EXCLUSIVE: 1961 Imperial Southampton

UPDATE 6/5/2019 – We just heard from John, he ended up getting 21 inquiries on his Imperial and it sold to the third person that contacted him! It will be heading off to its new owner shortly. Congrats to John and it’s new owner!

What Makes It Special? The 1961 Imperial is Virgil Exner’s swan song and masterpiece. Superlatives: pod headlights and matching taillights; highest fins ever (1/2 inch higher than a 59 Caddy!); heaviest gauge sheet metal, widest production Detroit car (82 inches, plus mirrors); first curved side glass (from 1957 same shell); electroluminescent dash lighting; pushbutton trans; floor-switch signal seeking radio; and more. I bought this car as a runner in 1998 and began a full restoration, but that got stalled right after the body & paint was done and I had reupholstered the seats in lovely new leather. Why? Because I found a CONVERTIBLE version, and all my attention went there (yes, that one is all done but not for sale). That one got done and this one has been waiting ever since, collecting dust and getting rolled around from time to time when it’s in my way. These are beautiful cars (IMHO), and the four-door pillarless hardtop is extremely lovely and unusual, too. There’s also the stainless steel roof cove insets, and more. I had intended to make a matching camping trailer from a spare car that I still have, also waiting, by removing the front clip and bringing the doors together in a Vee-front prow (roofless, the home-plate opening that results would be covered with teak halves that hinge out to either side to support the beds under a pop-up tent). That didn’t get done either, but the parts car to do it, and the brand new Class II/IV trailer hitch to pull it go with the car. Completed, the car alone (sans trailer) is likely worth $20-30K. One just sold at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale (January 2019) for $40,700, and Hemmings lists “average” at $33,600. On the other hand, Hagerty puts a ‘Good’ example at $11K and ‘excellent’ at $18K. I suspect they’re a bit behind the market. All parts not already assembled are here (and plenty of spares). The outside is done, the interior needs putting back together. I have receipts for all work done and some docs from two prior owners (I’m #3). I hate to let it go, but I need the space and obviously will not find the time!

Body Condition: The steel is solid throughout. Small rust under the back seat was repaired with new steel. The body was blocked and sanded before painting in the original shade of Pinehurst Green Metallic (almost iridescent like a Luna Moth’s wings). No dings, dents, etc. Paint has not seen road or sun since about 2000. Door glass is out. New catwhiskers are installed. New weatherstrip is installed on trunk and drip rails but still needs to be applied to doors. Dash had cracks, was patched and painted. Interior chromed trim rails around roof edges are rusty (I had planned to paint to match new headliner, already installed). The impossible-to-find dome light is present and the lens is uncracked. The photos of it all put together are a few years old (before the dust gathered), but is otherwise accurate (and it shows the true color best). Some of the other clean-looking photos are during reassembly and just before it was parked (circa 2000), but it will clean up to this condition with just a wash. Interior supplies (underlayment, carpet, etc.) are here and included, too.

Mechanical Condition: Car ran well when parked. Obviously long sitting means gas will need flushing out, likely carb will want a cleanout, too. Electricals are fine (some exterior lights not connected – just laziness on my part). The brakes have gone soft from sitting: I would fit new wheel cylinders (cheap, standard Chrysler parts). The engine spins freely, but I haven’t started it for a long time. Still, I expect no problem there. The exhaust is all new (except for sitting for years). There is one mechanical oddity I discovered during the restoration! You’ll recall that Chrysler products of the era had left-hand threads on the driver’s side wheel studs. Somewhere before I got this car, the rear end was reassembled with the half-shafts swapped! The right rear is now the leftie, and the left rear is a normal right-hand thread. It has no functional impact, so I left it that way. There is a superb online club and support network here at Imperial Club.

John C is clearly a huge fan of these Imperials and this one looks like a great deal! It’s going to need work, but it looks like a fairly simple project to finish at this point. He’s put way more into the upholstery and paint alone than his asking price. So be sure to contact him via the form below!

  • Asking Price: $5,000
  • Location: Melrose, NY
  • Mileage: 65,000
  • Title Status: Clean
  • VIN: 9114104164

Contact The Seller

List your car here on Barn Finds for only $50!


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Wow, that price is super cheap. If I hadn’t just bought a ’63 Riviera to recommission, I’d grab this one up.

    Like 3
  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    What a deal! Just by the pound that would be phenomenal!!!

    Like 5
    • Chris Yent

      What kind of car is that in your screenshot?

      Like 0
  3. Paul

    Awesome deal too bad it won’t fit in my garage. Well it would but if have to sell some other toys.

    Like 2
    • Mike W H

      I’m pretty sure it would fit in my garage, if I took out the back wall.

      Like 2
  4. Ian C

    What a bargain!!! Wish I had somewhere for it.

    Like 4
  5. John Corey Member

    People (and interested parties) – my car, my bad – my first listing on Barn Finds, and I messed up. I had $2500 (wife’s idea) in the listing form, and hit send before checking and asking more as I intended. In followup email with Band Finds before publishing, I thought I had mad it clear that I am asking $5,000, but the listing made it here at the wife’s wish price. Please accept my apologies for the confusion. I will reply to those who have responded individually. Hey, it’s still a heck of a good deal! I just gotta let it go.

    Like 7
    • Ken

      When I saw the $2,500 I thought, “Man, he’s practically giving this car away!” It looks to be worth more than $5,000 to me.

      Like 2
    • Åke

      Still for sale ?

      Like 0
  6. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Hey John, mistakes happen, and at 5K it is still a great deal.

    I’d been looking most of the winter (well, not exactly winter in Tampa) for a new/big/Detroit project car as a change of pace from the little Euro 4-bangers I usually renovate. I’d have been very interested in this Exner-finned beauty had it come along 3 months ago. But I like my Bill Mitchell creation quite a bit. Best of luck.

    Like 5
  7. Pete Kaczmarski

    People will be hard to forget the doubling of the price to 5k. Remember happy wife, happy life.

    Like 2
    • JP

      Hey Pete.Unfortunately some wives are never happy no matter how hard you try!

      Like 5
  8. rod444

    I grew up a GMC/Chev/Olds/Cadillac fan and rarely looked at Chrysler or Imperial products. But as I’ve gotten older and gained appreciation for all cars, I’m quite amazed at what Chrysler and Imperial were doing back in the 60’s. THIS was the brand and caliber of car to aspire to, even more than Cadillac.

    Great car John. I’m sure someone will snap it up at that price!

    Like 2
  9. 71FXSuperGlide

    If anyone has seen the Simpson’s episode where Homer designs his own car, this one is a dead ringer for it. LOL

    Like 1
  10. moosie moosie

    When my Dad came home with his new 1959 Imperial I remember my Grandfather being almost angry because he thought my Dad was showing off, in my Grand pa’s mind it was showing off because he (Grand pa) was an immigrant and my Dad was first generation American born.

    Like 3
    • Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member


      Sounds like your Dad worked hard to get the Imperial, and I’m sure your grandfather worked hard to get to America.

      Shame the way hard working immigrants are viewed these days. My Hungarian great-grandparents came here the week WWI broke out, and worked hard their whole lives. Great-grandma was always worried that the authorities would send her back to Hungary. They were in the US for nearly 40 years before they finally applied for citizenship…it was 1954…remember what happened in 1954?

      Like 1
      • moosie moosie

        1954 , No. Unless that is when the uprising started and came to a head in Nov. of 1956. My Grandparents , all 4 were immigrants, 3 from Ukraine and 1 Grandma from Poland, who all came here in the early 1900’s as teenagers , separately , not knowing one another or any one else for that matter. They all became citizens after going to night school. They all told me the same thing , that that occasion was one of their proudest moments in their lives so far. Yep, my Dad (rip) was a hard working man, worked two jobs for as long as I can remember so my older brother and younger sister could attend college. They all told me stories about the old country, some were pretty scary even for early 1900’s

        Like 0
  11. bog

    I remember these from my teenage years, and thought: “WOW” look at those floating head and tail-lights ! But, on a practical side, I also thought: “WOW those are going to be hard to keep clean ! Especially here in Chicagoland. Snow, ice, freezing rain, and mud…and the inevitable potholes to knock things loose. Hope someone in a better clime picks up this beauty !

    Like 2
  12. John Corey Member

    Folks, thank you for your positive comments and MANY inquiries. I have a buyer, assuming he comes for it Monday (as I expect he will). I am keeping a list of interested respondents, but its too many! I will try to call back each of them (why do I get only phone numbers, and not emails, too???), but there’s a long line ahead of any new responses.
    Thanks again, jc

    Like 4
    • jmolsn Member

      I’ll be there!! Just need to borrow a bigger truck than I have to pull the big girl home!! Cant wait to get her back on the road!!

      Like 5
  13. JimZ Member

    Nice price. But ohhh! That Color!
    Still missing my blue ’60 Imperial…..

    Like 0
    • moosie moosie

      My Dads ’59 Imperial was that same color Blue, very nice color, very nice ’60 too for that matter.

      Like 0

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