or, the (lengthy) restoration of my Imperial .
Model: 1957 Imperial Crown Convertible
Purchase Date: 11-11-94
Restoration begun: December 94
Restoration completed (99 %) : October 2001
Following a fax from England, I finally achieved my dream in November 1994: a Mopar
convertible from 1957-1960, and whats more, an Imperial! However, in the succeeding
5 years Ive driven her only 200 m., just long enough to take her out of one garage
and then store her in another, brand new garage. Without brakes and with serious steering
problems, I didnt dare risk anything more.
Lets start with the
history of the beast. Purchased new in January 1957, this Crown Imperial spent 2 years in
the USA, where I dont know, although the windshield still bears a Valley Forge
Military Academy sticker, permit #1854. In June of 1959 it went off to Ghana, in Africa,
where it served as an American embassy vehicle in Accra. I cant help wondering
whether she ever transported Cassius Clay (at that time he hadnt yet changed his
name to Mohammed Ali) during his visit to that country? Or maybe she met others of the
worlds "greats"? It will have to remain a mystery. In 1967 the Crown
retired from its functions at the embassy and was sold to a postal clerk in Takoradi,
Ghana. This dear lady kept the car for 21 years and then, in 1988, sold it to an
Englishman resident in Ghana, who returned to England one year later, taking the Imperial
with him. The poor car must have been somewhat tired by this time because the owner
undertook a superficial restoration of the chrome trim and paintwork. Discouraged by the
enormity of the task facing him, he sold the Imperial to Dream Cars, an American car
dealer in suburban London, from whom I acquired it.
The vehicles condition left no doubt that I wouldnt be enjoying the wind-in-the-hair experience at any time soon. The leather interior was beyond help, its tatters held together with Scotch tape; the chromed pot metal was pitted and blistered except where it had been painted over in gray or black; it had no brakes, had steering problems, and the top was in "original" condition. But everything was there, right from the original equipment fire extinguisher to the rubber mats embossed with the Imperial eagle! The engine ran, and the transmission worked (at least in first and reverse, because without brakes .), all of the lights worked, and all the gauges as well. There didnt seem to be too much rust, except in the rear wheel wells and along the lower edge of the right front door. In other words, I owned an excellent base for a restoration.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention the colours: the body was white and the interior a two-tone
dark and light green, with a matching dark green top. A close check of the data plate
revealed that the car came loaded with pretty well all of the usual options, including air
conditioning, tinted glass, the Flight Sweep deck lid, radio, hood ornament, quad
headlights, left and right outside mirrors, matching top, and last but not least the
Highway HiFi. Unfortunately the latter is gone, leaving its mounting bracket as mute
testimony to its existence.
Supplementary information: In February 2002 I managed to turn up some new information about my car: I asked John Hertog, a member of the Chrysler 300 Club, to steer me to the Chrysler Historical Society, which archives material about old Chrysler cars. Through them I got a copy of the factory data card containing essential production info, notably the name of the dealer to whom my car was shipped. Click here.
Other pics (1994/1995) (click to enlarge)
Thanks to "Tony" (Magister Max) from the IML for the translation ...
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