No Reserve Rarity: 1959 Imperial LeBaron Southampton

Buying a new Imperial LeBaron Southampton in 1959 indicated one of two things. It told the world that you were a success and that you weren’t afraid to use your money to indulge your passion for luxury. Alternatively, it was a sign that you had a very understanding bank manager and that you had convinced him to lend you the money for the vehicle. Regardless of which scenario was the most accurate, the Imperial LeBaron was a relatively rare car that was designed to challenge the likes of Cadillac. This one has been sitting for many years and will need some restoration work. It is located in Dade City, Florida, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $5,400 in a No Reserve auction.

The Imperial LeBaron’s styling owes little to subtlety, but a lot to Virgil Exner. This designer has become legendary, and his “forward look” styling produced what is often regarded as some of the most attractive classics of the 1950s. Sadly, by the time this car rolled off the production line, Exner and Chrysler’s management weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on design philosophy, and many of his later efforts for them underwent changes against his will. However, the 1959 Imperial LeBaron still retained all of his usual hallmarks. While it might not be as instantly recognizable as a 1959 Cadillac, it is still a distinctive car with a sense of presence. This Empress Blue Imperial has been sitting for several years, and it will need some work if it is to be returned to its former glory. The owner provides an enormous selection of photos of the vehicle, and the floors and frame show no signs of anything beyond surface corrosion. There is rust present in the body, but this seems mostly confined to small spots in the lower extremities. This includes the lower front fenders and the lower rear quarter panels. None of these spots are particularly large, and all of them could be addressed with patches. One of the distinctive features of this vehicle is the “Silvercrest” roof. This feature saw the front section of the top clad in stainless steel. The rear section could be finished in landau-style black vinyl, or as is the case with this car, the vehicle’s standard body color. This feature appears to be in good condition, and also seems to be the highlight of the trim when it comes to the question of condition. None of the trim is particularly bad, although several pieces sport minor damage or evidence of corrosion. How bad it is would best be determined after everything is polished and inspected, so that task alone will involve a good few hours of work. The Imperial features tinted glass. The windshield has a score on the passenger side, which looks like it was caused by a bad wiper. However, I think that this could be polished out by an experienced individual. The rest of the glass appears to be in good condition.

Powering the LeBaron is the 413ci “Wedge” V8, which would produce 250hp when in good health. The car also comes equipped with a 3-speed TorqueFlite transmission, power steering, and power brakes. Given its substantial dimensions, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Imperial is also quite a heavy beast. It tips the scales at 5,050lbs, but that V8 would still be capable of dragging this luxury car through the ¼ mile in 16.8 seconds. The LeBaron doesn’t currently run and hasn’t done so since around 2009. The engine does turn freely, although the owner hasn’t tried to coax it into life. The fuel tank has been removed, but this is included in the sale. The saving grace is that getting these classics running again is no more complicated than with any Mopar product from this era. That means that it might not take a lot of work to get the vehicle roadworthy once again.

Restoring the interior of the Imperial might not be a big job, although it might cost a few dollars. As a starting point, it will require new covers for the seats, along with a fresh set of kick panels. The covers are likely to be the biggest problem because they can be hard to find. It might be a case of finding an upholsterer who can use the existing covers as a template to make a new set from scratch. Another alternative is to contact some of the Imperial Owner’s Clubs because their members tend to be supportive of anyone who is trying to return one of these cars to their former glory. Those types of clubs seem to be able to locate parts that we mere mortals can’t! The rest of the trim and the carpet show promise. It would be interesting to see how well it would respond to a deep clean. This is a luxury car, so it comes loaded with creature comforts. As well as dual front and rear air conditioning, the Imperial features a power driver’s seat, power windows, Auto-Pilot (cruise), auto-dimming headlights, a clock, and an AM radio.

The 1959 Imperial LeBaron Southampton was an expensive car, and as a result, production totals were low. This car is 1-of-622 Southampton Hardtop Sedans that were built during 1959. How many survive today? That number isn’t clear. One thing is for sure, and that is if you parked this classic in your driveway, there isn’t a lot of chance that your neighbor would have one the same. It would be a stunning car if fully restored, and it does seem to be structurally sound. Of course, it would also be possible to return it to a roadworthy state and then to drive it as it currently stands. That would make it the automotive equivalent of Shabby-Chic, which could have its attractions for anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Either option would guarantee that this classic would grab its share of attention. What would you do?

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Comments

  1. RGSmith1 Member

    Get the seats recovered, get it running and drive it as is. Beautiful car. Thanks to Mr Exner for these beautiful cars. It’s too bad we’ll never see the likes of these again.

    Like 33
  2. Bob S

    If Beverly hillbillies was made in the late 50’s, this is what Mr. Drysdale would be driving! If the bidding stays close to what it is now, it would be a sweet deal!

    Like 14
  3. tiger66

    Looks like a typo in the horsepower rating here: the 413 was rated at 350 (gross) hp, not 250.

    Very high-optioned car, typical of LeBarons. Not mentioned is that it has the new-for-’59 swivel seats (you can see the release lever for the driver’s side one near the front of the seat).

    My dad had a ’59 Crown Southampton salesman’s demo for a weekend once and that dual A/C could freeze you out. Fantastic cars.

    Like 19
  4. Jeff

    I believe the horsepower is actually 350 HP.

    Unfortunately whomever buys may be upside down forever.

    Like 5
  5. 370zpp

    These magnificent Imperials from this era (59-66) evoked a level of class and even grace, never duplicated in later years.

    Like 13
    • ken tilly UK Member

      One helluva gorgeous motor car!

      Like 1
  6. Maestro1 Member

    Wretched excess. Wonderful. You’ll need a warehouse to garage it, and a gas
    station welded to the filler neck to keep going and have more fun than you can
    imagine. As tiger66 says, these are fantastic cars, and they deserve to be saved and loved. If I had the room I’d get serious about it.

    Like 16
  7. normadesmond

    Those open doors seem really thick. Must sound nice closing.

    Like 5
  8. Mark

    1959.
    “Class, does anyone know why Timmy hasn’t been in class this week? Joey, aren’t you Timmy’s neighbor? Do you know?”
    “Yes ma’am, Timmy was riding his bike and wasn’t watching. And that’s when he ran into the back of he Thompson’s Imperial and got impaled by the taillight”.
    “Boy, was Mr. Thompson sore about his car getting scratched”.

    Like 14
    • Phlathead Phil🚗🇺🇸

      Hahahaha!

    • Phlathead Phil

      Mark,

      Awesome phantasy story.

      Exceptionally creative!

      Perhaps Lassie was the one to find Timmy laying
      prostrate in the street?

      That bike was prolly was a Schwinn or Murray.

      It wasn’t a “Sting Ray” ‘cuz in ‘59 they hadn’t been created.

      🥂

      Like 2
  9. William Fox

    This was Imperial’s answer to Cadillac’s Fleetwood 60-special sedan but built in far few numbers. If the underside & engine are solid, this is well worth restoring. Other than the convertible, the LeBaron 4dr hardtops are among the rarest models.

    Like 6
  10. K. R. V. Member

    I can barely remember but my Dad had one of these, in deep maroon, with matching leather interior and the stainless roof. I barely remember it but the steering wheel was mostly clear and not round! As I remember sitting on my Dads lap “driving “ the car! But Dads next car I remember very well! That was a 1964 Imperial Crown Coupe he bought new in 64, when I was nine with him at the dealership, that was owned by a good friend of his! That car was simply amazing! That had the softest black leather I’ve ever felt!

    Like 6
    • Phlathead Phil 🚗🇺🇸

      That leather came from REAL cows made in America!

      Like 8
  11. John Oliveri

    My dad had a 58 Imperial coupe, loved that car when I was little in the 60s, great cars, but the brakes are a very difficult thing, Jay Leno has one, he replaced original with discs , car has no park, only neutral, if emergency brake fails, car runs you over in your driveway

    Like 6
  12. Larry Member

    I used to own a 1959 Imperial South Hampton 2dr HT-Black with the stainless top with red interior. One of the features that stood out was the swivel bucket seats. I should have never sold that car

    Like 5
  13. luckylugnut

    No shortage of iron in this baby.. I bet the front bumper and grill assembly alone weigh 500 lbs !

    Like 5
  14. Phlathead Phil

    There is a guy in town that has one of these in a melon color. It turns heads when it gets taken out of the dilapidated garage it sleeps in. I know, I’ve been there.

    The old guy that owned it passed into the “Great Beyond.” And now, his son drives it around.

    My view is that this vehicle would have made the perfect hover/flying car.

    The fins could have rotated into a Delta wing, the tire mount a place for a nozzle positioning jet, and the bumper-etts converted into Sidewinder rocket launchers to take out slow poke Prius drivers!

    Like 6
  15. Johnny

    Nice, really nice and comfortable looking. I wonder would it be as comfortable as a Rolls? I sat in one of those and didn,t want to get out. I,m sure this car would be as comfortable. Really like and miss the mirror on the dash.That one looks like a lighted one . The bid is up to $7,100. Someone will restore this one. Its a beauty. First one I had seen. I wished it had a head on picture. That is one mean looking grill. Imagine it coming up behind up. You,d probably pull over and run over the hill . hahaha Great looking CAR.

    Like 5
    • Chuck Dickinson

      The r/v mirror is not ‘lighted’. That’s the ‘mirror-matic’ mirror which is common today as an autodimming mirror. Instead of darkening glass like today, the sensor flipped the mirror automatically from day to night settings.

      Like 4
  16. Bob Mck Member

    All I can say is WOW!

    Like 3
  17. moosie moosie

    My Dad had one of these, his was a Southampton 4 dr. h.t. it was a much lighter blue then this one with a light blue interior. I remember my Grandpa getting mad at him when he looked at the window sticker and saw the price, he said he didnt know his son was a showoff. That Imperial was his Sunday car that sat in the garage covered up with Moms old quilts and bedspreads 6 days a week. When I was 15 I took it for a joyride that didnt end well, I slid on the ice and hit a ’59 Oldsmobile 98 head on that was parked at the curb in our suburban neighborhood, I did a lot of front end damage to that Olds, the hood, grille, headlights, & bumper, but only cracked one piece of chrome on the Imperial, the piece just above the headlights on the passenger side. You had to bend over to see it. Dad was very pissed and I got my deserved lumps over that episode. Are the 2 rings on the top of the 1/4 panel near the taillights a Le baron thing along with the small emblems on the lower trim on the bottom of the 1/4 panel ? Once I got my license that Imperial was off limits.

    Like 6
    • tiger66

      Yep, the double rings and the lower quarter trim badges were a LeBaron thing.

      Like 2
  18. ken tilly UK Member

    I like your term “Shabby Chic” Adam. It reminds me of one of my early days girl friends, well worn but still a good looker.

    Like 4
    • Phlathead Phil 🚗🇺🇸

      “Shabby Chicks” are EVERYWHERE!

      Good ones are as rare as “Hen’s Teeth.”

      When you find one, hang in to her for all your might!!!

      Like 2
      • ken tillyUK Member

        Absolutely correct Phlathead Phil. I’ve had my “Hens Teeth” good one for 60 years and counting.

  19. Mountainwoodie

    I had a two tone ’63 Imperial Southampton. Ran like a top with the odd shaped steering wheel. Traded it for 800 bucks and a ten speed. Ten speed was stolen out of my yard, moneys gone and boy now I’m sorry!

    What a car! Weird that it has Philips screws on the data plate. I dont recall Phillips screws when i was 5 :)

    Lots of cool cars seem to pop up in Dale City Fla. Must be like the Twilight Zone for old iron. very strange!

    Like 1

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