Black Beauty! 1965 Imperial Coupe

This somewhat menacing 1965 Imperial (note, not a Chrysler; Imperial was a separate brand at this point) should look basically familiar to fans of the Green Hornet TV show and movie, as it was used as the basis for the famed Black Beauty car (the real star of both TV and movies, as well as my Aurora Thunderjet 500 slot car track as a child). This one looks to be very solid and mostly original, and is up for sale here on eBay at no reserve, with bidding starting out at a downright reasonable $500! It’s located in Santa Ana, California.

The seller states that they purchased the car five years ago with the intent of converting it into a replica of the movie car. Honestly, while that would be pretty cool, I’m glad they didn’t start the conversion yet! What a terrific looking and yet somewhat intimidating front end. There’s an extra set of those rare headlight covers in the trunk of the car as well. And what better license plate for a beautiful black car than a California black plate?

The current paint is estimated to be the only repaint by the seller, and it’s in pretty darn good shape. There’s a spot on the rear bumper where it appears that the chrome has peeled off, but apart from that the brightwork looks fine for a driver as well. I found these two decent wheel covers for sale here for only $38 so that you can replaced the damaged center of the left rear one.

The underside of the body looks just as nice as the exterior panels. Ah, if only all classic cars spent their early lives in California, I’d have a lot less nightmares about rust!

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I believe the interior has been reupholstered, and we’re told that the power seats move as they should. However, the power windows aren’t functional. Considering that none of them work, I suspect it’s either wiring or fuse related, not motors. You can see one split in the center of the dashboard, but apart from that and some discoloration of the (real) wood trim and faded carpet, it really looks nice.

Here’s one more shot of the inside. I’m glad that if it was reupholstered they did the rear seats to match (or matched them!) as well.

I was surprised to see the different color under the hood here; it’s apparent that the car was originally a pale gold color rather than the black. However, as a fan of efficiency over originality in a driver-level classic, I’m happy to see what appears to be a newish aluminum radiator in front of the original, good running 413 V8. Did I mention that this car runs and drives well? Honestly, if this car were closer, I might be a bidder. What do you think? Any other Green Hornet, Black Beauty or even Kato fans out there?

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Comments

  1. Mountainwoodie

    Owner seems unaware or downplaying the color change, assuming the gold we see is the original color and not a trick of light. Nonetheless I’ve seen many more of these in a 4 door so a two door is harder to find I’d think. Love the seats. Wish I wan’t so cheap.

  2. Fred W.

    Wow- already up to $6250 with 4 days to go!

  3. Chebby

    If you want to know how solid these cars are built, take a look at those eBay wheel covers. They have six bolts holding the center piece in. Six bolts on the HUBCAP alone. I remember taking one apart because I wanted to make a clock out of it, but couldn’t figure out how to have the hands sweep from behind the center emblem and then gave up on the project. But I’ll never forget how heavy duty just that damn hubcap was. I would love a nice Imperial someday soon.

  4. Rock On Member

    If I recall correctly the Green Hornet 🐝 had a 4 door sedan chauffeured by Kato. Never seen a 2 door coupe on the show.

    • JamestownMike

      Your correct, the Green Hornet car was a 4 door sedan.

      • JamestownMike

        Sorry, I meant to say 4 door hardtop.

  5. Opie

    The very first car I ever bought was a 64 Imperial sedan. This was in about ’78. I was totally into muscle like every other kid my age, but I just fell for it. White with a pearl leather interior. It was just beautiful and very very heavy. Very powerful. This coupe is even sleeker. The 64 and 65 only have a slightly different grille treatment otherwise they are almost the same. This would be a date car for sure.

  6. Andy

    The only Mopar I ever owned was an ’81 slant 6, four on the floor cargo van, but if I ever get another, I’d want one of these, or a Forward Look Imperial or De Soto. This one is going to make somebody very happy.

    • boxdin

      I had an 1981 B200 van w 6cyl w OD 4 speed. Damn near broke my right foot pushing the throttle to the floor all the time. Put an interior in it and sold it to order a new 82 ford swb 302 AT.

  7. JamestownMike

    I’m a big Green Hornet, Kato fan. By the way, the Green Hornet car is a 4 door sedan. However, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this car! Very sexy body! Looks “bad to the bone” in triple black!!!! I didn’t know they made this in a coupe. I’m surprised it’s already up to $6,251 with over 4 days left in the auction……..I was hoping to steal it! I didn’t know luxury coupes were worth this much. What do you think it’s worth?

    • King Al

      I always preferred the 66 Chrysler 300 convert that the Van Williams character daily drove as a wealthy citizen over the Black Beauty.

      Like 1
  8. Dave Wright

    I am doing a 1966 Imperial convertible right now. The only sedans they built in these years were limos, everything else was a hardtop. Both 4 doors and 2 doors. I drove one like this for many years as my primary big car. I owned 11 Imperials at that time, one from each year 1955-1965 all either 2 door hardtops or convertibles. These are world class cars that have been undervalued on the market for a long time……someday they will catch up. You could buy 2 or 3 Chargers new for what my 66 cost. Restoration is complicated and expensive but they are very good cars that give an incredible driving experiance.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Dave Wright –

      The last Chrysler sponsored* Imperial Ghia limo was 1965. I know, because I owned it. Bought it in 1992 with a whopping 5,750 miles on the car, always kept inside, never driven in the rain. Still had the original General brand special tires, with a size of M78X15. I never was able to find a tire in that size except for truck 6 ply.

      * When Ghia stopped building the limousines for Chrysler, the tooling was sent to Spain, where a company called Barierieos [sp?] built a few, but these were never imported to the USA when new [per Chrysler Corp edict]. Stageway in Arkansas did build 1966 Chrysler “airport style” limo, but these were stretched Newport Custom sedans, as the imperials and New Yorkers were 4-door hardtops.

      They made a grand total of 10 Ghia limousines in 1965. My car was actually a 1964 chassis and firewall/front clip, as it took Ghia 2 years to finish it. By then the 1966 cars were already at the dealer, so the car was sold new with a 1966 grill.

      I sold it a few years later to a collector in Chicago, and as I watched him drive the limo down my long driveway, I thought to myself; You fool, you should never have sold it! I still miss that limo, it rode & drove better than any of my Rolls-Royce cars.

      I also owned the 1955 Imperial C-70 limo, chassis #110 a Derham conversion for Mamie Eisenhower. A friend of mine had the actual 1955 Derham “hardtop limo” Eisenhower parade limo [chassis #101], with sunroof over the rear compartment, and no jump seats. As a surprise, in 1987 I borrowed Ike’s car and picked up David & Julie Eisenhower in it, for a fundraiser at the Eisenhower theater in DC. I still have photos of me in a tux, standing next to the car, with Julie & David standing up thru the open sunroof.

      The photo is of my 1965 Ghia limo.

      • Mountainwoodie

        That limo is gorgeous. I always wanted Pat Browns , I think it was a ’59, Ghia Imperial. I know I dont need to say it but too bad you sold it.

  9. AMCFAN

    I remember the Chrysler Imperial was the king at the Demo derby in the late 1970’s to mid to late 1990’s then were outlawed in the derby circles by being too tough.

    Many nice examples (nicer then this) were pummeled into a solid block of metal. I knew a guy who would frequent the Washington DC and surrounding areas and bought them up one by one He typically bought one owner/family owned garage kept low mileage examples for the sole purpose of destroying them. At the time they could be had next to nothing. The people couldn’t give them away fast enough.Usually the owners who had one knew of another. He would buy six to eight at a time.

    An interesting side note is he preferred the 58-66 (wide block) 318 or non LA engine. When everyone else known to man prefers the only one motor to power everything. The SBC.

    He maintained that he could run numerous events with the same wore out engine. He said once the cooling system was compromised it would continue to run when others simply burned up.

    It would get so hot that the exhaust pipes would glow cherry red. Many times he would take a hit so hard it would kill the engine. Then he would crank on it and it would turn over so slow with agonizing resentment that at the last moment when the battery was ready to give up it’s last ohm the engine would fire back to life! Won many events like that. He favored 4:10 gears. The Imperial done the rest.

    A testament of good Chrysler engineering at it’s (then) best.

    • RoselandPete

      Such a waste of cars.

  10. boxdin

    Those glass headlight covers were made illegal and did not appear the next year as I recall.

    • Dave Wright

      My 66 has the covers…… my 65 did not.

  11. RNR

    Looks like the engine got a fairly recent coat of what looks to be Ford Blue instead of the correct B/RB turquoise. There is overspray on the firewall, so it looks like it got its spraybomb rebuild while in the car.

    The condition of the interior puts this so far ahead of any other ’66 Imp I’ve seen for some time as the starting point for a nice resto

  12. Ron

    Get a hold of the ole man on pawn stars,He loves these cars

  13. fish56

    Nice car, but it’s probably worse than it looks. Take a close look at the driver’s side rocker panel trim, just in front of the rear wheel. You can see where they taped off the trim to paint, versus removing the trim first. There’s paint bleed onto the trim as well as a few flakes where the tape took off paint on the edge of the body.

  14. CHRYCO

    First off, I love these, in my top 10 most beautiful cars. The Interior is incredibly well preserved, but the body on this one looks like it has been in a parking lot demo derby. Then very quickly “fixed up” to look decent in the photos. At it’s current price and maybe then some, It’s still a good deal. It probably belonged to wealthy old guy that enjoyed his cocktails at the country club a bit too much. This Imperial is going to need lots of bodywork to get right right, but it is still a beautiful car.

  15. Puhnto

    It’s the 1964 that doesn’t have covers over the headlightse.

    These are fun to drive even though they are HUGE.

    That interior looks nicely done but it looks like vinyl rather than the leather it came with.

    I’m glad the owner decided NOT to Black Beauty-ize this car — one, because as has been mentioned, Black Beauty was a four door — but also, two, because something like 52 of these were destroyed to do the stunts in that stupid Seth Rogen movie a few years ago! That was a substantial percentage of the drivable Imperials left.

  16. Imperialist1960

    caveat emptor on Imperial Coupes.
    The 4D is what the body was originally styled for.

    The doors on the Imperial coupe and convertible are so long that you will never enter or exit this vehicle if it is in a modern parking space with another vehicle parked next to it. The doors are just extremely long, and the “rule” about coupes being more desireable than 4D does not apply here like it does in the rest of the market.

    This seems a nice car at a glance.
    Don’t underestimate expenses needed to set it right to whatever level you prefer. Transmission is a 1 year only deal with a lever that operates a cable shift mechanism. Year before it was pushbutton and year after it was linkage, but this one is in between due to regulation barring pushbuttons in an effort to standardize automotive controls.

    Otherwise a very well built, solid year for the car. So much so that more survive than the marketplace seems interested in, hence depressed prices.

  17. james r burton

    i had a 67 im. that i worked a month on the windows even bought another one for the motors and what was wrong with the windows was that the doors wasn’t ground good enough. i ran ground wires from the doors to the body and they worked like the should. you readers will think i’m crazy but i swear. so now i do this for all my old power window cars and the win. motors work alot smother and faster

  18. Paul B

    Not a great fan of these because they are so huge, but I have always found this Elwood Engel restyling to be very interesting as Chrysler tried to right itself after the excesses of Virgil Exner. It makes me sad to recall how many of these in perfectly roadable shape were destroyed for demo derbies — until they were banned. That to me is a sickness in American society. I hope someone takes really good care of this one.

  19. Tim Rusling

    My late great aunt Evelyn was the personal secretary to George W. Trendle, Sr., creator of The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, and The American Agent. He gave me an autographed autobiography and we were in his funeral procession.
    I wanted a Black Beauty so bad, and bought a ’64 Imperial Crown sedan, and the correct ’66 Crown sedan. They succumbed to the tin worm underneath, and could not be repaired with anything short of unlimited bags of money. Years later, a friend promised to obtain for me another Imperial, at his expense, and he would make a visual clone of Beauty [there were and still are two done by Dean Jeffries], and all looked so wonderful until his business folded. I was devastated. Still hurts to think about it.

    • Mountainwoodie

      @Time Rusling: Very interesting. Trendle sounds more like a hard nosed negotiator then an artist according to this Wiki writeup. I didnt know that Britt Reid the original Green Hornet character was supposed to be the nephew of The Lone Ranger according to Wiki! Nonetheless Sgt Preston and The Lone Ranger are some of my favorite childhood memories of sitting in front of the flickering black and white tv, yelling at my mother not to walk between me and the tv! :)

      • Tim Rusling

        The Lone Ranger was John Reid. . . I don’t have my book in front of me, and Britt was the grand-nephew I believe.
        Still, Mr. Trendle created so much of Americana’s great fiction, with moral lessons lost to today’ s generation. I know that’s not about cars. . . Sorry!

  20. 408interceptor

    Like AMCFAN pointed out, these full frame Imperials had the unfair advantage of having a frame that was overbuilt with no crush zones, that’s what I read anyhow. Putting aside the advances in modern vehicle occupant safety it would be interesting to crash test one of these into a modern car. There are some guys in England that import the 64-66 Imperial from the US for the sole purpose of competing in Banger Racing.

  21. Wayne

    I used to think the sun rose and set on Cadillacs till I bought a 65 Crown for 100.00 that the guy was going to crush. I was hooked on Imps! For years I scoured the papers and bought every Imperial I could afford just to keep them out of the hands of the demo derby boys. At one point, I had over 40 Imperials with half of them being the 64-66 “box cars”. Sadly, most of them went under water during the flood of 2013 and where did they end up…demo derby! UGH! I still have a 64 and 68 converts and a 60 Custom coupe.

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