part 1 Previous history of the car; how I found and bought it (1994) ..

part 2Diagnostic inventory, dismantling, survey work to be done (1995-96)

part 3  Mechanical matters (1997-98)

part 4 Body repairs (1999)

part 5 Painting (1999-2000)

part 6 Begin reassembly (2000)

part 7 Reassembly continued


Click on the required page


part 8 Problems with the top

part 9 At last the upholstery!

part 10 Getting wired for music

part 11Still more reassembly (2001))

part 12 Seats and door panels go in

part 13 First venture out of garage; lining the top

part 14After 7 years, roadworthy!

The Story without end

or, the (lengthy) restoration of my Imperial….


My 57 when I bought it in London (1994).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 what’s more, an Imperial! However, in the succeeding 5 years I’ve 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 didn’t dare risk anything more.

It still have the Ghana license plates.Let’s start with the history of the beast. Purchased new in January 1957, this Crown Imperial spent 2 years in the USA, where I don’t 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 can’t help wondering whether she ever transported Cassius Clay (at that time he hadn’t yet changed his name to Mohammed Ali) during his visit to that country? Or maybe she met others of the world’s "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 vehicle’s condition left no doubt that I wouldn’t 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! In France near my 58 Buick RoadmasterThe 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 didn’t 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.

new23.gif (2109 octets)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)

Rear brakes (original) upholstery Original sticker Fligh Sweep Deck lid
Rear brakes (backing plate + cylinder in Ghana conditions..)  The upholstery is shot ! Note the black windows frames and white door handle ... The "Valley Forge Military Academy" is an original sticker (between 1957 and 1959, as the car left USA in 1959). Who had this "parking permit" in these days ? The rear view of my car. The rear bumper is gray painted !!


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Thanks to "Tony" (Magister Max) from the IML for the translation ...

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