Truly Imperial: 1962 Imperial Crown

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Call me crazy, but I absolutely love Imperials from the fifties and sixties. Maybe because when I was growing up, Imperials, Cadillacs and Lincolns were dream cars for most of us. No one I knew owned or could even afford an Imperial during those years. In 1962, an Imperial Crown two door like the one shown here had a base price of $5,770. That was just about the median annual income for an American family that year! (The Census figure was $6,000 for an average family that year, when only 5% of American families earned more than $15,000 annually). So these were clearly aspirational cars then, and it is no surprise that in 1962, Chrysler Corporation sold only 1,010 Crown two door hardtops out of a total production of 14,337 Imperials.

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This particular example is for sale here on craigslist in Phoenix, Arizona. It is claimed to be a barn find from California, showing approximately 80,000 miles. It does come with its apparently original black plate. The seller says that it “runs and shifts good” but does not provide any other information about the car’s condition, and the pictures do not show very much about it either, though the one photo of the interior is tantalizing – it’s dark and impossible to see details, but the upholstery and dash look very clean and quite possibly original.

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While the chrome on the car looks pretty good, it’s hard to tell from these photos whether there is any rust or whether there has been any body or paint work done. It is possible that this color is original. Chrysler listed a color color code Z called Caramel in the Imperial sales brochure, but I was not able to find an example of that actual color, so perhaps one of our readers can confirm whether the paint on this car is its original color.

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The seller does list all the standard features of a 1962 Imperial, including its robust 413 CID engine, the push button automatic transmission, power steering, power windows and wing vents, and air conditioning. The seller says this car comes with four wheel disc brakes, which were apparently added by a previous owner sometime in the past. Certainly these brakes will be helpful in stopping this 4,650 pound behemoth. Imperials were the longest US luxury cars in 1962.

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1962 was a transitional year for Imperial design, and many people prefer the cleaner, less ornate designs of 1965-67, but I think this is an exceptionally beautiful car. I wish owning it was a practical possibility for me, but it would literally not fit in my garage. The seller’s asking price for this car is a rather odd though reasonable $7,550. If this Imp is truly as original and clean as it appears to be, and does not suffer from some of the expensive to repair electrical gremlins that plagued these cars, it will be a very nice purchase for its new owner. There is plenty of room for the family. This car can cruise comfortably in today’s traffic, and you will definitely stand out from the crowd as the owner of this fine automobile.

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Comments

  1. Chebby

    Wow this is a cool car and the brake upgrade is nice. I would want to see that interior better, the part of the seat we can see looks like old school bus vinyl. No luxury car would have fabric that plain, either leather or otherwise.

    The headlights being independent from the body is such a strange design.

    • Ed P

      I agree, that upholstery is durable and utilitarian like a taxi would have. It cannot be original.

  2. packrat

    *insert inevitable B-52s lyric here* I do enjoy these old road monsters, and one in good condition is just punchy enough, power-everything enough, wide and inviting enough to be a great little cruiser for town and highway–if one lives far enough from the epicenter of things that parking is not an issue. Chebby is right about the headlights–and the taillights, and the dash. Exner had No Chill when he was designing these things.

  3. Fred W.

    Agree with Chebby, that seat looks like the one in an ex police car I once had. Someone has recovered it with the wrong material. Nice car otherwise though.

  4. Dave Wright

    One of my favorite years. Interior does not look orignal. The new orignal interior for my 66 is 10,000 but that will be a perfect reproduction of the orignal. I belive these cars are on the edge of a huge increase in value. Nice car.

  5. Pfk1106

    Always loved the headlights and taillights of imperials.

  6. duke

    the price seems somewhat reasonable for what this car is—-however im not liking the 4 wheel disc brake conversion that someone had done—-yes,its safer, but now not an original car…..what else has been done to this beauty

  7. BradL

    “99% complete”

    It’s always that 1% that’s made of unobtainium.

  8. JACKinNWPA Jack NW PA Member

    I love the style and rarity! it has been painted,the bottom the vent window rubber is body color.

  9. Timothy

    The seat covering is all wrong.

    http://www.imperialclub.com/Yr/1962/Brochure/Page05-06Big.jpg

    And here are the factory paint chips for the year, although you could pretty much order anything you wanted.

    http://www.imperialclub.com/Yr/1962/Paint/index.htm

  10. RicK

    Back in the early 70s used to see these in wrecking yards often enough, typically would be complete but the trans was out or the front end was worn out, anyhow there wasn’t enough value to justify fixing, plus they were 10 mpg gas hogs at a time when gas was expensive. Always thot the square steering wheel was strange and very psychadelic

  11. Ed P

    Whatever the original price, I doubt Chrysler made money on Imperials. Their production was way to low at 10k to 20k per year. It is no wonder they started sharing the Chrysler C body.

  12. terry

    Looks to have been painted judging by the paint on the wind wing seal. That color is unfortunate in my eyes.

  13. Tiger1966

    Air conditioning was optional on these, not standard. Power wing vents also were optional (standard on LeBaron, not Crown). Power windows were standard as were power steering/brakes/seat.

  14. Rustytech Member

    I agree the color is unfortunate, these looked great in lighter colors. At only a little over 1,000 made, this car definitely deserves to be saved, but if interior kit is over $10k and a good repaint would be over $5,000 easily, it too rich for My pocketbook

    • Dave Wright

      I have 30K budgeted for my rust free 66 convertible. I own a body shop now but figure 10,000 in great paint and body work, 10,000 to the interior and another 10,000 in miscellaneous mechanical.

  15. David Miraglia

    classic land barge. Love the 60’s styling

  16. Kenyon

    Are you middle aged? Got a little root beer belly? Just wait until you pull into a modern parking spot in a wide Imperial Coupe with doors that are 8 feet long and open about 12″ before resting against that minivan in the next spot.

    The trick on Imperials is interior and exterior, trim and chrome. Finding that stuff is murder, but it can be done. Best get the car as complete as possible going in. $10,000 to replate everything is not unheard of if you’re crazy and want a $10 trophy from a show.

    The driveline is relatively standard Chrysler, all 59-79 big blocks share the same architecture, although this car has a 413 and pistons are getting expensive. The good news is that the engines wear little, and I have done a ring/valve job on five of mine and had the block dunked + replaced the bearings/cam at the same time and had superior results. The cylinders don’t wear much, so honing them and re-sealing the engine makes it feel almost like new, probably good for another 50,000 miles, which might be after I croak?

    These cars are supported by a 100,000 page website called the Online Imperial Club. Google that and you’ll have tremendous archival support and a 1000+ member mailing list of people that turn their head if you yell “Elmer Fudd” within earshot. It’s a good group no matter how much fun it is to think of it like that.

    Like 1
    • roselandpete

      Thanks for the tip. I joined the club.

    • Tony C, Australia.

      Kenyon, weren’t there only about 840 Custom coupes built in 62, not sure but have that number somewhere, always thought the number was low which hopefully will add value into the future as they gradually fall off the road. There’s only 4 in my state of 1.5 million people and 2 are in bits in sheds, there’s my coupe and a 4 door on the road and both in the same car club.

      Like 2
  17. Bryan

    Love these cars….Imperials can be addictive (ask me how I know)!

    I have a 62 Crown convertible, but my latest is this 1963 convertible that has been off the road since 1973! I will be restoring this car, and no, it won’t be painted white. These are fun projects and very rewarding cars to own.

    Like 1
  18. Bryan

    Forgot the pic….

  19. Gordon Peterso

    We own the Imperial GWX322 which is in New Zealand now.
    Original colour was a silver shade. We are restoring it but not to strictly original as the costs of chrome alone are huge. It has had the slight rust removed and all metal repair made, with a bare metal repaint in pearl Toyota Orange which is has given it a real lift. Most chrome including the massive bumpers rechromed. Getting full interior leather bespoke upgrade with only the dash not being replaced.
    When we purchased it, it had Wilwood discs all round, Edelbrock carb, new fuel tank, free flow dual exhaust system, new alternator, wheel spacers, lowering blocks(now removed) and needed steering box rebuild, new starter motor, several joint bushes replaced, air conditioning leaking pipe yet to do, power door locking installed, soundproofed floors and boot etc. There is one other of this year and model in NZ and it has the “birdbath” boot (trunk) lid, which were fine about not having.
    These cars are art. Some love them, some don’t. We’re in the former group.

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