1958 Imperial Crown Convertible

$125,000 - $150,000

RM | Sotheby's - ARIZONA 16 - 17 JANUARY 2014

Chassis No.
  • From a private Southern California collection
  • The last year of the Hemi-powered Imperial Convertible
  • One of only 675 built and very few survivors
  • Recipient of a body-off restoration
  • Numerous options and accessories

345 bhp, 392 cu. in. overhead-valve Hemi V-8 engine, three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission, independent front suspension with parallel torsion bars, semi-floating rear axle with tapered semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.

Nineteen fifty-eight was the final year of the bigger-is-better philosophy in American automobiles, as the flash Eisenhower recession limited sales and turned buyers’ attention towards smaller models for the first time. Manufacturers were caught unaware, as they had produced for this year the largest, chromiest, most gadget-laden models yet seen on a public highway. Chrysler’s top-of-the-line Imperial now boasted quad headlamps, new circular parking lamps, and a simplified grille design as standard equipment. Under the hood was the vaunted, venerable 392-cubic inch Hemi V-8, which remained an outstanding performance engine. Despite being boisterously powerful, this would be the final season for the Hemi, as it was too expensive to build for a profit in a time of slagging sales. Fortunately, Chrysler was able to find an extra 25 horsepower in the Imperial engine for 1958, letting the Hemi go out with a bang.

Only 16,000 Imperials were produced this year, and of those, only 675 were Imperial Crown Convertibles. The Crown Convertible was Imperial’s equivalent to the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, and this incredibly luxurious open model was a car for Sunset Boulevard if there ever was one. Unfortunately, the number of surviving Convertibles over the years has dwindled, and it is believed that only a few dozen survivors are known, with very few of them having been fully restored. These are the most sought-after of all 1950s Imperials.

The Matador Red Crown offered here has recently completed a full body-off restoration, which included a custom leather interior, urethane paint, freshly replated chrome, and new rubber seals, gaskets, and a wire harness. As one would expect, it has numerous luxuries, including power windows, chrome wire wheels, six-way power seats, and a modern sound system, which is all the better for listening to Frank Sinatra or Rosemary Clooney while cruising, preferably with the power top down.

This Imperial Crown Convertible combines unsurpassed elegance with the flamboyance of the 1950s, as only Virgil Exner and his designers could, making it the ultimate Chrysler from a decade of Hemi-powered dreamboats.

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