Old Guard: 1958 Imperial Hardtop

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Up until recently, the big, wide late ‘fifties and early ‘sixties Imperials were overlooked by collectors. Some owners found this frustrating, but quite a few Imperial fanatics were pretty happy, as they could acquire the cars of their dreams for very little cash.

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It’s true that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that includes these big Imperials (pun intended). These massive beasts were very popular with demolition derby types (much hated by those who care for these cars – I know quite a few who have purchased Imperials defensively, just to save them from the ignominy of the derbies). Now that old car prices are the highest we have ever seen, even big Imps, that are expensive to repair, restore and maintain, have started to reach price points none of us could have imagined just a few years ago.

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The stratospheric prices of fully restored examples tend to draw some lesser cars out of storage, barns and garages, with their owners sometimes mistakenly thinking that they’ve finally struck gold.

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Reader Peter R. sent us word of just such a car, this 1958 Imperial four door hardtop, for sale now here on craigslist in Griffin, Georgia, with an asking price of what is to me a breath-taking $15,000.

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According to the seller, this Imperial has traveled only 59,000 miles, body and chrome said to be in “great shape,” with “no rust anywhere,” and it has been in his garage since 1969. The seller has done some preparation to make the car salable, it appears, with new tires installed. The seller says it will run, but admits that because of its deep sleep, it needs new hoses, belts etc. to be drivable.

1958 Imperial-08
Brochure photos courtesy of ImperialClub.com

You would think that someone trying to convince buyers to part with this much money, or even just to get someone to come see it, would provide a bit more information about the car, as well as some decent pictures, but unfortunately such is not the case here. No matter that this might be a great low mileage old car, it’s still a less desirable four door model, and we are not told whether it is a Custom, a Crown or a LeBaron (I think it’s a Custom, judging from the pictures, but I can’t tell for sure; it might be a Crown. Even if the interior is in great shape, and all the rare and difficult to source parts present, these cars have many luxury features and electronics that do not age well, and any buyer will be thinking about the amount of work this car will need to make it a runner or restore it, and will discount its value accordingly. The seller may be unhappy to discover that the value of this car is probably about half his asking price. The great folks at the Online Imperial Club (of which I am a member) have a pretty accurate price guide that supports my thinking about price (I think this car has to be a “4” out of “6” as it is a nonrunner, maybe adding to value for its originality and low miles.)

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Comments

  1. Bill

    Super cool car, but super over-priced as well.

  2. JW454

    This thing has class. Back in the day you would have been the man of the hour with this ride.

  3. Dave Wright

    I love and own Imperials, this is one of the most interesting years. It has torsion bars and the last, biggest pre-426 Hemi, ( the 392) many had the engines stolen for hot rods, prices are all over the map, I think it is overpriced by 2 times. I bought a solid 1966 convertible, last year of this platform, yesterday for 1000.00. So, best to save your cash for a deal.

  4. Keith

    It’s either a Custom or a Crown (I think Crown) The “Imperial” script is on the front fenders. $15,000 it is not. About half that. (Most valuable thing about this car is the engine.)

  5. nick Member

    is it breath taking because of the price is low or high?

    • David Wilk Member

      Nick – $15K is pretty crazy money for this car, I thought “breath taking” as in “so high it takes your breath away” :)
      David

  6. grant

    Nice car but if he was able to put new tires on it you would think he would roll it outside for some decent pictures.

  7. Woodie Man

    I had a two tone ’63 Chrysler Imperial.sold it for $850.00 and a bicycle when gas went to a buck a gallon out here on the West Coast…………..had that wonderful oblong shaped steering wheel. It had the stand alone front headlights and a much subtler fin. Really beautiful cars. Gov Pat Brown of California had a ’57 Imperial formal Ghia built limo….. back in the day

  8. Dave Wright

    63 is one of the best years I think……..bomb site tail lights and stand alone headlights. It is a lovely car with the great 413 engine.

    • Tony, Australia

      Not to be ‘picky’ Dave, the ‘bomb sight’ tail lamps finished in 62, (I have one), the whole design changed in 64 and it went to the square box shape, pity about that !!

  9. Tim

    Great Article. Very well written.
    That is a strong price for the car, but maybe that’s good. We’ll see if he gets his asking price. I bet his hopes are about 5 grand too lofty.

  10. Ed P

    I wish this seller had included more pictures and a better description. What he does show is very nice, but what about the rest of the car. Restored, this would be a wonderful cruiser. The price is going to be a stumbling block.

  11. Howard A Member

    Apparently, demo derbies banned Imperials from the lineup, for obvious reasons. I agree with Dave, the early 60’s ones were nicer. Milburn Drysdale thought so. http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/drysdales-imperial.jpg Quite the tank, take 2 parking spaces to park it and probably single digit gas mileage. But for America at the time, bigger was better, and this car was it.

    • Tony, Australia

      Howard, gas mileage isn’t all that bad for a 2 1/4 ton tank, I get about 15-16 per imperial gallon on the open road here in Oz.

  12. Boris

    It’s a Crown. The interior pattern is the giveaway. It’s a four-door but at least it’s a hardtop. I’ve been pricing Imperials a lot lately. In the current market, it’s probably worth $6000-$8000.

  13. Marco

    Oh man. My grandmother had one of these when I was a kid. She’d sit me on her lap (no seatbelts then) and let me drive and honk the horn all I wanted. I think I must have been 4 or 5. I remember one time some guy pulled along side and yelled “lady- you nearly killed me!” That must have been me driving! Car memories!

  14. Roseland Pete

    Always liked those old Imperials.

  15. Charles

    From the pictures the car looks complete and solid. Griffin is 45 miles southwest of Atlanta. They rarely use salt on the roads due to the mild winters, so the car may be in good shape. There are lots of nice old cars in that area of the country.

  16. Curt

    We called those tail lights “Sparrow Strainers”.

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