1 of 122: 1983 Chrysler Imperial

In the world of automotive color combinations, black with red is one the sharpest there is, in my humble opinion. From BMWs to Mazdas, Fords to Mopars, black on red is one of the more eye-catching combos out there. Of course, acres of red fabric and plastics isn’t for everyone, but if that paint scheme works for you, then check out this somewhat rare 1983 Chrysler Imperial here on craigslist for $5,350. 

The seller cites this paint combo as the reason for the rarity. As has been discussed lately, the amount of detective work some sellers are willing to do to determine just how many of their car was made is impressive, if not somewhat annoying. But as Imperial production wound down and the numbers of cars produced each year got smaller, I suppose it can be allowed that this is a hard-to-find vehicle, especially in such nice condition. Fun fact: the Imperial’s pentastar hood ornament sported real Cartier crystal!

The seller estimates it is just one of 122 in black, and of an even smaller pool of vehicles with the red interior. Speaking of that interior, wow – I’m surprised they didn’t stain the woodgrain trim a shade of red! The carpeting looks very clean for the mileage, which clocks in at 90,987. Certainly not a time capsule vehicle, which says something about the care previous owners have taken to keep it in good shape. The seller says the Imperial’s undersides is one of the cleanest he’s seen with no rust.

The seller says the Imperial is in “drive it anywhere” condition and the A/C still blows cold. The Imperial, in its day, was a legitimate luxury car with lots of options, ranging from integrated garage door openers to a digital dashboard. Heck, there was even a Mark Cross package that got you a standard umbrella! This one appears to be in outstanding condition, and for the asking price, could represent a pleasant way to cruise all summer long while being welcomed by Mopar and vintage enthusiasts alike.

Fast Finds


  1. Jason

    Bordello red interior. Yikes!

  2. Billy

    Looks like the lemon early fuel injection was axed, as most of them were on the 318, funny they didn’t mention that.

    • imperial1scott

      I noticed that also.Looks like a backyard conversion too.Without the proper fuel flow sensor to the carb the digital readouts won’t read correctly.Looks like the air pump belt somehow fell off too.

  3. Terry J

    Don’t give a hoot for the “and only 5 were built with the factory 8 track tape option” thought process. That said you sure can’t buy much for $5 grand anymore, and this is a very cool car. :-) Terry J

  4. DrinkinGasoline

    These were based on the Cordoba which by this time were thin metal, rust proned, sloppy handling, poor examples of what the U.S. auto industry was prior to this example. By chance, I had the opportunity to purchase an ’80 Cordoba at 45,000 miles (with the “Rich Corinthian Leather” interior) for the lofty sum of $600 during the ’90’s. What a mistake. I have never owned a cheaper vehicle than that Cordoba, and I’ve owned many a vehicle. The only up-side was that most of the mechanical parts interchanged with my ’82 Dodge Diplomat Sedan, which was a great vehicle. The Cordoba ended up being a pathetic parts donor, keeping the Diplomat on the road. Kinda like buying a parts shelf….

    • Tim Rusling

      These were built at Windsor Assembly, 20 minutes from where I live. Even though this is Chrysler territory, I haven’t seen one in years and years.

  5. Larry

    Nice looking design, check. Black over red, check. Now if I could only find my super bad platform shoes and bell bottoms.

  6. alan

    Never any rust with the exception of the area below the gas filler door.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Bottoms of the front fenders aft the wheel, door bottoms and rear quarters fore and aft the rear wheel openings were well known for serious rot regardless of region. As far as the fuel filler door, that was the vehicle owner’s fault for not being careful with eroding/corrosive fluids during fueling.

  7. Joe

    A $1000 old man’s car—all day long. Or for a single guy who wants to stay that way. No young lady is riding in this coffin-like beast—unless you are chaffeuring her to a next “date”.

  8. HeadMaster1

    Of all the cars I’ve ever owned, my 82′ Imperial is the rarest…..It’s a FS (Frank Sinatra) edition, blue on blue of course……These cars are very polarizing, you either love the looks or hate them…….I love a large car with hidden lights, and the bustle back on this is better than the Seville IMHO…..As to the previous comment about thin sheet metal on a Cordoba, just be informed that the Imperial, built in the same factory, but a completely separate line weighs substantially more due to much thicker steel. These cars are VERY smooth and quite, I’d love to put a newer Hemi or Viper mill in one as the 130hp 318 couldn’t spin a tire on wet marble……You had “choices” with these cars, NOT options……Alloys or Wires? Cloth or Leather? 8-track or Cassette? No cost, you got what you wanted…..The 81′ you could get a sunroof as a cost option, but only in 81′ (guess they had problems with it)…..The only other option was the “FS” option which included a center console and a collection of cassette tapes from ol’ blue eyes……And the carpet is reminiscent of those furry toilet tank covers from the 70’s…….. Love these things

    Like 2
    • DrinkinGasoline

      I’ll take the furry toilet tank cover…At my age, it’s more comfy as well as the padded seat. Although it does need replacing from time to time given those cracks that can pinch ! Nothin’ worse than standing up and leaving skin behind !

    • Jason

      Apparently the exterior color was supposed to match his eyes. /eyeroll

      • Jason

        Crazy what you can find on the Internet:

        Tapes Included with 1981 and 1982 Imperial Frank Sinatra Edition

      • DrinkinGasoline

        It’s amazing that ‘Ol Blue Eyes lowered Himself to this level in His later years….

      • Jason

        “Frank Sinatra was a worthless drunk and a womanizer.


        Is this the same Joe that was ranting about MEXICANS?

      • James Hickman

        If you ever saw his eyes in real life, you wouldn’t eye roll. I did…. from about 15 feet away. I was stunned at how blue they really were!

        I like these Imperials too. But they beg for an engine swap!

    • Rod

      This car is in great shape for its age. What can you buy for 5grand that is this nice. Buy it and drive in class. I worked in a Chrysler dealership and thought these cars were good. Easy and cheap to repair if needed.

    • Keith

      I also had the 82 Frank Sinatra edition Imperial. Getting the paint correct was not easy. You could lose a toddler in the carpet it was that deep. The Kimberly velvet held up well over time. Like these or hate them I ca say this much: when I took it to shows it drew a crowd.

  9. stillrunners lawrence Member

    Its a two door – that is rare !

    • Mitchell MacLeod

      This generation was only two doors…..

  10. Rustytech Member

    I never quite figured out why these didn’t sell better. They were gorgeous compared to the Sevilles of the same time period, and compared to the Caddie’s 8-6-4 or 4100 the engine was 10 times better. If only I had room for it!

    Like 1
    • Keith

      Cost, my friend. The FS edition of the Imperial was the most expensive car you could buy in the USA in those years….around $25k back in ’82. Also the Lean Burn system gained a horrible reputation right out of the box (Sinatra ditched his when it stalled over some train tracks and wouldn’t start). But the design was a beautiful one, especially for that era, and the dash lit up at night with electroluminesence is really something.

      Like 1
      • Sanityfactor@outlook.com

        my 83 lincoln town car cartier stickered at 23k fully loaded

  11. Michael thomas

    1983 they tried to cut cost and replaced the crystal ornament with plastic. Would have bought it if it had been a 82 . dang it

  12. tmc_61

    I once read where demolition derbies didn’t want these cars entered as the rear wouldn’t buckle and it was a huge advantage.

    • Don

      I think that was around the 1960s imperial.

      • Tim Rusling

        The ’64 to ’66 imperials were outlawed for demo competitions. I had two and both eventually went demo’ing prior to the outlawing. One of them took out the entire field of competitors. The other took a giant hit to the side and collapsed over its rotten body mounts.

  13. irocrob

    A real nice car that I would love to own. Frank Sinatra was pure class and had a long career in movies and music.

  14. Mark

    I like big cars as much as the next guy, but this particular model had me flash back to the ‘SUX 6000’ from the original Robocop movie.

    • Jeff DeWitt

      Nice car, my late brother would have loved it. Can’t say I’m thrilled by that RED interior, but you’d get used to it.

      I always thought the SUX 6000 would have been either a Chrysler or a Pontiac.

      Of course who knows, in the Robocop world maybe GM and Chrysler were one gigantic government owned company making lousy cars.

      And of course Ford kept moving on, with the cops driving Tauruses.

  15. Jay

    Why can’t we appreciate cars for surviving and not bash each other opinions and likes?

    Like 1
  16. Rod444

    Ya gotta LOVE those sharp body lines. And the sharp line coming down off the C pillar to the rear bumper. You just can’t buy that kind of style for 5 grand anymore.

    I wanna buy it just so when my friends get in and are blinded by the red, they’ll say, “Whoa, check out the leather” and I’ll be able to snort, “CORINTHIAN leather!”

  17. JJS

    Black/red combo is nice. But black paint hides the body lines. Take a nicely sculpted body, paint it black, and the sculpting disappears.

    Like 1
  18. Randy W

    Just a few words: Beautiful car, like driving on a cloud. Road trip anyone.
    I personally met Frank at the four horseman lounge by O’ hare airport back in the 60’s, and you couldn’t meet a nicer guy. It’s were the Rat Pack would meet. I was young then and they took me in like I was a brother. Probably because my family was the largest beer distributor. Anyhow here’s to you blue eye’s, Bartender set um up.

    Like 1
  19. glenn

    always loved these cars

  20. Mitch Member

    Seems no one here likes cars that don’t look exactly like all the other cars out there. Maybe everyone needs to drive a ’69 Chevelle. This is a rare, top of the corporate line vehicle that was quite expensive when new. It has a unique look and the red interior is correct for period tastes. I guess today’s 50 shades of gray are what some find more attractive. Considering everything, I’m surprised these don’t trade for twice the asking price.

    Like 1
  21. QMopar

    I had an 83 and an 81 and a friend has one with the original FI. Really nice cars. They’re not for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the ones I owned. This one looks pretty clean – no asterisk on the odometer so the cluster is original and those should be original miles. Nice car

    • Keith

      You are correct sir about the asterisk, however that also means that the conversion from Lean Burn over to carb wasn’t done by Chrysler (which cost Chrysler $2k per vehicle to perform).

  22. SubGothius

    Always did like the rakish, razor-edge styling on these, a much better expression of the era’s bustle-back fad than the Seville. Seems like it’d be a cool idea to restomod with some Mopar performance/handling goodies, maybe debadge and dechrome somewhat for an even sleeker look.

    The contemporary Lincoln Continental was another more attractive bustle-back, especially the facelifted later versions, and being a Fox-body would seem even more amenable to performance modding with Mustang or Mark VII derived upgrades.

    Like 2
  23. Joe

    Frank once told me, Those who know don’t tell, and those’s who tell don’t know ! Get my meaning.

  24. ryland tedeton

    I have owned a 1981 chrysler imperial for past 12 years and am the second owner.. The imperial just had it`s first repaint [ sea mist green ] and it looks like it just came from the factory. The interior is all original [ velour ] never had any mechanical problems love the car,has won many trophies at car shows including AACA car club.I plan to keep it until i am to old to drive, thanks Ryland T.

    Like 4
    • Headmaster1

      Hey Ryland, did you replace the original decals after the repaint, or just go with pinstripes? There’s a guy on ebay selling the decals for nearly $600…..seems crazy to me but I guess you can’t find them anywhere else…..

  25. George Mattar

    Always liked these cars. Black on red. Killer combo. Only thing better. Black on bright blue.

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