The author of these web pages and of these lines was born around the same time as the Forward Look, not in Detroit but in Pau, in the southwest of France, where he has lived to this day. One cant really claim to have been rocked to sleep by the sounds of a V8 or blinded by chrome and wretched excess. So the appearance of any American car with huge fins was like a vision. (Dont forget that the shrine of Lourdes isnt far from my home.) Among others, I have memories of 59 Chevrolet Impalas and Studebakers, which made my head spin.
After my studies in Electronics I wasnt really turned on by American cars, since I was more or less into a hippie, anti-nuclear-war and folk music period. It wasnt until the 80s that my childhood fantasies came back to life but with a greater interest in 4x4s than in 50s American sedans. After I cut my teeth on a 4x4 from a communist country a vehicle whose comfort and silence were commensurate with the average salary of a Mahindra worker opportunity knocked in the form of an ad in Auto Verte. A Dodge Ramcharger had kept me daydreaming for many months after I had first seen it in a Special Salon of a by now well-thumbed issue of Automobile Magazine. And at that moment, everything changed. Oh the V8, oh the grille, oh the thrill, in fact. Nevertheless, using such a vehicle every day didnt come without some inconveniences and irritations. After several attempts at modifying the beast you know, Holley, Edelbrock, Mallory it became a bottomless pit, swallowing money as fast as fuel. Regretfully, I got rid of the Ram, all the while following the dream of one day owning an American car, for Sunday drives My next mistake was buying a special edition of Nitro Magazine entitled "The Americans". This magazine showed nothing but 40s, 50s, and 60s American cars, each more impressive than the next. Two really made an impression: a 58 Buick Limited Convertible and a 59 Dodge Custom Royal Hardtop. Oh, those fins, that somewhat "wicked" look, those tapered lines ((Im talking about the Dodge.), all that chrome (no need to say which car I mean here!). A few years later, with the Ram now having departed for greener pastures, I started looking for a 1957-59 Mopar, and eventually for a 1958 Buick. Without going into specifics, lets just say that my first contact with the American scene was painful, mainly because of unscrupulous dealers and a Mopar trail that had stayed cold. Then a 58 Buick Roadmaster, which had appeared in Top Cars, came back home to the Southwest, travelling as many miles in one night as in the preceding two years put together! But the purchase turned out to be a good deal, without surprises 8 years and 20,000 km later and the car is still always ready to be shown.
But my devil was still on watch the search widened to include all Mopars from 57 to 60, now limited to convertibles. It was tough because one doesnt see Chrysler and DeSoto convertibles on every street corner. As a member of the ACCF, where I took over as the person in charge of Mopars (because of an article on 59 Dodges), I was in a good position to be aware of what was happening, and I envied the owners of those rare DeSoto Diplomat convertibles. I searched in vain in LVA, Nitro, and V8; went crazy over a 58 New Yorker Convertible all in pieces; beat the bushes looking for more leads; dreamed and checked Hemmings; was brought sharply down to earth when I converted dollars into francs; but nothing led anywhere and I finally decided to let the matter take its own time.
Well, a few months later the unexpected happened: a fax came from a London-based dealer informing me that he had just taken in a 57 Imperial Convertible! Unbelievable! Amazing! Believe me, I kept this fax from October 94, and the subsequent events are all told in the 57 Imperial pages, or, if you prefer to go there directly, you can click here.
It's now November 2001 and after 7 years I want you to see an up-to-date photo. The Imperial has changed and so has its owner. The shirt is the same as in the 1994 picture, but the guy wearing it has more mileage and less hair. Long live IMPERIAL!!
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