it on Oct. 9, 1961.
The convertible was exactly what she wanted. The red/black/silver vinyl upholstery and red carpeting along with the Rio Red dashboard padding contrasted with the Snowcrest White exterior. There’s no power steering, power brakes or power windows. “That means there is less to go wrong,” Fultz observes.
The 250 horsepower developed by the 348-cubic-inch V-8 engine is transferred to the 14-inch rear wheels through the automatic Powerglide transmission.
Soon after acquiring the 1958 Impala the white convertible top was replaced. “I think it cost about $67,” Fultz says, “and that included a new rear window.” The replacement top is still on the car, usually hidden under a red boot.
For the next decade, Fultz drove her white convertible on a daily basis. Her secret to keeping the notorious rust monster at bay was maintaining a clean car 12 months of the year, not an easy task in Michigan. In the winter, she regularly would attach a garden hose to the hot water heater in the basement and thread the hose out the basement window to the driveway. There she could wash road salt and chemicals off her car. She has driven her Impala as far as Florida and Massachusetts and never once has it failed her.
When Fultz got her father’s Chevelle in 1971 she was able to semi-retire her convertible.