Imperial Home Page -> Imperials of Distinction -> Shriners -> Imperials of Omaha
From: Brett C. Snyder
A friend of mine has a cream/rose leather '61 Imperial convertible that used to belong to long-time Mopar collector Alvin Krenzien in Nebraska. He was told that this car was one of the "Imps of Omaha" cars.
For those folks that haven't heard of them... a group of Shriners who belonged to the Tangier Temple of Omaha, NE bought 23 new identical Imperial convertibles every year from 1959 through '68. They used the cars in parades and special events. Naturally, such a large order got special attention in Detroit.
As far as I know, the Shriners would order identical cars. Tim's car still has the Masonic decal on the windshield. It is equipped with A/C, Auto Pilot, Flight Sweep deck, and headlight dimmer... no swivels. Although I don't know the car's VIN, the Shriners would typically take delivery of the cars as soon as the models became available. So I would expect an early serial number.
Tim's car came from Alvin Krenzien's collection. Alvin sold the car to a funeral director in New York State. After 19 years of pampering in NY, Tim brought the car to Florida.
(click small image for close-up
Biggest Retail Drive-away in History of Imperial
This imposing lineup of 21 Imperial convertibles greeted 21 prominent Omaha, Nebraska, businessmen when they arrived at the Chrysler and Imperial Division to pick up their cars. Besides being the biggest retail driveaway in Imperial's history, the cars were identical - white exterior with blue leather upholstery. Extras include air conditioning, Auto-Pilot and Solex glass. The owners, all members of the Omaha Shriner's organization, will use the cars in parades and other fund-raising activities for the benefit of crippled children.
Here are some shots of an article in the September? 1959 'Imperial Times" Dealer newsletter showing the Imps of Omaha in the 1959 College World Series Parade through Downtown Omaha Nebraska
I have a 1961 factory newsletter article that describes how members of the group, along with the owner of Briley Motor Co., would meet with Chrysler Division management and pick an exclusive color/option combination prior to the model's introduction. Then all of the "Imps" would fly into Detroit and take delivery of their identical Imperials. The story shows a B/W photo of a light-colored '61, the 62's were built in Dawn Blue with matching blue tops and boot covers and a light blue leather interior.
Imagine watching over twenty identical Imperial convertibles purring down the street at one time...
Today I talked with a living legend Bob gates of Omaha Nebraska who says he is the last surviving member of the Imps of Omaha.
One of the Omaha Shriners who would fly up to Detroit each year and go to the Chrysler factory and take posession of the first 20+ new Imperial Converts off the line. He said they would then drive em back to Omaha in a group. What a sight that would have been to see!!!!!! Anyway he was only in the group for the last two years of the Imperials (1967-1968) then they switched to Cadillac Eldorado converts till they too ceased production in 1976. They then went to red 65 Mustang converts. For a time in the 80's and 90's they also drove LeBaron or Mustang converts.
He believes all the other "imps" are dead now. I also contacted the Tangier Shrine in town and spoke with an older man who is looking for picts etc. of the Imps from their photo collection. Bob said they would take the cars on "tour" to Kansas City or St. Louis and drive the "big wigs" around. He said they would never get dark colors because they would not "stand out" He recalls cars being gold, red, white and yellow. He also spoke of an Omaha Doctor who recently passed away whose widow may still have the Imperial convert he drove in the Imps.
Some of the Imps were: A.E. Ruser, Potentate of Tangier Temple; Arthur Swaboda; Claude Gresham. They all look to be in their 50's or older in the 1961 photo.
My Great Uncle who passed away last year was a member of this Shrine Temple so some of the folks I spoke with knew him . He drove the little go karts in parades in Omaha. I wish i would have spoke with him when he was alive about the Imps. A chance lost forever. Anyway Bob Gates spoke of the wonderful memories and fun he had while a member of the group. He said when they would drive back from Michigan, and they would "never come right back" He said they would have fun along the way. (He did not elaborate and I did not ask)
He said he would be willing to talk to IML members who have the old "Imps of Omaha" cars and gave me permission to give out his number. He lives at 129th and Jones St. in Omaha and his phone number is 402-333-7814. He seems like a great guy happy to talk but I got the feeling he does not remember too much about the cars. I would guess he is in his mid to upper 80s+ If the man from the Shriners temple finds picts/stories/etc. I will get em scanned and posted for Tony to add to the web site.
The questions i have for the IML is:
1. If you have one of the shriners cars, What color was it when new? If everyone would post the colors, maybe we could develop a history of what colors they used each year.
2. When the IML was new, (1995 or 1996?) Brett Snyder posted a message saying he had a Chrysler publication with the story of the Imps on the cover as well as a picture of the shriners picking up their cars from the factory. Is Brett still around and could you scan the pict out of the magazine? Could I get a copy of the article?
3. What else do IMLers know about the Imps which they could share?
There were 23 prominent businessmen who did fund-raising and philanthropic work on behalf of the Tangier Temple of the Omaha Shrine. a.k.a. the Imps of Omaha or Imperial Motor Patrol. They could be seen in parades and other public events raising money for the Shrine Hospital in Minneapolis, MN.
They were the first in the nation to take delivery of new model Imperials on new car announcement day by flying into Detroit's Willow Run Airport and meeting with Chrysler Division General Manager C.E. Briggs.
The cars were purchased from Mr. F.M. Briley of Briley Motor Co. in Omaha, for the first few years and later from Gateway Chrysler Plymouth also of Omaha Nebraska, the last few years.
The 1959's had a white exterior with blue leather upholstery. Extras include air conditioning, Auto-Pilot and Solex glass.
The 1960's colors and options are currently unknown.
The 1961's were white with pinkish-tan ("Russet") interior and convertible top and top-mechanism - The ONLY known examples of non-black-or-white '61 convertible tops). The one that Tony used to own had the bench seat, factory air and Auto-Pilot, power vents and door locks, beam changer, radio, molding package, solex glass and Flitesweep decklid. Anything else that it may have come with was missing.
Owned by Robert Louis Brezout and Guy Equille
This lovely example currently resides in France.
Here is Bill Adams original 61 shriners car currently in Michigan
The 1962's were Dawn Blue with matching blue tops and boot covers and a light blue leather interior. This color combination was unique to the 23 cars. Optional equipment was A/C, Auto-pilot, beam changer, power vents, power locks, radio, sure-grip, moulding package, white sidewalls, solex glass and door edge protectors.
The 1963's were white with a blue Top and interior as shown here.
To see more pictures of this beautiful car click here.
The 1964's were white with a very unique dark green and white interior as shown here. This magnificent example is owned by Ken Cassady of Palm Springs, CA. It was purchased in 2003 from a museum collection in Colorado. It is in outstanding unrestored condition and drives like new.
To see more pictures of this beautiful car click here.
The 1965's colors are white with white top and has a burgundy leather interior.
John Munro Owns This Lovely Example. The only 65 yet to surface!
The 1966's had a Gold exterior with a very unique black/goldish leather interior and a black top.
There are 4 known examples of the 66 Shriners cars. All 4 have similar and sequential VIN numbers. All have exactly the same factory options although a couple of them have been altered. Here is a look at the 4 66's
Read more about Peter's Imperial
(Original Paint/Replaced Interior)
Previous owners: Javier Reynaldos and Norm Silverman
Sold in Florida in 2002-Whereabouts unknown
Read more about this Imperial
(Repainted different shade of Gold/original interior)
Read more about Leo's Imperial
(Repainted black/original interior)
This amazing car is currently owned by Kingsley Hooker of Memphis, TN.
The previous owner Mr. David Ludtke of Lincoln Nebraska had an amazing amount of documentation on this car including the window sticker and bill of sale.
Mike Hackney's 1968 Shriner car.
Here is a page devoted to the 3 (YES THREE!) 1968 IMPS of Omaha parade cars formerly owned by the late Alvin Krenzien of Norfolk Nebraska.
Note: I Jeff Ingraham was honored to have known Mr. Krenzien for many years and was lucky enough to go to Norfolk and document the cars in 2003 when Mr. Krenzien was in failing health and trying to sell the 3 cars together. They were a sight to behold and were all 3 in exceptional condition and kept in this one building, which was quite amazing for me to see!
I don't know what became of the cars after Alvins passing but I hope to see the cars again as they were awesome!
UPDATE: One of these 3 Lovely cars found it's way to Florida and Is now owned by Javier Reynaldo
Looks right at home in Florida!
Sadly the end of the line! With the demise of the Imperial convertible in 1968, The Shriners were forced to switch makes and went to Caddy convertibles until they too ceased production in 1976. Later they drove LeBaron convertibles or 65 Mustang Convertibles. They are no longer known as the Imps of Omaha as that name died with the Imperials. Later they were simply the Shriners motor patrol and can still be seen in local parades in and around Omaha Nebraska.