A Fairfield Township man's classic car recently earned a spot in the "Oscars of car shows" at the New York International Auto Show held earlier this month.
Michael Smith, who owns a fully restored 1965 Chevrolet 409 Impala, was sought out by Mark Reuss, the president of General Motors, North America, to have the car included in a special presentation unveiling the new 2014 Impala at the show.
Smith said Reuss was looking for months to find the right classic Impala to include in the unveiling. General Motors doesn't even own one of the classic 409s because of its rarity, Smith said.
Michael Smith of Fairfield Township behind the wheel of his fully restored 1965 Chevrolet 409 Impala, which was sought out recently by the president of General Motors, North America, for its unveiling of the 2014 Impala in New York City.
"It caught me out of the blue when they called me up," Smith said about being contacted to give permission to have his Impala shipped to New York City for the show.
According to Smith, the General Motors president was put in touch with him from connections he made at a 2010 car show in Vermont sponsored by Hemmings Motor News. Smith's Impala won the "Favorite Chevrolet" award at that show.
The editor of that publication, Mike McNessor, forwarded information about Smith's classic car to Reuss.
Smith and his family received VIP passes for the New York International Auto Show and got to see his Impala in the spotlight before hundreds of auto industry reporters and enthusiasts.
"It was very impressive," Smith said. "There were cars from all over and every brand you can think of - Camaros to Rolls-Royces."
The 1965 409 Impala is rare because only about 2,800 out of 1 million Impalas from that year were built with the 409-cubic-inch engine, Smith said. Chevrolet discontinued the 409 early in 1965, he said.
"The styling of that car is very unique," Smith said of the 1965 409 - a car made famous in part from the famous Beach Boys song.
It might be seen as somewhat of a muscle car today, but the car was marketed differently.
"They pushed it as a big family car," Smith said.
Countless hours went into restoring his Impala. It took about two years to find parts and do the body work on the car, Smith said. He credited Ed Stroble, of Nesbit, with performing the restoration, while Smith tracked down parts from all over the country.
The Impala had a local connection before Smith purchased it at an auction. It originally was sold from a car dealership in Lock Haven.
Smith's car has won first place in its class the past two years at the Carlisle car show and won a national award from the Antique Automobile Club of America based in Hershey.
He estimates the value of his Impala is between $120,000 and $150,000.
Smith, an avid classic car collector, said he likes to add cars from all decades to his lineup. He has 12 classic cars - from a 1930s Model T Ford to a 1970 Chevrolet Corvette.