How To Repair Your Imperial's Door Handles

Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Body -> Doors -> Handles

Question from George (1955):

I'm about to replace window motors in my 1954 Imperial and I'm having a bit of trouble getting the inner door handle to come off. I don't want to pull on them and I don't see a pin or c-clip. Can anyone give me a bit of advice on how to remove them?


From Roger:

I took apart my '55 to replace the window coupler. I pulled all of the clips at the bottom of the door. Next removed the screws for the arm rest and the outside corners. I then braced the door panel out on the bottom with a screw driver so I had access to the motor. I disconnected the battery, wires to the motor and removed the motor. Then replaced the coupler, motor and wires. I didn't need to remove the door handle. Which was a good thing because I could not get it off with the handle tool or find a set screw. I was told there is a set screw that is on the hidden part of the door handle. The way I did it worked great except for the scrapes and scratches on my arms.

From Roger:

The inside door handles are attached differently on our 54's than on the '55 and later. If you look behind the handle, there is a stainless ring which pushes out on the handle via a spring. Take a thin screwdriver and push that ring outward (toward the outside of the door) and you'll see a hole drilled at 90 degrees to the handle with a pin thru the handle and shaft. With an ice pick, you can push the pin out while holding back the ring. Once started, a needle nose pliers may help retrieve the little pin. Not much space to work in, but it's actually somewhat easier than removing the later handles. To reinstall the handle, just reverse the procedure and use the needle nose pliers to start the pin back in place. The ring with spring thingy will pop back in place to keep the pin from going anywhere.

From Val:

If it is a hair pin type clip a rag can be used to slide between the handle and the escutcheon. Then pull either way around the base of the handle. The rag will catch the hair pin end and rotate the pin out of the handle base. If it is a straight pin, and I can't remember which it is, you have to push the escutcheon in past the pin and use an ice pick or something with a smaller diameter than the pin it's self, to push it out. Sometimes it is difficult to compress the spring behind the trim panel in order to get to the pin. They used to make a tool to push with, but I haven't seen one since my dad worked on them.

Question from Don (1959):

I'm removing my door panel on my 1959 Crown and I can not figure out how to take off the inside door handle.


From Kerry:

Check out the work I did on my '57 for information on these clips:

From Philippe:

I think you have the "airplane" style handle like my '57. You need to unscrew a little Allen screw which is at the front of the handle "fork" (bottom of handle). This screw is hidden in release position so you have to pull rearward the handle as to open the door. In this position the screw is almost vertical and it's more easier to see it !! After unscrewing pull the handle in a vertical manner.

Question from Frank (1961):

I need the inside drivers door handle for my '61, someone has offered a handle from a '63 parts car. Does anyone know for sure if it is a match? I would guess it is the same but I have never actually seen a '63...


From Bob:

They are the same.

From John:

60-63 all use the same handles, both the inside & the outside.

From Kenyon:

I'm betting that the reason that your handle needs replacing is the head being broken off of the stem.

If you ever decide to rechrome your 60-63 inside door handles, or are doing other chrome anyway, consider filling the neck and handle inside voids with brass or something else that will take chrome. (take it off and look if you don't know what I'm thinking here)

This converts your handle from hollow to solid and prevents an eager passenger from ripping a handle off.

Follow-up from Frank:

Yes, the castings are very thin in a high stress area. I was thinking about putting something solid in the hollow area of a broken handle then drill and tap. When you say fill the voids with brass do you mean with molten metal or to cut and shape the metal?

Reply from Kenyon:

I was thinking about melting a soft metal like brass & pouring it right in as the door handle void is a natural mold for this sort of thing if held in a vice in a horizontal manner, but had not researched exactly what would be required to do this without melting the pot-metal and also allowing chrome to adhere metallurgical.

Reply from John:

I slotted the stem on mine, from the hidden side, then bedded a steel wire (1/8 inch diameter) in epoxy in the stem and out into the head cavity. It's now a very strong solid! No re-chroming is needed, as the change is invisible against the door panels and the epoxy is smoothed to the original contour of the stem. Only by snaking a finger between door and handle to feel the absence of a hollow is the trick discernable.

Reply from Jim:

I have had very good luck on things like this by using a steel rod as an insert for strength and epoxying it in place with JB Weld. I've used it on door and window handles in this way and never had one break. It can't be chromed so it would only do for something that doesn't need chrome or can't be seen. A good soldering job using the solder to fix the steel reinforcement in place also ought to work. The solder will melt at a much lower temp. than brass and the steel rod will provide the strength. It would still be delicate work to not melt the pot metal but it doesn't need to be nearly as hot as brass to melt. I have not seen the door handle on your Imperial (mandatory content) but I've used the JB Weld and also the solder on lots of things as described above and they both work.

Question from Charles (1962):

The handles on my '62 are broken and I have some of the pieces for them. My question is are the front & rears the same? I'm thinking about making up a set out of billet aluminum.


From Mark:

Front and read are the same. Left and right are not. These are easy to get.

From Chris:

The design of these door handles is way too delicate for the ammount of torque they have to put up with. I reinforced mine by filling the hollow portions of them with epoxy.

Question from David (1965):

I have a 1965 Imperial LeBaron. The car is an unmolested original car with 27,000 miles on it. I have owned the car 5-7 years. I have always wondered why the interior door handles are different colors. The driver's side interior door handles are white or some sort of mother of peal imitation. The passenger's side handles are black, maybe an imitation Ebony. The same is true for the rear seat. Does anyone know why this was done, and was this done any other year? Also, I wonder if this was only done with LeBarons?


From Wayne:

I believe your door handles should be the same color. They are on every other Imperial that I have seen. The handles are color co-ordinated to the interior.

From Eric:

This type of interior door handle was largely the same functioning design from the '57-66 era, with varying hand grip designs. Common to these is a roll pin that provides the pivot point between the cast part and the stamped steel piece that acts as the gripping agent onto the door latch post assembly. This roll pin design is flawed in that it doesn't keep the stamped steel piece from spreading apart a little over the years, allowing the roll pin to come out of one side of the U shaped stamped piece so that only one side of the roll pin is holding it all together.

Broken handles, or handles that sit lopsided or are loose and won't tighten are pretty good indicator that the roll pin has come out of one side of the stamped steel piece. Passengers then exert more force on the handle to open the door and break the handle. It is likely to have happened to your car at some point, then someone replaced them with the incorrect color handles. The colors should be the same for each door. If you have a black interior, then the black handles are correct, or if it is a light color, the lighter ones are correct. I see those handles sold on ebay from time to time and proper colored ones shouldn't be too hard to find.

I have a repair upgrade for this roll pin design flaw. I replace the roll pins with 5/32'' / 4mm aluminum rivets, long sized, Arrow brand. These fit the roll pin holes tightly and being a rivet, will keep the stamped piece from spreading apart. All my handles on my '63 fit properly, they clamp down tight on the latch post and operate with little force. Some attention was needed to rebend the stamped piece to fit square again around the cast handle part.

This page last updated November 12, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club