Orville Smith's 1956 Imperial
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Here is what Orville Smith has to say about his fine 1956 Imperial:
This is more of a story about attachment to cars. My father loved cars and grew up working on Model T’s. In fact his first car was a 1927 Model T which he paid all of $13.00. Kids during the 30’s and 40’s had to work on their cars themselves. Most of the time they were self taught and fearless to attack a problem. That attitude left them in good stead right up to World War II and was a good reason why they were referred to as the “Greatest Generation”. Well my Dad’s work ethic stuck with me and now I share that attitude with my sons. Over the years we have had lots of cars, only two cars have kept there sentimental value. One is a 1950 Ford pickup that my Dad had and my sons and I did a body off restoration. Even now when I drive the old pickup I talk to my Dad.
In 1976 when my Dad was still alive I spotted a coral colored 1956 Chrysler Imperial actual color called desert rose. My Dad loved Chrysler products so I told him to buy the Imperial. He did not want to so I bought it for $1350. The Imperial was a one owner car owned by a farmer in Canton, SD. I was told that it was originally the demo used by Duke Tufty ,the owner of Tufty Chrysler/Dodge in Sioux Falls, SD. The farmer had property in Florida and when winter came he and his wife would get in the back seat and they had a driver take them to Florida. The Imperial only has 75,000 original miles. I have had it now for thirty-six (36) years.
When I brought the Imperial home in February a friend of mine sat in the backseat. He was trying to put his feet under the front seat and could not. So he looked under the seat and found a frozen dead cat under the seat. Anyway problem solved. I had some body work done such as the bottoms of the rear quarter panels and the rocker panels replaced. It also needed a repaint so that was done in the original desert rose color. Some would call the color coral, salmon or pink. It is really an eye catching color. The original engine and transmission is still running like new. I have had to replace the fuel pump twice and repaired the instant heat gas heater. That heater is so hot it seems that it could melt your socks, but you will get about five miles per gallon when on.
My father died in 1985. We sold his home and decided to move the Imperial from Sioux Falls to Portage, Michigan. I borrowed a trailer from a friend and decided to load the Imperial on the trailer and tow it back to Portage. Well I drove the big car on the trailer and I quickly noticed that the Imperial created a big bow in the trailer. Not only that my 1983 Ford custom van had a hard time towing the Imperial. I decided to drive the Imperial the 800 plus miles to Michigan. That meant going through the components of the Imperial thoroughly and making sure all was is in good shape and could make the trip. All checked out just great and I headed out. No cruise control but it hummed along nicely at 70 plus and averaged 18 miles per gallon. It was fun and I drove the trip in a little over 13 hours. Hundreds of thumbs up from fellow travelers. When I got home I opened up a beer and patted Imperial on the fender and said welcome home to Michigan. That was twenty five years ago and it seems like yesterday.
We have driven the Imperial to many shows over the years. We used it as limo when my son got married. This Memorial Day we put flags and a banner on it to support a local political candidate.
I always said that I would not get attached to iron, however, I am attached to that old Ford pickup and this beautiful Imperial and I am sure the my Dad approves.
By the way I think I have subscribed to “Old Cars” for thirty years and I still anticipate reading it.
506 Barberry Ave.
Portage, MI 49002
We hope Orville will share more photos of this beauty with us soon!
This page was last updated September 13, 2011. Send us your feedback,
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