- One of approximately 17 examples known to exist
- Shown at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- Beautifully restored and wonderfully presented
In many ways, the 1933 Chrysler Imperial represents Chrysler’s ultimate aesthetic statement of the Classic Era. This Chrysler Custom Imperial Phaeton is known to have been delivered new on 9 June 1933, to its first owner in Washington, D.C. One of the estimated 17 remaining of the 50 1933 models bodied by LeBaron, this Phaeton embodies the beauty of the 1933 enhanced styling – the imposing frontal view and a sharply pointed grille blending into the remarkably long hood line, achieved by overlapping the cowl and extending it to the raked split windshield. For many, this is the best-looking Imperial of all.
At some point before the 1950s, the car was in the hands of a Mr. Paul Vanderbilt. In 1954, famed collector Homer W. Fitterling of South Bend, Indiana, discovered the car in the Chicago area and purchased it for his collection, giving the CL its first restoration. Although the body was in good condition, the chassis was reportedly very high mileage; thus, Fitterling swapped the body onto the chassis of a low-mileage but identical 1933 Imperial sedan chassis. In 1984, noted collector Robert P. Bahre, of Maine, purchased the car and retained it as part of his collection until the mid-1990s.
The next owner consigned it to Barry Keating’s Classic Crossroads, which would carry out a concours-quality restoration on the car. At that time, the body was reported to be in excellent original condition and still retained all of its sheet metal and castings. During the restoration, the replacement engine was renumbered to match the original engine number, CL1356. In 2004, the Imperial was displayed at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it achieved a podium finish in the American 1925–1940 Open class. Notable exterior features include dual chrome-plated horns, dual side-mounted spare tires that sport period-style whitewalls, polished stainless-steel wire wheels with chrome hubs, and a rear-mounted luggage trunk. All plating was performed by Robert Diehl Jr., whose work has graced many Pebble Beach trophy winners. The maroon leather upholstery and custom-made Haartz cloth top with matching liner were handled by Chris Nierstheimer, the long-time trimmer for noted restorer Fran Roxas.
In the early 2010s, the Imperial was sent to the highly respected Stone Barn Restorations, of New Jersey, for a full mechanical sorting, at a reported cost of $15,000, to make sure it functioned as well as it looked. At some point, the car was also fitted with a later Chrysler Airflow transmission adapted to fit the CL shift tower, affording easier and more comfortable touring. In 2014, the Imperial was sold to the current owner, who has lovingly maintained it – driving it sparingly and performing a full system service prior to sale.
The Phaeton is complete, down to a full set of original tools in the door pocket, a set of side curtains, and a top boot. The Imperial is described overall as a wonderful looking, running, and driving example of one of these rare coachbuilt automobiles.