Royally Red: 1960 Chrysler Imperial

Is this not a thing of beauty, at least in the pictures? Well, it is a thing alright, a big resale red thing. This was the age of “Space Age” styling. They say these Imperials were banned from demolition derbies because they were just too strong. It likely has lots of rust and bondo under that shiny red paint but a person can dream. It’s listed on eBay in East Falmouth, Massachusetts for $12,500. That seems like a lot of money for this old sled, but if you consider it on a cost per pound basis, perhaps it’s not too expensive. It’s a well-equipped car with power windows and seat as well as AC. It all works but the AC needs a recharge. This time, I think we can just ignore the 57,000 mileage claim. There’s no mention of rust.

The upholstery could use some serious cleaning but the interior looks useable the way it is. At least there is no daylight showing through the floor.

There’s a piece missing out of the dash where the aftermarket radio was installed but hopefully, the seller has it. I think this radio installation reflects the seller’s talents or at least his state of mind.

Except for the overspray, carburetor and air cleaner, things look pretty unmolested under the hood. That is a 413 cu in V8 according to the seller.

It sure looks nice from here, but a closer look would likely be a sad waste of time. The seller mentions collision repair and paint. Judging by the overspray, the work is dubious. And then there’s the rust, a completely unknown issue. I would like to believe that this was a nice, solid car that this, uh, seller abused. I hate to think of what a buyer would find if they purchased this sled sight unseen. If by some miracle it is rust free and there’s not a lot of bondo under that paint it could be a decent driver. Just toss the stereo and put on the original hubcaps. It will need a repaint and interior work to make it really nice. Could this be worth perhaps half the asking price?


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  1. Miguel

    I wonder what color it was originally. Somebody went crazy with the resale red.

    • Tony, Australia.

      At least you’ll be able to find it in a parking lot, but you’ll need 2 spaces to get it in and I speak from experience.

      • Miguel

        I always parked my Cadillacs and the like in the spaces marked “Compact”.

        I didn’t appreciate being discriminated against because of the girth of my car.

  2. jw454

    I may be wrong but, this is not a Chrysler. I believe it’s simply an Imperial.

    Not a bad looking car but, it needs many hours of detailing.

  3. RoKo

    Come on, Barn Finds! From 1955-75 Imperial was its own make, in other words, not a Chrysler!
    You’d think people who are into cars would know that.

    • Andrew Tanner Member

      It isn’t the common knowledge it should be, unfortunately, and that is largely because of Chrysler continuing the Imperial name as a Chrysler model after the demise of the Imperial brand.

      • Tony, Australia.

        Yes Andrew, you don’t say Ford Lincoln Continental do you it’s just a Lincoln.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        And Tony, sometimes you don’t even say Lincoln.

  4. SMS

    I love the fins. What a great daily driver this would be. Cannot imagine trying to parellel park this thing.

    • Miguel

      It is easy. With those bumpers I doubt there would be a space you would not fit into.

      The 413 under the hood means you push your way in.

      • packrat

        Ahem. Barn Finds tested this theory with a 413 Imperial versus the body shell of an MGA some while back–accidentally. The Imperial wins most Rock/Paper/Scissors encounters in parking lots as well as on the road.

      • Gary Chittenden

        Easy to park if you have a full sized parking space. You can see every corner easily.

  5. Miguel


    What else has this guy done to this car to make it something it never was?

    • Tony, Australia.

      Miguel, my 62 two door has the pressings in the roof but no s/s inserts, it does have the 61 Flitesweep trunk lid.

      • Miguel

        OK, but this guy said he installed the pieces. I just wondered what else he added to the car.

  6. Loco Mikado

    When I started working in a restaurant as a dishwasher at the age of 16 in 1967 the head cook had one of these. One of the waitresses had a black ’49 Cadillac, one of the busboys had a ’57 Plymouth, the day dishwasher had a ’59 Rambler American SW and the bartender had a ’56 Cadillac. These are the ones that made the biggest impression on me. The next head cook 2 years later had a ’62 Plymouth Valiant. Quite a varying collection of cars driven by people in the lower social economic class except for people my age at the time.

    • Fred w.

      Back then they were just old heaps and unless you were a car nut, you felt really sorry for them for having to drive such beaters.

    • Miguel

      How funny, of those cars you listed I had 1956 Cadillac SDV and a 1962 Valiant 2 door.

      Both were fun cars. I have not had any Ramblers. They never called my attention.

  7. Dave Mc

    Love those space age tail lights.

    • Tony, Australia.

      My 62’s tail lights on top of the fins look like a stuck on afterthought. Have a look at a 62 rear shot and you’ll know what I mean.

  8. Ving ce H

    I think the missing piece is the ashtray.

  9. Rich

    I don’t think we should knock this too much. At least he got it back on the road and kept her running. The radio looks to be where the ashtray was, so should be easy enough to get back to normal.

  10. Wade Anderson

    I really like it not often seen I bet it still would draw a crowd at a car show

    • Miguel

      And most people would tell you it should have stayed the original color, no matter what it was.

    • Tony, Australia.

      The ‘stand alone’ headlamps on the 61 – 63’s really draw the photo geeks in, they’ve just about ‘flashed’ the chrome off of my 62 front, if you know what I mean !!

  11. Mark S. Member

    I find the commentary about the rust and body filler to be a bit on the harsh side. It is unsubstantiated and as usual has sent the comments in that direction. As for body filler and rust if the repairs are done correctly ( new metal welded in ) and body filler applied minimally there is nothing wrong with it and if that is the case here I’d say well done as this car looks pretty straight to me. If you use the trunk floor as reference to the rest of the body I’d say that there was not that much rust in her to begin with. As for red I’d buy this car because it’s red I like red it’s my favorite colour. I’d also leave the modern stereo in, in fact I’d upgrade to MP3 capability so i could listen to my tunes off of my iPhone. This is a rare car not many 4 door hard tops were made fact is if this car was really rusty it would have sagged in the middle years ago. JMO.

  12. SMS

    Every time I look at this car the better I like it. The overspray has me wondering about the quality of the car and I would want to see it in person. Unless there is some bad rust, collision damage, or other problems I would feel this is a bargain.

  13. Andy

    You forgot to mention this is a one-of-one car, since there were thousands of Chryslers and thousands of Imperials made in 1960, but nobody knew there was such a thing as a 1960 Chrysler Imperial.

    • Jerry Brentnell

      to start with you are dead wrong on chrysler built thousands of imperials in 1960 because these were nearly hand built cars! and if this was a 60 caddy of lincoln you guys would be drooling all over it! to get a imperial you had to order it as your average person couldn’t afford it! better car than the other 2 all day long!

      • mikeH

        While still over the top, this was SOOOOOOOOO much better looking than the Lincolns and Cadillacs of 1960.

  14. Ron

    What ever it is, better looking than the new cars with the monster face grills.
    They won’t be around the years this has been. The photo is what I have, but not restored like this one and mine is a pale Green. No rust and 2nd owner.
    Even have the original hub caps. :-)

  15. Pete Kaczmarski

    Give me my ’59 Imperial Custom Coupe…….

  16. Paul Bellefeuille

    My teacher in the 8th grade Mr Ginnity (1968) had one in battleship gray. He was an army man but didn’t seem to mind. Nice looking car then.. nice looking cars today. We had a neighbor who always had Imperials..white with either red interior or blue. He had one this vintage as well. Except for the overspray..and who here hasn’t done that?.. and the radio mod..I’d say it looks pretty good!

  17. David Miraglia

    Who cares about the color. The ultimate Chrysler land barge, Imperial.

    • Miguel

      Purists care about the color.

  18. RicK

    Back in the day all Imperials were Chrysler Imperials, and we didn’t really notice when the ’55s came out that Chrysler had made it a stand alone brand, we all thought since it came from Chrysler it was still a Chrysler. Same thing when the Plymouth Valiant came out in ’60, they were sold at Plymouth dealers and none of us really noticed it was supposed to be a stand alone marque, i.e. Valiant. Of course the following year it officially became a Plymouth Valiant. And eventually, the Imperial returned to being a Chrysler Imperial. Not exactly a brilliant marketing ploy for any iteration, since they don’t make any of them any more and haven’t for decades . . .


    Around 1962 when I was 15 years old my mom bought a 1960 or 1961 Imperial. The color was a medium colored lilac/lavender. I also remember in winter time the door latches would not stay shut and the doors would open up going down the street in freezing weather here in the north east Pennsylvania. L O L

  20. Tony, Australia.

    I currently own and drive a 62 Imperial 2 door, i’ts a dream to drive that floats down the highway and does everything you tell it to do with little effort. They’re a bit of a ‘slug’ but considering the size and weight they weren’t built for drag racing just coasting around. I love it and wouldn’t swap it for anything else. If anyone tells you they’re big and slow I’ve had mine up to 130 mph and still a bit more room under the throttle pedal, it just takes a while for the 413 to get all that weight up there!

    • SMS

      @Tony what is the mpg on these? In my head it is in the 12mpg range. Am I close? Big car with a big motor but a cruiser.

      • Tony, Australia.

        SMS, it’s not all that bad on fuel if you keep your foot out of it, on a country highway cruise at around 100 to 110 kmh, (60 to 70mph) in US language I can get around 15 to 16 mpg but I think US gallons are slightly smaller than ours. My 65 Thunderbird used to get about the same with the 390 big block. I’ve been asked many times how much it costs to go for a Sunday drive and my standard answer is, ‘about the same cost as a round of golf and a few scotches at the bar afterwards’, depends on what you enjoy I suppose. I don’t give a damn actually, I just enjoy getting out and driving it anytime I can and it’s worth every penny. If it was a work car or daily driver, yes I would be concerned about fuel cost but everything we enjoy is gonna cost something, you have to agree. My daily driver was a 77 El Camino until I swapped it for a Chrysler 300C Hemi 3 weeks ago, the 300C is surprisingly economical for a 5.7litre if you take your time, turning off the Traction Control turns it into an ‘animal’ though, not for the feint hearted!

      • SMS

        Thanks Tony. With the conversion to US gallons at 1.2 that is 12-13mpg US.

        It is not so much of the cost. I am checking my prejudices. I started driving in the 1970’s. I grew up on motorcycles and sports cars. Had the idea in my head that big American cars from the 50’s and 60’s were sleds and gas hogs to be avoided. With that my hobby cars have been American cars from the 40’s and foreign cars of the 50’s and 60’s.

        Now I am looking at this car and love the lines and can just imagine cruising down the road with my kids in the back. Opening my mind to new cars for my hobby.

  21. Tony, Australia.

    SMS, with the Imperials there is a huge and possibly the best forum site of any make or model of vehicle. Called Imperial Mailing List Group you’ll find it on Yahoo, anyone can join and there is a huge wealth of knowledge for anyone who owns or is thinking of owning an Imperial, have a look and it may help in your decision whether to buy or not, they sometimes are a bit over the top as far as a cars condition is concerned but generally it comes down ‘to each his own’, there’s no shortage of info at your finger tips that covers everything ‘Imperial’. If you’re gonna make a statement make it a ‘BIG RED’ one ! Good Luck.

  22. Jim Z Member

    This was one of the more memorable cars I’ve owned, bought it from original owner (family, owner had passed), with full provenance and records from day 1. Sold it for over $20k. Currently sitting in a Miami car museum. Miss her….

    • Tony, Australia.

      Sitting in a car museum, it should be out on the roads being enjoyed by someone before we get all this driverless car crap on our roads, I’m thinking of getting a large old car or even a truck of some sort and taking on a few driverless cars when they arrive, when you think about it the driver won’t be watching so a quick ‘bump or scrape’ here and there and we’ll see just how good these things are gonna be when they get in traffic.

      • John D

        Some Good Ole Boy Nascar rubbing?

      • SMS

        Tony, you are missing the point of driverless cars. Living in the Silicon Valley you meet lots of people working on such things, such as me. Have had a number of rides in autonomous cars. My favorite future advantage is that they park themselves.

        Anyway, they will be a boon to us car enthusiasts. Remember there was supposed to be an end to the need for paper once personal computers became popular? Didn’t happen.

        The autonomous car is an appliance. No more exciting than a fridge. If one wants to take a Sunday drive they will not take the appliance, they will take their fun car out. A car with some soul. That leaves out most cars made from 1970 on.

  23. Tony, Australia.

    Okay SMS, what’s the point I’m missing, enlighten us, because I don’t see why cars won’t need drivers, I also can’t see us ever getting pilotless planes, driverless trains or ships that steer and dock themselves, pretty soon we’ll be told humans have become redundant and we won’t be needed anymore, automation will have taken over, and for what purpose, it won’t be to satisfy us, we won’t be here. Will humans be too labour intensive and costly to maintain and keep around ??

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