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Rare Drop Top: 1963 Imperial Crown Convertible

Can you place a price on exclusivity? It seems that if the subject of this question is a 1963 Imperial Crown Convertible, it is possible. From an exclusivity perspective, the company only produced 513 examples of the Crown Convertible in the 1963 model year. That makes it a rare vehicle, and how many survive today is unclear. Our feature car is a solid survivor that would make a fantastic restoration project. Adding to its appeal, it features a freshly rebuilt engine and transmission with zero miles. If you fancy a luxury classic, you will find this Imperial located in Massillon, Ohio, and listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $10,000, but he leaves the option to make an offer. I have to say a huge thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for spotting this desirable project car for us.

The original Chrysler Imperial was introduced to the market in 1926. It remained part of the company’s model range until 1955, at which point Chrysler spun Imperial off as a separate brand. They aimed to compete directly with offerings from Cadillac and Lincoln with their own distinct luxury brand. This remained the case until Chrysler retired the Imperial brand at the end of 1983. Our feature car is a bit of a rarity. The owner claims that it is 1-of-513 Imperial Crown Convertibles produced during the 1963 model year. That figure gels with the numbers that I’ve seen in various resources, which appear to confirm his claim. It isn’t clear how many survive today, but this one looks like a strong candidate to be returned to its former glory. The Dark Blue paint that it currently wears is not original because it rolled off the line finished in the far lighter shade of Glacier Blue. The buyer will undoubtedly perform a cosmetic refresh on this car, but they could go deeper and reap some impressive rewards. The panels look remarkably straight, with few dents or marks worth noting. The best slice of news, in this case, is revealed when we tackle the subject of rust. The floors and underside wear a coating of surface corrosion, but there is no penetrating rust. That seems to indicate that this classic is structurally sound. Some small spots are visible in the rear quarter panels, but the next owner could easily address these with patches. When I consider the overall condition of this vehicle and its potential value, it would be worth the buyer dismantling the car and performing the restoration work to a high standard. The white power-top has seen better days and will require replacement. Most of the external trim is present and suitable for restoration, although a couple of pieces are damaged or missing, and the buyer will need to search for replacements. The wheels that the owner has fitted to this classic aren’t original. He has a set of factory wire wheels, and he includes these in the sale. It is hard to tell due to the layer of dust, but it looks like the tinted glass is in good order. Overall, this looks like it could be a straightforward and rewarding restoration project.

When the original owner purchased this Imperial, it seems that he had his eyes firmly focused on luxury. He ordered the vehicle with air conditioning, power windows, a power front seat, leather upholstery, and a factory AM radio. These items are still present, but returning this interior to its former glory is one aspect of the restoration that could consume cubic cash. One door trim appears to be missing, while the leather trim on the seats has deteriorated badly. The buyer might have to search long and hard for replacement pieces due to the relative rarity of this classic. They will also need to consider a new carpet set and possibly replacing the badly cracked wheel. The dash and pad seem to be in respectable condition, and I believe that they would both respond well to some careful cleaning. Once restored, this would be a pretty pleasant place to spend time as the miles roll under the wheels.

At nearly 19-feet in total length and tipping the scales at 4,980 lbs, the Crown Convertible is a big and heavy beast. Therefore, the company needed to equip it with a decent engine if progress was going to be anything but glacial. They came to the party with a 413ci V8 that produces 340hp. That power finds its way to the rear wheels via a three-speed TorqueFlite transmission. Given its luxury leanings, it is no surprise to see that this beauty is also equipped with power steering and power brakes. When you take the overall weight into account, the ¼ mile ET of 16.7 seconds looks pretty impressive. For potential buyers, the news with this classic appears to be positive. The owner pulled both the engine and transmission, and they have been treated to a rebuild. The motor has been slotted back under the hood, but the transmission is yet to be installed. Therefore, both have zero miles on them. If I were to buy this classic, I would probably pull the engine again to detail the engine bay to the highest level. The relative rarity of this car would seem to make such an approach worth the effort. Once complete, it has the potential to offer effortless wind-in-the-hair cruising.

This 1963 Imperial Crown Convertible has a lot to commend it as a project build. Returning its panels and paint to their former glory should be no more difficult than any other classic from this era. Its relative rarity means that you don’t see these on the street or in the market very often. A couple of tidy examples have recently sold for figures around $50,000, but a perfect car can potentially double that figure. For somebody searching for an affordable project build, this classic has to be worth a closer look. Are you up for the challenge?

Comments

  1. CJinSD

    I have a friend with a period Imperial convertible that he bought from a secret service agent. It was visible in a film of LBJ’s inauguration parade. It is in similar condition to this car now, and the sad fact is that the Imperial convertible from “Mad Men” has changed hands for considerably less than it would cost to get this car or the parade car ready for a decent paint job. I love these cars, but I would buy the best one on earth before I’d pay five figures for one with any needs whatsoever.

    Like 8
  2. David Scully

    No matter what, it’s a fairly good survivor of the Virgil Exner school of design and a definite keeper for any serious automotive design conscious Mopar collector.

    Like 5
  3. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    “wind in the hair driving” – you of course mean from gas station to gas station. And isn’t Ohio part of the rust belt? The claims for lack of rust would need substantiation. I agree with CJinSD that, despite rarity, staying above water on this in terms of $$$ would be a challenge unless a complete DIY. The parts alone, given what we don’t know but what we do see, would be significant. This is really a job for a pro with a deep-pocketed customer who just loves the car.

    Like 4
  4. David Casey

    I ran into a guy at the hardware store on a weekend not long ago. I ran into him because I was looking over his drop dead gorgeous 1963 Imperial convertible in the parking lot. It was a dark root beer color with white interior and a white top which was down. He was a super nice guy and this car was amazing! Absolutely looked like he just drove it off the showroom floor.

    Like 6
  5. Mopars Forever Member

    The 413 had to be rebuilt because it has 48,365 miles. REALLY???

    Then suffered 20+ nasty Ohio winters before buyer installes fluids and then try to turn it over.

    Here is a great disclaimer we shall use: “Selling for my grandfather”

    Like 2
  6. Dave Peterson

    In 1963 any car with 80k miles was a candidate for at least rings and a valve grind, so at 48k perhaps it was a case of preventive maintenance? This should be done as perfectly as possible because it is hard to explain the presence one of these presents. The headlight buckets, the long swooping beltline and that absurd squared off steering wheel just smacked you in the mouth with the overall effect. The white beauty we had was in flooring for nearly a year, but everyone stopped to appreciate it when on the showroom floor. One other tidbit – it was the first car ever to not leak one drop on the clean pan under the crankcase.

    Like 2
  7. MikeH

    One has to wonder why the seller is bailing on this project. He’s already spent big bucks on the engine and tranny. Could it be that didn’t go too well? I would damn sure want to hear that engine run before I bought the car.

  8. sign guy

    That dashboard is wild but I would NOT want to be a passenger sitting in the front over the hump, if an accident occurs. Goodbye chest!

  9. Jim Z Member

    Sorry, seller, but it’s a $2500 project car at best. Ask me how I know…..

    Like 1
  10. Ward William

    I love it but seriously, who would take the engine and transmission out and NOT take the time to tidy up the engine bay before dropping them back in?

    Like 1
  11. D K

    It never ceases to amaze me…the audacity, arrogance of sellers and ignorance and gullibility of buyers. My family has been Chrysler dealers for 80 years. We know well these Imperials…this crooked, devious seller wants 10 G’s for a car that will require 50 G’s of work ???

  12. Dave

    It never ceases to amaze me…the audacity, arrogance of sellers and ignorance and gullibility of buyers. My family has been Chrysler dealers for 80 years. We know well these Imperials…this crooked, devious seller wants 10 G’s for a car that will require 50 G’s of work ???

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