Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1960 -> Richard Burgess
This is the story of our 1960 Imperial Crown Sedan (a.k.a., "LeCrown"), a Crown sedan with dealer-installed LeBaron emblems.
After six years of restoration work on our house, I was burnt out and wanted to get back into the old car hobby. This time, my partner Tony and I, wanted an all original car that we could immediately enjoy and take to local car shows and on weekend trips. We agreed to look for a 1956 Imperial coupe, but got nowhere. The cars we found were too rough or too expensive. I finally decided that a 1956 car was just too similar in styling and technology to my 1952 car. A later car would make a better long distance road car, and I wanted something with an entirely different feel. A 1960 Imperial would be radically different than anything I had ever worked on before so I decided to start looking. Fated to repeat history, inside two months I found the car featured in this story. Apparently, I had not learned a thing about waiting to find the best car that I could. I have now, unwillingly, waded into another full restoration. In my defense, I have to say that I was very, very, mislead about the condition of the car by the previous owner. I just saw the pictures of those fins and it was pretty much over right then and there. I had to have this car. A car that was just supposed to need a mechanical overhaul and some paint work has turned into another frame up restoration. This time I am having professional help just to get this car back on the road as soon as possible. My parents and my partner say that a better car would not have made any difference. They all agree that I would have torn it down anyway to bring it up to my standards. I must admit there is precedence for this.
Before I launch into this epic, I want to let you know that the car came with the original factory and dealer invoices. I include them here so that you may become familiar with the car and its features.
H I S T O R Y
Ms. Ruth Lee Medlock of Washington D.C purchased this 1960 Imperial Crown Sedan, new. The car was purchased from L. P. Steuart Inc, 1440 P. Street, N.W., Washington D.C., 37477. The car was shipped May 10, 1960 and delivery to the owner was on June 9, 1960.
The factory invoice reads as follows:
The dealer invoice reads as above and includes the following:
Without the trade in. the cost of the car was $6865 plus $1202.26 for financing, tax, and tag for a grand total of: $8067.26! This at a time when a brand new '60 Chevrolet Impala convertible had a base price of $2950.00. $8067.26 is equivalent to $44,570.50 in 2003 dollars. Notice that the dealer installed the stainless roof inserts, an extensive job involving the partial removal of the headliner and interior trim. Also, the flightsweep deck lid was added requiring a paint job to match the car and now for the real surprise. The dealer installed a LeBaron script emblem on the trunk lid, LeBaron crests on the roof pillars, and LeBaron script on each front fender. The fenders had the standard Imperial chrome script with the C R O W N block letters below that and then the gold LeBaron script below that! The fenders were literally covered in ornaments.
The owner of the car (who shall remain nameless) had purchased the car from the estate sale of Ms. Medlock’s brother. As the car was not running, he put the car in storage where it remained for the next two years. Upon loss of his storage, he moved the car outside, and put the car up for sale on Collector Car Trader Online. A friend of mine alerted me to the ad, as he knew I was looking for a ‘60 LeBaron. The car was located in Maryland. The owner told me the car had only 34,648 original miles, original paint, original interior, but needed a complete mechanical overhaul as the car had been sitting since 1971. The interior was supposed to have been in mint condition, with original plastic seat covers, and totally rust free with “incredible” paint. The owner said it should be easy to start and just needed a battery. The guy had numerous collector cars, so I figured he knew what he was talking about.
Thinking that the car would only need mechanical work and some cosmetics, I made the deal contingent on photos to be mailed. The owner said that there was some damage on the right side, a scrape down the doors with some primer, and a dent in the rear bumper. Also the rear window was out and the trunk had been broken into. Six vague pictures arrived, taken at angles that did not reveal the true condition of the car.
The owner said that some Imperial Club members were to look at the car on Sunday. I had lost a car a few weeks before, so not wanting to lose this one, I told him I wanted first option, send me the pictures! Online, Kenyon Wills fired off an e-mail saying that if it ran it sounded like a steal and passing on it would be “bananas”. I made up my mind as soon as I read that. Even in non-running condition, the negotiated price of $3000 seemed in line for what had been described to me. Reduced from $3700, the new price seemed low. But, as the owner had lost his storage, I figured he was motivated. As I was to find out later, the lost storage resulted in the car sitting outside for 6 months with an open trunk and leaking plastic over the rear window opening.
The next day, several Imperial Club members looked at the car, and all were confused by the badging, as the owner was selling the car as a LeBaron vs. a Crown. I was 90% committed to the purchase of this car when the e-mails on the Imperial web site started showing up. Was it a real LeBaron? The consensus was maybe, looking at my photos again, I realized that the car had the large rear window. The window was covered in plastic and duct tape in my pictures so I didn’t question the car’s pedigree until the club members brought it up. Amidst all the controversy on line I became intrigued. Since the owner had the paperwork from the dealership I thought, “Well, I’ll make the purchase anyway. It’s an oddball. I’ll have the only dealer created LeBaron.” One e-mail said that the car had a LeBaron interior as well. This also encouraged me in my decision to buy the car, but proved to be untrue. More e-mails came, some positive, some negative. Eventually, everyone agreed that the car was pretty rough and the seller was asking too much. By the time these e-mails came along the car was scheduled to arrive.
Reading specs on the car, I came to realize just how long this car was going to be. I spent the next weekend taking out a wall at the end of my garage. The next two weeks were nerve wracking as I anticipated the car’s arrival and waited to see just what I had gotten myself into. Meanwhile, just surfing the net, I came across an archived blurb on the Forward Look Network on a 1960 Imperial for sale dated July 23, 2000. It read as follows:
Remember that at this point the car is on its way. Talk about buyer’s remorse, I was getting seriously depressed!
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This page was last updated 26 February 2006.