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Fully Optioned: 1983 Imperial

The 1983 Imperial owes its existence to Lee Iacocca. “Lido” was renowned for his ability to take one production car, sprinkle it with tinsel and glitter, and market it at a premium price. He achieved this feat several times at Ford, and the reintroduction of Imperial as a standalone marque in 1981 signaled his first bold move to place his stamp on the ailing Chrysler Corporation. Initial sales figures were strong, but by the time our feature car rolled off the line, those numbers had waned. As a result, Imperial again disappeared as a standalone brand within the automotive world. This 1983 model is a tidy survivor that runs and drives well. It is loaded to the brim with luxury touches and should allow its occupants to feel pampered. Located in South Houston, Texas, you will find the Imperial listed for sale here on eBay. It has received a single bid of $4,000, but this remains short of the reserve. The owner also offers a BIN option of $8,000 for those who wish to avoid the anguish of an auction.

This Imperial cuts a dashing figure in its original Beige Metallic. It is a shade that exudes class, which seems fitting in a vehicle of this type. There are a few minor marks and imperfections, but its presentation looks impressive if considered purely as an unrestored survivor. There is the usual color inconsistency that you find in cars from this era as manufacturers grappled with the difference between paint colors and fading on steel components versus plastic. It took a while for them to get their heads around this issue, so the differences on this Imperial are nothing out of the ordinary. The contrasting pinstriping shows no evidence of fading or lifting, which is quite surprising in a vehicle of this age that has spent its life in Texas. Its geographical location means that its lack of rust problems is no shock. Imperials of this generation did develop a tainted reputation on this front, so finding a solid one is a real bonus. The plastic trim is in excellent condition, as are the distinctive factory alloy wheels. I see no issues with the original tinted glass, and whether you like or dislike the styling, you can be sure that this Imperial could still turn heads.

When we open the doors and peer inside this imperial, we are confronted with trim and equipment that signal occupants would live life within this car in the lap of luxury. There is a cover over the dash, but it isn’t clear whether this is for protection or hides cracks or other deterioration. The owner has also attached some aftermarket gauges under the dash, but these appear to be the only modifications. Its Tan leather upholstery still looks soft and supple, with no evidence of drying or wear. The remaining interior trim is excellent, as is the dash. This generation of Imperial saw the introduction of a digital dash cluster. This feature proved troublesome in some cars, so the fact that this one seems to work flawlessly is a positive. Creature comforts extend to ice-cold air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power seats, cruise control, a premium AM/FM radio/cassette player, and a tilt wheel.

Potential buyers in 1983 weren’t faced with a lot of choices when it came to how they wished to power their new Imperial. The company offered this model with a single engine and transmission. Its 318ci V8 produced 140hp, which found its way to the front wheels via a three-speed TorqueFlite transmission. This car also features power steering and four-wheel power disc brakes. The Imperial is a heavy beast, tipping the scales at more than 4,000lbs. With a mere 140hp on tap, its ¼ mile ET of 19.9 seconds is no great surprise. The owner indicates that this classic is essentially original, although he has replaced the carburetor and intake. Beyond that, the only components he has changed have been those associated with regular servicing, such as plugs, plug wires, belts, and filters. The car rolls on a set of new narrow whitewall tires, and he claims that he has recently spent around $3,000 on maintenance and servicing. The car runs and drives well, and is a turnkey proposition for its next owner.

While initial sales figures for the newly introduced Imperial proved strong, by 1983, the writing was on the wall. The company managed to sell a mere 932 vehicles that year, leaving them with little choice but to discontinue the brand. The badge would reappear in subsequent years but as a model within Chrysler’s range. The glory days of attempting to emulate Ford and General Motors with their Lincoln and Cadillac brands were memories. The low sales figure for that final production year means that these rarely hit the market. Many have succumbed to old age, but this one looks like it’s a decent survivor. That makes it worthy of preservation, and we can only hope that somebody buys this car and continues to enjoy it in the way the legendary Mr. Iacocca intended.


  1. Mike

    This is not a front wheel drive vehicle .

    Like 22
    • MoragaPulsar

      And why again I just read the comments and link/posting. Why bother if the author doesn’t seemingly to even care.

      Like 2
    • Raymond L Saunders

      Damn ur a friggin genius

      Like 1
    • nlpnt

      For that matter, Chryco never built an FWD V8. I would expect that even if shoehorning an LA-block into a K-car had been a skunkworks project it would’ve been quickly shown zero production potential because of maintenance issues (major surgery needed for spark plug access, need to rigorously maintain a tire pressure differential along the lines of 45 psi front/25 rear just so it could navigate an onramp…)

      Like 2
  2. RKS

    Nice car, but it is not front wheel drive Adam LOL.

    Like 14
  3. Ken Vrana

    Yeah but does it have Corithian Leather?

    Like 7
  4. Will Fox

    The Imperials 1981-83 were RWD; not front wheel drive. Built on the Cordoba/Magnum chassis. And these came loaded; very few options really. This one is minus the moonroof.

    Like 9
    • Gary

      Actually I believe this was on a smaller M platform, not the Magnum, like a Mirada. What happened to the standard fuel injection system? I remember many being so troublesome dealers changed them over to carbs, perhaps that is what happened here..

      Like 7
    • Bick Banter

      It was built on the J-platform, meaning it essentially is just a tarted up Mirada/Cordoba. A few NASCAR teams even ran them back then.

      On that note, I would be very tempted to put a Hellcat 6.4 liter supercharged Hemi into this. It would be wicked nasty on the street!

      Like 6
      • Gary

        I stand corrected, I think your right, not an M, a J. Don’t get old boys, does bad things to your brain.

        Like 2
    • JD

      OEM moonroof was a factory option for the ’81 model year only.

  5. Steve Clinton

    Still looks good. A simple design always works best.

    Like 12
  6. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    FWD/RWD/AWD, what does it matter with 140 horsepower?

    Like 7
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    Doesn’t Todd have one of these?
    Maybe he could chime in.

    Like 2
  8. Keith D.

    Bos! Bos! The Imperial with the Corinthian Leather!

    Like 2
  9. Howie Mueler

    11 bids now, the BIN is $8,800. Its been a long time since i have seen one, i will never forget that trunk area,

    Like 3
  10. Howard A Member

    More “human interest” stories, and I’ve mentioned this before with these. My 1st real trucking job, Paul J. Schmit Trucking, of Brookfield, Wis. circa late 70’s, the oldest driver there was a guy named Ed Navinsky. He was the senior driver, he could have retired years before, but trucked kind of as a hobby. Him and Paul went way back. Anyway, “Steady Eddie” as he was known, and for good reason, the guy never missed a day and never had a accident, he loved his Imperials. FINALLY, Steady Eddie was talked into retirement by his family, and as a gift to himself, he bought an Imperial like this. He came back to show us the car, it was a beaut, and he was very proud of it,,,6 months later, he died. We all said, he should have kept trucking. He clearly missed it, being such a big part of his life.
    For folks like Ed and my old man, these were the last cars of what they held dear. The electronic dash, all the rage then, had it’s problems, for the 1st time a car “talked ” to you, and many were uncomfortable with that . It was well known, cars like this were on the way out, but the next owner will discover what early 80’s Chrysler cushiness was all about. If Ed was here, he’d tell ya’.

    Like 26
  11. harricw3450

    This weird cars wheelbase is pretty close to that wrecked hellcat. That would make fo an odd but interesting body “swap”.

    Like 8
  12. Roland Schoenke

    Sat in one of these at the dealership, it was nice and was the Frank Sinatra edition. It had his name on spots and the center console was full of Frank Sinatra 8-track tapes. Would have been a good find but didn’t want to give up my ’72 Olds 98.

    Like 3
  13. Beignet at the Beach

    So…is it still EFI or been converted to carburation? I can not believe anyone has yet to fuss about the EFI on these Imperials! I die find that the conversion from EFI to Carburetor was a thankless job at the dealership, as it involved replacing, the dash cluster, intake, wiring harness, tank, sending unit, fuel pump…I’m sure my aged brain is forgetting something here. Sadly, the EFI was a good design IF you could keep CLEAN fuel from clouding the ocular wheel & window in the fuel unit, and IF you periodically cleaned the ground contact areas under the controller on the STEEL INNER FRONT WHEEL SHROUND. A really GREAT Chrysler Technician, Reggie Baily, @ Lawrence Imperial-Chrysler-Plymouth, in Richmond ,Virginia taught me all the Imperial “tricks”, and he had a HUGE following as the only guy that could whisper these machines back to a happy running life

    Like 6
  14. Mark

    Always had a soft spot for these and the Miranda’s. Sharp cars. Don’t see too many of either anymore. Someday in the years to come I can see both bringing good money at Barrett Jackson for that very reason.

    Like 3
    • Moparman Member

      That should be “Mirada’s” :-)

      Like 2
    • Gary

      Yes, beautiful cars. I have lusted over those for years. Such a rare beast.

      Like 1
  15. Mark

    I like it, just needs a 440 in it.

    Like 2
  16. David Harold

    Small world. I bought a 4yr old Chrysler LeBaron GTC (1995 model year) from Lawrence Dodge on Broad Street. Four years later, I traded that in on a new SRT-4 (2003 model year) that Lawrence
    had ordered for me. Never had any trouble with either car. Sadly, the Lawrence Dealerships no longer exist.

    Like 5
  17. Solosolo ken tilly Member

    Something wong with the “Likes” button today. I ticked Howard’s “thumbs up” and the counter went from 6 to 21! Then I ticked Beignet and it went from one to four!

    Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      Ha! Careful what you wish for, hey? Thanks, pal, “I got a million of ’em”,( Jimmy Durante),,,obviously. After I thought about it some more, Ed died after THREE months, not 6. He wasn’t the 1st person I heard of dying shortly after retirement. Not me, however, I retired at 62 and 30 seconds.
      Ugly, perhaps, but US car makers went through a slew of styling changes. This “bustleback” was kind of a throwback to the 30’s, and Cadillac kind of started it. It was a “last gasp” for big American RWD cars, FWD econoboxes took it’s place and we never went back.

      Like 1
  18. Solosolo ken tilly Member

    Apart from that I think the car is Fugly!

  19. Stan

    Fussy 140hp. Std ring and pinion ⚙ 2.24. Optional a real twister🌀 2.45

    Great lines on these cars, id love to drop a proper powertrain in it…where’s the bid on that wrecked hellcat ?

    Like 1
  20. Kelly MacGregor

    These were built in Windsor, Ontario. I was going to Law School in Windsor in the early 1980s. In 1983, I remember a large lot near the plant filled with hundreds (maybe thousands) of these cars in all colours. It was sad to see such an inglorious end to these vehicles (and to the Imperial as a respected marque). I do also remember a big fuss made about the Frank Sinatra edition. Clearly a Lido obsession.

  21. Robert Woodward

    I had a 1981 Imperial in whatever shade of red Chrysler offered. Mine was unfortunately rusty and I eventually sold it as a “transportation special”. I always liked the style. The quality, not so much……

  22. Grease

    You kind of burst my bubble stating these were FWD. Glad to again think of them as real cars.

    Like 1
  23. Beel

    Humm, the advertiser wrote that he has owned the car for five years, yet it has a new-issue license plate on it. I recognize the lettering sequence; I also live in Texas.

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