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Frank Sinatra Edition! 1981 Chrysler Imperial

The long-time Imperial brand disappeared after 1975 with Chrysler choosing to instead emphasize its New Yorker brand in the luxury market. A brief resurrection occurred in 1981-83 when the Imperial returned as a luxury coupe based on the Cordoba platform. To help sell the cars, they recruited Frank Sinatra for a special “FS” edition which was produced in low numbers. This is one of those cars from 1981 and it’s been in the same family since new. Located in Tacoma, Washington, is this a future collectible or just another plush cruiser? Either way, it’s available here on craigslist for $6,500. Thanks for the interesting tip, Kevin!

Chrysler was in a bad way in the late 1970s/early 1980s and needed a miracle or two for a financial comeback. The new K-Car (beginning in 1981) would be one of those moves, and that one worked. Another would be a revival of the Imperial, which was probably less successful as fewer than 11,000 of them were produced over three years. The styling is reminiscent of the Cadillac Seville which debuted about the same time but stayed around longer perhaps because it was a 4-door sedan. Both cars used a “bustle back” deck lid to finish off the back end of the cars.

As it turns out, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca was pals with Old Blue Eyes himself who was willing to lend his name and likeness to a special edition of the revived Imperial. Though the Imperial was a Cordoba under the skin, its styling was all it’s own. It even used Chrysler’s trusty 318 cubic inch V8, but that was paired with a newly developed electronic fuel injection system that proved to be troublesome. The Frank Sinatra Edition had all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a luxury car like the Lincoln Continental Mark VI but in a Chrysler product. Famed designed Mark Cross cooked up the interior.

No precise production numbers for the FS Imperial are published, but one source figures it to be 427 copies over 1981-82, with 148 of those in just 1981, making it a rare car these days. Even the “Chairman of the Board” couldn’t help the Imperial, so the FS edition was gone after 1982 and the car itself after 1983. This first-year edition has been in a single family for all of its 42 years and looks to have been babied the whole time, although not kept as a museum piece as it has 116,5000 miles on the odometer. We’re told the Glacier Blue Crystal paint is original and it presents well along with the plush interior.

As was the case with a lot of these Imperials, the fuel injection system was removed by the dealer and replaced by a 4-barrel carburetor. The ill-fated fuel injection is in the trunk should you want to go back to original. Documentation has been preserved, such as the original owner’s manual and maintenance book. The first of these cars that rolled off the assembly line was given to Frank Sinatra for his personal use, but this is not that one. If you want a trip down memory lane, check out this video of ole Frank pitching the car.

Comments

  1. PaulG

    Most likely the deal of the day, if not the week!
    If I was closer…

    Like 26
    • Stan

      PaulG ….you can bet Frank closed the deal with that young lady 💅 from the video.. Hit the music ..

      🎶 Start spreading the news
      I’m leaving today
      I want to be a part of it
      New York, New York
      These vagabond shoes
      They are longing to stray
      Right through the very heart of it
      New York, New York
      I want to wake up in a city
      That never sleeps
      And find I’m king of the hill
      Top of the heap
      These small town blues
      They are melting away
      I’ll make a brand new start of it
      In old New York
      If I can make it there
      I’ll make it anywhere
      It’s up to you
      New York, New York
      New York, New York 🎶 🎵

      Like 4
      • Gene

        I hope not, since the “young lady” was his daughter, lol.

        Like 1
  2. Rick

    It’s not unusual to see the common misusage of its.

    Its styling was all its own.

    And, it’s some gorgeous styling.

    Like 9
  3. Melton Mooney

    Throw your clubs in the trunk and go. Very handsome car at a very fair price. I can only imagine the smooth ride this baby would give. Ahhhhhhh…

    The Chrysler lean burn system by some accounts represented the first production computer controlled spark and mixture adjustments on a passenger car. It was a mess by all accounts due to defective or poorly manufactured computers. It got better over time, but never got very good.

    Like 9
    • dr fine

      I was admiring a shiny new red Fire Chiefs car that stopped next to me at a light on Peachtree St. It stalled, and they were still trying to start it after the light turned green and it disappeared in my rear view mirror.

      Like 1
  4. tiger66

    As I recall these came with a boxed set of albums by the Chairman (Frank, not Lee) on cassette. Apparently not included here, though.

    Like 9
    • theGasHole

      It was a set of 8-track cassettes, mine still had most of them when I bought it back in 2015. They went into a little compartment holder type thing on the floor under the center stack.

      Like 3
  5. Howard A Member

    Wow, a million+ miles, I’m impressed,,the comma, and where it’s placed, is so important. While I’m all for the carburetor, it will take some getting used to. Clearly, the original system here was in it’s infancy, we have gotten so used to the dependability of F.I. today, some may not even know what a “choke” is, OR, how to set it. We were told early on, with a FI car DON’T TOUCH THE GAS PEDAL,( I do anyway, just a little) where on this, well, you practically have to pump the heck out of the pedal,( especially in the cold) cutting off the air, basically, flooding the motor with gas,,,and that’s how a choke works.
    The car is a nice design, last of the Mohicans, and we, as a country, were in total denial as to what would come next, FWD, but Chrysler had a habit of milking something to the very end, and for people like my old man, that wanted a good sized car, a V8, best automatic in the business, cushiest ride and most importantly, rear wheel drive, this, I feel, was the last gasp in conventional type cars.
    And for the record, the late, great, Phil Hartman did the best Sinatra imitation ever!

    Like 10
    • bone

      The RWD Caprice and Crown Vics lasted far longer ,talking about a last gasp

      Like 3
    • Gerard Frederick

      Nobody who imitates anyone else is ¨great¨.. He will , at best, be a wannabe. Besides, WTF has a second rate entertainer noone ever heard of to do with this gorgeous car?

      Like 1
      • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

        @Gerard Frederick – You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but Howard is entitled to his too. If you don’t agree with him, that’s fine, simply move on, but there is no need to be rude!

        Like 3
  6. Derek

    That just looks mingin’, to my eyes.

    Like 1
  7. richard aboufadel

    Hello..I have owned several Cordobas.. B and J bodies. My goal with an Imperial like this is to put a 360 magnum motor from a dakota r/t…engine, tranny and computer. Then add the 80-83 analog dash from a cordoba/mirada..yes..analog…gee i have 3 oil pressure gauges from dodge vans that bolt in…also have two certified 125mph cop car(79-81) speedometers. The structral support behind the big fuel gauge might not allow a 75-79 B-body tach…and…with todays fuel prices…i would go with a 200-4r gm tranny..easy overdrive no floor pan modifications. Other goodies from Chrysler for this car…old cop diplomats(yes passed one 5 years ago) had nice 8.25 axles with posi’s…good stuff…thanks for listening!!!

    Like 1
  8. Bwana

    I believe these were build on a J platform, same as a Mirada. I think I would rather have a Mirada with a 360. Though, I must admit, pretty flashy car. The color is especially nice.

    Like 1
  9. david R

    I actually kinda like this. If you only had to fill the tank once a month or so gas wouldn’t kill you.

  10. david R

    Phil Hartman was a genius.

    Like 5
  11. Steve Clinton

    An obvious rip-off of the 1980 Seville…but much nicer looking.

    Like 1
  12. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    I love this generation Mopar cars. It’s perfect in size and the Imperial looks great.

    Like 2
  13. Howie

    You hardly see these on the streets anymore.

    Like 2
  14. theGasHole

    Interesting fact: the Imperial F.S. editions were the most expensive car you could buy in the US at the time they came out, running about $25k. The only real option was a power moonroof, though you could also choose between leather or Kimberly Cloth upholstery.

    Like 3
    • Richard

      I bet the leather interior is the rich Corinthian Leather! Lol!

  15. Maestro1 Member

    If i had the room I’d buy it in a minute.

  16. George Louis

    I seem to remember that you could buy one of these new for $14000.00 dollars new. The real problem with the original fuel injection system was the “FUEL SUPPORT PLATE”. Mopar parts Division worked with an outside supplier to remanufacture the Fuel Support Plate.This was done in the late 1989 and early 1990s. I do not know if Mopar still offers the reman fuel support plate today. The carburetor conversion kit came out in 1985 and the dealer cost for the package was $5000.00 just for the parts.

  17. Rw

    Always like the look ,alot like a Lincoln LSC

    Like 2
  18. joenywf64

    I wonder if any of the other members of the rat pack were jealous that THEY did not get a special version of a car named after 1 of them.

    Like 1
  19. Alan_in_Tn

    Looks more like they ripped off the mid 70’s T Birds to me.

  20. angliagt angliagt Member

    HEY Todd,

    You know what they say about cars like this –
    “If you have one,you certainly want more of them!”.

  21. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    gone.

  22. Roland Schoenke

    Sat in a FS Imperial at the dealership, it was full of Frank Senatra 8-tracks.

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