By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Cecil Sauls treasures a pair of 1964 beauties – his 1964 Chevrolet Impala, and his daughter Regina.
Fifty years ago, on Jan. 6, 1964, he brought his beautiful daughter home from the hospital in the ’64 Impala. When Regina came to visit recently, they had the chance to take another ride in that Impala.
Despite the passage of half a century, and losing the car for a time to thieves, Sauls still owns that car, restored to its original condition.
Here’s the story of Sauls’ car, as told by Regina and her mother Pauline.
“In October of 1963, Cecil Sauls of Hokes Bluff went to Pierson Chevrolet to a new car show. Car dealerships had show dates back then to show their new cars. While at Pierson’s, he told his previous wife, Pauline, that he was going to buy him a new blue Chevy.
“Well, on the show room floor, sat this two-tone green Impala that he fell in love with. He decided at the time that he didn’t want a blue car,” they explained.
“The sticker price was $3,371.65. He paid $2,960 for a brand new car off the showroom floor. The late Charles Hill of Hokes Bluff was the salesman.
“Cecil was working at Goodyear, third shift, building tires – when the men built tires.”
“His daughter, Regina Diane Sauls, was born Jan. 2, 1964. He brought her home from Baptist Memorial Hospital on Jan. 6, 1964 in the new ’64 Chevrolet.
“In the years following, he would wash and clean the ’64 every weekend with Regina adding to the rearview mirror her “Tiger in the Tank” paws.
“Cecil drove the car to work everyday, parking it in the Goodyear parking lot.
“Then in June 1968, when he came out of work the car was gone – stolen. The insurance company wanted to settle the claim, but Cecil would not. He held out, hoping that his car would be found.
“A few months later, the FBI called his home and told his wife they needed to speak to Cecil “ASAP.” She called Goodyear and Cecil called the FBI. They thought they had found his missing car. He needed to come to Dallas, Ga., to identify the car.
“When the FBI finally let him see the car he said that it was his car and he could go one step more to prove it by telling them where the spare key was – unless whoever had stolen it had found the spare key.
“Well, the FBI looked and the key was still there, so it was a sure thing that it was his car. It was not damaged except for small details and Regina’s tiger paws being gone.
“Through the years, the car has become known as the ’64. Regina learned to drive it at 15 years old. Cecil was going to give Regina the car for her 16th birthday.
“Today, Regina laughs when she remembers telling him, ‘No thanks, Daddy, the steering wheel is too big.’
“Cecil has taken the ’64 to many local car shows around the Gadsden area. He has countless awards. The ’64 is still all original.
“Now, after all these years of Cecil driving Regina around in the ’64, on her 50th birthday, she took her Daddy for a drive.
“Regina still thinks of her “Tiger in the Tank” paws and hopes one day on her antique shopping trips she will find a pair of Tiger paws to put back on the rearview mirror.”
Around 1997 or 1998, Sauls said he had the car restored.
It’s all original, he said, from the clock and windshield to the trunk light. The only thing different, Sauls said, is the radio. The ’64 just had an AM radio, so Sauls ordered an AM-FM with a cassette tape player, made to fit the car’s dash.
“It just slides right in there,” he recalled.
The antique car has been a special part of Sauls’ life. He enjoys showing it off at First Friday and other car shows.
However, the most special ’64 model in Sauls’ life his daughter Regina, who lives in Shelbyville, Tenn., where she drives a school bus for special needs children.
“I think my car looks good and still does good after 50 years,” Sauls said. “But my baby’s more beautiful and has done even better.”