Eau Claire (WQOW) -- A local car lover's quest to track down his parents' vintage ride has a happy ending.
Rick Payton loves cars. Payton told News 18 he collects and restores a lot of Cadillacs and considers those his favorite kind of classic car. But it's a 1958 Chevy Impala, on display at the Classic Garage in Eau Claire, that holds a very special place in Payton's heart.
"This car basically represents my existence," Payton said. "I mean look at it, it just grabs your attention. Even back then it did."
The story begins in 1965, back in Bedford, Indiana, where Linda, Rick's mother, was approached by Ed, Rick's father, because he wanted a closer look at her classic car.
"They started chatting, my dad liked the car. They started talking, they started doing the cruise around town. Then they did that again on Sunday and on Monday and on Wednesday my father proposed to my mother. The next Saturday, May 8, 1965, they were married," Payton said. "You really can get married in seven days and stay married for 45 years."
Payton never got to ride in that Impala because his parents sold it before he was born. Though he heard endless stories about the car from people who did have the chance to cruise around in it.
"It was always the Impala, the Impala, the Impala. They always talked about it," Payton told News 18.
When his mother passed away in March of 2017, Payton decided it was finally time to reconnect with some family history.
"There's a lot of good memories, I mean she always spoke fondly of the car and had it for a long time."
After months of searching, and every settling for an imperfect Impala, Payton got "the call" in December. A friend had found an original '58 Impala, just like his mother's, down to the signature sienna gold paint.
"The anticipation was like a kid on Christmas morning," Payton said.
"My brother and sister are thrilled. We plan to drive it to Bedford, Indiana this summer and we're going to do the loop mom and dad did in the car. So it's going to be fun," he said.
It's not his mother's exact car, but it's close enough to help him feel close to her.
"It just, it brings a lot of comfort knowing. It's like in a small way I still have her by having this car," Payton said. "My mother is buried with my father, but I have a little bit of her ashes in a little bity urn and I'm going to keep her in the car. And we're going to go cruising."
Payton hasn't had a chance to take the car out on the open road just yet.He said he's waiting for the weather to get a little nicer first.