Even the best-laid plans are subject to forces beyond human control. When the Lowe family planned to tackle another Power Tour in their 1964 Impala, mother, Alice; father, Raymond Jr.; and son, Keith, planned the trip months in advance. Sadly, in December 2016, Raymond Jr. suddenly passed away, leaving heartache and vacancy in the family and the driver seat.
"In January and February , I was just kind of out of it," Keith said. "It was hard for all of us and we weren't thinking about the tour, but Mom came to me and said, 'Lets do it—let's me and you do it.'" In Raymond Jr.'s memory, Alice and Keith began making plans and getting the car ready for the trip.
To understand the car's importance, it's necessary to dial back the clocks to 1964 when a newly married Alice and Raymond Jr. purchased their first Impala, a then-new 1964 four-door sedan in dark-blue paint. Shortly after bringing the car home, it was stolen from them, and though recovered, was never the same. Heartbroken, the couple sold the car.
Raymond Jr. longed for another Impala ever since, always honing in on clean examples of the breed at car shows he and Keith attended. "Dad would always reminisce about that old Impala, and Mom still had pictures of their original car on the refrigerator," Keith said.
An idea was hatched, and the couple's other son, Raymond III, located a pristine, four-door 1964 Impala, which Alice happily bought for her husband for the sum of $4,500. The car was rust-free and in driving shape with a two-barrel, 283ci engine and a Powerglide transmission. Keith took possession of the car, working on it for a year in a storage garage before the family ceremoniously presented it to Raymond Jr. on the date of his and Alice's 50th wedding anniversary.
The Lowes enjoyed the car in this condition for a bit before Keith and Raymond Jr. embarked on an engine and transmission swap to make it more fun to drive and more reliable for their first Power Tour attempt. An LT1 and 4L60 transmission, lifted from a 1996 Impala that was totaled in a hailstorm, found a new home under the hood. "I'd stay at my parent's house a couple nights a week, working on the car with Dad trying to get it ready," Keith said. The boys got it running and made it to last year's Power Tour kickoff at the Lamar Dixon Expo center in Gonzales, Louisiana, but problems with the original rear end turned them back in Austin, Texas.
Fast-forward to 2017: Keith was determined to make Power Tour and finish the route in memory of his dad. "I started thrashing on the car, and we put a plan together," Keith said. He was successful. The car not only made it to the kickoff of Power Tour, but 1,500-plus miles later, on June 16, 2017, Keith and Alice completed the route and earned Long Hauler status for themselves and Raymond Jr.
"It was bittersweet," Keith said. "So many little things reminded Mom and I of him. I'd go outside in the morning and chamois down the windows and dust the bugs off the front end, and my mom'd come down and get upset because that's exactly 'what dad would've done.' You kind of realize you might be more like one of your parents than you think you are. You think, wow, I'm just like him."
Photography by Dominick Damato