Editor's note: This article was originally published Jan. 20, 2012.
It's not as famous as the Batmobile, but in just three months, Redondo Beach resident Herb Younger's 1965 Chevy Impala SS has struck a chord on YouTube. Two videos produced by Chevrolet detailing his sons' 5-year search for the car have garnered more than 1 million views, combined.
"It's an unbelievable story," Herb told Patch.
His son Derek agreed. "The response has been really cool," he said, adding that the video was like icing on the cake.
The story actually starts in 1965 with Herb's purchase of a brand-new, crocus yellow Chevrolet Impala SS with a 396-cubic-inch big block engine and four-speed transmission in Fort Collins, Colo. Because he couldn't afford the car on his own, Herb's mother helped him purchase it.
In 1966, Herb and his wife Linda drove the car out to Hermosa Beach for their honeymoon, and a short while later, Herb accepted a teaching job at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach.
The summer before the school year started, the couple drove 2,000 miles cross-country without air conditioning, and two dogs and a parakeet named Harvey packed in the back seat.
"To think of them just caravanning across the country… [It's] unbelievable," Derek said.
The family settled down in the Beach Cities, but in 1985, "things were a little rough, so we sold the car," Herb said.
"Ever since, we've just regretted it," Derek added.
Though it was no longer parked outside, the car was always on Herb's mind. When Jared Younger was in high school, he and his father used to visit old car shows.
"It was kind of like, 'Darn. We wish we would have the original Chevy,'" Jared said.
"I know I was always looking for it," Herb added.
But they never saw it.
About five years ago, Jared and Derek started talking about trying to hunt down the car. They knew it would be difficult to find—of the 1 million Impalas sold in 1965, only 243,000 were "super sports," and only about 300 were the same model and trim as Herb's.
Still, the pair decided it was worth a shot. When Google became popular, it became easier to do "legitimate online searches," Jared explained. The brothers found the Impala's vehicle identification number on a copy of the original bill of sale, and Jared used paid VIN searches to see if they could find where the car was registered.
The very first search found the vehicle registered in Pennsylvania in 2004.
"So then we knew it existed, which was kind of cool," Jared said.
He continued to run searches and keep an eye on the car's whereabouts, all the while contacting the car's previous owners. Letters to Pennsylvania and New York were returned; however, a previous owner in Maine responded to their letter in 2007.
"He actually said, 'You just missed it,'" said Jared. The car went to Canada, but the trail went cold.
A later VIN search found the car in Quebec, and Derek suggested they hire a private investigator to track down the car.
They only found an investigator that specialized in surveillance, and though he said he would look for the car, the brothers couldn't afford the large fee he charged.
"I just said, 'Dude, let's pay him. Let's do it,'" said Derek.
The private investigator emailed Jared and said that he found someone who would find the car—but it would cost them double.
All the while, "I just totally, absolutely [had] no idea" they were looking for the car, Herb said.
"I was going to mail a check" to the private investigator, Jared said. When he shared what he was going to do with his wife, "she was like, 'All right, whatever. You guys are insane.'"
She also encouraged Jared to do one more Google search.
He typed in "1965 Chevy Impala for sale Quebec"—and the first result was a crocus yellow Chevrolet Impala SS.
"To find it at a place where it was not only for sale but in pristine condition … was a one in a million" chance, Derek said.
Jared called the next morning and bought the car over the phone. It took nearly two months to make its way from Canada to Redondo Beach, and about a week before it was scheduled to arrive, Jared met a woman at a barbecue who was working on Chevrolet's 100th anniversary "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign.
She pitched the story to her bosses; it was the last idea in the pile.
"The guy was like … That's the one we want for the commercial," Derek said. "Let's make it happen."
And so, a film crew from Chevy was with the brothers when the car was finally delivered.
"It came off the truck in perfect condition," Jared said.
On the day of the unveiling, Herb was told that the Chevrolet film crew was shooting a documentary on the American family.
"I thought this was quite the little school project," Herb said.
But then, he heard the car—and he knew.
"I looked up, and wow, that's my Chevy," Herb said.
In the glove box was the original owner's manual with the original Protect-O-Plate with Herb's name on it.
"It's kind of a time capsule," Derek said.
"My dad's the first and the ninth owner," Jared said.
He'll also be the last.