Better than Hot August Nights
July 31, 2005
Randy Tippit loves his 1960 Chevy Impala – its hydraulics, its one dollar under-the-dash record player and its tilt-nose hood – so much that just the other day he told his wife and children he’s never going to get rid of it.
They’ll have to bury him in it first.
His car won the Warren Engine Company Volunteer Fire Department award at the Silver Dollar Car Classic at Mills Park on Sunday.
The volunteer fire department is from Carson City. More than 60 awards were presented early in the afternoon as the four-day event came to an end.
Tippit’s love of his car began long ago when his mother bought the used Impala for a price tag just over $100. It became one of his very first cars when he was in high school.
“My mom bought it in ’72,” the Antioch, Calif., man said. “It blew up a year later. She said ‘If you want it, you fix it.’
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“I’m still fixing it.”
In 1985, he decided the time had come to redo the Impala.
He painted the exterior Porsche red and Wimbledon white, re-did the upholstery in similar colors, put on a tilt-nose engine so everyone could see the silver chrome inside, and even purchased hand-knitted Angora dice with red dots to hang over the rear view mirror.
He later found the 12-album 45-rpm record player at a flea market and paid $1 for it.
“I thought what is that, a toaster oven?” he said recalling the unusual find.
The Impala had some 460,000 miles on it when he took it out of commission. Since putting it back on the road in 1990, five years later, he has added some 35,000 miles, but that’s on new parts.
The Impala recently appraised at $40,000. Tippit said even given an offer of $100,000, he’d likely turn it down. His spouse knows that statement’s true.
“He would never give it away,” his wife Mary said. “He keeps finding new things to do to it.”
Mary is the reason the family came to the Silver Dollar Car Classic. After seeing a notice in “Driver” magazine, she decided the family had to come. She said it beats out larger events, like Reno’s Hot August Nights, by a long shot.
“I wanted to come down this weekend,” Mary said. “It’s something different. They are very nice people here. We’re coming back next year.”
Their two children, John, 13, and Lauren, 9 – who rolled off the year, make and model of her dad’s car without hesitation – came along.
“It’s fun to ride in it,” Lauren said. “When you ride in it, people stop and stare at you.”
The Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau started the Annual Silver Dollar Car Classic in Mills Park 11 years ago to attract tourists to the city.
In addition to attracting out-of-town couples like the Tippits, the Car Classic even brings locals back.
Virginia “Bird” and Norm White from Minden arrived this year in their 1955 brown-and-white Pontiac Safari station wagon with a 1957 Teardrop Trailer attached in back.
Except for the brown carpeting the couple put in to replace rotting flooring, the Safari is all original. Of interest is the original bill of purchase they have that shows the first owner bought the car in 1955 for $3,672 from Andy Gotelli Pontiac in Carson City.
Virginia and Norm bought it for a comparable price and have traveled extensively in it, including making a recent trip to Minden, Neb. They consider the vehicle invaluable.
“I wouldn’t take $30,000 for it now,” Virginia said.
Their Safari, a hard-to-find vehicle at car shows, won the couple the award for retaining a vehicle’s original condition – “The Way They Were” award.
— Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.