• Cars We Remember: Special gold paint 1963 Chevrolet Impala

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  • Q: Greg, back in 1963 when I was 14, my mother drove off one Saturday afternoon in the family 1960 Ford Country Sedan station wagon. She returned a few hours later with a brand new 1963 Chevrolet Impala 2-door hardtop (no B-middle pillar).
    Apparently she had seen this beauty in the dealer’s showroom window and decided she had had enough of the station wagon. The dealer was Earl Hays Chevrolet in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, Texas. The unusual thing about this car was the color. It was called “anniversary gold” and the dealer told my mother that the color was in honor of General Motors’ 50th anniversary — 1913 to 1963.
    This special color was not the harvest or autumn gold that was very common on 1962, ’63 and ’64 Chevys, but a very bright jewelry colored gold. To my recollection I have never seen another Chevy or GM car of that era painted that color. Other than that, the car was pretty ordinary with its 283 two-barrel carburetor, powerglide automatic transmission and dealer installed air conditioning.
    It had the “doughnut” wheel covers and whitewalls, along with power steering, power brakes and an AM radio. Since it was not an SS, it had a front bench seat in a black Naugahyde (vinyl) seats and black and white checked cloth material. Even though it was a bit of a stripper, it was a beautiful car. Do you have any information as to whether that color was a limited edition and if so how many cars and what kinds were painted that color?
    — Jim Clanton, Spokane Valley, Washington
    A: Thanks for your email Jim and to start off this answer, the actual anniversary year for Chevy was 1962, although it should have been in 1961 according to my and other information I have dug up.
    This takes nothing away from your mom’s 1963 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop, which no doubt looked awesome in the very special Anniversary Gold (code 927) paint. This code is not shown on the 1963 Chevrolet paint chip offerings but does appear on the 1962 chips, called officially Anniversary Gold Poly.
    There is much rumor and folklore as to this special paint, but I can tell you from experience that this gold color was used on many other vehicles along the way by GM.
    So, to best answer your question, I leaned on my friends over at Hemmings Motor News for the breakdown of how the paint happened. Thanks to this excellent information written by Daniel Strohl that appeared in the April 2008 issue of Hemmings Classic Car, your question is best answered.
    According to Strohl and to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, “Chevrolet mixed up a batch of Anniversary Gold paint (code 927). However this would be neither the first nor the last time Chevrolet or GM would use gold to denote some sort of anniversary or occasion: The 50-millionth GM vehicle produced, a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe, came down the line both painted and plated in gold (and inspired a limited run of code 689 gold-painted four-door sedans), while Chevrolet and Pontiac introduced special gold paints (Anniversary Gold, paint code 918A for Chevrolet; Jubilee Gold, paint code ZZZ for Pontiac) in 1958 to mark the 50th anniversary of GM. In 1963, Chevrolet spruced up a 409-powered Impala Super Sport in 927 Anniversary Gold as the division’s 50-millionth car. Chevrolet even built a number of two-tone Anniversary Gold/Ivory White (paint codes 551 and 526) pickups, Suburbans, panel trucks and vans in 1968 to commemorate 50 years of truck production.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Thank you Daniel and Hemmings for the explanation. Personally, I remember that special gold paint very well. My brother and I purchased a “goldish” tan 1963 Impala two door sport coupe with the 283-V8 in 1965. It was more a harvest gold, although the official paint code was 938 and called Adobe Beige. As noted, that 927 Anniversary Gold Poly does not appear on the official Chevrolet 1963 paint chips, but does on the 1962 Chevy paint chips.
    As for how many 1963 Anniversary Gold Impalas were built, thanks to John Mahoney of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, he estimates perhaps 300 to 350 were built, but there are no official records from Chevrolet.
    Also notable is the fact that Louis Chevrolet incorporated the Chevrolet in 1911, not 1913 as your dealer indicated at the time. This means that according to incorporation, the 50th Anniversary could have been 1961, but Mr. Chevrolet did not introduce his first model until 1912, so 1962 is the actual correct Chevy 50th Anniversary year. There is a lot of misinformation on a subject like this, but GM officially picked 1962, so that’s what we’ll go by.
    Other interesting gold paints I remember along the way was the gold 1954 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 “Corvette-like” two-seater concept car that is still one of the most desired collector vehicles of all-time. More recent is the special gold paint that is available on the new 2018 Volkswagen Arteon. If you like gold, you’ll like VW’s color for sure.
    Thanks Jim Clanton, John Mahoney and Hemmings Classic Car writer Daniel Strohl, the latter for his insightful information on the GM Anniversary Gold paint subject.
    — Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications.
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