I’ve always loved Imperials. That finest Mopar of them all, they lived as a separate marque a la Cadillac and Lincoln from 1955 to 1975. Though starting in the early ’70s, Chrysler Corporation started sneaking ‘Chrysler’ onto the cars and into advertising, perhaps to brace loyal customers for the inevitable.
Imperials were always rare, plush, giant cars, but by the early 1970s, they were especially scarce, at least when compared to contemporary Cadillacs and Lincolns. After 1975, the Imperial marque was a done deal (unless you count the bustle-back, rebodied Cordoba or EEK restyled, Fifth Avenue-based 1990-93 model). Perhaps the rarest of the rare was the Fuselage body 1969-73 two-door hardtop. With most likely the biggest quarter panels, ever. They’re just about my favorite Imperial. But I’ve only ever seen one in the metal. This one.
1973 was the last year for the fuselage-bodied Chryslers, and that included the Imperial. By now, there were just two models, the two-door hardtop and the four-door hardtop. Though the Imperial had started sharing the Chrysler chassis in 1967, the Imperial was still top of the line and priced accordingly: $7541 for the sedan and $7313 for the coupe. Only 16,729 Imperials were built for the 1973 model year, of which a mere 2,563 were coupes.
I ran across this very cool dark green Imperial a back in late March of 2012. My eyes bugged out, my pulse went up, and I said something along the lines of, “HOLY CRAP!” But I didn’t have my camera. Curses!
But on the last day of the month, my folks were coming back from a trip to Florida, and they called me to come pick them up. As I was on the way there, I passed that same most excellent hunter green ’73 Imperial, quickly parked a block away (there was no on-street parking), frantically ran to the Impy, took a few shots of this LeBaron, and ran back to the car. It appeared to be in very decent condition, other than missing wheel covers and some rust on the rear bumper. At the time, I thought I might run across it at some of the car shows later that year, but I never saw it again!
One final note: These 1972-73 Imperials’ optional leather bucket seats are just about my favorite style of bucket seat, ever. My friend Carmine will remember references to “The Seats”, a private joke from years back!