Live Auctions

1 of 650 Drop-Tops: 1951 Chrysler Imperial

Chrysler introduced the Imperial in 1926 and it would be the company’s top model for several decades. The car was positioned to compete with the likes of Cadillac, Lincoln, and some makes that are no longer with us like the Duesenberg, Pierce-Arrow, Cord, and Packard. This 1951 convertible is from the first generation of Imperials built after World War II. It was stored in a warehouse for 33 years and will need restoring, and no mention is made about getting it started. Located in Sarasota, Florida, this old classic is available here on eBay for $21,495.

A flood of all-new cars hit the market in 1948-49 as the U.S. auto industry was rebounding from six years of being in wartime production mode. This included the Chrysler Imperial which employed sleeker styling than previous editions. It would become one of the first production autos to have 4-wheel disc brakes as standard equipment. These Imperials were more like New Yorkers on steroids in terms of personal comfort. Imperials convertibles would be the rarest of the breed, with just 650 copies being built in 1951.

After being in a warehouse for more than three decades, the owner’s heirs sold both the storage facility and the car and that’s how the seller came into its possession. It looks like a solid car for a restoration. The auto was repainted several years ago, but the finish is peeling away in several places. Rust isn’t mentioned, but the trunk has evidence of some prior patchwork. However, the top and the interior look to be in nice condition and could get a pass, like the door panels, upholstery, carpeting, etc.

This Imperial has a Hemi under the hood, which should be 331 cubic inches. There is no telling how long it’s been since the car was last cranked up because there was no battery. We’re told the gas tank will need to be flushed and new brakes installed. The transmission is the “Fluid Drive” automatic used by Chrysler in those days. There is a set of spotlights on both sides of the car, and it wears factory wire wheels, which may need to be re-chromed. The seller is not opposed to making a trade, so you can throw some ideas his or her way and see what happens.


  1. 370zpp 370zpp Member


    Like 7
  2. Will Fox

    This Imperial has been featured here in the past. This is an instant collectible, very scarce, and worth restoring. Not many of these surface, and when they do, they are $90K specimens.

    Like 13
  3. Rj

    She sure looks good in pictures…..No different than the girls on dating sites I imagine.

    Honestly it’s a good looking Mopar. Fix what needs fix’n, and drive.

    Like 13
  4. Sam61

    This listing brings back fond memories from high school. I had the less desirable 1952 4dr Imperial with the 331 hemi and slush-o-matic semi automatic. I remember buying 4″ whitewalls from Sears, 30 ft dark green paint job. Also many JC Whitney parts that always over promised and under delivered. I did see a 52 Hemi Imperial coupe at last year’s Duck Tail run in gas City Indiana.

    Like 6
    • Lane

      Wow. JC Whitney. Mentioning that date’s you for sure. And me!

      Like 16
  5. NHDave

    Just an historical clarification, US auto manufacturers weren’t in war time production mode for six years. The order halting civilian auto production was issued in January 1942, with the final civilian vehicles coming off the line the following month. Civilian vehicle production resumed around mid-1945 as the war in the Pacific concluded with essentially pre-war models built until the newly designed models debuted in 1948-49.

    Like 4
    • Stu

      Thanks for the info. That is why I can never find a car made the year I was born, 1944.

      Like 5
    • Rob Norman

      Just a remark from the “grammar police”, Dave ,

      ” a historical ” .

      Like 3
      • GitterDunn

        Actually, Rob, “an historical” and “a historical” are both correct!

        Like 9
      • Terrry

        So is “hysterical”

        Like 2
  6. Pete Phillips

    First year for power steering, and this one has it.

    Like 1
  7. Russ Ashley

    It’s beautiful, but if you blow the pictures up to full screen you can really see a lot that needs to be done. I would love to have it and about a hundred thousand dollars to have it restored at a good restoration facility. Problem is, at my age I would be to old to drive it by the time it would be finished so I will leave it for one of you folks. You are welcome.

    Like 3
  8. Wayne

    Sam61 & Lane, J.C. Whitney was the mail order arm of Warshasky & Co. (SP?) at 22nd and Archer in Chicago. Huge place! Walking into that place was quite the experience for a 16year old that worked in a NAPA store. Just like the old hardware stores with the creaky wooden floors. And yes disappointment, I called ahead to reserve a brand new white convertible top for my 1955 Chev. But the “will call” could not be found. I left with a black one for a lot less money. The last time I purchased from them was the spring of 1983. The order was complete and waiting for me. All the parts were as advertised, and it was the only time that ever happened. (Sometimes you had to roll the dice as they were the only place that even listed what you were looking for.)

    Like 9
    • GitterDunn

      If anybody’s interested, if you go to eBay and do a search for “j. c. whitney catalog”, you will see quite a number of them, dating from the 1950s up to the ’90s. The older catalogs especially are fun to look through, containing loads of illustrations and descriptions of an amazing array of auto accessories and parts for customizing, hot rodding, etc. that were popular in those days.

      Like 9
    • Lane

      Warshasky & Co. and JC Whitney wish book Memories!

      Like 5
  9. Mike T

    I high school I had a 1930 Ford business coupe. I ordered parts from J.C. Whitney and ended up throwing them away. The new cam I bought for my 1930 Model A Ford 4-cylinder engine distributor had the center mounting hole off center and the new rotor I bought with it tore up the new distributor body, so I had to buy new items again. I bought a new condenser at the Knox Garage in the 1950’s in Dixfield, Maine I never used. When I finished the rebuild of my 1929 Model AA Ford, the condenser failed, and I used that condenser that I bought 55 years ago, and it is still working.

    Like 3
  10. Todd J. Member

    Back in the ’60’s, my father and his partners owned a business that manufactured U-joints and drivelines. He looked at one of my J.C. Whitney catalogues and went ballistic at the prices for U-joints. “You can’t manufacture and sell them through a jobber at those prices and make any money! They have to be crap,” he fumed. Needless to say, I never ordered a U-joint from Whitney.

    Like 3
  11. Charlie Member

    The disc brakes on this are not like what we have now. Maybe a conversion to drum brakes of the time would work, or modern discs, assuming the old style parts are unobtainable.

    Like 1
  12. Kenn

    Hey Stu, a 1944 Jeep would be an option!

    Like 1
    • Stu

      Never thought of that, Kenn. I’m sure my wife would love one of those parked in the driveway. Better than a Sherman tank I guess. Just born at the wrong time. I graduated from high school in 1962 so will stick with my dream of a ’62 Impala SS.

      Like 1

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