Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Fresh Band Find! 1952 Chrysler Imperial

From its launch in 1926, the Imperial brand would serve as Chrysler’s top-of-the-line automobile for more than six decades. That trend would continue as the marque returned after World War II in 1949 with a new design. The car saw few changes through 1952, the year the seller’s “barn find” was built. We don’t know how long it’s been lost, but it has the dirt, grime, and flat tires to back it up. With a running Hemi engine, this Imperial is in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and is available here on craigslist for $2,000. Our thanks to T.J. for this interesting tip!

The post-war Imperial was one of the first U.S. production cars to be offered with 4-wheel disc brakes (standard on limos, optional on other Imperials). They would set you back an extra $400 in 1952 dollars (big money!), and we don’t have how many installations were done or if the seller’s car was one of them. In many respects, the 1952 Imperial was a gussied-up New Yorker, which itself was no slouch in the luxury department. Power was supplied by a 331 cubic inch “Hemi” V8, which is in the seller’s car, and we’re told it does run, but not how well.

Out of the 27,700 Imperials built in 1952, more than three-quarters were the six-passenger, four-door sedans like this one. The vehicle looks to have just been pulled out of the barn, though that dwelling isn’t in the photos, and we don’t know how long it lived there. We’re told it’s pretty solid and complete, so perhaps a good wash job would tell us what the color is (dark blue?).

This was a well-equipped Imperial which the seller suggests reflects a special order, like factory air conditioning which was a rarity in those days. The vehicle accumulated 75,000 miles before its hibernation and the interior may be fair, if not rather dirty. The Chrysler has power windows and we’re told they work, so a battery must have been hooked up. $2,000 doesn’t buy a lot of car these days, but on a per-pound basis, this project might be a good acquisition. However, there is no title, just a bill of sale.


  1. Boatman Member

    Was this the Red Ram hemi? I remember one of these in an apple orchard as a kid and that sticks in my mind.

    Like 2
    • Yblocker

      The Red Ram Hemi was the smaller Dodge version, the Chrysler version was called Chrysler Fire Power, which is what the Imperial used

      Like 9
      • Will Fox

        Correct. The first Chrysler hemi was a 331 cubic inch V8, the Dodge was a 241.

        Like 4
  2. BlondeUXB Member

    In 1973 I bought a 1952 New Yorker. Black over grey. Four door, 331with semi-automatic. 31,000 miles and needing rear tires. The owner was a caretaker at an exclusive girl’s school in Maryland. He regretted standing firm on the asking price “but he’d just put two new front tires on it…”
    $25.00 cash.

    Like 13
    • Seasport

      Do you still have it?

      Like 2
      • BlondeUXB Member

        …gave it away 50 years ago.

        Like 1
  3. Connecticut mark

    Is there a tuba in the trunk?

    Like 2
  4. Sam61

    I had a 52 4dr dark green Imperial in high school through college. I wish I had kept some of my old paperwork to compare vins. I don’t recall AC being an option. Brings back lots of memories.

    Like 3
  5. Kenneth Carney

    Looks about as dirty as the ’52 Chevy
    Dad and I pulled from a barn in the
    Spring of ’71. Paid $10 for it and with
    some fresh fluids and tune up parts,
    we wound up driving it home. The
    master cylinder was gone so we too
    the back roads and used the E brake
    to stop it. One of Dad’s friends drove
    the back up car and followed us to
    our house where my Mom was having
    a yard sale. When she saw what Dad
    and I brought home, she had a cow!
    (Eff the cow, she had the whole heard). She told me in no uncertain
    terms that my new project could NOT
    be parked in the driveway until it got
    washed. Point is, my Chevy looked as bad as this Imperial does now. When
    I did get ’round to washing it, I found
    the paint to be nearly perfect! I think
    that might be what’ll happen here if
    you use a good pressure washer. On
    the face of it, the car looks pretty good. Wish I had the cash and space
    to take it on.

    Like 9
  6. Yblocker

    Can’t buy much for $2grand these days, I think it’s a very worthy project

    Like 13
  7. HoA Howard A Member

    Hey, hey, Wis. Rapids, picked up a LOT of paper there, and all those paper plants have closed. Who cares, you say? This wonderful machine I’m using right now, decimated Wisconsins paper industry, catering mostly to newsprint and cardboard.
    Yeah, anyway, this car isn’t going anywhere, but to the crusher. 30 years ago, these were viable projects, very similar to our Packard. Many times, they were a package deal. I once bought 2 Packards for $300 bucks just to get a visor, plus a slew of other parts I might have needed, that I never did need, btw. Same here, many times, these were sold with a “good one” to seal the deal. The only reason one kept these types was for some obscure part, not to restore.
    That was then, this is now, and a nice one barely attracts any attention today. I know, it’s a bitter pill for many like me to swallow, but like it or not, time has past on these cars needing a total.
    NOW, I always thought, with as outstanding a road car as these are, ditch the hemi, and some sort of economical motor might work. I mean, we don’t need hemis to pass slow smoking semi trucks( me) on dangerous 2 lanes like in the 50s, and to just cruise down an interstate, getting 25 mpg could be really sweet, no?

    Like 0
  8. Pete Phillips

    Nice car but I don’t see any evidence of factory air-conditioning. I think ’53 was the first year for Chrysler to put A/C in their cars. I have a ’54 with factory A/C.

    Like 4
    • Pete

      Re Factory A/C. Chrysler products with this rare early ‘50s option had small oblong chrome grilles aft of the C pillars used as fresh air intakes for the trunk mounted a/c unit. Absence of these suggests that if the Imperial has A/C it is after- market.

      Like 0
    • Gary Merritt

      The 1953 Chrysler Imperial was the first production car in twelve years to actually have automotive air conditioning , following experiments attempts by Packard in 1940 and Cadillac in 1941. Walter P. Chrysler had seen to the invention of Airtemp air conditioning back in the 1930s for the Chrysler building , and had ostensibly offered in the cars in 1941-1942 and again in 1951-1952, but none are known to have been sold in the latter form, until the model year 1953. In reality, the installation of air conditioning units Airtemp optional to its imperials in 1953, Chrysler surpassed Cadillac , Buick and Oldsmobile which added air conditioning as an option in model year 1953.

      Like 5
  9. Kanak Attak

    I had 2 of those Hemis before both of them with the extended blocks

    Like 1
  10. Brian

    The sellers says it has a/c but that wasn’t an option until 53 or 54.

    Like 1
  11. Brian

    Seller says it has a/c but that was not an option until 53 or 54.

    Like 1
  12. William R Hall

    About 50 years ago we had a customer who had a 51? and 47 Chyrsler Travler. They were in his driveway and he drove both and both were in very nice shape.I don’t know what happened when he died. Both were collector cars even fifty years ago. This was in Portland Or,

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.