The Imperial Convertible: 1965 Chrysler Imperial

Although I’ve never owned one myself, I have not one but two friends who currently own mid-60s Chrysler Imperials. In fact, one of them is my roommate! Both cars are projects, much like this ’65 Imperial convertible. This might be the only condition I’ve ever seen an Imperial of this vintage in and unfortunately that is probably because many of these once-common cars were lost to demolition derbies. In my experience, it is rare to see a mid-60s Imperial in any configuration other than four-door sedan . Regardless, this Imperial is in prime project condition (if that exists) and ready to find a new home! Find it here on eBay in Connecticut with bidding at $1,280 and no reserve!

Under the enormous hood sits what is certainly a Chrysler 440, the only engine Chrysler offered at the time that would move such a large vehicle with ease. For many people, the term “440” conjures up loud, thumping, built-up big blocks shoved into Dusters and the like. For others, it perhaps exhumes memories of their grandparent’s motorhome. For this car, the 440 is an instrument of precision and a fundamental part of a truly classy automobile. For the time and the size, Imperials with 440s were rather quiet and were considered a very top of the line vehicles. From the looks of it, this 440 could use a rebuild though the seller states it fires up and has a rebuilt carburetor. It would not be a bad idea to go through it just in case.

Though this car looks to be all-around complete and restorable, the interior is a veritable nightmare. Although both I and you have seen worse, the interior of this Chrysler needs just about everything. The rear is nearly as bad as the front and subsequently all of the seats will need to be recovered. The dash looks like it may have some sun damage, although all of the gauges, handles, and other shiny things look to be present. The damage pattern in this Imperial is consistent with being a convertible, i.e. it has sustained a lot of sun damage. There is plenty of interior left to work with though!

My absolute favorite feature on these cars is the glass headlamp covers. They look classy, reject road debris, and have twin 24k gold pinstripes around the edge of the lenses. These lenses are cool, plain, and simple! In 1965, this Imperial convertible was a car that really made a statement. I’m not sure if I agree with the seller’s statement that this car is “a real blue chip investment better than stocks or bonds”, I do think this car will go for a very low price and once restored will be quite valuable. Would you attempt to fix it up?

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Comments

  1. DrinkinGasoline

    I’d rather have the 63 Chevy he has for sale..more parts support.
    And I’m a Ford guy ! The seller needs to be more creative and differentiate the descriptions for each of the offerings listed.

    4+

  2. JamestownMike

    Not sure how the seller can state, “no rust issues”?? I can see obvious rust thru on the lower passenger rear quarter and passenger rear bumper……..and extensive surface rust underhood and most likely underneath! Despite all that, it’s a cheap enough project and I’m bidding! Wish me luck. Hopefully bidding won’t get run up too high!

    11+

  3. Chebby

    1965 is likely the 413 engine.

    9+

    • JamestownMike

      Yep, seems so. Not sure why Andrew thinks it has the 440??

      4+

    • Rabbit

      Checking my handy-dandy parts computer, the 413 was, in fact, the only engine for a 65 Imperial.

      6+

    • Andrew Tanner Staff

      Forgive me fellas, I mis-remembered the 440s starting in 1965 instead of ’66.

      3+

      • Ed P

        You are forgiven

        0

  4. Sam

    I really like all variations of Imperials late 50’s to late 60’s. It’s a bit different than a Cadillac or Lincoln of the same era.

    To me it would be like driving a Bentley…understated “in your face” elegance and power.

    The only way the headlight covers could be cooler is if darkened like glasses in sunlight and cleared when the lights came on.

    4+

  5. Dave Wright

    440’s didn’t start until 66…….my 66 convertible has a 440 but there is nothing wrong with a 413. Who wrote this…..how can you tell that an engine needs rebuilding by looking at the outside? Maby some more experiance is in order.

    13+

    • Dave Wright

      And convertibles were NEVER used in demolition derbys.

      12+

      • JamestownMike

        agreed!

        6+

      • Sam

        Picking nits… Nascar allowed convertibles with dubious roll cages. Who knows, some operator may have done the same thing witb demolition derbys.

        Just being disagreeable for fun

        1+

    • John D.

      True! 413, 426, and 440 share the same stroke, just a bigger hole in the 440. I guess a 50 year old engine can be assumed to have enough ring wear on the cylinder walls to require at least honing and de-ridging. I would at least pull the heads to examine the cylinders and to put hardened valve seats in.

      4+

    • Andrew Tanner Staff

      I wrote it! I apologize if it seemed I was implying convertibles were used for derbies, because I was not. Many, many, many sedan Imperials were used as derby cars and still are today! See my above reply addressing my 440 blunder. I assumed it would need rebuilt because I assumed it was a 440 and have encountered several that were unusable due to cylinder wear. Cheers!

      1+

      • RS

        I’ve read and heard in more than one place that 1964-66 Imperials are NOT allowed in most demolition derbies – the only vehicle so banned – because they are near indestructible. A mechanic friend told me that this series of car is basically a unibody built atop a regular frame, which would explain why they are apparently so indestructible.

        1+

      • Ed P

        RS: Combining a unibody with a frame would make a tank.

        0

  6. DrinkinGasoline

    The 413 was standard for 59 to 65 in the Imperial.
    The 350 hp 440 would be introduced in 1966.
    Don’t be so harsh folks…We all were there, once.

    8+

  7. Dave Wright

    I will have in the neighborhood of 30K in restoration costs in mine which puts me positively upside down in today’s market. But I am a believer, with 200,000 66 Chargers…….these have a long way to grow. You could buy 2 or 3 chargers new for what these cost. The car writers of the day consistently rated these as better cars than Rolls, Cads or linclons of the same vintage. Last of the body on frame cars from mopar and incredible build quality. The time to buy is when they are cheep.

    13+

    • Andrew Tanner Staff

      Agree 100% Dave! This are very nice pieces of machinery and I’m amazed they are still so affordable.

      4+

  8. Jim G.

    “Mr. Drysdale…your car is ready.”

    12+

    • Andy

      Beat me to it!

      2+

  9. Dan

    In my neck of the woods, engines do not get rebuilt because they look crappy. They have to run crappy and be on their last legs as well!

    4+

    • Dave Wright

      How tough is a compression and oil pressure test? The guys at the Imperial forum That I belong to are saying the frame X members are rusted out on this one.

      5+

      • Pat A

        And run a leak down test and put a vacuum gauge on it. Then you’ll know everything to know about the motor without having to tear it down.

        5+

  10. packrat

    -Now how many ’65 Imperial Convertibles have you seen? There is an Imperial club, and parts are available, although not as easy to get ahold of as a fidget spinner. At this price, if you like the looks of this one, and have the energy, and room, this is the one to get. (I only have the first criteria of three).

    4+

  11. gaspumpchas.

    My Stingray is light, the slicks are startin’ to spin
    But the 413’s really diggin’ in…..

    Shutdown, Beach Boys

    4+

  12. Andy

    Let’s not call these Chryslers, okay? This is a big, fine luxury machine, and calling it a Chrysler is like saying Mercury Continental or Buick Eldorado.

    3+

    • Ed P

      Chrysler created the confusion. Imperial was a model in the Chrysler brand until 1955. Then it became a brand in it’s own right until the end. Mostly the change was not recognized by the general public that continued to call them Chrysler Imperial’s. Even some dealers continued to call them that. Packard had the same problem with 56 Clippers. Ford confused many with Continentals and Lincoln Continentals.

      0

  13. Pat A

    Actually, Ford Continental and General Motors Eldorado would be more correct.

    4+

  14. Rustytech

    I agree with everything said about these being the pinnacle of luxury in the 60’s, but for that very reason, restoring this one is going to take DEEP pockets. It is likely to be a labor of love, not a good investment. At least not in the short term. I hope someone is willing to take it on and do right by it though.

    4+

    • Andrew Tanner Staff

      I can vouch from the experience of several friends that deep pockets are necessary! Beautiful cars though.

      1+

  15. lawrence

    They are a hard sell – had a 1-owner 65 convert….nice shape – running – title….best she would bring was about $1500 in the early 90’s….glad to see it go…..

    0

  16. Alexander

    Same guy as the one with the 56 Cadillac on Barn Finds?

    0

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