COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – Jimmy Hipp met his first love in May of 1972.

“Right there at Main and Elmwood, there was Hampton Pontiac.”

Hipp was a high school senior at Eau Claire High School in 1972. He was a month away from graduating when he visited the Hampton Pontiac dealership, that has long since closed to check out a brand-new baby blue 1972 Pontiac Luxury Lemans on the showroom floor.

“The car was listed on the window sticker at 4800 dollars. But I worked with the sales guy, and he let me have it for 4200,” said Hipp.

When Jimmy drove off with his hot new ride, he could never have known he was beginning the ride of a lifetime.

“I just loved the body style of it and everything… beautiful car. So, I never wanted to trade this car back in.”

And he never did. Now 50 years later, Hipp, the owner and operator of Action Transmission on Broad River Road is still driving the classic car that he fell in love with all those years ago.

We took a ride to Jimmy’s residence off Montecello road to see the Luxury Lemans in all its well-kept glory.

Even after 5 decades, the vehicle shows all the signs of tender loving care.

The single owner sedan is garage kept year-round. It features sparkling chrome fenders and styling. A rebuilt 400 cubic foot engine, and a rebuilt transmission.

The interior is original as well, with gleaming white rolled leather bucket seats. Hipp repainted the car in ‘06, from baby blue to garnet and black.

“Go Gamecocks,” Hipp says with a smile.

“And of course, I dress it up with pretty things. The chrome valve covers, a chrome oil pan on it, things like that. Edelbrock intake manifold on it, all that to dress it up and make it pretty.”

These days, Jimmy takes his Pontiac to car shows in the area, and his ride gets lots of attention.

5 decades have passed since Jimmy first got behind the wheel but Jimmy says the thrill remains.

“I like getting it out on the weekends, on a pretty day. And just take it for a little ride. A little joyride I call it.”

It’s a ride, he’s never wanted to end.

“I’ve bought other cars, but I’ve just always kept this one here. I’ve purchased other cars, traded and sold them. But I never traded this one in.”

The time and care he has invested in the vehicle are apparent on a ride down Montecello Road as the Lemans handles well.

Its healthy V8 throttle is a sound of years gone by, echoing over nearly 100,000 miles of good memories.

As for what his 4200 investment is worth today…

“Well, to me? It’s priceless.” Jimmy admits.

“I’m gonna keep it another 50 years,” he said with a laugh.

That’s what love will do.

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