1960 Imperial Crown Convertible
$150,000 - $175,000
- Recipient of a 3,200-hour body-off restoration
- One of 618 Imperial Crown Convertibles built
- Best in Class at the 2012 Concours d’Elegance of America
When, in 1955, Chrysler Corporation decided to launch their own luxury marque to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln, they did so by breaking out their top-line Imperial into its own brand. The new division’s cars started out as twins to their Chrysler cousins, but, by model year 1957, they moved onto their own unique platform and received a radical restyling, courtesy of Virgil Exner.
Exner fixed his new Forward Look aesthetic to the Imperials, with large, forward-slanted tailfins and heavily lidded headlamps, and he also drafted plans for the line’s first-ever convertible. This years-ahead style, combined with the Imperial’s superb performance and handling, made the car a sales success for Chrysler.
The year 1960 saw Imperial stick with the body-on-frame construction that Chrysler was beginning to move away from. It also saw the line’s already bold styling exaggerated, with deeply vee-d front bumpers, even taller tailfins, and massive pieces of chrome trim on the front, back, and all around.
A 413-cubic inch Wedge V-8 with 350 horsepower and 470 foot-pounds of torque now resided under hood, and it was attached to a smooth-shifting Torqueflite automatic transmission that deftly carried the car’s 4,700-plus pounds down the road. Passengers enjoyed well-padded leather seating, while the pilot got a High Tower driver’s seat, which parked him behind two deeply hooded instrument pods.
Imperial Crown Convertibles came loaded with power steering, power brakes, a power antenna, and a power folding top, along with several other options. Those features put the price tag up to $5,774, which kept drop-top versions of “America’s Most Carefully Built Car” out of the hands of all but 618 buyers, making them highly coveted today.
The car offered here has been owned by its present caretaker for over a decade, and it has undergone a complete nut-and-bolt restoration over a period of more than 3,200 hours.
The car, equipped with optional swiveling power front seats and extremely rare black-face gauges, was refinished in striking Regal Red enamel; period-correct techniques were utilized until a mirror-smooth finish was achieved without a clear coat. Pearlescent white upholstery was installed, the original drivetrain was completely restored, and the 413-cubic inch V-8 was rebuilt.
The Imperial has logged just 230 miles since its restoration finished in September 2010, and it has been shown at close to 20 events across the Midwest, netting Best in Show or Best in Class honours at all but one. It is an AACA Senior Grand National winner, as well as a recipient of the AACA Bomgardner Award.
Included in this sale is a copy of the car’s build sheet and a decoding letter from Chrysler, as well as a letter from the AACA, which confirms that there were “no areas of deduction” during judging. This Convertible is not only a beautiful example of an exceedingly rare Chrysler, but it is also likely the most perfectly and accurately restored 1960 Imperial in the country.