Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1973 -> Bob Martin's 1973 LeBaron Four Door Hardtop
This burnished red 1973 Imperial was advertised at the Imperial Club in 2005. I owned a í72 Imperial from 1975-80 and I had been looking to buy one for the past several years. I do not care for most of the color offerings from that era, but when the red one came along, I figured it was time to buy. I bought the 55,000-mile car in Delaware and drove it back to Colorado. Even though the car was low mileage, age had taken its toll and much work needed to be done. It blew an exhaust manifold gasket on the trip home and, of course, the A/C did not work. This car was loaded with about 80% of the available options but did not have a tilt-telescopic steering wheel. Luckily I found one and had it installed. Hard to believe Chrysler did not make this feature standard as it hard to get in and out of the car with the standard column. The interior of the car was perfect, even the dash! However, I replaced the carpet and headliner only because they were faded and I wanted the true black color. I tinted the windows to help preserve the interior.
I have done a great deal of the work myself, making an otherwise cost-prohibitive project a little more cost effective. The auto temp works perfectly now, but all parts have been replaced (except the aluminum body servo which came with car) so it essentially a new system. I literally read and re-read the documentation on this system until I understood the function of every part and the function of every wire and vacuum hose. The sure grip was noisy and has been replaced. Wheel bearing and brakes have been updated/replaced. The steering has been refurbished with (the usual) idler arm, pitman arm, tie rod ends, steering gear, etc. The transmission has new seals, gaskets, and clutches. All the power windows have been refurbished and fitted with one-piece aftermarket gears and re-greased with white lithium grease. For a more modern look, I have replaced the dash floodlights with LED bulbs that give a high-tech bluish white light to the dash, butÖ LEDís do not work on dimmers, so I have one brightness level, but it works for me. I installed a modern AM/FM/CD radio with modern power antenna that automatically goes up/down when the radio is on/off. When I had the exhaust repaired, I converted it duals. Finally, it has been repainted and it has a new vinyl top.
In July, 2008, I drove the car to PA for the WPC annual meet. I have never been to a car show so I didnít know what to expect. The car took third in the 64-83 Imperial group and I also won the long distance award for driving my car the furthest. (I guess it would be nice to own a pristine trailered car, but for me, driving the vehicle is the best part of owning it.) I extended the road trip to include parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Cherohala Skyway (featured in Hemmings, May, 2008) in North Carolina and Tennessee. The car performed flawlessly and averaged 14 mpg (and I drive pretty fast J) Ö I wonder if we could talk the oil companies into issuing us old car collectors discount coupons so we could enjoy these cars more often!
I seem to manage to find parts for the car, but I am always interested in expanding my network so I would have more resources when I am looking for parts. It appears that NOS radiators, heater cores, evaporators, and steering gears have disappeared all together. I actually prefer the feel of my cheap leather wrapped steering wheel to the old plastic wheel; mine is cracked so it is wrapped. But I suppose I would buy a perfect black wheel if I could. One other thing, you will see eagle-embossed Imperial pillows in this car. Evidently they came with the car, but I have never seen these pillows in any other car.
Very few people understand my affinity toward this car, but, if you are reading this, you probably know there is nothing like it. After my 4,000-mile road trip, I was not aching, sore, or tired. The car is so comfortable, itís a wonder one doesnít fall asleep and crash! I love my í06 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the new cars, but their smaller, more confined interiors just donít deliver the motoring pleasure I get from the big car. I also love to drive my í53 Imperial, but it does not have the sophistication of the í73. What I like about the í73 is it is the last of the 20 foot boats, but with more modern suspension, steering, climate controls, etc. To me, the í73 is when the old luxury land yacht peaked, before it disappeared; thatís what makes this Imperial so special to me.