2002: An Imperial Odyssey

by Kenyon Wills

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Cleaning House:
Some time later, I sold the 1963 and all of my other collected vehicles (I also had a 71 Lincoln Mark III and 3 very rare Moto Guzzi motorcycles) to satisfy my debts and to consolidate my life. Dad had really gotten into my head about "being responsible" and living a clean, unfettered financial life without all of "those cars". He gave me some money to buy dependable transport as a Dad-to-son gift, but looked crest-fallen when I showed up with my police surplus cruiser (still got it and love it Dad! Thank you). I think he was thinking I'd get a Camry or a Taurus. He's not a car person and has never understood that part of me.

The memory of the experience of living with the 1960 gnawed at me persistently from the day that I sold it and continues to do so. I have since moved up in life and am making a decent wage. This has allowed me to make the plans that have allowed me to start on my project of doing a good job at restoring a 1960 LeBaron that I can be happy with for the rest of my life. I am dead certain that once completed, this car will not leave my possession, and will hopefully be my legacy at some future point in time.

Project Details
My first attempt at a 1960 was in the form of a sight-unseen car in New Jersey.

  • "Rough, but complete and runs."
  • "All parts there plus some interior parts already re-chromed."
  • "Abandoned the project in favor of an Imp convertible."
I sent the money for it and went through the phone book to find a shipper. The one chosen was via an expediting company in Las Vegas that subcontracted others to do the work. Best price and a slick salesman with all of the answers. They made me send a cashier's check up front for 50% of the fare. The car got taken to North Carolina and the company that had it went out of business at that time. The son was running the place and wrote a bunch of checks for new trucks on the father's good name and then couldn't make payroll. Without drivers he had a tough time delivering a nything. I had all sorts of trouble and even had the local sheriff verify that the car was out there in their yard. The shipping expediter left me high and dry and refused to do anything for me, even though it was their job to arrange the shipment, so I had to search out a reputable company and hire them for full price to get the car. The 50% that I paid the first guys was never returned and I highly recommend putting everything onto credit cards and doing a 100% COD arrangement on any shipping transaction. I made certain to pay those jokers in Las Vegas a little visit, and they were quite surprised that I sought them out in their dingy little office, but their response was ruder in person than on the phone. I regret not following through on the idea I had of taking stink-bombs along.

The car arrived and was a complete mess. Its condition was a sin of omission on the seller's part, with the gas tank in the trunk, wrong parts all over, and was pretty much a parts car or a start-from-scratch project. I can't really complain, as the price was really low, and the cost of losing the deposit was what really put the car's total cost into the outer reaches, which was not the seller's fault. This was not really something that I could pin on anyone but bad luck and myself for being too optimistic, so I sucked it in and pressed on.

Fortunately, the interior metal trim on this first car was re-chromed; there were a bunch of extra hubcaps, and other valuable parts, so all was not lost. It was immediately obvious that this was not to be the car for me, as I was renting my house and needed a drivable car where I lived. This car was then partially dismantled for needed or rare parts and I was in a race to get rid of it due to no storage for a non-running car in San Francisco, which has the worst parking on the planet this side of Tokyo.

It turned out that Mark Lamp, who was doing a 1960 of his own, had a car with a bad body. My car had a good body, and I sold the car to him. This is the body that Mark Lamp has today.

Mark's Car Before Mark's Car After
Mark Lamp's Imperial - Before Mark Lamp's Imperial - After

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