You don’t know what you been missin’, oh, boy.
A brilliantly restored 1958 Chevrolet Impala originally purchased by rock ‘n’ roll phenom Buddy Holly will be sold at no reserve during the 39th Annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector Car Auction in Arizona, on January 18-24. Holly purchased the coral-colored classic in 1957, and after years of neglect, the Chevy was fully restored in Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, in 1997. As part of the festivities, the woman who inspired the signature Holly hit “Peggy Sue” will be on stage for the sale and on site inside the showcase pavilion during the weekend to greet fans.
The Holly Chevy Back Story
Not long after graduating from a Lubbock high school in 1955, Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly and his band, The Crickets, became household names. Produced by legend Norman Petty, the group helped spearhead the rock ‘n’ roll movement that would forever change American music. Around the same time, Chevrolet’s new full-sized vehicle, the Impala, hit the streets. According to several accounts, the budding rock star took a liking to the Impala after his father and brother became enamored with the new design. When his record sales provided enough cash, Holly purchased his first car from Meadors-Stewart Co. in Clovis, New Mexico, at the age of 20.
“Buddy asked his producer and close friend, Norman Petty, to arrange the purchase,” said Bill Clement, current owner of the Buddy Holly Impala. “Norman was very popular throughout Clovis and contacted his friends at the Meadors-Stewart Chevy store to discuss options and then reviewed the details with Buddy. One bit of genius on Petty’s part was recommending the 50th anniversary coral color scheme being offered on GM vehicles in 1958.”
Made to Order
When the first coral Impala hit the dealership, Holly reportedly made the order, opting for the V8 engine, automatic transmission, fender skirts, twin antennas and mirrors, and for the car to be lowered 3 inches all around. Meadors-Stewart also recommended a set of gold 50th anniversary wheel spinners and whitewall tires to match the white roof and body stripe.
Additional modifications included painting the skirts to match the coral body color and coral interior dress up kit.
After enjoying the car on the streets of Clovis and a trip south of the border with friends in search of Mexican guitars, Holly gave the Impala to his father as a belated Christmas gift. The Impala became the Holly family car, and Holly’s sister even learned to drive in it. Less than a year later, Holly died in a plane crash that also took the lives of Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.
The Impala was later sold, abandoned and left for dead at a West Texas body shop. More than a decade later, Clement, a Lubbock native, Chevy collector and owner of the well-known Chevy Craft shop, purchased the Impala after researching the car and confirming it had indeed belonged to Holly.
“It’s important to note the authenticity of this Chevy Impala,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “Bill Clement, a collector and dealer of top-level Chevrolet collector cars, did his due diligence to make sure that this car was the real deal. In fact, copies of the original order form, title and deposit check issued by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty are included with the car. Now that’s documentation.”