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My friend Eleanor just turned 100, and her 1958 Chrysler Crown Imperial


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Crown Imperial, (1958), will be among some of the accumulation of a lifetime to be sold. I would like to help find the next owner for the car. I will have to go drive the car, put it up on a rack, and get detailed pictures of the good, and also any bad or ugly from all angles. Probably 40-50 or more , well aimed pictures , avoiding redundancy, should be taken for a meaningful analysis. I have done this quite effectively, but in this case, I really know nothing about these cars. Can any of you tell me specific things to look for ? I believe the car has just over 100K miles. Eleanor had the car re-upholstered in original fabric. There is a little rust, of which I will poke , prod, and take pictures without mercy.

 

I have known Eleanor, and her late husband John since the mid ‘50s. Totally ethical, no B.S. people. She is in great health and spirits. Still drives, takes no meds, and is literally stronger and more able than I am. This is to say, that she is  quite ready , willing and able to enjoy proactively , all aspects of her second century. Please help me to help her with simplifying her life in order for her to do so.

 

Thanks in advance to all you guys who know these cars well. Any and all comments from the group here will be of help, and greatly appreciated.    -   Eleanor and Carl 

 

 

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Great Car!  What a contrast to today's current cars with their plastic painted trim , that make everything look alike . I enjoyed living in the era when you could look at a car, know the manufacturer as well as the brand and usually the model. They all had their own unique style ( good or bad to your personal taste) and didn't just blend in like a blurr like most current cars do.

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That looks really nice! That's a color you don't see much on cars anymore. And look at those door hinges. They sure look heavy duty!

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Carl, relatively speaking, I have fair amount of experience with this era Chrysler Corp passenger cars, including Imperials, which I’ve owned some and worked on all aspects of many more, completely restored few, etc so I might be able to offer some practical advise, if/when needed.

 

For example and with all due respect, based on my experience (and personal preference) these are significantly better driving/handling/performing, not to mention, all things being equal, mechanically (other than brakes*) more reliable than their contemporaries from Ford or GM, i.e. Lincoln or Cadillac.

 

* Questionable design to begin with, magnified by lack of understanding of their intricacies by most owners and/or mechanics/restorers/parts suppliers now 60+ years later.

 

P.S. While they share some mechanical features by other Chrysler Corp. vehicles, Imperial s are and should be considered as a brand of their own, i.e. not a “Chrysler” or Plymouth, Dodge or DeSoto.
Kind of like Lincoln is not a Ford or Mercury ...

... or Cadillac is not same as Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile or Buick. 😉

 

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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Yellow with a blue interior... hmmmmm.  I hope the outside was repainted; that color combination is not particularly attractive in my opinion.  Other than the color combination, that is an amazing car... rolling art in my opinion.

 

Joe

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Thank you very much everyone ! I will check the paint history. There sure could have been a repaint, but I see no evidence from the pictures sent me that there ever was much , if any, color change. I should put this up at the old time brake shop near me, due to the tip from TTR. It may not take much to make this a “fly in, drive home” on its new tires. Easy car to reach the plugs for a compression test, and look for any oily holes. What else ? I want to get it road ready. Transmission ? Naturally all fluids. What about timing chains on these hemis ?   Shake down drives, and see how freeway speeds feel. Yes, I do recall that the handling on these huge boats was second to none. I assume this has the torsion bar suspension that good old “Uncle Tom” revered so much ? Hmmmmmm............... yeah timing chains. Should I be concerned ? Any way to check that on these engines which are totally unknown to me ?      Again, thanks to all ! Please keep your help coming.  -   Eleanor and Carl 
 

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If you want it ready for the next owner to drive home a transmission oil filter change is in order. The other thing that is often over looked is the front wheel bearings. 

Hope you keep us updated as to the asking price and place of sale. 

Thanks. 

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I like the '62-'63s with the free standing lights & still had the typewriter. Also torsion bars were great until they weren't.

 

Still nice that some still appreciate the luxo-barges.

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Carl, the engine and all its accessories on it, as long as everything is stock and reasonably well maintained, are about as basic and bulletproof as any made post war by American manufacturers, if not better. 

The 3-speed, cast iron Torqueflite and rear axle (8 3/4”) pretty much the same.

 

Steering box is a first year of the cast iron MoPar unit commonly used until ‘70s and also basically bulletproof.

 

While the torsion bar front suspension may seem unusual to many, it is quite simple, strong and well designed system, providing solid well behaving handling & ride if properly maintained & serviced.

 

As I previously mentioned, the brakes will likely be the most difficult to get working right, as there were 4 different “evolutions” between ‘56 & ‘62 and I’d be surprised if you can find five people in the U.S. or maybe even the world who know which evolutionary bits and pieces in them can or cannot be mixed and matched to get them work reliably and well, especially when all (aftermarket) parts suppliers or their reference catalogs in past 50+ have no mention of any of them or even factory service manuals depict same (first year, ‘56) pictures and procedures year after year while the cars built in ‘58 may already  be 1 or 2evolutions further...

 

Should the car still have all its OEM brake hardware, including cylinders and shoes, etc, do not replace them with new or even send them in exchange to other rebuilt components, as changes of getting inaccurate parts is likely higher than 90%, no matter what parts suppliers or their listings say.
Only service/rebuild the ones already in the car and even then you/your brake specialist will likely struggle with them.

 

Oh, and stay away from any of the disc brake conversion kits available for these cars. All the ones I’ve seen are about as hokey as they come and seem to present myriad of other problems rather than practical solutions.

As for the rust, most common area is trunk floor and its “side pockets” behind rear wheel wells, lower “lip” of trunk opening and areas right below windshield and back glass.

Also worth to keep in mind, like with most postwar American cars, any detectable or visible rust is usually only a fifth or less of actual rot that will have to be dealt with once that proverbial can-of-worms is opened.

 

On the other hand, your photos, which we both know can be deceptive or like I’ve saying for decades, “can lie (or misrepresented the reality) more than thousand words”, seem to suggest the car is not too rusty and appears to be in pretty nice overall condition.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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As to whether repainted an indication is visible on the front door jambs in particular the wire loom has been painted.

As to original colour the closest one to current is likely “Coronado cream”, 

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That car may have disc brakes from new. (Probably a nightmare)

The timing chain from a later small block will bolt right on to the Hemi.

This car doesn't show any rust that I can see but are prone to rust in the rear quarters, and above the headlights. (among other places that Mopars are famous for, especially those that never see a garage.)

Nice car but I am not a fan of yellow.

Have fun with it CC.

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6 hours ago, JACK M said:

That car may have disc brakes from new. (Probably a nightmare)

Sorry, Chrysler Corp, didn't offer disc brakes on these. 

While Imperial offered "Lambert Disc Brakes" between '49 - '54 (with two evolutions of quite unconventional design) on Crown Imperials, they apparently weren't very good nor catched on and according to my sources, most of the cars that originally came with such were converted to conventional drum brakes when cars were relatively new and many even before they were sold as new cars. 

If I remember correctly, first time Chrysler Corp. offered "traditional" disc brakes was around '65 or '66.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks again to all of you, here on forum, and by much appreciated PM. 

Eleanor said that yes, indeed that repaint is in original colors and paint. She is very precise, and got the paint code from Chrysler, and shot it with that exact original paint. She still  has some of it in a can. Now, I didn’t realize that this car has been in the family since new. Mike Owen, her father-in-law bought it new. His wife was almost pathologically frugal, so Mike had to tell her he only paid $2,000 for it. Actually cost about twice that. Eleanor feels she could hop in the car right now and drive back to see her family in New York. I wouldn’t, but sure would like to confidently market it as capable , and prepped for exactly that. You know the routine. Belts, hoses, ignition, etc, etc. Then put 500 trouble free miles on it to give it road approval. Maybe run from Seattle down to visit Jack, and get that “Rat Ride” I crave. A peek at his new Pierce Arrow , too , if we had enough time. That would be about 500 round trip. Might be strenuous for the two oldsters of us, but Eleanor’s son is still strong, and could make the run. It has just made a trip of 100 miles or so, but I am much more demanding.

 

Eleanor tells me that a fellow fairly nearby, in Port Townsend, (Where that Revere Deusenberg of my long ago youth lived outside in the Summer), is nibbling about muttering something like $15,000. She and I feel that if the money is real : bird in hand. It’s just that we are both quite busy these days. I sure would like to poke around the thing, though, and get to know it some.

 

I had the good fortune to go to sleep several nights in a row in Detroit City back Summer of ‘60. Unlike Bobby Bare, I wasn’t “dreamin’ ‘bout them cotton fields back home”. Mother, sister neither. Did , however, notice the remarkable amount of premature salt fed rust out on fairly new Chrysler products back then. Went on to the “Henry” , and merely filed that observation in the “good things to know” drawer. Any reason that actually was going on, or might that perception have just been friction in my imagination ? So many of you have given me advice about where to check, and Eleanor with her precision does have some concerns. I don’t yet know the extent of existing rust, but am quite aware that rust is “electrically pervasive”, and systemic. A little like a fungus. What you see of it is just the surface. Most of a fungus is in the mycelium, out of sight. But the 15 grand guy is a body man, so at this point, I can’t speculate further.

 

We are having a new virus wave starting up again here . Eleanor’s family and mine have been shot, but we know that there is an enormous amount we don’t yet know about this evil lurking monster. We are afraid, and don’t want to run around any more than we absolutely have to right now. I want to go visiting when I can, and play a little bit with this mysterious stranger of a car.

 

This is a perfect opportunity to express our gratitude to you generous people. We are all so incredibly fortunate to be living in a time when this technology is available to make and enhance so many real friendships. May peace, health and contentment be upon all of you.    -   Eleanor and Carl 

 

 

 

Edited by C Carl
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Ditzler lists a Bamboo Yellow for 1958 Chrysler products including the Imperial.

 

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A quick Google search shows several in a similar combination.  While they may not suit everyone's color pallet today, many of the pastels were mix and matched in this later 50's era to great effect, I think.

Personally, I love it!  20 years ago I owned a '59 Imperial, Silver on Gray. very nice, very studious.   I much prefer the flamboyance of this Bamboo Yellow coupled with Exner's extravagant styling.   What a statement of unrestrained 1950's all-American status! 

 

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I can see where color choices may be a more regional thing.  When I lived in the Seattle area Black on Black was considered very chic, while here in the desert, you couldn't give that combination away. That being said, I think think this Imperial is very "Palm Springs".   :lol:

Edited by GregLaR (see edit history)
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On 3/28/2021 at 2:39 PM, C Carl said:

Crown Imperial, (1958), will be among some of the accumulation of a lifetime to be sold. I would like to help find the next owner for the car. I will have to go drive the car, put it up on a rack, and get detailed pictures of the good, and also any bad or ugly from all angles. Probably 40-50 or more , well aimed pictures , avoiding redundancy, should be taken for a meaningful analysis. I have done this quite effectively, but in this case, I really know nothing about these cars. Can any of you tell me specific things to look for ? I believe the car has just over 100K miles. Eleanor had the car re-upholstered in original fabric. There is a little rust, of which I will poke , prod, and take pictures without mercy.

 

I have known Eleanor, and her late husband John since the mid ‘50s. Totally ethical, no B.S. people. She is in great health and spirits. Still drives, takes no meds, and is literally stronger and more able than I am. This is to say, that she is  quite ready , willing and able to enjoy proactively , all aspects of her second century. Please help me to help her with simplifying her life in order for her to do so.

 

Thanks in advance to all you guys who know these cars well. Any and all comments from the group here will be of help, and greatly appreciated.    -   Eleanor and Carl 

 

 

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I see two holes in the door jamb. Shouldn't there be a Serial Number tag there or did Chrysler move it to a different location by then. I know earlier cars had it there. Maybe it's in the glove box from when the car was repainted.

Also, the "CROWN" on the door panel looks to be broken off. That may be a difficult part to locate.

However, it looks like a nice car judging from these pics.

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12 hours ago, C Carl said:

. Maybe run from Seattle down to visit Jack, and get that “Rat Ride” I crave. A peek at his new Pierce Arrow , too , if we had enough time. That would be about 500 round trip. 

12 hours ago, C Carl said:

I want to go visiting when I can, and play a little bit with this mysterious stranger of a car.

 

 

No problems here, I've had my shots but still mask up most of the time.

FYI, I have made the round trip in a day several times over the years.

Get a morning start say around 8 or so you would be here at about 11:30, lunch and hang out for a couple of hours till say 2:30 and be home by six. (still light out).

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Glad to hear Eleanor is still in great health!

I Last saw her and the car at the Greenwood car show.

She told me she was digging up the main water line feeding the house to replace it......this herself !!!!!🤯

She's a ball of fire!

I first met her in 1980 or 81 to tune the 392 up for her.

 

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As for the rust, most common area is trunk floor and its “side pockets” behind rear wheel wells, lower “lip” of trunk opening and areas right below windshield and back glass.

Also worth to keep in mind, like with most postwar American cars, any detectable or visible rust is usually only a fifth or less of actual rot that will have to be dealt with once that proverbial can-of-worms is opened.

 

Our cars up here are most often just different. Rust is most often just skin deep. Most of my cars are local PNW cars. I learned long ago it just didn't make much sense to try to buy a good original car anywhere else. 

 

I like the car and since it's local it's doubly appealing. Then reality takes hold, I'm too old and I'm afraid that I would have to move two smaller cars to make room. 

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)
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  • Peter Gariepy changed the title to My friend Eleanor just turned 100, and her 1958 Chrysler Crown Imperial

I personally like the car, and the unusual color scheme.  In today's sea of gray, black and white cars, this yellow is a welcome sight.  

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Current Values

  • #1 Concours$61,200
    Condition #1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best vehicle, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours. Perfectly clean, the vehicle has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one word description for #1 vehicles is "concours."
  • #2 Excellent$42,400
  • #3 Good$24,500
  • #4 Fair$11,500
  •  Hagerty's price guide
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On 3/28/2021 at 4:17 PM, Walt G said:

What a contrast to today's current cars with their plastic painted trim , that make everything look alike . I enjoyed living in the era when you could look at a car, know the manufacturer as well as the brand and usually the model. They all had their own unique style

 

The only thing that changes is the date.

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When I was younger people put tiger tails on the gas cap

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Posted (edited)

Please forgive me for not being here for a while. You are all so kind with your help and interest. Let’s see if I can    bring things up to date by responding to all contributions since my last posting.  
in order

 

GregLaR , thank you for finding corroborative info regarding paint. Thanks also for the cheerful sunny comments from S. Cal ! Glad to know you can relate to why black on black in black is an option to  the guys and gals up here who enjoy the exercise they get from washing water deposited crud off their beautiful cars every day or two. 🤗🤔😥. You often amaze me with the most precise, often obscure or arcane , almost infinitesimally small details. Particularly with things Corvette ! 
 

On 3/29/2021 at 8:34 PM, Joe Cocuzza said:

I see two holes in the door jamb. Shouldn't there be a Serial Number tag there or did Chrysler move it to a different location by then. I know earlier cars had it there. Maybe it's in the glove box from when the car was repainted.

Also, the "CROWN" on the door panel looks to be broken off. That may be a difficult part to locate.

However, it looks like a nice car judging from these pics.

 
Hi Joe,

your Serial Number tag observation is second sourced in a PM I got from another friend here. Thank you ! And you may be correct about it’s survival. Eleanor says there are some small crown pieces she does have. Maybe the tag is still with the other bits. Hey ! How’s the ‘49 Cad coming along ? I don’t know if I mentioned the “problem” I had with my first car, an early ‘49 Cad convertible. The car was given to me by an extremely nice customer I had at the end of an 80 something subscriber paper route when I was still too young to drive legally. Mr. Levin said that these early “Kettering V8s had soft cams”. That is why a  Cadillac convertible was laid up when less than 10 years old. I can’t remember what the mileage was. So you will want to be running the very best full synthetic oil with a good dose of ZDDP engineered into it. Sounds to me like Amsoil Z-Rod unless you or another forum participant knows of something just come to market which is better. I would like to know of that also, because the best lubrication possible is none too good for my cars. Hope Spring has sprung for you, and some old Cad cruising is right around the corner ! 
 

Thanks for the invite, Jack ! Let’s see how the cookie crumbles. As I said, 100 miles after insufficient rack time ,  doesn’t add up to a totally convincing shakedown for a multi thousand mile delivery run home. If need be, I will prep it my way, and do a 500. One or two adjustments could be best case scenario after that, and then it would get the CC seal of approval. You and I are not the only guys to prefer driving a new purchase home, rather than leave the fun to an external engine before a cart with a box full on it. I am invited to come drive and take my ice pick to the yet to be determined level of whatever rust.

 

On 3/30/2021 at 10:40 AM, c49er said:

Glad to hear Eleanor is still in great health!

I Last saw her and the car at the Greenwood car show.

She told me she was digging up the main water line feeding the house to replace it......this herself !!!!!🤯

She's a ball of fire!

I first met her in 1980 or 81 to tune the 392 up for her.

 

 
OH NO !!!! OH NO !!!! I had just finished spending a massive amount of time giving long detailed comments and answers here. I was about to wind up the portion of my response to Buffaloed Bill. In other words, just about through. Forum or my new somewhat flawed mini iPad wiped out most of it. I am having enormous problems in my life just now. I don’t have time for cyber crap. If i could cry, I would. I should never had bundled all together. Individually would have been the smart way to answer. I just have to hang up now. I just hate having postings I work so hard on evaporate. I proof read many times and refine over and over again. I should just send out “raw” which leaves a more stable footprint to work on, and proof and correct later. I can’t take it anymore just now. Sorry. I love you all.   -   Carl 


P.S. I will try to pick back up some time on the coming weekend.    -    CC. 
 

 

Edited by C Carl
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Trimacar’s hilarious “Leaving the old car hobby, ...................” has cheered me up greatly. I will be better after a while. Thank you all for your patience and understanding.    -   Carl 

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On 3/31/2021 at 11:34 AM, sebastienbuick said:

I can talk about it on the forum in France where I am,

That would be great if one of your friends in France acquired it. It could appear at shows alongside Peugeots, Renaults, Citroens, mini Fiat 500's

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On 3/31/2021 at 11:34 AM, sebastienbuick said:

Very beautiful Imperial  :wub: :wub: , I would very much like to have the same.

 

3 hours ago, mike6024 said:

That would be great if one of your friends in France acquired it. It could appear at shows alongside Peugeots, Renaults, Citroens, mini Fiat 500's

Funny you should make this ^ comment Mike.

I’m currently working on another 1950s Imperial (with similar drive train) for a client who’s an engineer for Renault and lives in Paris.

He has sent me couple of photos of his other post-war American land yacht cruising the streets in The City of Lights.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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I spoke with Eleanor today regarding her 1958 Imperial and what a pleasure it was conversing with her!  One of the first things she asked me was why was I interested and how old I was.  I am a very young 71 and had previously owned a 1958 Crown Imperial 4 door sedan, and my father owned a 1957 Crown Imperial 4 door sedan as well.  I always kidded him that mine had 20 more horsepower!  I recall one day Dad and I were driving from Yreka, California to Bend, Oregon for the Oregon State Old Time Fiddling Contest.  I was driving Dad's 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 with the 312 Thunderbird Special engine.  A 1957 Imperial passed us and Dad said to me "Let's catch up to it as I want to look at it".  As a young man in my early 20's I was up for the chase! A long story short, we never could catch them and I had that little Ford wound up pretty tight to the extent Dad became a little concerned with our speed and reluctantly we gave up.  Those Imperials with the 392's would run forever.  The 392 in my opinion was one of the best engines ever built in the 50's and is a sentiment shared by Big Daddy Don Garlits.  I hope to drive up and take a look at her Imperial, now just need to see if I can make room in my garage.

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Hello Carl,

 

Did you ever get a chance to get the car on a lift and check it out?  Eleanor did talk about some rust issues.  Also I forgot to ask, does this car have AC and does it work?  Thank you!

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22 hours ago, mike6024 said:

That would be great if one of your friends in France acquired it. It could appear at shows alongside Peugeots, Renaults, Citroens, mini Fiat 500's

 

Yes that would be great :) , a person is looking for a 1958 model on the forum in France (but normally he found) 
I would love to have one someday :) 

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21 hours ago, TTR said:

 

Funny you should make this ^ comment Mike.

I’m currently working on another 1950s Imperial (with similar drive train) for a client who’s an engineer for Renault and lives in Paris.

He has sent me couple of photos of his other post-war American land yacht cruising the streets in The City of Lights.

 

Is this Imperial going to be imported to France that you are working on ? :) 

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3 hours ago, sebastienbuick said:

 

Is this Imperial going to be imported to France that you are working on ? :) 

As far as I know, that’s the plan.

 

The owner had hoped to come see the car this year, but CoViD restrictions may not accommodate that. ☹️

 

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On 3/28/2021 at 9:10 PM, Joe West said:

Yellow with a blue interior... hmmmmm.  I hope the outside was repainted; that color combination is not particularly attractive in my opinion.  Other than the color combination, that is an amazing car... rolling art in my opinion.

 

Joe

At first it jarred me, then I realized it was actually elegant and "works" on a car like an Imperial. Yacht club set and all...

 

I went for mower gas yesterday afternoon and, while waiting in the NE pump line, saw a very nice early-80s "box" LTD in pale yellow exterior/blue interior combination. Again, on that car, it worked. Didn't hurt that it looked like it had just rolled out of the dealership. Original owner's 19yo grandson driving the 70-ish granddad around in it.

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12 hours ago, Brett Hulen said:

I spoke with Eleanor today regarding her 1958 Imperial and what a pleasure it was conversing with her!  One of the first things she asked me was why was I interested and how old I was.  I am a very young 71 and had previously owned a 1958 Crown Imperial 4 door sedan, and my father owned a 1957 Crown Imperial 4 door sedan as well.  I always kidded him that mine had 20 more horsepower!  I recall one day Dad and I were driving from Yreka, California to Bend, Oregon for the Oregon State Old Time Fiddling Contest.  I was driving Dad's 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 with the 312 Thunderbird Special engine.  A 1957 Imperial passed us and Dad said to me "Let's catch up to it as I want to look at it".  As a young man in my early 20's I was up for the chase! A long story short, we never could catch them and I had that little Ford wound up pretty tight to the extent Dad became a little concerned with our speed and reluctantly we gave up.  Those Imperials with the 392's would run forever.  The 392 in my opinion was one of the best engines ever built in the 50's and is a sentiment shared by Big Daddy Don Garlits.  I hope to drive up and take a look at her Imperial, now just need to see if I can make room in my garage.

It would be worth it to see the car just to meet Eleanor!

Do it!

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