1959 Imperial Crown Southampton Survivor


Thanks to Robert for this find, a 1959 Chrysler Imperial Crown Southampton 4 door hardtop, a title almost as long as the car. It also has a large 413 cid with a 4 barrel to move it down. This is a huge, and dare I say pretty car? This is one of those cars you expect to see a little ding on the front from the Champagne bottle when it was launched. This Imperial is a very original example with 89,000 documented miles and appears to be in grand form. All it’s shiny bits are reported to be shiny as they should be and all its accessories functional. It is well equipped with all the latest gadgets of its day. It’s listed here on craigslist in Fresno with an asking price of a lofty $18,000. It has its original black plates but it’s “non-opped” so there will be no registration penalties if it’s sold in California. Wouldn’t this be a hoot for the occasional cruise and car show?













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  1. Ed P

    Nice condition. I don’t see anything that sets off alarms on this one.

  2. Joe Moss

    Love this big iron. Wish there were more pics though. Very nice. May be a little high but Im sure not to the right person. *From a time when America WAS #1 in all ways. No Govt. mandates on this one. I think this is one of Virgils design…

    • James

      Actually the headlamp size and type (sealed beams or parabolic aluminized reflector, aka PAR lamps) were mandated by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 which regulates all automotive lighting, signalling and reflective devices. The Canadian version CMVSS 108 is similar to the US FMVSS 108. The UN standards (formerly European) differ quite a bit from FMVSS 108.

      This regulation or Federal mandate, if you prefer, is why US spec BMW Isettas, their big brother BMW 600s and Fiat 500s of the era were forced to wear “bug eyes” (not the Sprite) because they had only 2 headlights which had to be PAR 56 lamps (7″) rather than smaller PAR 46 lamps (5 3/4″) mandated for the 4 headlight cars.

      There was an unfounded rumor in the motoring press in 1959 that GM through Chevrolet was suggesting by way of the eyebrows or nostrils above the ’59 Chevy lights that the standards should be changed to allow advanced and uniquely styled headlamps. Rumors. Bah.

      Sadly we were #1 in some areas that reflected (no pun intended) badly on us. Among advanced Democratic nations we were the only one where a large number of our citizens, the black minority, were prevented from holding public office or voting throughout a large swath of the country by then prevailing Jim Crow laws.

      • moosie Craig

        Huh ?

  3. Dave Wright

    I bought a twin to this car in about 1971. I had sold my 1970 Volvo 242 to buy a Lotus 11 race car. I used this old girl as a daily driver and race car transporter. We would fill the trunk with tools, the car with people and cruse towing the Lotus to Seattle or Portland at 80 miles an hour, these are truly wonderful cars destine for a slow steady appreciation both in value and status. They are about as far from the modern junk most of us drive that you can get. The price may be a bit ambitious without seeing it in person. I bought my car from an old buddy that had driven it a lot. One winter day, his wife was driving when a Ford careened through a stop sign out of control on the hard packed ice. She T boned the Ford doing maby 20 miles an hour, the Ford went sailing over a 3 foot berm of hard packed snow and ice into a yard as the side opened like a can of beans. The Imperial had a scratch in the chrome bumper maby 2 inches long, no dents anywhere. ……….that really is a 5 MPH bumper!!!!

  4. That Guy

    It looks great but a careful search for rust would be justified. The ad says the car lived its life in Pacifica, which is a town just south of San Francisco. It is exactly what it sounds like – an oceanfront town, which also spends a lot of its time swathed in fog and dampness. Baywatch-sunny and warm it ain’t; it’s not a kind environment for cars, or anything else metal. This old barge looks clean enough that it’s probably escaped the fate of many beach-town cars, but it’s not impossible that there could be hidden nasties.

  5. justin

    We had an old geezer that was part senile and the other part eccentric that had one of these back in the 70’s that lived in our small town. It was a putrid yellow but he kept that car in cherry condition.
    One day my kid brother and about 4 of his friends, all about 7 years younger than I, came running outside of the convenient store, running into me. I asked them what was going on, as I thought the store was on fire or some other kind of an emergency. My brother jerked and pulled away from me and exclaimed that, “Old Man Lotal is leaving!” Curious, I followed them out to the bench that sat in front of the store and waited to see what was so special about seeing Mr. Lotal leave in his Chrysler.
    The first thing that you heard was the distinct high pitched sound of the Mopar starter cranking the engine. Once the engine started, you could still hear the starter engaged as the poor old man was legally deaf. He would rev the engine so that he could feel the vibration to know that the engine started…it took several wide open throttle responses to meet his satisfaction. With the engine still not settling down after being reved at high a RPM, he jerked the gear selector into reverse.
    With smoke bellowing from the spinning tires, the car was launched into the air when it hit the dip from the transition from the parking lot to the street with the old man wheeling the car sideways into the middle of the road, screeching to a stop. What was really funny was to see this feeble body man behind a steering wheel that was as big as he. He had to look through the steering wheel to see out. You could only see part of the top of his head, even from the side. He looked like a bobble head as he tried to recover from his flight.
    The old man paused to put the car into drive. Then floors it, burning rubber and leaving the street covered in smoke for several blocks! I don’t think he knew that he was moving so he kept the peddle floored. It was quite a show!
    I always looked forward to him coming into town…as that was about the most excitement that that little town would ever experience.

  6. Duffy Member

    Such a great looking vehicle. Cannot understand why anyone would paint over the door hardware and latches. To me it seems like it was cleaned up really quickly. Maybe it’s me but cannot stand painted door hardware and latches. It looks like the hood latch was painted over also.

    • Dave Wright

      I am with you……ls shows poor workmanship

  7. James

    To Craig’s “Huh ?”

    Sealed beam headlamps were mandated for cars sold in the US from 1940 through 1983. Thus we lost the beautiful, sometimes bizarre, unique pre-1940 headlamp designs – replaced by the 7″ round ones.

    Halogen sealed beams were approved under FMVSS 108 in 1978. Obviously the regulation has been updated over the years permitting the use of new technology which has given the designers more creative latitude.

    Many of us, in the early 70s, changed out the 7″ sealed beams for halogen bulb and lens units. Their performance was spectacular in comparsion to the OEM lights.

    The UN standards are used in most countries around the world. Naturally they’ve kept pace with changing technologies too.

    ps: although the ’59 Imperial looks in good condition I still prefer the “subtle?” 55s.

    • Dave Wright

      We have had plenty of great designs using sealed beam headlights……..you do understand why the law was passed? Pre brass era cars used carbide, acetaline or even oil lamps in an era of mostly wooden cities and few fire fighters. It is a similar reason Photo studios were on the outskirts of towns (nitrocellulose film) and no smoking laws in movie theaters. There was no great outcry to change the sealed beam laws so they were slow to change. Not that any of this pertains to this great old Imperial.

      • James

        Electric lamps were coming to the fore as early as 1910 and were commonplace by 1920. The problem these early bulb and lens headlamps was accumulation of moisture and dirt within the headlamp housing along with deterioration of the reflector. Lighting performance went down hill rapidly.

        Take a look at the magnificent, large, oval headlamps on the 1933 Studebaker President.

        The early carbide generators or (more commonly B size acetylene cylinders for cars) acetylene lamps were never a consideration because the “old crocks” were no longer on the road by the advent of the sealed beam in the late 30s.

        BTW a few carbide generators (for acetylene gas) were, surprisingly, still in use in some welding/machine shops in the late 60s. I did not stay in the shop near Ft Benning as they gas welded a part for me.

        Carbide generators were sometimes unstable. Kaboom!

  8. ben

    Justin, That story was hilarious! LMAO!!!!!!!

  9. Bryan

    Here’s a recent pic of my 1959 Imperial Crown 2dr that I’ve owned since 1987. These are great cars; mine features 6-way electric swivel seats, power windows, and mirror-matic rear view mirror.

  10. LD71

    2 thumbs up Bryan! LD71 :D

  11. krash

    wow, Bryan, beautiful ride.

    (Not to take away from the 4dr., but) I love the two door version!!

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