Claim The Throne! 1961 Imperial Custom Southampton

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The Imperial name implies a vehicle fine enough for the ruler of nations, and this 1961 Imperial Custom in Arlington Heights, Illinois stands ready to serve its next monarch with a listing here on eBay. Said to be clean and straight with little rust, it deserves to be enjoyed and/or restored to full glory. The opened grille with stalk-mounted headlights was new for ’61. Wings would go away the following model year, but became even larger for their Swan Song. With a $5000 Buy It Now price, it may not last long.

Despite the sales brochure’s calling the ’61 Imperial “America’s most carefully-built car,” they were not beloved for their reliability. Even in an era of post-war excess and “more is better” styling, the Imperial could not be criticized for blending into the scenery. Then as today, pulling up in a 1961 Imperial tells everyone that money is of little concern to The Emporer. Note the Yacht-like jewel tail lights and the nifty triple reverse lights set into the bumper!

Even when dusty and dirty the dashboard is a sight to behold. In original form it provided information and a pleasing array of controls. Even non-enthusiasts remember Chrysler’s push-button transmission controls from this time. Matching buttons on the right control the HVAC system. Thanks to for some details. The squared-off steering wheel “lets you see more of the road, and gives you more room between lap and wheel.”

The 413 cid (6.8L) V8 made 350 HP, appropriate for the 1961’s longest non-limousine sedan. The standard 2.93:1 rear axle ratio promises relaxed highway cruising. The engine runs but needs (at least) a carberetor rebuild kit and some wiring. The heater core is bypassed as well. Much of the original “Coronation Red” paint remains. Who will ascend the throne and claim their Imperial destiny?

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    I got a chuckle out of the “throne” thing, whether intended or not, the joke was the Imperial trunk lids were nicknamed the “toilet seat”,,,hence the throne thing. What a tank.

    Like 17
  2. DrewP

    And I’m trying to figure out where this exists in Arlington Heights, looks a tad bit rural compared to what I see every day here……..and I’m in AH.

    Like 4
    • Fast FredMember

      Me too I live in DesPlaines .

      Like 0
  3. Skorzeny

    Those headlights, ugh. The whole car is an abomination of styling excess. Just say no…

    Like 4
    • Jim ZMember

      I agree about the headlights, almost like an afterthought. Designers suddenly realizing they forgot to incorporate headlights into the grill!
      Had a 62 Imperial with those ugly headlamps, as well as top-mounted tail-lights…engineers really outdid themselves on ugly that year!

      Like 1
      • B.J.

        Jim Z, they also outdid themselves in the ‘wow’ factor department, not like all the other ‘boring crap’ on the roads at a time when trying to out do the opposition was the name of the game in that era.
        You use the term ‘ugly’, I tend to just call it ‘different’ or ‘in your face’, obviously it works otherwise you guys wouldn’t even give these a second look now would you? Good or bad comments, it don’t matter, you notice them and that was the name of the game when they designed them back in the sixties!

        Like 10
  4. canadainmarkseh

    As a vintage Mopar fan I find this car to be a 9 on the cool scale. The hard top is what makes it special. The thing with old luxury cars is if there not prestine than you just look like your poor folk when your driving them around. That said if I were to take on this car it would not see the road until it was back to its former glory. Great find not to far gone to not come back.

    Like 15
    • HoA Howard AMember

      I’ve seen these with stainless steel roof inserts above the doors. Must have been a hefty option, as I rarely see any with that feature.

      Like 2
      • TC

        Howard, in ’60 they had the s/s inserts in the roof but left them off in the next 2 years and deleted the roof pressing completely in 63.

        Like 5
      • Will Fox

        Typically Howard, it was the LeBaron top-shelf model that got those panels as standard.However, you could order them on any model short of the cvt. of course. Here in Omaha, there was a spin-off group of the Shriners called the “Imps”; all 27 members including my grandfather drove matching Imperial cvts. starting in `59 all the way to the last ones built in `68. Gramp’s `61 was white with a salmon-colored leather interior, and custom ordered matching salmon cvt. top. I was a baby then, but have 2 photos of it, and his silver blue metallic `63.

        Like 3
      • HoA Howard AMember

        Reason I ask, and some may have heard this, but in the 70’s, my old man had a warehouse for building supplies, and another tenant had a couple cars there, and one of them was an Imperial like this, that had suffered an engine and dash fire. It had every option you could think of, can you imagine trying to fix all that? I think it may have been a 2 door, and I swear the entire roof was stainless, not just the inserts. You could tell the owner didn’t have the heart to junk it, but I believe it finally was hauled away. It must have been a ’59 like this. As far as the headlights, it was suppose to mimic “floating headlights”, kind of the signature feature for a couple years. I bet a lot of those went for hot rods.

        Like 1
  5. poseurMember

    these are grand cars, beautiful and a testament to their time.
    would love to cruise a black one with white interior.

    Like 10
  6. Joe Machado

    My favorite Imperial of all time. Have 2 now.
    A LeBaron and a Crown.
    No sedans this year. Sedans return in 67. All hardtops 61 thru 66.
    This being a Custom, power windows and seats are optional. Standard on Crown and LeBaron.
    See no Air cond.
    I have parted out better Imperials than this one.
    I used to have about 60 assorted colors, NOS steering wheels for these. All gone, sold.

    Like 2
  7. Capriest

    So this is where George Barris got his inspiration????? Sorry, just can’t dig the fins too much for me. This is coming from a guy who’s 3rd car was a 68 crown btw……don’t roll down windows in excess of 100mph lol

    Like 0
  8. Dave

    Almost as big and about as fast as an Imperial Battle Cruiser! Is that Emperor Palpatine behind the wheel? Someone due up the Darth Vader song!

    Like 2
  9. DN

    All hail King Exner!!!

    Like 2
  10. Pete Kaczmarski

    My friend owns a ’61 Imperial. I like them but prefer the styling of my ’59 Imperial.

    Like 10
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Nice! It’s so big, it doesn’t even fit in the driveway,,

      Like 3
  11. Mike Williamson

    Nice car!!

    Like 1
  12. AllenMember

    Darn!! I had a ’60 Southampton four-door hardtop. Bought it in about ’78 for $600. ‘ Think its was 19’ long! 413 V8. Lot’s of luxuries but alas no A/C. Dash illumination was as spectacular light show. Nothing ever since could compare. I used to just sit in it at night with lights on getting stimulated into a trance. ‘ Thought I was so smart when I sold it for $900 a couple years later when my DD was lost in a divorce.

    Like 3
  13. stillrunners

    Collector round here has a coupe and 4 door on the Dallas CraigsList….they just aren’t moving like they did a few years ago.

    Like 0
  14. Del

    Wonderfull car.

    If you do not like the head lights to bad.

    I love them.

    Love to own it

    Like 0
  15. Miguel

    This car is surely on the list to have one day, well another one anyway.

    Mine was a 2 door Southhampton Crown. On the California pink slip, that was the model and Imperial was the make.

    I think it was 2drsthhmptncrwn or something like that.

    Like 1
  16. Tony, Australia.

    After I’d bought my 62 two door hardtop and it arrived in Australia from LA, on the paperwork was the name ‘Southampton’ which I thought was strange, funny enough I was born and raised in Southampton, England just after WWII, coincidence or what ?? Totally unplanned as up until then, as far as I was concerned, I’d bought an Imperial, I didn’t know anything about the model name until I read the sales brochures in the trunk after it arrived, I just bought it ‘coz I liked the look of it, headlamps, tail lamps, toilet seat and all !

    Like 1
  17. jf85tr99

    These are some beautiful and unusual cars. Years ago near where my relatives live there was an old abandoned junkyard on Union Valley Rd. in Mahopac New York with about 50 classic cars in it that I explored. There was a wrecked 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi that locals had stripped over the years and several early 1960’s Chevy Impalas one of them a 409 car sitting mostly complete (probably because they were buried deep in brush) amongst many other 1960’s and 70’s cars scattered across about 10 acres of woods and hills. What always stood out to me though was the Imperial there, it was very similar to this car but in black. At the time I had no idea what it was. It was different than most of the other cars there, as it was in immaculate condition partially preserved by a shed that had since collapsed. I always wondered why someone left it there to rot. Sadly the whole place got cleared out in around 2012, don’t know what happened to all the cars. There were tons of tires there on a hill, and I think they turned the property into some sort of rubber processing. I’m gonna look for this old camera I have with pictures of the place from 2007 and definitely post them here if I find it.


    Like 1
  18. GB

    I’m the seller, this car is going overseas to someone who will bring it back to it’s former glory. I have several 61 4drs projects but this was the best. The stainless steel inserts were optional except on Lebarons. They weren’t an expensive option but you don’t see them too often on non Lebarons. jf85tr99- if you have those photos, I’d love to see them. There was a yard like that in Wisconsin that go cleared out in 2014

    Like 1

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