Glenn Ellis was one day past his first birthday on Nov. 19, 1966, when his Dad pulled into Bob Jones Chevrolet in Denham Springs and made an impulse buy: a brand-new Chevrolet Impala Sports Coupe.
Turns out, Ellis’ Dad pretty good impulses.
The nearly 52-year-old car is still in the Ellis family today, and it’s getting ready to hit the road in this year’s Hot Rod Magazine “Power Tour,” which begins in Bowling Green, Ky.
“I was practically raised in this car,” Ellis said. “We drove all over the place in it.”
Ellis recalls family vacations in the Impala. “My Dad made a bed in the back-seat area where I played and slept while we traveled,” Ellis said. The family pulled a small camper with the car and even drove it to the top of Pikes Peak in 1968. More recently, it’s been to “Cruisin the Coast” over in Mississippi.
“After serving as a family vehicle for many years, it became the car that I and my brothers drove to high school and college,” Ellis remembered. The car became known to friends and schoolmates as the “Bat Mobile,” he grinned.
“As the years passed, we drove it less and less,” Ellis said, “but it was still drivable. As it approached its 50th year, I tuned it up and made it road worthy again.”
Ellis, now 52 and a shop teacher at French Settlement High School, said he “wanted to get it ready for its 50th birthday.”
Glenn Ellis’ Dad, Leslie Ellis, is now 84 years old and doesn’t drive the family on vacations any more. But Glenn Ellis and his 18-year-old son, Keaton, will be driving the Impala to Bowling Green for the first leg of this year’s Hot Rod Magazine “Power Tour,” a 2,000-mile journey through seven cities in seven days, Glenn Ellis said.
On Nov. 19, 2016 – the car’s 50th birthday – Leslie Ellis officially passed the title of the Impala on to his son, “with the understanding that I would eventually pass it on to my son,” Glenn Ellis said.
“In 2017, my son and I and one brother drove it to “Cruisin the Coast” in Mississippi,” he said. “Next month, my son and I plan to drive the 2000-plus-mile Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. That’s his senior trip. We’re going on the Power Tour.”
The long, sleek, black-on-black Impala takes on the look of a two-door hard-top convertible because it doesn’t have B pillars. Glenn Ellis described the car as still in original condition, although not restored.
“The car is in original condition, unrestored, shows some signs of aging, but is still a beauty and still gets a second look,” he said. “It’s not showroom, but it’s a really good-looking old car.”
The Impala is powered by a 283-cubic-inch V8 that develops 220 horsepower, which is enough to move the car around with gusto. It has a 3-speed manual transmission on the steering column.
It also has “under dash air,” which back in the day was how an aftermarket air conditioning system was installed in cars. When you live in south Louisiana, air conditioning is more than a luxury, it’s a necessity.
“Daddy had it put in the day he got the car,” Glenn Ellis said.
The Ellis family lives in Walker, and you can see them tooling around in the long black Chevy Impala on nice days.
“It’s still fun to get out and drive it,” Glenn Ellis said.