Driver Quality: 1957 Imperial 2-Door Hardtop

If you’re looking to make a statement, bright red paint on a finned 1950s car is a good way to do it. Throw in the Imperial marque and I’d expect people to take notice. This 1957 Imperial was found by Barn Finds reader, Ikey H., here on eBay in Las Vegas, Nevada. It looks like the reserve has been met after 24 bids have the current bid price up to $12,000.

Just a few years into it being it’s own marque under parent Chrysler, the Imperial was due for a refresh. That came in 1957 as a not-quite-radical departure from previous models – dimensions were slightly larger, but the fins and expansive greenhouse were noticeable changes. Of the 37,593 Imperials built for 1957, just 9,084 were 2-door hardtops.

While the bright red paint may come across as in your face, especially on such a large car, it seems to fit here. The bi-colored white and silver roof offers contrast and help offset all that red. The seller says the paint looks good from a distance, but flaws are noticeable up close. Past body work and some rust is mentioned in the seller’s description. The chrome is said to be dent, ding, and scratch-free, but some pieces would benefit from re-chroming. If you’re not looking to restore the whole car, that’s not a rabbit whole I’d want to go down. I feel an obligation to share – I don’t know what it is, but anytime I see a car with fender-mounted side mirrors, it becomes a car I want to drive. There’s no exception here.

The interior is where this Imperial really needs some help. It’s not trashed, but there’s definite signs of wear. A blanket covers the front seat, so we can’t see what condition it’s in. The dash and door panels shows wear and the steering wheel is cracked. The back seat, however, looks to be in rather good shape.

Powering this Imperial is a 392 cubic-inch hemi V8. I’m impressed at how clean everything has been kept under the hood. The seller lists a slew of recent work and seems to speak with pride when telling us how well the car has been maintained. They say it “runs, brakes, and drives very smoothly.”

“Driver quality” vintage luxury cars aren’t always easy to find. While more than 9,000 of these 2-door hardtop Imperials were built in 1957, I’d guess those still roadworthy a small in number. If you’re the high bidder, will you keep it driver quality or go down that rabbit hole of a complete restoration?

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  1. RGSmith1 Member

    Keep it driver ready! This beauty needs to be driven, seen and enjoyed!

    Like 13
  2. Steve Douglas

    That car is a whole parade on four wheels.

    Like 22
  3. Shaun Dymond

    Utterly fabulous in every way. A wonderful piece of America art.

    Like 17
  4. CJinSD

    I love the way the Elephant is too big to fit an air cleaner on top of. I’d reupholster the front seat, fit an air conditioner, and enjoy!

    Like 6
    • jerry hw brentnell

      ever think the blanket is there to protect the front seat, what do you need ac in a ragtop! huh!

      • Bob McK Member

        “2-Door Hardtop”

        Like 1
  5. Kenneth Carney

    Had a ’58 Crown 4-door HT and loved it!
    It was everything you could want in a fine
    motor car. My family and friends that drove it say it was the best car they’d ever
    driven. The only thing I did to it was to
    unstick and rebuild the 392 and service the tranny and brakes and add some new
    tires. I bought it 1973 for $350 from a local truck dealer who was gonna crush it. We got it running and my parents took
    it on several long distance trips with no
    trouble at all. Wound up selling it to a friend of Dad’s whose father bought it
    new. Made me fell great reuniting that
    car with the original family that first
    owned it.

    Like 14
  6. Dave

    Ever watch the scene in “Cars” where we get to see what Route 66 and Radiator Springs looked like before the interstate? This, and the other 57 Chrysler on here, belong to that era. Plymouth’s ads for the 1957 models spoke “Suddenly, it’s 1960!”

    “Long ago, but not so very long ago…”

    Like 7
    • Stan Marks

      I drove cross country, from Philly to L.A. in ’61. I was 17.
      Picked up Route 66, in Illinois, Had my 8mm camera.going through the country.
      My film is now on a DVD & thumb drive.
      That was the way to see the U.S. of A.
      Today’s Interstate system, took all of that away. Everything looks the same. Same hotels/motels, restaurants, gas stations, etc..
      Sure, super highways are much quicker. But you lose, so much, to see.

      Like 4
      • Bob McK Member

        Our dream is to travel across this Nation with two rules. We can’t drive on Interstate Highways and we can’t stay in chain hotels. I had a friend that would travel that way. What stories and memories she had.

        Like 3
      • Stan Marks

        Bob McK,

        Good for you, bud. There are parts of old Route 66, that are still visible. When you reach Az. & Calif., you can still drive on 66. Unfortunately, most of it are on Interstate highways. You’ll see signs that say “Old Route 66”. I’ve recently driven on two lane blacktop 66, in Az.
        You might find it difficult, to locate a mom & pop motel.
        Good luck.
        BTW… I have all sorts of Route 66 memorabilia, in my family room. From neon signs, to original highway posted signs.

        Like 2
      • Stan Marks
  7. Turbo

    I wish cars still looked like this. It is one of the more good looking cars of the era. Just beautiful.

    Like 3
    • Turbo

      One of the better looking cars of the era. Me type more gooder words when me not go to ‘happy hour.’

      Like 9
  8. TimM

    Another classic hemi that was well kept by its owner!! Great find and when Chevrolet had the tri 5’s this car was really at the top of the heap!!

    Like 1
  9. Pete Kaczmarski

    I love the ’57-’59 Imperials especially in Coupes. Come and see mine at our Celebrate Waupun Car Show June 28, 2020 in Waupun WI. Weather will be beautiful.

    Like 1
    • On and On On and On Member

      Is that show every year Pete? Didn’t know about it. I’m in Wisconsin not that far south of you. Would love to drive my Corvair up there next summer.

      • Pete Kaczmarski

        Yes, this our fifth year and plan to continue.

    • Stevieg

      Where in Waupun is the show? Hopefully not on prison grounds lol. I won’t go to that show lol.

  10. Howard A Member

    Not sure many remember the story of my old mans warehouse in the 70’s, but a car being stored there was a car just like this. It had suffered an engine fire, and the owner clearly didn’t know what to do with it. Can you imagine repairing all that? That roof is more than just silver, it’s stainless steel, and about the only part of the car that didn’t burn. I’m sure that roof was a hefty option, not all Imperials had that. I’d bet, this was the most expensive car you could buy in ’57. Probably make 4 Toyotas out of the steel in this. Made a statement, bigger was better, and it didn’t get any bigger than this. Simply amazing we drove tanks like this around. Great find.

    Like 1
    • Bryan

      Actually it was the 1959 Imperial hardtops that offered the full stainless roof option (front half of roof anyway). It was called Silvercrest.

      The 1959 may have lacked the 392 Hemi (413 debuted) but for the first time Imperial offered swivel seats, autronic eye, Mirrormatic, true-level rear suspension, and the stainless roof.

  11. George M. Louis

    It is too bad the owner of this vehicle did not takr blanket off to show pictures of front seat. It is kind of odd to see a Blue Instrument panel with a red exterior. Was red paint selected over another color? Also , would like to see pictures of open trunk. Would be curious to see how much this ride cost when new, This is when you got some METAL for the Money!!!!!

  12. Teddy

    Love this car. Its very hugeness is a wonder to behold. My parents had friends who drove one. They needed tug boats to park… If you want to make an impression this is a car that will be noticed.

  13. Maestro1 Member

    I agree, Howard, I’m smiling at all the tanks we drove around in those days,
    I have a few in my collection and they always get attention when on the street. I’m thinking about selling the big stuff and retaining the smaller cars and the smaller engines. I drive my cars, and between the crap gas we have
    in California and the idiots in traffic its almost not fun anymore. I have some excited buyers so I just may take advantage of the situation. Good to hear from you.

    Like 1
  14. Bob McK Member

    If I had the space in my shop, she would be moving to Florida.

  15. Bob Mck Member

    Stan Marks… Thank you!!!

  16. Ivan Jones

    I was born 4 yrs after that car was built, from 1957 to 1975 the imperial was an extraordinary ride 75 was the last year 4 the name Chrysler Imperial it was dropped & they kept the name New Yorker intacted because they both shared the body style i remember 74 & 75 the Chrysler imperial & new yorker were the same car until 75 4 the imperial & from 75 to 78 or 79 Chrysler used the same body front end & rear end 4 that ride until they downsized it in 1980 to 88, after that well everybody knows what happened to Chrysler after that need i say…

  17. George Louis

    To clarify the Imperial and New Yorker Build history:
    1974/75 Imperials built at Jefferson Plant code 4010 Detroit,Mi
    1976/78 Imperial Becomes C Body Chrysler New Yorkerbuilt at Jefferson 1979 R Body New Yorker’s Built at Lynch Road Assembly plant Plant Code 4050
    March 1981 last R body New Yorker Built at Lynch Road Plant
    1982/83 M Body New Yorkers Built at WindsorPlant 9103 Windsor, Ontario Ca
    1983 M Body Tooling moved from Windsor 9103 to St Louis Plant Code 4090
    St Louis builds M Body New Yorkers thru 1997.
    1997 Tooling moved to kenosha, Wi Kenosha builds the last M body vehicles 1989

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