Lot 156

Amelia Island 2023

1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Convertible Coupe by LeBaron


$280,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Serial No.
Engine No.
CG 2596
Body No.
Canadian Registration
  • Among the most exclusive and attractive LeBaron body styles offered on the 145-in. wheelbase CG Imperial chassis
  • A truly grand and superlatively engineered automobile; equipped with a 125-hp, 384-cu. in. nine-main-bearing inline-eight and three-speed gearbox with 3.82:1 high-speed axle
  • Benefits from a comprehensive, award-winning restoration completed in 2002
  • Scrupulously maintained in present ownership since 2005; widely shown and highly awarded, including multiple CCCA firsts, 2008 Grand Experience Best in Show, and 2008 Ault Park Concours d’Elegance Best in Class and Best of Featured Marque
  • A CCCA Full Classic well-suited to continued exhibition and touring
Addendum: Please note the title for this lot is in transit. A 4-6 week delay is expected.

The remarkable styling of the CG-series Imperials was the work of LeBaron, one of the greatest design firms of the Classic Era. Founded by Thomas L. Hibbard and Ray Dietrich, and later joined by Ralph Roberts, the company established itself as innovative, creative, and responsive. Although Hibbard and Dietrich later left the firm to pursue other opportunities, the company flourished at the hand of Ralph Roberts.

Probably the most striking design in existence at the time was Alan Leamy’s L-29 Cord; so when Leamy was hired to style the Imperial, it is not surprising that the cars did bear some resemblance to it. Like the L-29, the CG was long and low, featuring gracefully swept fenders and a vee-shaped radiator. LeBaron improved on the design, however, with a longer hood, a swept-back grille, and a more elegant bodyside treatment.

All Chryslers had a reputation for performance, and the CG Imperial did not disappoint. With 125 horsepower on tap and a three-speed transmission, the cars were very quick. Chrysler’s “Floating Power” engine mounts and well-tuned suspension meant that these cars were also quite refined to drive. These cars were technically interesting as well, featuring a new automatic spark advance mechanism and freewheeling, both firsts for Chrysler.

While there were a number of customs executed by other coachbuilding firms, LeBaron accounted for the vast majority of bodies on the Imperial Custom Line chassis. Many collectors are familiar with the sport phaetons and roadsters, yet few are aware that one of the rarest—and one of the most attractive—styles offered by LeBaron was the Convertible Coupe. With its low windshield and compact passenger compartment, the LeBaron Convertible Coupe emphasizes the natural good looks of the Imperial Custom Line Chassis, with its long hood and graceful, sweeping fenders. The imposing 145-inch wheelbase allows for a sloping tail that further accentuates the lines of the body.

A limited number of these striking bodies were built, and only a handful survive today, making them among the rarest of the open styles. According to a copy of the original build documents, the example offered here was shipped on 26 November 1930 to the Chrysler dealer in Dayton, Ohio. While the intervening history is not known, it was purchased by its prior owner from a California collector who had owned the car since the late 1950s.

After acquiring the car, this owner, a noted marque expert, completed a comprehensive body-off restoration to the highest standards. Stripped to bare metal, the car’s ash framework was repaired as needed, and the doors, deck lid, and hoods were painstakingly fitted to ensure near-perfect gaps. Hundreds of hours were required in priming and block sanding alone before the car was painted, wet-sanded, and buffed. Chrome wire wheels and proper metal sidemount covers were fitted during the restoration.

A full mechanical restoration was undertaken concurrently, including engine and the correct transmission. The quality of the restoration is attested to by the extensive awards CG 2596 has earned in competition since its completion in 2002. At the AACA national fall meet in Hershey, Pensylvania, the car won both its National First Place Junior award and a special award as “Best Chrysler shown.” In 2004 the car won its primary first place CCCA Senior award, as well as winning in its class at the 2004 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance.

After joining the collection of the consignor in 2005, it has enjoyed consistent care and maintenance as needed; the strength of its prior restoration is evident in the accolades the car has earned in ongoing exhibition. In addition to a series of 99.5- and 99.75-point assessments and First Place awards at CCCA events from 2006–2007, the Chrysler won the Best Paint award at the 2007 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. At the 2008 Grand Experience in Hickory Corners, Michigan, this car won Best in Show in a field of over 50 Full Classics, and also achieved a remarkable 100-point score in judging at the concurrent CCCA meet. Best in Class and Best of Featured Marque at the 2008 Ault Park Concours d’Elegance capped off a highly successful year.

Rightfully recognized as a Classic Car Club of America Full Classic, this Chrysler remains an ideal candidate for both show and tours—and its factory-correct 3.82:1 ratio rear axle makes it particularly well-suited to drives of any length.

There is little doubt that the CG Imperial Custom Line Convertible Coupe is among the finest-looking open cars of the period, in addition to being one of the best-driving cars of the era. With few built and even fewer survivors, the opportunity to acquire a quality example, with known provenance and restored by a marque expert is, consequently, extremely rare.