Destined For The Derby: 1961 Imperial

Here’s the car that crushed our poor MGA! We would like to see it crushed, but we decided we had better follow through with the family’s wishes and sell it to the highest bidder. The car has rust and some bad body work, but the 413 V8 runs and the miles of chrome trim is all there. Hopefully someone here can use it to save another Imperial… Or to participate in a demolition derby. Please send photos and video if you do! Anyway, it’s listed here on eBay with no reserve.

The family paid to have someone rebuild the carburetor, so it started right up when we added a battery and some fuel. That’s a 413 and it had insane power when new! So, if the next owner decides to not demo derby this car, they could part out the trim and use that engine to power a hot rod. Just imagine what that thing could do if it were sitting in a t-bucket or something else lightweight!

Checkout that dash! The square steering wheel and crazy dash are some of the highlights of this car. There’s a ton of chrome in there and the transmission is uses a line of push buttons there on left hand side. This car has a ton of luxury features. The cushy seats are power operated and the driver’s side door has switches to control all the windows. This is a pillarless sedan, so when you roll all the windows down there’s nothing between the A and C pillar.

This is one of the longest cars ever built. Chrysler was trying to complete with Cadillac and Lincoln when they built this luxury land yacht. It was well equipped with power everything and tons of character. It’s a shame this one was allowed to deteriorate to the condition it’s currently in. We know that it sat in a field for a while, but the engine did run surprising well when we fired it up. This car has been bad luck for us so we hope someone can make good use of it!


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  1. Miguel

    Don’t blame the car for your mistake.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      When did I blame the car?

      • Karl Kretschmar

        “Here’s the car that crushed our poor MGA! We would like to see it crushed….” (Innuendo)….And no, “innuendo” is not the Italian word for suppository. LOL !!!

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Goodness! Some of you guys take things way too seriously. It’s a car. Of course it didn’t slam into the MGA on purpose. That doesn’t mean I still don’t want to set it on fire…

      • Miguel

        “We would like to see it crushed” This implies the car was at fault.

      • Sam Sharp

        Jesse, after looking at the comments of admonishment below; …”AND LET THAT BE A LESSON YOU’LL NEVER FORGET!!!”

        There’s those that have, and those that will.

      • whippeteer

        Are you sure Jesse? We all saw what Herbie did to the Lamborghini that turned into a Jaguar…

  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    So what’s wrong with it – looks like it wouldnt take much

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Look closely at the photos here. It’s full of bondo and rust.

      • Miguel

        I didn’t see the “full of” rust. This car is in much better condition than most of the barn finds out there, like the Camaros that have been featured lately.

        It is well worth putting back together.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Feel free to place a bid then Miguel. Looks like a few people want it. Hopefully it won’t just get parked in the backyard again though.

      • Miguel

        If I could get the car across the Mexican border I would buy it in a minute.

        I bought this car and redid it, so the Imperial doesn’t look bad to me.

        By the way the other side was much worse.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        I supposed rust is relative, but in my area this is a rust bucket. I’m sure the restoration could be done, but it’s not going to be easy.

  3. Miguel

    To talk about derbying such a beautiful car should get you banned from writing for this site ever again.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Well, that might be difficult Miguel since I own the site. The car is cool, but it’s not in as good of condition as you may think by glancing at the first photo. Look through the photo gallery and then see what you think.

      • ccrvtt

        Miguel is right. Those headlights and taillights are easily worth $40.

      • Chris

        Jesse please concentrate on finding homes for these Classics instead of discussing demo derby,s etc. Only so many of any of these cars were built will there be a Mustang Camaro or imperial and they’re all classics and need to be restored if not too far gone. This car is worthy of a restoration. Jay Leno has many Imperials and he says they are probably the finest luxury car ever built.

  4. Sam Sharp

    I would advise against getting anywhere near that open 12 foot long hood. Ref: Opening scenes of Christine.

    • Miguel

      Christine had a reason to do everything she did.

      I will admit I don’t know her reason for closing the hood on that mans hand, but I am sure it was a good one.

      • BiggYinn

        As christine was a plymouth fury ….erm.your point is?

      • Miguel

        They were related. Same umbrella.

      • Chuck

        He flicked a cigar ash on her seat. He got what he deserved😕

      • Miguel

        Chuck the black guy did that. The guy at the front of the car was somebody else.

      • Sam Sharp

        Ok guys. The shop super in Christine got crushed against the steering wheel (by default, evidence in a later scene).

        The line worker got his hand crushed in the hood latch support.

        The Imperial is Chrissie’s neice. Until you’ve been attacked by an Imp hood (again, scars to prove it) please use extreme caution around these creatures. In my case, a rogue gust of wind blowing through the shop slammed the hood down on my skull. So much for setting the timing. At least it didn’t throw herself into gear.

      • Tom Member

        Or did she? Mmmuuuuhhhhhaaaaaahhhaaa !!

      • Michael

        In the book, she was a 58 Plymouth Fury with 4 door, 58 only had 2 door fury. So, she must have been a Belvedere in the book. 🤔

  5. yes300ed

    Most demo derbys ban Imperials from competing.

  6. John

    They were that good (derby cars)

  7. Brian Gould

    As long as the nut behind the wheel is replaced this car will find some use.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Haha, good one Brian!

  8. gord

    do you have any underside pix… being unibody this is a big issue

    dont mind shipping and a bit of rust… not seeing the rot through yet… i would be concerned with the “frame” and floors
    any shots of seams on doors hood trunk, full of cheese or?
    gord up in ontario canada

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We will get some taken tomorrow. Thanks Gord!

    • packrat

      Agreed, Gord. On a website where we gripe about sellers who don’t take enough pictures, an aside mentioning solid underbody with bondo and rust is not enough. Lead by example. Pictures should be taken of both suspected bondo and rust–or better yet, a walkaround video link ( ) can be dropped in the Q&A section–after the initial shock of the sad garage crash wore off, that is. Even fully assembled, that MGA is wrestling waay out of her weight class. On a different note, I always thought the Imperial line stayed on a X frame. Was it a unitized construction car in ’61?

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We have added some photos of the underside to the gallery.

      • John D.

        Looking at those pictures they look very acceptable in NW Pa, not pristine but very normal. Stuff from around here is usually much worse.

  9. Rock On Member

    Hey Jesse, I guess you used e-bay instead of your own site to list this car because of all the bondo and rust.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We had already arranged to use eBay with the family before we even launched our auctions. We may be doing away with the auctions anyway because they take us away from our main focus. That’s still up in the air though.

  10. Jay M

    I love this car, but I’m looking for one with a mint rear bumper…lol.
    Don’t feel too bad, if you play with cars long enough something like this usually happens.
    I’ll see if I can find a pic of my 68 Firebird convertible that peeled the drivers door off when the new master cyl. failed while backing out of the shop after a nut & bolt resto…

    • packrat

      TBH, Jay, it’s doubtful that the rear bumper bears any discernible memento of the encounter. I have occasionally thought of buying a shaggy old locomotive like this as a daily driver for *no other reason* than it’s combined high visibility and relative imperviousness to minor crashes– to have a little undeflectable sheet metal between me and the distracted drivers practicing the Stoplight Drag Race on their urban commute route.

  11. Luke Fitzgerald

    thanx J – what a monster

  12. Ness

    No matter how much Bondo and rust it has, their is still more metal on it than most of today’s cars! The dash is amazing. This car has some of the most unique features: floating headlights and taillights, super wings/fins, the hard top chrome design, lenght…not to mention that you’d just about always be the only one at a car show with one, I know I’ve never been to a show with that year Imperial. I’m so tired of the same old 57 Bel air been there done that seen it. I can’t even think of wanting to trash this car!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Bash into your MGA and you might change your mind. Just kidding!

    • Tony, Oz.

      I own a 62 Imperial 2 door and can vouch for the sheer size and weight of these cars plus all of the luxury features, (except the electro luminescent instrument lighting), 220 volts and the light panels, (no bulbs) are unrepairable but you can get used parts quite easily. Regardless of the condition this car is certainly worth saving, how often do see them at shows, etc. I just had my center bearing and drive shaft balanced and with the 413 it ‘floats’ down the highway effortlessly, a car guru once said it was like driving a tournament billiard table, it was so stable and flat around bends and corners. Considering most of the parts are still there and repairable it needs to be saved, they just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Check out the Imperial Club @Yahoo groups mailing list for all the info and parts you’ll ever need for these cars.

      • Chris

        Check out http://www.Walter P all of the resources and contacts are within that club to get any part you need for this car. Also check out for parts and contacts.

      • Gary Merly

        62 Imperial Coupe here also!!

  13. David Zornig

    That car didn’t crush your MGA, human error did.
    Knowing full well that it was on a flat, it never should have been moved under it’s own power.
    As considerable increased acceleration would be needed to rotate a flat, particularly on a car of that weight.
    Jack it up and put it on dollies.
    Admit your mistake, and move on safer minded.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      When did I say it was the car’s fault?

      • David Zornig

        Here’s what you said:
        Here’s the car that crushed our poor MGA!

        Here’s what I said:
        That car didn’t crush your MGA, human error did.

        From your first incarnation of the article:
        We couldn’t push it back into its resting spot because of a flat tire so we put it into reserve and slowly applied the gas…
        And that’s when it happened! The throttle return spring must have been installed backwards because the engine suddenly accelerated.

        That was implying it was the car’s fault.

        Reverse is geared more directly than drive or even low in TorqueFlite’s as I recall.
        Thus even slight acceleration in reverse is a direct ratio if you will.

        Once you let off the gas, unless it remained at that unexpected high idle once in neutral, it was not the return spring.
        I can only assume it rolled forward under idle in drive without giving it gas, but it was admittedly given gas going in reverse.

        It is written in a way as if it acted unexpectedly.
        Which it wouldn’t have been, given proper expectation or precautions.

  14. RoKo

    You titled this piece “Destined for the Derby” and you wonder why people think you’re blaming the car?

    I most certainly hope this lovely car doesn’t end up in the trash ‘sport’ of demo derbies!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Take a look at the photos in the gallery, not just the ones in the story. The body has some serious issues already and these were well known for their derby durability. I would have titled it that way even if we hadn’t backed into our MGA.

    • whippeteer

      OTOH, it’s already been derby approved! If you doubt that, ask the MGA…

  15. ROTAG999

    Gosh take it easy on Jessie we all have done stuff to ruin something we just worked on or was in perfect shape before we or someone else messed it up beyond repair.

    • Jeff

      Seriously. You all sounds like a bunch of old hens. Why do you critics all take everything Jesse says so literally? Do you really think he was blaming the car for what happened to the MGA? Do you really think he would rather see it in a demo Derby than finding a good home for it? You guys need to lighten up and get over yourselves.

  16. Alfie

    Au contraire. Most demolition derby banned pre-’67 Imperials because they were stouter than anything else, thanks to the wrap-around front end and the strudy body-on-frame construction.

  17. Rex Kahrs Member

    I would think that the auctions could be a good source of revenue for the site. Perhaps better salesmanship would make some sense?

    And I’m all for standing up for myself, but engaging in a tweet storm (we called those pissing matches back in the day) seems pointless on a site like this, especially if the owner is the one engaging in it. We all know how pointless, tiresome, and frankly embarrassing all the tweeting is. Professionalism wins the day.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We don’t want to become car salesmen. We want to present cars in an honest fashion without being influenced by money. Hope that makes sense. Still trying to figure out how to do both. Also, I think you need to be on twitter to start a tweet storm?

  18. stumptowngeo

    Based on the PBR cans in the back seat and the BPD markings on the windshield, i am thinking the last person to drive it got hauled away by the Boise Boys in Blue leaving the car to be impounded. Either that or Jesse downed a couple before taking the pics and forgot take them out. What’s even more curious is the bag of charcoal and 2 cans of lighter fluid on the other side of the back seat floor board.
    No offense Jesse, but this is not looking to positive for ya. The chain of events i envision is: Jesse backs into the MGA, sits for a minute and expels the expletives, gets out and checks the damages, and then decides to try and chill out by sitting on the back seat and slugging down a couple of PBR’s and thinks about what to do with the behemoth then gets the idea of “behemoth BBQ”, goes and gets the charcoal and 2 cans of lighter fluid (had to get a second can because even though 1 can is enough for a bag of charcoal, he knew it wouldn’t be enough for 1 Imperial), and then realizes he should take some pics first. By this time he’s probably feeling very light effects from slamming the PBR’s and forgets to clean out the back seat floor boards before taking the pics, there by leading to my confusion and conclusion.
    You really shouldn’t be so messy, Jesse!
    I just hope someone can rescues it before Jesse finds a light for his “behemoth BBQ”.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Funny, but neither Josh nor I drink. The “vintage” beer goes with the car.

  19. DrinkinGasoline

    I hate to see prejudice against any inanimate object as well as accidents. With that said..If the MGA was such a high priority, there should have been precautions taken to protect it against any and all..Sorry Jesse…An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. :)

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Yeah, yeah. I know…

  20. TRP

    Tough crowd.

    Hyperbole. Look it up. Now… Everyone go back to your rooms and don’t come out until you’re ready to be civilized. ;)

  21. Mountainwoodie

    Had a ’63 Crown Imperial back in the late eighties….I think Ive posted this before..if not here it is……….all original at the time cream over copper………with some rocker rust. I like the more reserved stying of the rear ends of the ’63’s. Another one I shouldnt have sold!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Sweet photo! Thanks for sharing.

  22. Rock On Member

    Out of the 50 plus comments so far I’m still digging the old hens!

  23. Andrew

    Wow such prejudice .Not shown in other items.

    • packrat

      They didn’t park any of the other items in on top of a hundreds hour body finish of a personal project. When you Perform the Big Poo in the middle of your shop, and I have done it myself, there is ample opportunity for some cussing and wrench slinging. Coulda been worse. Somebody could’a been block sanding on that MGA skin and then become the topcoat. Not a transmission to the chest, not an exploded battery to the eyes…Like one of my old shop teachers said, “There is No Bottom to Worse”.

  24. Dovi65

    The Imperial NEEDS to be saved. I’ve always loved the big luxury land yachts. Years ago, in my early 20s, I took my dad to look at a 63 Imperial; I wanted it soooooo bad! It was in good shape, and only a few hundred dollars. My dad said I would be crazy to buy “that old boat” I should have bought it!

  25. Greg

    Gotta love the 2′ between the radiator and the grill. The entire space is about the size of most car trunks today. LOL

    • Miguel

      Maybe except the new mini truck like the new S-10.

      Open the hood one day and look at the space between the grille and the radiator.

      It is huge.

      • jackthemailman

        “New S-10?”

      • Miguel

        They don’t have the new S-10 in the US?

      • jackthemailman

        S-10 replacement is some oversized POS called a Colorado.

    • whippeteer

      My 2008 Chevy Uplander has at least that much room up front. “Let’s make a minivan look like an SUV!” — GM

  26. Andrew

    Wow. Stop giving the guy so much crap. Ever have a wrench slip off a nut? “Stupid wrench slipped…..”
    His stuff just got wrecked. He is allowed to write what he wants.

    • 1000styles


  27. Howard A Member

    ( whispering,,,truth be known, I’ve had several doozies myself no one ever found out about,,,,no cameras back then,, gee boss, I don’t know, it was like that when I got here,,)

  28. ROTAG999

    My Old Friend use to have 30 plus cars and he loved the Imperials he had one with same style roofline but i believe tailights mounted up on the fins or deck inside a chrome ring any idea what year i thought it was a 61 but not the same as this.

    • That Guy

      Sounds like a ’62

      • Tony, Oz.

        Definitely a ’62, they put the tail lights up where they cut the tops of the fins off.

  29. Madmatt

    Wow ! this car/story of misfortune, has caused a mega barrage of comments,
    My mom and dad bought a brand new 1969 ford Cortina,which we still have!
    When it was appx 2- months old,it had to have some service work done -{leaky tranny seal} -while in dealers shop, a 1963 Ford galaxie was running in the bay across from it-when it jumped into reverse–crushing both ends of the Cortina into workbench just missing an employee.They called and told my mom “we’ve had a little accident” she says the car looked like an accordion! LOL…My mom says they should have gotten a new car out of the deal,but just agreed for them to repair it,only
    minor evidence exist of the”accident” today although car is in sad shape.
    I have known more than 3-4 people who had just bought brand new cars,had them a week when they were wrecked/hit by trees/totaled,it is a crazy world indeed.!

    • Miguel

      I bet the dealer didn’t crush the Galaxie because it caused the damage.

  30. whippeteer

    From the pictures, I don’t see horrible rust and bondo. Alas too far to play with. BTW, I liked the write up.

  31. John

    …one of the few cars an SBC would actually fit in.

    Well, somebody had to say it.

    • whippeteer

      One of the few cars that an Allison aircraft engine would fit in without modifications… ;-)

  32. Mlaw

    Any US car that crushes a English built car is a keeper…..

    • Miguel

      I was going to say something like that. An American car crushes an immigrant, is not a bad thing.

  33. newfieldscarnut

    Demo derby garage style .
    aaand the winner is …

  34. Imperialist1960

    The Online Imperial Club wishes to remind everyone else that “your car is my crumple zone” when we’re out and about.

    We regret that your learning curve was with your own property and not someone more deserving, such as someone running a light or what have you.

    • Mlaw

      Huh? Are you for real?

      • Imperialist1960

        yeah. real. – 100,000 pages of FREE info on Imperials.

        Take a peek inside the engine compartment and see how far back from the bumper the radiator is set – 2 feet or so. Notice that there are no fender seams on the front clip? That’s all one giant stamping (aside from the hood) from the cowl forward. The horns that the bumper bolts to are triple the thickness of other cars of the time, and the bumper is a struggle to lift by yourself as a grown man. It doesn’t come into focus until you work on one

        Brother, don’t run into or get run over by an Imperial. RIP little MGA.

        I’ll take on all comers, including Suburbans and F-Series trucks the day after the apocalypse.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        @Imperialist1960 – That’s awesome! There’s no denying that these are solid cars. Please give this one a mention on your site. Thanks!

  35. Geoff

    FYI: few cars are ineligible for demo derbies, but those Imperials as well as Checkers are often not allowed entry, presumably because their frames are more like a 2-ton truck’s.

  36. Mlaw

    Huh? Are you for real? Lol

  37. charlie Member

    Demolition Derby with capitals, is a franchise, and it does not allow these cars, but, non franchise events, such as at the local county fair, have to call them something else, like Destruction Derby’s, and those Imperials and Checkers still dominate more often than not. 60’s Ford wagons do well, too. As do hearses and car based ambulances and Caddy’s with a full frame. But, if you have one, they will get more and more rare, as the beat up ones get demolished, and yours will be worth more, for another few years, until they are not in the memory of people who want an old car, and the price declines – I will be able to afford the first/second series of 1940’s Continentals soon, for example, but my kids will have taken my keys away by then.

  38. newfieldscarnut

    oh Magoo you’ve done it again !

  39. Burger

    If it is some foreign POS, it gets all sorts of kudos and raves on this site, but if it is anything cool and unusual and American, it is often suggested it is junk, not worthy of saving, or should just be crushed. Not sure why that is. I like American history and Americana. If I were a Brit, maybe I would be all about MGA’s and the like. But this is America and I am an American and that is what I am about … proud of my history. Not knocking it any chance I get. What is that about ?

    • Mlaw

      Amen BURGER, 👍

    • Mlaw

      Too much foreign junk lately.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Sorry, but that’s just not true Burger. Take another look. The majority of the cars on here are American and we only call them junk when that’s what they are.

  40. chuck

    I’m with you Butger

  41. 88V8

    Last year I tore the driver’s door off my Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow when I knocked it into reverse while egressing.
    Then I put another door on, not very well, and painted it, very badly, Then I took it to the RREC annual rally at Burleigh, where I sold it to another club member who is restoring it. Yes, he knew what he was buying.
    The rust on that Rolls made this Imperial look like new. The rear valance had a hole that was filled up by a section of Wellington boot. The front right wing was repaired with pop rivets and a piece of filing cabinet. The trailing arm was so corroded the damper punched out through the bottom.
    Well one doesn’t get much of a Rolls for £2,000 and in two years we had 7,000 miles of enjoyment from it, which I remember, while the cost of keeping it running and the time it soaked up, ever mind.
    And now it’s being restored.
    And I hope this Imperial will also be rescued.


  42. William Decker

    “Crushed our poor MGA”, I’d say it did you a favor……

  43. Mr.B

    When you put together a great site like Barn Finds, you attract fans (fanatics!) for every vehicle ever made, and no matter the condition of the vehicle! I am constantly amazed, entertained and educated by the writers and readers of BF. Just don’t even joke about someone else’s favorite ride or you will pay!

  44. glenn

    that car is so beautiful and has such history and style. i would if i had the money restore it to its original beauty.

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