The Swensson's 1955 Imperial Newport


Imperial Home Page-> Imperials by Year -> 1955 -> The Swensson's 1955 Imperial Newport



Here is what the Swensson's had to say about their Imperial Newport Coupe:

John & Susan Swensson’s Tango Red and Oyster White 55 Imperial Newport started as an all white, non startable car with gold green cloth. Mice had eaten the interior and rats had eaten some underhood hoses. But it was a complete Coupe with no bodywork and was last seen at Lud and Ad Indihar’s 1987 Northern CA Imperial Meet in 1987. It was in the Baer Family of San Jose for a number of years. I bought the car sight unseen and had it trucked to Reno where my son-in-law was working for C&C Fuel Injection. After storing it in the rain with the window down for about 6 months they pulled the engine for rebuilding and agreed to do the mechanicals on the car, which took in excess of one year. They worked on it when they could get to it and charged a more reasonable rate. The engine is 392 from a 1957 Imperial; this is the third such car we have fund with a 57 engine; there were apparently factory recalls if you had trouble with your 331, and dealers installed the ‘57 engines which have a total of 325 hp as opposed to 250.

The recession caused my painter, Roger Van Trease who had formerly painted for the National Auto Museum, to ask if he could paint the car while the engine was out and he would make good any subsequent paint damage that might be caused at the mechanics or later at Express Upholstery in Reno. There was no damage, but after the mechanicals, including a major brake overhaul, and the interior were done I returned the car to Roger’s for buffing/polishing and shipment to Larry Jett’s Jett Ranch (formerly the home of 2,607 horses) in Newark.

The interior was a combination of SMS in Oregon who did the door panels and Isaac at Express Upholstery in Reno. We did everything including covering the dash which necessitated pulling the windshield which necessitated finding and buying a new seal. Finally, after 7 years, the day before the first snows of 2010 in Tahoe, a trucker left the Imp with the keys in the ignition in Larry’s driveway. When Larry found the car he drove it around the block and then got HIS family out for a Christmas Card shot, and then he started a list of “to do’s.” Larry loves working on MOPAR products, head the Western US 300 club and we know him as “Mr. Mopar.” He knows where to find anything, what to do about everything and is fast and accurate. He took apart the new interior, the new trunk and ordered the wiring harnesses for the entire car. He also started looking for a number of missing pieces and sending some items to the chromers. He tuned the engine, we ordered the Wheels from Coker (5 months!!) and Larry worked hard to get ready for show season.

So we headed for the Benicia Auto show at 0730 on a Sunday morning and blew a freeze plug, our second, on Hiway 80. Fortunately it was a short ten mile tow back to Larry’s and the driver took pictures. The next day the local shop replaced ALL of the freeze plugs and so we were able to attend the 2011 State Meet for Imperials and the Marin Concours the next weekend. I also changed my AAA to a 200 mile tow!

The car drives great. The radials and Flame Red seat belts from Snake Oyl provide extra safety and comfort. We sent out the radio to Oregon and the clock to Michigan and Larry did all of the interior paint. When I bought the car, the exhausts came straight out from under the car under the license plate. Meineke in Redwood City redid everything and we routed the pipes and chrome tips out of the correct holes in the rear bumper. We added ½” to keep the exhaust away from the chrome so we now have the longest 55 Imperial Newport Coupe in the world J

The first season (2011) we went to eight shows and won eight awards including the Stanford Cup at Palo Alto and the tour award at Niello Concours at Serrano in Eldorado Hills (our favorite event). The car drives GREAT on the highway. My thanks to Larry Jett, John Lazenby, Dave Labhard, and all of the members of the Imperial Clubs of Northern and Southern CA for their encouragement and assistance.

CREDITS for the work:

1955 IMPERIAL NEWPORT COUPE owned by John and Susan Swensson; Saratoga CA

Vin #C559379, One of 3,418. MSRP $4720. Weight 4490lbs

Options: Air Conditioning (rear), Power Windows, Four way Power Seat, Signal Seeking Radio

Tango Red and Oyster White, 392 Hemi Engine

RESTORATION by Larry Jett, Jett Ranch; Newark CA

Mechanicals: C&C Fuel Injection Specialities; Sparks NV

Interior: SMS, and Express Upholstery; Reno NV

Paint: Roger Van Trease ; Reno NV

Exhaust by Meineke Muffler; Redwood City

Tires and Wheels by Coker

Radio by Antique Radio Dr; Grants Pass OR

Wiring by Rhode Island Wiring Service

Clock by Bob’s Speedometer; Howell MI

Thanks to: Larry Jett, National Automotive Museum, John Lazenby, Dave Labhard, Roger Selby, & Members of the Imperial Clubs of Northern and Southern CA, The Family, Fabricio Mata

click on any picture to see a larger version


We hope the Swensson's will send more pictures of this wonderful rare Coupe!


This page was last updated December 13, 2011. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club