Chapter 2: A Backyard Find & Trust

 So. I've been all over the country looking for a 'Goldilocks' 61 for restoration: not too gone, not done (and certainly not to expensive). So far, I've seen pretty nice ones and I've seen total dogs, and I've seen lots of pretty nice ones that are priced so far over value that they'll never sell to anyone, much less me. The stream of leads is starting to dry up and I don't have a car. Well, there's still this one in New Jersey. The ad was local and forwarded weeks ago. I missed it on my last trip out west, so now I'll have to drive down (4 hr each way). I've put him off three times with re-scheduling and it's still available. This is NOT a good sign.

When I get there, it's one of the nicer neighborhoods I've seen on this search. There's a four car garage and a room above. I meet Mr. Barden. A very nice fellow, caring for an ill wife and dispersing his collection after a couple of heart attacks. The collection, by the way, includes a 300 SL gullwing, an XK140, an MG-TF, and a light teal 61 Imperial 4-door. What a COLOR! I'm alittle disappointed that it's a Custom, not a Crown, but it's clean: not musty, not dusty. All the mechanicals are up to snuff: rebuilt tranny, rebuilt brakes, all new exhaust, new carburetor, new booster. It's been steam cleaned and repainted underneath- I'd swear it was brand new to look at it! The interior is trashed and the A?C is an aftermarket underdash, but… He has a complete (and I mean COMPLETE) A-1 red leather Crown interior ready to install! There are shelves upstaris with neatly ordered spare parts and small drawers filled with extra trim fasteners and bit. Oh, and there are five (5) brand new original-style wide whites in wrappers from Cokers, and all the registrations and records back to 1962, even the sales material. He bought it from the original owner in Seattle 9 years ago and has been working on it slowly ever since. But Father Time has won and he wants it to go to a good home. I think about for, oh, 5 seconds. That's just long enough for him to lower the price another $500 and I get it all for $2000. SOLD!

I promise to keep him informed on the progress and call Jeff Burland (Town-to-Town Transport: <> to come get it. Jeff is highly recommended by the members of the Online Imperial Club/Imperial Mailing List <>.

Incredible! After all that searching and travel, it was right there in the back yard (so to speak). And though I took a digicam with me everywhere else, this time I came without. Pictures of the new acquisition will have to wait until Jeff gets it home to me. Meanwhile I experiment with colors and review some images of wonderful 61’s for Inspiration. Let me share some here:

Finfrock’s 61: My first favorite color: Coronado Cream


Tony Lindsey’s Lovely ‘Hyacinth’ ALL the options!


Ficenec’s ‘Malibu Tan’ 4dr. Were there ever more Voluptuous Fins?


Tony V’s Cream leBaron. Can I achieve this Elegance?



Details of Why the 1961 Imperial is High Art!


About this time a 61 goes on sale on Ebay. It’s beat but it’s close and it would make a perfect parts car. I bid a few hundred dollars and it looks like the bid may hold. Alas, I am mid-air when the auction closes, and Murray Park outbids my preset top. Darn!

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