Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1960 -> Kenyon Wills
Also intriguing was the optional Hi-Way HiFi in-car record player that
mounted under the dash on the transmission hump. This record player was
a dealer option and has an interesting history that's worth a few minutes
to read. Click on the Record Player image to read all about it.
How this came to be:
The other was a dirty, but still glossy 1960 LeBaron in rough shape for $1,500.
The LeBaron is the tip-top model, which generally came fully optioned with many of the items that were omitted from the lower models. For most years that it existed, the LeBaron model can be identified by the rear window, which is smaller and was intended to exude a similarity to limousines, which often had a more closed and private rear seating area. LeBarons always have four doors, as well. LeBarons were usually the donor cars that were sent to Ghia in Italy for conversion to the hand-built limos built there for Chrysler.
The thing that cinched the deal was the ignition key. It was made of gold aluminum with a crown embossed on it, like none other. I later found out that this was done to spare the ignition and door lock tumblers for long life, with the key being softer, it wore and did not wear the internals. Anyway, the key went into its slot UPSIDE DOWN! with the teeth facing upwards! This was the car for me. I tend to be a person that does not think along the same lines that others do, and love things that just don't fit the norm. This car was me!
I haggled the guy down to $1,200 on this car that was rough, had dents and rust spots, and had no interior to speak of. This came on the condition that they change all of the belts and hoses before I drove it home to my place in San Francisco. I came back the next day with a good battery, and away I went. I drove the car about 10 miles and was going around a sharp curve when the power steering pressure hose that feeds the steering box popped, instantly making the car steering manual and unassisted. I almost crashed the 5000lb car right there, and it really scared me, because the steering is almost non-functional without hydraulic pressure to assist it and steering the car took all 200 pounds of me to wrestle the wheel around to get the car under control. I am a big guy, and that wheel turns with a pinkie finger when the power steering's running, but the wheel felt like lead when the hose failed!!! I am religious about replacing the power steering hoses on any cars that I acquire, and this experience is the reason.
I proceeded to start to redo the car, doing all bodywork and painting it with my friend in his garage. This experience taught me that bodywork is labor intensive but certainly not difficult providing that one is patient and does not rush things. This first project I sanded but did not do enough finish work and my errors came through the paint as soon as it was on the car, but it was passable at 3 paces, I had other concerns, and I let it go (I was secretly impressed that we'd painted the car and was really pretty happy, but you can't brag about mediocre-at-best workmanship). The next 12 months were a blast, with the car looking like a million on the outside but me riding around sitting on a bed pillow that plugged the hole in the seat where the foam had disintegrated. The car needed work, and I did the mechanical things that came up myself, but was in college and lacked the money to do the car justice.
I really missed it when it was gone. I just never developed the same love and adoration for the 1963 that the other car had produced, and couldn't pin it down to why, but just knew that I'd made a bad choice.
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