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King Of The Road: 1961 Imperial

1961 Imperial Crown Southampton

This Chrysler built Imperial might have huge wings, be massively long and quite luxurious inside, but I’m not sure I’d call it the King of the road like the seller does. They do point out that these were rather rare compared to their Cadillac and Lincoln counterparts in ’61. I’m still not sure if that makes it the king though. Whether it’s the King or not, I still like these big Chryslers and this one looks like a great find! At $7,500 with the option to make a lower offer, this seems like a lot of car for the money and can be found here on eBay in Conrad, Iowa.

1961 Imperial Crown Hardtop

While some might find the styling of these cars to be a bit over the top, I actually really like their looks. I won’t lie, I’m not a huge fan of the pink… I mean Malibu Tan color combo on it, but it would draw lots of attention! One this is for sure, you’d never loose this beast in a crowded parking lot.

1961 Imperial Crown Engine

After being parked for who knows how long in this barn, it isn’t in the best of condition. The seller claims it does run and drive around the yard, but that it isn’t road worthy and will need to be hauled home. The 413 V8 is a big durable engine, so I’m sure the mechanical systems just need a tune up and some new fluids to be ready for use. It’s the brakes that I’d worry about first with this one! This is a lot of car to stop, so you’ll want the brakes in top shape if your going to drive it any distance.

1961 Imperial Crown Interior

The interior is in need of a serious cleaning, but it looks complete and salvageable. Finding replacement pieces could be tricky, seeing as only about 7,500 of these were built. I would want to make sure all the hard to find bits are still here and in good shape before making an offer. Given the condition and the fact that it’s a 4 door, I would offer substantially less than their BIN, but if you can get it for a couple grand less you’d be getting a lot of steel and fins for your money! The question is, would you call this the King of the road?


  1. Andrew S Mace Member

    I would note that the freestanding headlamps bear a passing resemblance to Lucas “King of the Road” units (although I’m pretty sure they’re not)! Just sayin’…. ;)

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  2. boxdin

    When I see these I think of this;

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  3. Mark S

    The max offer on this car should be no more than $3500.00. This car is quite different looking with its free standing headlights and tail lights, but it needs a lot of work. I would do a colour change if it were mine I’d change to two tone red over black in single stage paint of course. I’d do a matching red interior with black trime. I’d rebuild the mechanics and use it as a Sunday cruiser.

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  4. Roselandpete

    The styling is over the top but I prefer it to the bland styling of today’s cars.

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  5. Pfk1106

    Really liked the free standing headlights in the coves, and the Saturn ring tail lights.

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  6. Eric Dashman

    The old Mechanics Illustrated writer, Tom McCahill, used to rave about these cars as great highway vehicles…land yachts. The Torqueflite transmissions were best of breed at the time, the big wedge engines were bulletproof, and the ride was second to none. He may have called them ‘king of the road’, but I don’t specifically recall that. As a Chrysler kid, I wanted to love them, but I couldn’t. They reminded me of my Gramma…soft, sweet, and pillowy.

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    As a die hard Chevy guy, I dig this Mopar. I think it would be a blast. Yep this one needs a lot, but that’s what we do right? Nobody here is scanning Barn Finds for an economy commute vehicle.

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  8. charlie Member

    Needs a lot of body work, by the looks of it, but once fixed up 80 mph all day, in comfort, and yes a 4 door, but, no B pillar, so much ahead of a regular 4 door sedan. I have a 20′ deep garage, and that is the outside dimension, so I bet the fins would hang out.

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    • Tony C. Oz

      Charlie they’re just under 20 feet long so you could be lucky !

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  9. M B

    That front end looks like it had a “road battle” or two (with the hood). Roads back then were not like we have today. Many still were not glass smooooth, still had ups and downs, bumps, AND many more curves . . . all of which the Chrysler TorsionAire suspension and tuning handled BETTER than any competing Ford or GM product. Therefore, “King of the Road”.

    The car does need a good bit of TLC, but when back to factory specs, would be a great car to enjoy “the road” in. Nothing like a 4-door hardtop with those side windows lowered! Can’t buy that open-air feel ANYWHERE and still have a solid roof over your head (in a car).

    The color of the car is a part of its heritage, of that era of production. Might also be that the old acrylic enamel would shine up pretty nice! Just needs some 1″ wide whitewalls. Older cars are ALWAYS worth more as they came from the factory and can be easier to sell later on. The more customization is done, the narrower the potential market for resale becomes.

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  10. lee

    Tom McCahill Americas top authority of Automobiles and writer for Mechanics Illustrated from the 1940s into the 1970s often referred to these mechanical marvels as “KING OF THE ROAD”, these cars new were more expensive, better handling and more usable horsepower than dam near any car on the planet!
    This car restored would fetch over 40,000, I don’t see 40000 dollars worth of work here, so if the guy is asking 7500 or best makes it a good price. Wish I had the money, I would buy it!

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  11. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the brakes, the larger Chrysler cars had the best drum brakes in the business, with [if my memory is correct] huge 11″X3″ brake shoes and finned drums. I never had any problems stopping my Imperials at 70mph or more, even when flat towing other big cars with my trusty tow bar.

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    • Tony C. Oz

      They also had vented wheel trims, which fed air through to the drums, the rims had the holes in them for airflow.

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  12. Tony C. Oz

    I currently own and drive a 62 Imperial and as someone once said in a writeup when these came out, Quote; they’re like driving a tournament billiard table on the highway.
    I can attest to that, I’ve had mine up to 120+mph and it still wanted to go harder, but without that “driving on the edge” feeling you might get in a Caddy or even a mid size T Bird, etc. The torsion bar suspension was the secret to the ride and handling.
    For info on these you can go to the Imperial club website, it’s huge and has all you need to know about these tanks!

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  13. TC

    Imperials still had a full chassis up until the mid to late 60’s. the demolition derby organisers banned them from competing as they nearly always ended up the last car moving.

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  14. Rolf Staples, Sr

    I had a two tone green ’55 Imperial. I loved it. We called those tail lights “sparrow strainers”.

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  15. Charlie Member

    Not all the demolition derby sponsors got the word, the Labor Day weekend Tri County Fair, in Bishop CA derby had at least 3 in 2014 and 5 in 2015 which pretty much crushed the competition. Back in the late 70’s saw one run in Wilmington VT derby which had been reinforced with steel all around, won the Derby, entered from out of town by a friend of the promoter, DQ’ed, fist fight broke out.

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  16. Dave Wright

    These were truly the king of the road. Torsion bars make all the difference. Read the road tests when the first torsion bar cars came out. They thought they were sports cars. Cadillac could never get coil springs to provide the ride or handeling that these old girls had. I did everything possible to make 80’s Cadaliac’s stop porpoising on a rough road to no avail. There is just no way to tie down that front end. My 66 convertible will be done next year……I used a 1959 similar to this as a tow car for my first Lotus race car……filled with 6 guys, towing a lotus 11 with spares on a trailer at 90MPH to Seatte (SIR) and Portland (Delta Park)…….great stuff

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  17. boxdin

    The large Mopar station wagons were brutal at high speed in reverse!

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  18. Jw

    It was then and still is clearly King of the Road!

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