LAKE CITY - At 92, M.G. "Pinky" Randall is not a celebrity. But when he arrived at Classic Chevrolet in Lake City Thursday afternoon, he was welcomed by dealers Terry and Michelle Corrigan, Chevrolet representatives and the media.
Randall, a World War II and Korean War era veteran from Houghton Lake is known to many as "Mr. Chevy," a private collector whose amazing tales of collecting and restoring Chevrolets have been circulating for decades.
He arrived in Lake City to pick up a special order, the last Chevrolet Impala produced at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant. The cajun red 2020 was the last car off the line for their Impala production.
But this was Randall's second "last" Impala.
In 1996 headlines read, "Mr. Chevy Bags Last Impala for his Collection."
His first, last Impala SS had a dark cherry metallic finish. Randall and his wife Joyce flew to Texas where he drove the car off the line at the Arlington plant.
Although the 2020 Impala was produced in February, the Corrigans waited until the stay-at-home lifted to invite the Randalls to the dealership for a small celebration.
"Any time we have the means to make an event out of a last vehicle, we do our best to make it happen," said Trey Wulf, Chevrolet zone manager. "When I heard about Pinky's passion for Chevrolet, it seemed like a perfect fit."
Since 1936 Randall has collected hundreds of Chevrolet vehicles plus vintage beauties like a 1936 Packard convertible. He also collects Chevrolet signs and memorabilia.
"Car clubs around the country rely on his knowledge," Wulf said. "They rely on his expertise and he's a historian."
"They have 131 of my Chevrolet signs," Randall said of those on display at the GM Heritage Center. "They also bought seven cars from us."
Randall fell in love with a Chevrolet when he was 5-years-old. He walked past it everyday on the way to school - a 1932 Chevrolet coupe with yellow wheels and flash fenders. He kept his eye on that car for years, waiting for a chance to buy it. He tried when he came home from World War II but the owner wouldn't sell. When he returned from Korea he made the deal.
"I've had that car since 1951 or 1952," he said. He has also restored many Chevrolets. His last project was to restore the coupe for his grandson.
"We finished that car last December, me and a friend," he said. "I told my grandson that if he didn't drink or smoke by 21 I would buy him a car. I bought him this car, the one I fell in love with when I was 4 or 5-years old."