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Eric Ruud's 1964 Imperial Coupe

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from Eric Ruud of Lebanon, Oregon:

I purchased this 1964 Crown Coupe in May, 2005, from an ad in the local Portland, Oregon, craigslist. After a little sorting of things like a sticky throttle, a battery, and a pinning up of the headliner, it was all mine. The seller seemed impressed that it actually ran and drove as well as it did after we tended to a few things. He had the car for just a short while, driving it back from Colorado.

The famed Imperial gathering for the Florence, Oregon, "Rhody Fest" was due in less than a week and I wanted to take this car to it. I prepared a few things for the 150 mile trip and had made arrangements with co-list member, Bill Uhlman, to follow down behind his '66 Crown Convertible. I realized the engine timing was a little out of adjustment as it would backfire on occasion when turned off. As Bill and I pulled into a Chevron gas station in Salem, Oregon, to fill up for the trip. I switched off the car and a little hickup from the engine led to an engine compartment fire, right there at the gas pumps! Some quick work with a fire extinguisher provided for minimal fire damage to the car, and averting a potentially disasterous effect at the gas pump. I quickly made the timing adjustment, replaced a burned vacuum hose and to Bill's great surprize, we were right back on the road. I can recommend keeping the original air cleaner installed instead of the aftermarket open style that a PO installed. The original design provides a flame arresting nature about it. Correct timing is essential, of course.

This car came with a copy of the window sticker showing tinted glass, front a/c, AM Search radio w/power antenna, adjustable steering column, dual head restraints, and Auto Pilot as the options. White paint with the standard cloth and leather interior in Black Bedford Cord with white opalescent leather. The car was delivered through a Salt Lake City distributor and then sold to Dutch Stenovich Motors of Elko, Nevada, for reaale. A little online investigation of Stenovich Motors showed some town history including Bing Crosby's position of 'honorary mayor' of this, his adopted home town. It also showed the Stenovich's at the 1964 Mayorial Innaugural Ball, with the townfolk decked out in their tuxes and gowns. Then, I found a phone number for Mr. Dutch Stenovich. It took some gumption to just dial him up, but eventually my curiosity as to his awaremess of my new car got the best of me. I figured he couldn't have sold too many '64 Crown Coupes in Elko. So, I dialed him up and after a couple of attempts, I did have a wonderful, long phone call to this former Chrysler dealer, now in his 80's.

Mr. Stenovich didn't remember this car in particular but he said he probably has some record of it in his files still. I got to hear all about Bing Crosby's connection to the town, how he was just one of the townspeople, and that he was well liked -not being "one of those Las Vegas gang." Elko seemed to be on a popular circuit for the big bands of the era and Dutch recalled many performers he saw play in town. Stenovich Motors originally opened as a Willies dealership, and he took on Chrysler in the 1950's. He sold the business in the 1980s. Mrs. Stenovich was equally congenial, recalling the 1964 Mayorial Innaugural Ball as if it were last night, explaining that they danced all night and went to a popular resort nearby for a week the following day. When I bought this car, I had an idea to pull the 'Stenovich Motors, Elko, Nevada' metal plate off the trunk lid but after our conversation, I'm inclined to keep it installed and to make special note of it when speaking about my car.

This Crown Coupe was assembled on November 18, 1963. This was after the earlier series with the lock buttons for the arm rest pockets and the Imperial badge on the top center of the raised dash panel. Currently, the car has an old, worn reupholstry job using black velour and white naugahide, and a thin black carpet. The body has some rust behind the rear wheels and in the rear panel ahead of the trunk lid. It has one of the sorst dash pads I've seen on one of these cars. Currently, 5/19/2007, the odometer reads X19099 miles. I have restored the functioning of the mechanical part of the AutoPilot, a stiffened lower speedometer cable responded well to some hot water and a massaging of the over-heated cable lubricant. Some tune-up parts and front strut bushings have it running and driving very well. To be done is an A/C compressor replacement, some power steering leak fixes, and a headliner is on order. Lowell Howe, supplied two new door hinge stop kits using improved quality steel. I have one installed and it works fine. Attention to the star wheel via a file and pressing the latch wheel assembly holder tighter fixed a resistance of the driver's door to close. I use the car as a daily driver and it makes an Imperial impression from the looks it garners.

We hope Eric will share more photos of this beauty soon!

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