Possibly Celebrity Owned: 1961 Chrysler Imperial

61 imperial 2

A possibly celebrity owned 1961 Chrysler Imperial. The seller claims that this Imperial was owned by Sandra Dee. It looks clean enough, but we are not entirely sure that it was owned by the famous Gidget. The seller stated that the car is in original condition, and that it is a great cruiser. If this Chrysler was indeed owned by Sandra Dee the asking price seems reasonable at $15,000. Find it here on craigslist out of Modesto, California.

61 imperial 4

This all original Mopar looks to have a nice interior. There are a couple of flaws, the steering wheel is cracked, and there is a dash pad that could be hiding some potential issues. Besides that, the interior looks clean and to be in good original condition. The interior styling is interesting, the square-like steering wheel, the overall gauge cluster and surrounding controls lend to a very space age sort of look.

61 imperial 3

The styling on this one is out there. Many folks have mixed opinions on early 1960s Mopar styling. It seems that you either love it or hate it. There are definitely some cool styling cues to though. The taillights for instance, are way cool with their atom like appearance. The paint and exterior trim look clean and present well. The main thing that is a red flag on this car is the selection of alloy wheels. While a different wheel package from stock would be welcomed, the current wheels don’t much fit the style of the car.

The Forard Look News Vol.7, No.2 April, 1961
Photo credit: Imperial Web Pages

Here is where we question the truth as to whether this was Sandra Dee’s Mopar. Here is a period photo of Sandra Dee with “her” 1961 Crown Imperial. The car in the photo appears to be white, or some other very light color. Could the car in the photo be a dummy car, offering privacy and protection for Sandra Dee from the public? Also is possible that Sandra kept her original Imperial until her passing in 2005? Would her car have been overlooked and sold to an everyday Joe? Then did said Joe add the wheels, and dash pad? Hard to say, it’s not unreasonable to think that could have happened, but it seems unlikely. Aside from the possibility of Gidget having owned this Chrysler, it looks to be a nice car. What do you think? Do you think this could be Sandra Dee’s Imperial, or could this just be another great story to sell a car? Tell us what you think.

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Comments

  1. piper62j

    Obviously, the pic of Sandra is in black and white, so the car color could be (as you say) any light color.. Her car has wire wheel covers and has a curb height much higher than the sellers. Why add a padded dash cover and swap out the wheels on a celebrity car? The wheels look to be Eagle aluminum wheels. Doesn’t come together for me.. It would enhance the value if it was all original..

    We may never know..

  2. Tyler

    Right up there with Jon Voight’s Lebaron…

  3. Charlie C.

    When my gramps passed, my grams bought three of them. Around 1960. One for herself, one for my uncle, and one for my mom. Actually, my mom got the Imperial, Rose 🌹 pink, and gram and uncle got New Yorkers. White and this Sky Blue. Grams was a lil’ crazy! My mom had the coolest car in town! I was 7.

  4. Luke Fitzgerald

    They are the poxiest wheels – rather have black rims

  5. Salt Man

    The LeBaron was owned by JOHN Voight. Subtle difference.

    • Tyler

      The periodontist, not the actor, lol!

  6. grant

    Chrysler styling always struck me as a little odd, although I love the way the nacelles to either side of the speedometer mimic the angle of the tailfins. Seller needs to cough up a lot of proof of providence if they are going to pass this as a celebrity car.

    • cyclemikey

      Proof of providence? Philosophers have been trying to achieve that for millennia.

      I’ve never been sure why celebrity provenance should be worth much. I really don’t care whose butt’s been in the seat.

      • grant

        Autocorrect whoops…

    • Degoragon

      Ol Virgil Exner really went wild with the Chrysler cars. It worked well to 1960, then started getting long in the tooth after.

      Also, I do know of a guy who has a 1983 Imperial formerly owned by Shirley “Cha-Cha” Muldowney, I even seen the original Title in her name and a few personal notes with her signature on stuff about the car, I guess to some mechanic.

  7. Bobsmyuncle

    Maybe I’m naive however who would care enough about Sandra Dee to pay more for this car? I mean how much could that really be worth?

  8. grant

    Just for grins and giggles, I texted the seller. He “thinks” he has documentation showing this was her car. Be careful with this one.

    • packrat

      Until the seller confirms the possible origins of the car he’s used as part of the sales pitch, the final winning bidder standing pat on declaring that he “*thinks* he has the money for it”, would impart a certain poetic symmetry to the transaction.

  9. Crazydave

    Love the dash and interior. The front is very distinctive. That rear – with the fins & those tail-lights not so much. I don’t mind the toilet seat on the trunk – just those lights & fins as a combination

    Seems to me that Sandra Dee was a petite (read “teeny”) li’l thing – wouldn’t this have big a humongous car for her? Could she have seen over the dash?

  10. Bill

    Not hardly. Couple years ago the “celebrity” connection was Doris Day. She only made it worth 13k. Now it’s 15k? It’s been sitting there, for sale, for at least 6 years.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Are you saying THIS car was being touted as Doris Day’s?

  11. Justin R

    I’ve watched this car on the local craigslist for a very long time, and the Sandra Dee thing is a new mention. Must be really trying to move it off the lot.

  12. Pope Paul II

    Anyone old enough to remember Sandra Dee should not be driving and/or would need a note from his doctor before attempting a restoration. Next!

    P.S. I have a 1984 Corvette that Zora Duntov would have spit on. Does that increase its value?

    • Ronny

      I’m 75…….drive a 50 Ford coupe that you would die for……but likely would have trouble driving because it’s standard shift. LMAO!

      • Pope Paul II

        Hi Ronny- My Corvette has a 4+3 manual. My other Corvettes have had 4-speeds and my wife’s VW’s have all had manual transmissions. LMAO too!

  13. AMCSTEVE

    Funny comments. I dont even know whi Sandra Dee was except for hearing her name.
    If the seller is fibbing he could have picked someone more famous.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      But then he wouldn’t have photographic ‘proof’.

  14. frank

    Would it be possible since this is a site dedicated to automobiles, antiques and classics to get the name of the car correct? This isn’t a Chrysler. Chrysler Cars were made by Chrysler Corporation and were medium and upper medium priced cars. They were build using unit body construction. The car pictured here is an Imperial. Imperials were a separate brand of car, made in their own factory. Devoid of anything Chrysler other than the engine and transmission. They are distinctly different cars, with the Imperial being a Luxury car, not a family type of sedan.

    • waynard

      Took the words outta my mouth Frank. Thanks. You have to remember how many people read this site that are of a “youthful age” and not familiar with many cars except ‘vettes, and rice burners. LMAO!!

      Like 1
    • moosie Craig

      Like that early Lincoln/Ford thing.

    • TONY

      You’re right Frank, Imperials were a seperate entity until 63 when they became a Mopar with the Pentastar badge on the left front fender side and they were built by Chrysler from then on in their own factory not in the Jefferson Imperial plant. This one has probably got a very badly deformed and split dash top, also the padding in the horn ring has shrunk and is lifting, a very common problem, mine has it but it’s hard to repair, one day I’ll have to attack it somehow.

  15. piper62j

    Just an FYI ! It’s “unibody”,, Not “unit body”… Just Sayin…

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Actually they are interchangeable and shortened versions of unitized body.

      Just sayin ;)

    • TONY

      Piper, the Imperials were chassis construction until about 67 or 68 then they went to unibody from then on. The 61, 62 and 63 are 19 feet long by 6ft.3in wide and weigh just under 2 1/2 ton. The whole car is very ridgid for it’s size.

  16. Bruce

    If theres no paper work proving it its not true. I had a 1956 Chrysler Windsor that was owned by J.F. K. aunt and had all the paper work proving it including her diary. It didn’t help when I sold it. LOL. Bruce.

  17. waynard

    This car appears to be repainted, therefore not original. Check the under hood pic. Shows paint on the hood spring, left side, and overspray all around it but no paint on the opposite hinge. Ask for the Data Plate numbers, that should show the original paint color by number.

    No proof of Gidgets’ ownership means the seller is misrepresenting the car. I’d like to see it if he has it, and I’ll retract my statement.

    #3 (and that’s generous) value on it is less than half of what he’s asking. Why bother with this? I doubt I could trust any thing the seller is saying; and it probably won’t start.

    Seller: stand up and defend your car and its description.

  18. Loco Mikado

    The seller is asking at least 3 times what the car is worth. To begin with nobody shells out the money he is asking for a car of this nature with an absolutely filthy engine and compartment. Add in the fact that he comes up with a wild claim every couple of years and I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. He will still be trying to sell it until the day he dies at this price. And then his heirs will sell it for scrap;. Seen this same scenario over and over again over the years. And the car wasn’t that wildly popular when it was new and has a very limited market appeal today. $5,000. tops is my valuation.

    • Degoragon

      My uncle had a 1963 Falcon Sprint he was selling, and a guy wanted to trade him a 20 gauge shotgun “Owned by JFK”. The guy had no paperwork, of course. My uncle said no.

  19. Joe

    Sandra Dee was a classy girl. She could have done better than this old rust bucket.

    I don’t think her butt ever touched any part of this car.

    Please donate this dirty wreck to “Cars for Kids” in Sandra’s name and let her Rest in Peace.

  20. Jw

    Sandra Dees was pink

  21. Bob C.

    Does this mean Bobby Darin drove this too? Lol.

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