Photography by John Stapleton
by John Stapleton
You can say it is just in Clint Hindelang’s blood. He says his dad Rudy was a “greaser,” a weekend street racer in Southern California who used to drive a ’59 Impala.
His mother Charmaine also was into cars. She was the one who bought the rare ’61 Impala SS for her father, who only drove the car for about six months before passing. It then sat in the garage for years, collecting dust and scratch marks.
Hindelang, a Casa Grande resident, is 50 now but says he can remember back to when he was 5 and climbing around the Impala. He says there’s still three “little scratches” in the back window from him sliding down.
In 1998, Charmaine decided she wanted to restore the ’61 Impala. She wanted a “better ride” than her husband’s truck. She asked her son to help because he was already into rebuilding cars and trucks, making them car show-ready.
When Hindelang asked what color, she immediately knew, Sunset Pearl Orange.
“I said, OK mom, what else?”
Hindelang says she responded:
“A super loud stereo system and four bucket seats, with a big console —
and chrome everything you can.”
Hindelang had a shop in Mesa where he was able to make the modifications. Vehicle product maker Meguiar’s saw the Impala. They requested to feature it at their booth for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) convention in Las Vegas. From there it made the cover of Super Chevy Magazine.
In 2005, Charmaine passed away. In her memory, Hindelang continued taking the Impala to car shows, racking up trophies. Even though the Impala is “resting” in his garage, Hindelang says he still plans to chrome everything underneath, but cherishes the memories and smile it brought his mother.
“She saw it done,” he says. “And she loved cruising in it.”
The ’61 Impala SS 409 is one of only 142 produced by Chevy. The value of the car may be in the hundred thousands, but for Hindelang, the memories of his mother makes the car priceless — and not for sale.