Bob Ross' 1956 Imperial Four Door Sedan

Miss Pearl


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Miss Pearl

by Bob Ross


Miss Pearl By Bob Ross For Fatherís Day this year (2005) my wife and son convinced me to go looking for a new old car. I therefore let my fingers do the walking & searched the internet for old cars for sale. I looked at eBay, Old Car Traders, Hemmings, and several other major web sites. I then found some smaller sites that had some very nice cars as well.

A couple weeks into this search my son sent me an email with several from great old cars and several from Hemmings. Among all the ads he sent me was this white & grey 1956 Chrysler Imperial. I looked at the pictures and once I opened the big picture of this beauty it spoke to me. "Take me home, I need a good home. Iím tired of all this winter in South Dakota take me to Texas. I was born and raised in California and itís too cold here." I heeded her frantic call and downloaded all the pictures and information about it.

I continued to look at other ads and cars over the next few days but I keep coming back to the address for this car. The more I looked at it, the louder she called to me. "Take me home." I had received the email from my son on Tuesday the 21st of June. I finally decided she was the one for me on Friday the 24th. I emailed the dealer in Milbank South Dakota that I wanted it & asked whom he recommended to go through for financing. He mentioned several companies that he had dealt with in the past and I went internet searching again.

I researched several companies and picked J.J. Best & Company from New Bedford Mass. They had the best positive comments and I checked with the New Bedford Better Business Bureau and they had no complaints on them. I emailed them and within 20 minutes I had someone from their company calling me back getting my information and they sent out the papers for me to look over and sign that night. They sent them overnight UPS. One of the reasons I went with them also was that they said they had inspectors all over the country that went out & inspected the cars to ensure that they would be worth the asking price.

Within about 7 days I had everything lined up except transport. I had the papers signed, checks issued, title paperwork set up, insurance, everything. Because it was close to the 4th of July holiday weekend, we couldnít get any transport broker to talk to us about shipping. I again went internet shopping. I received about 10 quotes for shipping over a 2 day period. I researched several likely candidates and picked one that had the most good comments on their service.

This is where I get much greyer and quite surly about transport companies and their brokers. I picked Speciality Mobile out of Dayton Ohio because of their rave reviews and no complaints at BBB. Our first carrier was contacted on Tuesday the 5th of July. The broker waited until the 7th and since he had not heard anything back decided to go for another carrier. This company came back with a pick-up date of Wednesday the 13th and delivery date of Saturday the 16th.

They showed up on Tuesday the 12th unannounced, and had room for about a 12í car on the back of the car hauler. Needless to say a 19í Imperial will not fit in a 12í hole. Their company said they could not get back up there (South Dakota) for at least another week to 2 weeks. Third carrier time now. I believe that from the 13th until the 15th Speciality Mobile tried to get some other carriers but were unable to get any firm commitments. This new carrier, X-Frieght, said they could pick up the car on the 18th and would have it down here on the 20th. That was the earliest they could do it. That sounded reasonable. He, he.

I made arrangements with my work to be off Wednesday afternoon to be able to pick up the car somewhere in Round Rock. I receive a call Wednesday about 4:00pm saying that the car is in Wichita, Kansas and they are waiting on a car to be off loaded and another to be loaded on to make the trip to Dallas on Thursday. The car would be transferred to another truck headed south to pick up some cars in Austin on Friday the 22nd.

In the meantime I get a call from the dealer in Milbank, Jim Gesswein, on the 8th of July. He has a guy looking at my vehicle, do I want to sell it and make a profit. He was saying that this other collector was willing to go $2,000 over what I paid for it. At first I thought this is some kind of scam. The car I saw in pictures is not really worth anything & he is just giving me an out so if I try to sue later on he can say he gave me that out. But after really thinking about it and having talked to 3 or 4 people from the dealership and in talking with Jim, the owner I got a better feeling about all this.

Well Karen and I are on our way home, I call Jim to give him the new pick-up date, he says the guy is back and he really wants this car. He asks would I be willing to take $5,000 more than I paid for it. I kind of hem-hawed around on the phone and told Jim I would have to think about it and call him right back.

I had asked my wife, Karen, what she thought about the offer? She said "it is entirely up to you. Itís your car not mine." I remembered what Miss Pearl said to me over all those miles on the internet. "Take me home." I agreed she was coming home to me. I didnít get even one mile down the road before I called Jim back and said "The car is not for sale at any price."

By now I have taken the pictures I downloaded from the website and used them for my background on both my work and home computers. I was looking at it more each day. Suddenly it hit me this was very reminiscent of the car my Aunt Pearl had when I was young. I believe hers was a 1955 Imperial but it seemed appropriate to name this beauty after my Aunt Pearl. Thus the name Miss Pearl to go along with the 63 Olds (Miss Rose). After I got the car home, I see it was the perfect name for her. A very classy lady just like my Aunt Pearl was.

By now I am probably the grumpiest and surliest person to be around. I hate everyone and everything, I bark at people, I have a real bad attitude as I feel this car will never get to Texas and even when it does will it be all worth it? I was this way all Wednesday night and Thursday. Friday morning I was talking with a co-worker who has a 1964 Avanti convertible that I have always admired and even envied a little. I told her I no longer envied her for her car. I told her what I had bought and she in turn said she now envied me. What a turn of events. While talking with her, my cell phone rang, it was the driver of the truck coming to Austin. He said he was a couple hours away and could I meet him on Manchaca road to pick up my car? You bet. He said he would call me when he got closer to Austin with the address.

Needless to say I was walking on air for the rest of the morning. About 2 hours later I received the call from the driver and he gave the address. Karen and I left and we headed south to see our new baby.

We arrived and found her under a drive-thru carport in front of a very nice home. It had a circle drive and carport at the front door. I went over the car and saw some bugs on the hood, but everything else was very nice, as you can see from the pictures. I drove it back to work and everyone, it seems, was going out to look at it. I was able to park out behind our building and from most of the floors people could see it. As I was running around doing my errands Friday afternoon a lot of people stopped me and asked if that was my new car. They had seen several of my co-workers and I looking at it at lunch.

I received many comments on my new ride and was very proud and glad I decided to keep her.

This was probably the hardest secret to keep that I have ever kept. Here I belong to 2 car clubs and no one in either club, except for one person knew anything about this. The one exception was our dear editor and roster producer. Mark kept bugging us about a picture of our cars and ourselves. So I sent a picture of the Imperial and said he had to keep it a secret until it arrived. That was when we thought it would be here that Saturday the 16th. Thank you Mark!! I know a secret is safe with you.

Well on with the story. We drove Miss Pearl to the gas station at the corner of FM 3406 & Sunrise in Round Rock to wait for Jay & the bunch for the farm tour on the 23rd. John & Sue came down the road and had to turn in to see whoís car this was and why were they sitting there. Pretty soon Jay came by and we fell in line with the rest.

I must admit even with all the rain we had had on Friday evening it remained nice all the way up to the farm. It stayed nice all the time most of us were there too. The trip up was very beautiful. I never realized how many stone companies were along DB Wood road. The meal was great even if Joe Everett and Sue Anderson had to have two helpings. One on them and one in them. Joe and Sue had just sat down on one side of a picnic table when it started to tip over. I was sitting on Jayís truck tailgate but I could not get to the table fast enough and they went over backwards. Thank goodness no one was hurt except for their pride and some dirty clothes. But the highlight of the day was to be the hanging of Vic Donnell, however Jan said he didnít deserve a new rope and that was what Jay had. Jay had tried to tie a hangmanís knot several times and had to go to the internet to find out how to tie one.

Coming home we were just about to the Walberg exit when the sky opened up and it poured. My wipers worked very good but vacuum wipers are only so good in heavy rain. Any way we got back to Round Rock without incident and we stopped at a parts store to see if I could get some new wiper blades. The existing ones were ok but not real good. Somewhere I picked up something because before I got home I noticed a slight wobble on corners. I stopped at a gas station to see what was up and saw a slowly leaking back tire. I limped it home and you can see the results in the pictures. Our son helped me change it later in the day.

The end result, was it all worth the phone calls (thank goodness for cell phones), the hassle, the waiting, the agony and everything? YES it was, I love my new addition to the Ross family.

(Click on any small picture for a larger view.)


This page was last updated 26 August 2006.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club