Hugh Hemphill's 1958 Imperial Southampton


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Imperial Southampton, VIN LY14215

Mrs. Blueberry




My car was originally purchased on July 3, 1958, by Mr. Alvin W. Kroesche from his local Seguin, Texas dealership, Pete Smith Motors. It cost
around $4,500, equivalent to $35,000 in 1999 money.

Mr. Kroesche ran a butane supply company. He was married twice, both times to the same lady, Mabel, a professional dancer. They had no children. He was always meticulously dressed, being an old time Texas German, and was very formidable in manner. His big passion in life was Tennessee Walking Horses.

 

Pete Smith was a very affable man, who ran his dealership for over forty years. The franchise was sold in the early seventies and the new owners relocated nearer to the IH10 Interstate, which was only in the planning stages back in 1958. The buildings of the original dealership were later demolished to make way for an enlargement to a nearby bank's parking lot.

No records exist of the car until it was donated to the Texas Transportation Museum in 1984 by a Mr. Leslie Taber, who also donated two other Imperials, a 1957 and a 1963 at the same time. The museum disposed of the other two, but kept LY14215. It was not run for over a decade.

It's current caretaker, but not actual owner, is current museum chairman, Hugh Hemphill. On a whim, mainly because so many visitors seemed to be impressed by it far more than the either, also stationary, vehicles, such as a bright red Cadillac Convertible adjacent to it, it was started with absolutely no preparation whatsoever, apart from the placement of a battery and water in the radiator. It started right up. It took four years to get it running legally. The big problems were the water pump and the braking system. The former was solved when, during a casual conversation at a local NAPA, the long suffering water pump came up in the conversation. No replacement could be found. Mike, the manager, (Broadway, San Antonio) got it rebuilt in less than one week for under $25.00!

The moral of the water pump story is this: you can do it yourself. Just don't listen to people who know less than you. Even if you know next to nothing about cars as mechanical devices, as was the case here, don't let other people's negativity get you down. I have pleasantly surprised myself and caused consternation to others by fixing the un-fixable. "You can't do that, and even if you could, it isn't worth doing," is a terrible attitude to adopt through life, and a killer when it comes to Imperials. Honing out brake cylinders is not that difficult, although I was also told it was impossible. Mine were awful, due to leaking, water filled, brake fluid having congealed in waves on all six. A professional, some years later, helping with a related problem, said they had been done really well. Go figure, as I had never done it before. It came up because, once the wheels were disassembled again, I had him look.


Contact Hugh if you own a 1958 Imperial or if you would like to talk more about Mrs. Blueberry.  You can also visit Hugh's website for more information regarding 1958 Imperials.

 

 

Imperial LY14215, also known as Mrs. Blueberry, at a South Texas Lake, some years ago. The white part of the roof and the able parts are incorrect, but actually look better than the original. The padding on the rear of the
"Landau" roof peeled off, revealing a lot of deep surface rust. The car is now almost correct. The body and roof rear section are "Ballet Blue." The roof is a modern brilliant white, not "ermine."
Mrs. Blueberry, named by my six year old daughter, Jennifer, waiting to lead off the Mopar Muscle Club contingent at the Poteet Strawberry Festival parade, 1999.
A fake photo, both taken by me, and electronically put together, for humorous, I hope, effect.
Mr. Kroesche's ownership documents.

A less than complete '58 Southampton. Same yard has a '56 and another '58
My '58 with an all but abandoned, almost complete, '57 near Bastrop, Texas
Hugh's Family Hugh and his family
Geech Cartoon Hugh's Favorite Cartoon

 

 

And here are a few more shots of Mrs. Blueberry:

 

(Click on the small image to see a larger picture.)

 


This page last updated October 18, 2003.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club