A retired police officer, Larry Stewart loved to go fast. On the job he’d pilot police Mustangs, motorcycles and even helicopters. But it was his 1994 Impala that he was most proud of. That particular model was only produced for three years, and in 1994 – black was the only color it was offered in. A chance meeting at a car show about six or seven years ago would later result in that beloved 1994 with the LT1 Corvette motor being donated to the National Corvette Museum.
Danny Stivers and his wife Liz brought their 1936 Ford pickup truck to a car show, and that’s where they first met Larry. With both men having served as police officers, and Danny having previously owned an Impala he bought new in 1995, they instantly hit it off and discovered many things they had in common. After exchanging phone numbers, the new friends stayed in touch, attending car shows together and chatting on the phone regularly.
“We had a running joke over the years that Larry wanted to trade his Impala for my truck,” said Danny. A divorcee, Larry lived alone, and loved to keep his house just like his car – clean, neat and tidy. “Larry would call me up, and then ask to speak to Liz. He’d ask her advice on getting a stain out, and they’d exchange recipes because Larry liked to cook,” Danny laughs.
While Larry had a façade that made him appear in good health, that was not the case. “To look at him when he was alive, you’d think he was in good health. But he’d had congestive heart failure, open heart surgery, he was diabetic. He’d be in and out of the hospital a lot. The last time he got sick he decided he just didn’t want to battle it any longer,” said Danny. Larry passed away on January 2, 2016.
Shortly thereafter, Danny received a call from Larry’s ex-wife Janet. They had read his will, and he had left everything to Janet with the exception of his beloved Impala. That car was left to Danny and Liz. “We had no idea he was leaving us the car, but I think he knew that it would be well taken care of.”
Danny took it to a few car shows, including Carl Casper’s Custom Auto Show where it took 2nd place. “We had no plans to ever sell the car, but we wanted to donate it to someone who would take good care of it, and when people see it, they remember Larry.” Danny first spoke to Janet to see what she thought of donating the car. “Janet said that she thought Larry would be just tickled about it.” Danny called the National Corvette Museum to see if they’d be interested. “I spoke with Derek Moore, the Curator, and he said the committee would be meeting the next day and he would present the offer to them. He called me the next day and said they’d take it.
“Our job at the National Corvette Museum is to tell the Corvette story, and there are many side stories throughout the cars’ history about marques that have a tie to Corvette,” said Derek. “This Impala was one of many GM brands that had a Corvette motor in it. We’d like to eventually have an exhibit on the impact Corvette engineering had on the rest of GM products. With Corvette being engineered as the best of the best, GM would apply that technology to other vehicles. We feel a display on this subject will help tell the story of why Corvette is so important,” added Derek.
For Danny, the donation is more about ensuring the care of the car and remembering his friend Larry. “This donation is more about him. My hope is that people will read his name or see his face on the information about the car and that his memory will live on through it.”