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MarkV

1981 Chrysler Imperial Frank Sinatra Edition?

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What do you guys know about these? I saw one for sale and it looks pretty cool, especially since Sinatra is my favorite singer!

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It was an option package on the Imperial. I think the only color was a light blue metallic (ol' blue eyes supposedly picked out the color) and it came with several 'Sinatra' badges and a Sinatra tape.

I don't know if it has any special or collector value; the guys over in the Chrysler forum might know more.

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Well, for an early 80s Imperial (built on an Aspen/Volare platform) they are considered desirable, especially if you like Frank (I'm a huge frank-o-phile).

They came with a special center console tape case filled with Frank cassettes. They have not had their big "ah-hah" moment where the market wakes up and realizes that they were a low production, special car and that they might be worth more than they are currently going for, so buy now.

<span style="font-style: italic">"It's Frank's world, we just live in it"</span> -- Dean Martin, 1960

<span style="font-style: italic">"you gotta love livin' baby, 'cause dyings' a pain in the a__"-</span>Frank, 1965

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There were 148 "Sinatra" package Imperials made in 1981 out of a total production run of 7,225 Imperials.

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There were 279 "Sinatra" package ($1,078.00 option) Imperials made in 1982 out of a total production run of 2,329 Imperials.

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My book from 2004 says the 1981 Imperial would be worth about $6,000.00 in number 1 condition. The 1982 would be worth about the same. Both would be worth slightly more now, especially with the complete "Sinatra" option.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: keiser31</div><div class="ubbcode-body">My book from 2004 says the 1981 Imperial would be worth about $6,000.00 in number 1 condition. The 1982 would be worth about the same. Both would be worth slightly more now, especially with the complete "Sinatra" option. </div></div>

Given that prices have come down in the last year or so, why would something like this be worth more today than 4 years ago? I doubt there is much of a market for such a car.

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Chrysler Club guys would argue that one. Just because some of the cars are going down in value doesn't mean they all are. The average collector car has gone down in value in the last year, however low production cars will usually remain in the highly collectible category. People are still buying antique cars and gold because stocks and other papers are becoming less valuable. Lets face it...the rule of thumb is that the rarer the item, the more it is worth.

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Go to the GVACS Region website. Ron DeGroff the president of GVACS has one that won a Senior at Hershey last year. They're nice cars, but back in the late 70's and early 80's like most american cars, they could be a mechanical nightmare.

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An electronic nightmare for the average enthusiast.

Do a Google search . .

http://www.teamchicago.com/imperial/1981-83.htm

Here are nearly 3 years of email on the 1981-83 Imperial, primarily on fuel injection issues. There are nearly 500 pages of messages here, loosely organized into fuel injection, electrical, chassis, A/C and other categories.

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I have one of those rare 81 Imperial FS. Mine came with a factory moonroof and was ordered by an entertainment industry professional in Southern California. I bought it and shipped it to NC where I live now. It has original EFI and yes it was a chore to learn the system and keep it up but it drives like a dream and well for that era of a car its fabulous.

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90% of them have had the EFI changed over to carb due to problems. Most of the conversions were done under warranty by the dealers back in the early 80's. Like a lot of cars in this age bracket prices are very reasonable. Especially Chrysler's. Still a nice looking ride, but memories of the problems I had with my 81 Dodge Mirada (sister car) still haunt me. I really was in love with these when new but that was when Chrysler was on the ropes and they even halted trading in Chrysler stock. The cars were built like crap!

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Hi-I'm a long time member of the WPChrysler club and can tell you the latest issue has a history of this 3 year model as its main focus.

Try the WPC website of the club and see if you can read the issue.

Sounds like you only want to buy one which is in excellent condition as parts are probably very tough to find. The original fuel injection was trouble from day 1 and most cars have been refitted with a carb.

Martin Lum

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Hemmings Classic Car ran a Buyer's guide article a few years ago, on this model.

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The FS cars also came with very deep pile carpeting, if I recall. I worked at Chrylser dealerships for almost 20 years, some of which encompassed the EFI Imperial years. The systems were really misunderstood, and actually worked quite well until people started screwing with them. When the carb change-over kits came out, most people jumped on the bandwagon because they got such a bad rap. It was a huge box of parts to change these over, usually taking the better part of a week. We're talking fuel tank &lines, intake manifold and exhaust, plus all the carb and ignition related items. Chrysler pulled the plug on the kits when a customer sued the company after his car was converted, stating the "the collector value of his EFI car was diminished by making it carburated". At least that's what we were told by our factory reps!

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90% of them have had the EFI changed over to carb due to problems. Most of the conversions were done under warranty by the dealers back in the early 80's. Like a lot of cars in this age bracket prices are very reasonable. Especially Chrysler's. Still a nice looking ride, but memories of the problems I had with my 81 Dodge Mirada (sister car) still haunt me. I really was in love with these when new but that was when Chrysler was on the ropes and they even halted trading in Chrysler stock. The cars were built like crap!

Alot of Chrysler products were poorly built around 79-80 especially the big sedans like the Newport/New Yorker/St. Regis because Chrysler had its attention on keeping afloat. Most of those cars were built in St. Louis. The Windsor plant always had good quality at least better than the Chrysler average. The Imperials were produced with attention to detail unlike any car at the time and aside from the EFI I would agree. My car even after 30 years is solid no rattles and the only thing that seems flimsy is the plastic dash trim. Other than that feels more substantial than my 81 Eldorado Biarritz.

Over the years the only real trouble I have had with my EFI was when the Mass Air Flow went on the blink. It started intermittant and then eventually the car wouldnt run right. However we eventually diagnosed the problem just like one would for a more modern car with MAF. My car was well maintained when it came to me and I have maintained it well. I have acquired spares just in case but other than the MAF and a new rubber seal for the air cleaner it is as it came.

Part of the interest in the car is the EFI system. Unless you are a dedicated Chrysler fan there just isnt much reason to own an 81-83 Imperial without EFI.

Some things you can change like using radial tires and modern batteries to keep up with safety technologies but few cars were perfect back in the day and not even today and when you own older cars you learn to take the good with the bad.

Remember back then EFI was new. Most technologies have teethings pains and it is surprising that aside from the constant feed pump on the Chrysler system the same type of principles for EFI are in use on today's cars. Even with my 81 Eldorado with its V8-6-4 people mock it as a mistake yet there are at least 6 cars that I know of built today with variable displacement like features.

I like unique vehicles. When I go to my local Mopar club meets with the car it always draws interest in the sea of `Cuda and Darts.

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One thing that seems to have been overlooked is, is it in good original condition, as compared to restored. Most collector will pay more for unrestored, pristine condition originals.

Usually 10%+ more.

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"The Imperials were produced with attention to detail unlike any car at the time and aside from the EFI I would agree. My car even after 30 years is solid no rattles and the only thing that seems flimsy is the plastic dash trim. Other than that feels more substantial than my 81 Eldorado Biarritz."

planetcadillac, I seem to remember the Imperial assembly line was made up of very experienced UAW workers who were hand picked for the job on the FS cars Anyone else remember this? The advertising had Lee Iacocca shilling it and Frank tunes in the background. It's nice to see one with the EFI still on it and running well. It was probably better than the GM Cross-Fire Injection system and most of them have been tossed also. I'm a huge fan of these cars, and some day when I get tired of one of my Cadi's I'll be looking for one.

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The Chrysler injection system was unique in that it counted every drop of fuel burned.

Incoming gas went through a glass window with a plastic pinwheel inside. As the pinwheel turned an electric eye counted each blade.

Other systems estimated gas flow from an oxygen sensor and went to default mode until it warmed up.

I remember a contemporary road test in Car and Driver. On the next page was a test of a Volkswagen Rabbit. The 1600cc 4 cylinder Rabbit got exactly one MPG more than the 5200cc V8 Imperial, 26MPG vs 25, EPA official measurement.

They made an electronic tester that made diagnosing problems simple but only Imperial dealers had it. The injection system was used by no other car besides Imperial.

With all the electronics devices, and geniuses there are today I'm sure you could keep one running if you wanted to. But back in the day it was easier and cheaper to rip out the injection for the slightest problem.

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The Chrysler injection system was unique in that it counted every drop of fuel burned.

Incoming gas went through a glass window with a plastic pinwheel inside. As the pinwheel turned an electric eye counted each blade.

Other systems estimated gas flow from an oxygen sensor and went to default mode until it warmed up.

I remember a contemporary road test in Car and Driver. On the next page was a test of a Volkswagen Rabbit. The 1600cc 4 cylinder Rabbit got exactly one MPG more than the 5200cc V8 Imperial, 26MPG vs 25, EPA official measurement.

They made an electronic tester that made diagnosing problems simple but only Imperial dealers had it. The injection system was used by no other car besides Imperial.

With all the electronics devices, and geniuses there are today I'm sure you could keep one running if you wanted to. But back in the day it was easier and cheaper to rip out the injection for the slightest problem.

The Imperial was tuned and geared to maximize fuel economy and highway cruising. That it does well and that is why it is a bit of a dog off the lined compared to other cars. The 318 isnt a slouch but 2.20 rear end doesnt make for quick starts. However that coupled with the EFI makes for extremely smooth and efficient highway cruising. I regularly get upper 20s on a level steady 65MPH highway. I am sure Chrysler could have done better with a 3.23 rear end and an OD automatic but they simply didnt have that available at the time. I have often thought about changing out my pinion to a sportier final drive just to squeeze a little extra enjoyment out of it. MPG is less of a concern now since its not a daily driver and still keep it basically original. At least for AACA specifications! :D

I would agree that there were probably a lot of cases where the EFI was simply retrofitted to carb due to customer demand and tech familiarity. The EFI tester from Sun (like many diagnostic items) was very expensive and wasnt all that effective. Such technology wasnt heard of then to most techs yet the stuff that is worked on today is 100 times as slick as an EFI Imperial. I used to have a 76 Seville with EFI and that was the first year of true EFI on a car available in the US and it was unique.

The usage of veteran UAW personally (minimum 20 years for most procedures) was not exclusive to the FS edition. That was Imperial wide. The FS edition was treated like any other Imperial other than it being a specific package. Given the relatively low production volumes especially as time went on the cars were practically hand built at least hand finished.

While the Imperial was planned prior to Iacocca taking over Chrysler, once he came on board he made it what we know of the car. He wanted a halo car like the Lincoln Mark III was back in 1969. The demise of the Imperial has been much talked about by Mopar people however I am not convinced that the EFI did the car in as much as other factors.

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I agree that it was more than EFI problems that did Imperial in. A big one was the fact it was only a 2 door coupe, which I prefer but most earlier Imperials were 4 door.

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