Parked In 1973: 1956 Imperial 4-Door Sedan

Back in 1973, this 1956 imperial 4-Door Sedan was parked in a garage, and that is where it has remained until now. It has emerged and shown itself to be a solid and complete car that is waiting for the right person to restore it to its former glory. With a feeling of luxury and a Hemi under the hood, this was a car that was special when it was new, and it could be just as special once again. it is located in Florence, Vermont, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $4,000 for this gentle giant. I have to also say a big thank you to Barn Finder Ed Vt for referring the Imperial through to us.

This really is a giant of a car. At a touch over 19′ in total length and 6½’ in width, it is a car that you are most definitely going to notice on the road. The surprising thing about it is that even after 47-years in storage, it has emerged out the other side in surprisingly good condition. The panels look straight, while the majority of the original Raven Black paint appears to be in quite impressive condition. The paint on the roof has deteriorated quite badly, and there is some surface corrosion present there, as well. It would be interesting to treat the Imperial to a wash, buff, and polish to see how well it would respond. It is possible that it might present well enough to mean that any repainting work might be confined to the roof only. As far as rust issues are concerned, these are said to be minimal. The car was undercoated early in life, and the result is that there is only one small hole in the front floor on the driver’s side, along with a couple of small holes in the trunk. It sounds like these could be addressed with patches rather than total replacement. The underside of the car does have some surface corrosion that probably should be attacked before it gets the chance to deteriorate, but the panels look like they have escaped any attack of the tin worm. Even the external trim and chrome looks to be quite good, especially those incredibly cool gunsight tail-lights, which were also known as “sparrow strainers.” One other positive is the fact that all of the Solex tinted glass appears to be free of any major flaws.

Life inside the Imperial meant living in the lap of luxury, especially in a 1956 context. You found yourself in a car equipped with power windows, a 4-way power front seat, and in an era that was less politically correct, no less than four cigarette lighters. This Imperial is also equipped with a Philco transistor radio, which was a new innovation introduced into the Imperial range in 1955. Of course, the latest-and-greatest is always going to come at a cost, with the radio representing a $150 option in 1956. Surprisingly, it doesn’t appear as though the Imperial is equipped with air conditioning. It also misses out on one of the neatest options available on the Imperial, which was the extremely rare Chryslermatic clock that was mounted in the center of the steering wheel hub. However, if you ordered the radio, you also received a power antenna. Of course, the lack of A/C is balanced out by the fact that the Imperial does feature four operating vent windows. Two was a common sight, but having four was a rare treat. The condition of the interior is generally quite good, with a single split in the driver’s seat being the only identified fault. I can see an issue with the upholstery on the rear parcel tray, but I believe that this would probably stretch back into shape okay. Once again, it would be interesting to spend some time giving the interior a thorough clean, because I would suspect that it might come up looking pretty good.

The Imperial came equipped with the 354ci Hemi V8 which produced a healthy 280hp. Early 1956 models also came equipped with a 2-speed Powerflite transmission, although around mid-year, this was replaced by the 3-speed TorqueFlite unit. It is this latter item that we find fitted to this car, while the Imperial also featured power steering and power brakes as standard equipment. This is a big, heavy car, tipping the scales at 4,575lbs. Even allowing for this, it was more than capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds, which was well clear of anything that could be offered by its direct competition. Then again, it was a case of it all coming at a cost, because a 4-Door Imperial would set a buyer back just over $500 more than they might expect to pay for an equivalent Cadillac Series 62. Sadly, the Imperial doesn’t run at present, although the engine is said to turn freely. It appears that the owner has tried to breathe some life into the car, but it has refused to fire. With any sort of luck, it might only be something minor that is preventing the Hemi from roaring back into life. That is probably only going to be the starting point, because, after 47-years of inactivity, there will probably be plenty of components that will require checking, reconditioning, or even replacing, before the car could be considered to be roadworthy once again.

In 1956 a total of 6,821 Imperial 4-Door Sedans were built, with a base price of $4,832. This was in an era when the average annual wage was around $4,783 per annum. Just how many cars remain in existence today isn’t clear, especially given the fact this car hails from an era when many manufacturers, including the entire Chrysler Corporation, were experiencing major problems with rustproofing. A pristine example today will cost in excess of $50,000, while even a reasonably clean car can still push up above $30,000. With the rust issues in this car appearing to be so minor, this could be a great restoration project, especially for the Mopar enthusiasts out there.


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  1. nlpnt

    Parked in 1973, survives today because it was banned from the demolition derby.

    Like 15
  2. Buicklover

    Beautiful car. However, I’m impressed with the lifting power of that 4 arm lift!

    Like 4
    • Dave

      Probably doesn’t weigh any more than a Silverado or F150.

      Like 2
  3. Dave

    Interesting that it has a Philco transistor radio. Philco was a Ford division and made radios and other appliances for many years. Tube car radios were the rule until the mid 60s, as I had a 63 Cutlass with a tube radio but my 66 Fury had a “Plymouth Transaudio” transistor radio. Tube radios required high voltages and a device called a vibrator converted the car DC into AC so that a transformer could increase the voltage. Vibrator power supplies were common on most of the early base/mobile CB radios made before 1965 as well.

    Like 7
    • Bill W

      Chrysler worked with Philco to produce the first transistor car radio in the 1950’s.

      Ford acquired Philco in December, 1961. Philco radios used in Ford Motor Co. vehicles adopted the Philco-Ford label in 1966.

      Like 8
    • Ken

      The Philco Chrysler all-transistor car radio, the first of its kind.

      Like 5
    • Jetfire88

      Dave, your ’63 Cutlass should have had a transistor radio, which looked identical to the previous tube model. Olds changed to alternator in ’63 and the radio was also upgraded without any fanfare.

      Like 1
    • Robert L Roberge

      IIRC my ’63 Skylark and Mom’s ’62 Special radios were both transistorized. I wouldn’t have had the patience, as a teenager, for tubes to heat up.

      Like 1
  4. Bob McK Member

    Some Mopar person is going to be really happy when they bring this beauty home. Nice find!

    Like 6
  5. Bob

    As a teenager working in my brother’s Atlantic gas station in the early 60’s I can’t ever remember one of these coming in for gas otherwise I would have known about the hidden gas filler on this Imperial. Many cars of this era had hidden fillers but I never seen this one………

    Like 1
  6. Arthell64 Member

    Seems like a decent deal

    Like 2
  7. Pete Kaczmarski

    ’56 Imperial is nice but I prefer my ’59 Imperial Custom Coupe with the Silvercrest Landau roof.

    Like 1
    • Chris M.

      As well you should Pete, as well you should…

      Like 2
  8. ArchitectureOnWheels

    Spoke with the owner. Very forthright further illuminating some of the details and history of the car. Would have made a run at it, but the drive to see it was a bit too lengthy at this time. Great price for what it is. Owner can procure a registration and title in Vermont for the buyer. Anyone with sufficient space to accommodate it, disposable time to work on it, some basic mechanical knowledge, and access to parts to recommission it, will be acquiring a fun car. Interested parties…. don’t drag your feet. It shouldn’t last long.

    Like 3
  9. Del

    Its very nice.

    Alas two many doors

    Like 2
  10. Andrew Franks

    It’s too far away for me but what a great find. Someone jump on this before it disappears.

  11. Sam61

    Very nice write up! My first car, as a newly minted teenage driver, was a dark green 53 Imperial sedan. It was a heavy long car. The improvements from 53 to 56 are interesting. My car was 6 volt, 331 hemi, slushomatic trans with clutch, 3 cig lighters, power windows, oil bath air cleaner, tube radio and tube speaker chasis. It was a huge deal for me when I bought a set of 4″ white walls at Sears and could afford a cheap respray. The parents even drove the car occasionally as it brought back memories for them.

    I like the subject car…loving preservation, maybe a gun metal gray roof, buff/polish, deep clean the leather, new carpet, 2 inch whitewalls, kelsey hayes spoke wheels!

    Like 2
    • Chris M.

      Sounds like you have a clear vision for this boat Sam! For me it’s a good parts car. Pull that Hemi and put into a righteous hot rod!

  12. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I’d bet some hard work buffing, polishing and cleaning will produce a very nice driver. A great car for cheap money and a pretty rare model that will dazzle at your local show and shine. Nice to see there are some good deals on nice cars that can still be found. I don’t care that it has four doors, this car is a beauty.

    Like 2
  13. RJ

    ya, guys are good at “destroying” these rare stock beauties,…

  14. RNR

    Somewhere along the way somebody spray bombed the motor like it was a Gen 2 Hemi (orange with black valve covers) – what’s up with that? Looks like that’s the only muscle car era “upgrade” it’s been subjected to – lucky.

    Good value – get it running (and paint the motor silver, please!) buff it out and paint the roof (I’d stay with black) and put some Diamondback wide whites on it (and repoped Chrysler wire wheels if you’ve got a spare $1500). You could pick up gas money chauffeuring brides!

    Like 1
  15. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Had a few of these….just when you think your the only one that has one in your area ….one….two….three show up on one lot ! Took awhile to take that in when I saw them. Lots of theses around (like one being stripped out back of my place) just just lack an engine.

    Nice one here – won’t last long……

  16. Mountainwoodie

    So cool…this where the “two” many doors exception kicks in. :)

    Good thing it’s on the East Coast. This is the kind of car that I’d be all over………even at four grand……….

    Like 1
  17. r s

    Worth every penny.

  18. Rolf Staples, Sr

    Back in I 66, I bought a one owner Imperial, 2 tone green I knew the old lady that owned. All the bells and, including the foot button to change stations and the in, shift lever on the left side of the dash. Loved the car, it was in great shape, drove and rode well, plenty fast for me, (not saying). I kept it a couple of years and sold it. One of the dumb things that I’ve done, like selling my 1937 Packard 6……………… Oh well, nice 65 there!

  19. Walt

    I have two 56 Imperials, one is a sedan, the other is a coupe. The sedan is a complete “survivor” car while the coupe was missing the engine and trans along with some rust. Neither will be restored due to it costing far more to restore than they would never bring if sold. I also have a 55 sedan coming in that is similar to the 56 sedan in condition. All will be getting the custom treatment. Modern engines and transmissions, upgraded suspensions, etc..The coupe is 1 of 2,094. Too bad so many went to demo derbies over the years until they were banned. They also never had the popularity like the Cadillacs.

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