Rare And Complete: 1965 Imperial Convertible

Everyone knows of the luxury competition between Cadillac and Lincoln but back in the 1960s there was a third leg to the luxury stool and that was the Chrysler Imperial. Actually, it was technically the “Imperial” as it was a separate model under the Chrysler Corporation umbrella along with Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth and at one-time, Desoto too. Today’s find is a super rare, 1965 Imperial convertible, located in Boonton, New Jersey and offered here on eBay for a starting bid of $2,550. As of this writing, there are no bids that have been tendered.

The Chrysler Imperial was first offered in 1926 as competition for Cadillac, Lincoln, Duesenberg, and Pierce-Arrow. In 1955, the Chrysler Imperial became the Imperial and remained as such through 1975. The Imperial returned in 1978 but the lineage of those 1978 and 1983 models could be argued. The “Chrysler” Imperial returned in 1990 and continued through 1993 but that version seemed a caricature of its once greatness. This 1965 Imperial convertible is one of only 633 made, the majority of ’65 models being four-door sedans. This example is very complete and original. It now dons primer instead of its original burgundy but the body appears to be pretty straight other than a dented right fender, but the car comes with a replacement. The owner states that there is rust in the floor pan behind the driver’s seat (typical for a convertible) but is pretty sound otherwise. There is no mention of the frame’s condition.

Under the hood is a 340 horsepower 413 “RB” Chrysler wedge engine. The owner states that the motor turns over but won’t start though it did run a year ago. The drivetrain includes Chrysler’s excellent A727 Torqueflight three-speed automatic transmission. I have always had a thing for these mid-’60s Imperials, probably because I was a fan of the ‘60s television show, The Green Hornet, and the Green Hornet’s famous Black Beauty limousine was a customized ’66 Imperial. I always thought that the sharp, square lines of the Imperial were far more impressive than the excessive bodywork of the similar era’s Cadillac.

The interior of this convertible is upholstered in leather with the front seats showing, typically, far more wear than the back seat. That said, the interior looks pretty complete and the worn leather gives of an English smoking lounge vibe. The owner states that this Imperial will need a new “roof” but that means a fabric top which is doable though, and I know this from experience, is a bit expensive. There is no mention made of the top’s hydraulic mechanism or its operation.

OK, so this Imperial is going to take quite a bit of work but what a fantastic alternative to a similar era Cadillac or Lincoln this would be, especially considering its rarity. So what do you think, are you up for the challenge? The price of entry at this point is pretty reasonable.


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    The build quality of these Chryslers is very good. The ride and handling are also really good, and the 413 makes good power. I am personally not up to the challenge, having resurrected 2 cars since March and still working on them, but surely somebody will want this car, it looks awesome!

    Like 10
  2. cold340t

    I owned one of these that was a true barn find in late 90’s. $500 bucks pushed it home, it was down hill. 1 of @600 made. Surprisingly, there was little interest in these when it came time to sell it. The Chrysler Club was of no help. Despite it being complete close to running. Took months to unload. Still got $1000.00 for it.
    Which, is because it’s a ONE YEAR only SHIFT LINKAGE going from Push buttons to Column shift. A Rube Goldberg solution to Auto shifting. Thats where the money IS. Unless, the car is restorable. If not , that is where the resale return is. Nice car!

    Like 4
  3. Del

    Pretty good.

    Too bad its so far away

    Like 3
  4. Wayne

    This is a bargain even with the work it needs. I used to think the sun rose and set on Cadillacs till I bought my first Imperial, also a 65. The build quality is awesome and fantastic “go” power.

    Like 8
  5. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Had one also bought from the original owner. Mine was a runner and still hard to sell….think I got close to $1500 in the early 90’s.

    Like 2
  6. Will Fox

    Of the Elwood Engel-era Imperials (`64-`66) the `64 cvt. is said to be the rarest, but you can find them if you dig. This appears basically all there, and being in primer allows a buyer to choose another color, although being the purist I am, I’d paint it in the original maroon. Reupholstering the leather interior will run as much–if not more–than rebuilding either the 413 or the 727 torqueflite automatic. This car would be $100K to do right, but well worth it.

    Like 2
  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    My oldest brother (rip) used to drive Imperials. He had, at one time, a 65 4 door hardtop. It was fully loaded and was a powerful smooth riding car. Now that was in the early era of CB radio fans so he had one with a big whip antenna reaching from rear bumper to front. His was silver in color inside and out. Very comfortable seats. I’m not up to a restoration project anymore or I’d be all in on this in memory of my brother.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  8. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Has anyone else noticed that this 1965 Imperial has a 1966 rear bumper?
    The 65 had the backup lights next to the taillights, as shown in the picture. But in 66 the made the 65 backup lights red extending the taillight, and put the backup lights down next to the license plate.

    Like 3
  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    Good eye Angel.

    Like 2
  10. Miguel

    Is this what the car would look like if restored?


  11. Bill McCoskey

    Perhaps the reason the frame condition is not mentioned is that these had some of the strongest and beefiest frames in the industry. I had a 1965 Imperial long wheelbase Ghia limousine, and there was no flexing of the frame, even going over major road obstacles in Washington DC traffic.

    No body “Shudder” like on the unit-body Lincoln 4-door convertibles. In pre-production testing, the shudder was so pronounced on those cars that the factory suspended huge cast iron weights on leaf springs, located behind the headlights and in the rear fender areas next to the bumper. They were needed to absorb some of the body flexing on the convertibles.

    Like 2

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