Jim Anderson's Reminiscence of a 1931 Imperial Roadster LeBaron

Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1931 -> Anderson

(We have included a few examples of 1931 Imperial Roadster LeBarons.  Unfortunately, we do not have any pictures of Mr. Anderson's exact '31.)

My father restored a 1931 Chrysler Roadster LeBaron Convertible, which wound up at Harrah's Museum for many years.  He told me several years ago that some fellow in New Jersey had called him about it and was seeking information. I think he said it was a dark green color when at Harrah's, but I have no idea what color it is or  who owns it today.  It had the running lights, which you don't see on them very often. The car was raced at Lemans or Daytona and wrecked.  It never finished the race. He bought it and a 31 sedan from a lot on Western Ave  in Compton California in the early fifties.   The roadster was pretty rough. He had seen one as a kid, and it caught his eye one day, while on his way to work. (He was a car painter.) My step mom hocked her wedding rings so that he could buy it.  He was an intense person and would live, eat, and sleep a project, until it was completed.  When he got to the final stage of completion, after he had done a frame up restoration, he put 21 coats of black lacquer on it.  Then he put on beautiful white pin-striping with red wire wheels.  The interior had white roll and tuck naugahyde with red carpets with white lambskin piping.  I know that isn't kosher with a real purist, but it was beautiful.  He never had a top and because of some damage to the windshield pillars, they chopped the windshield an inch or two.  I have to tell you, that the 31 looks even more sleek with a chopped windshield and no top in place.  He never got around to finishing the rumble seat and it had the original plain leather seat that was a little beat.  

The car developed a cracked exhaust manifold, which would tend to make it overheat after lots of driving.  He kept it stored in a garage and every spring, about the time of the Indianapolis 500, he would pull it out and we would spend the day washing and waxing on it.  Then we would get in, he and my step mother in the front and myself and sister in the rumble seat.  A short ride around town and a stop at the dairy queen for ice cream; then back to the garage for another year.  The old man was always bought a new white sports cap to take the drive in.  He loved to drive fast and always made comments about driving like Barney Olfield, which pretty much dates him.  

Out behind our house was a shed and it was full of spare parts for that Chrysler.  Little chrome pieces, window cranks, etc.  There were even extra hub caps there.  I think he just threw it all out as junk when he moved from that house.  

One day in the early 60s' a man showed up at the door and said he'd heard about the Chrysler.  Dad told him if he didn't have $2500.00 he didn't want to talk to him.  The man left and came back about an hour later with a car trailer and a cashiers check for $2500.00.  Well, the old man was now a policeman and had a couple of kids to feed and cloth, so $2500.00 was a pretty good deal to him.  It was not too long after that, when the fellow who bought it sold it to Harrah's.  A few years later when dad went to a police school in San Francisco, he was able to stop at Harrah's and see the Chrysler.  He mentioned to the curator that he had done the original restoration.  The curator went and got the restoration person the car had been assigned to, who came out to see my dad.  Next thing you know, they were going over the car and my dad was showing him where he had done this and that.  Much of my dad's original work had been good enough to not warrant re-doing.  All in all, he was very pleased that the car had passed on to a state where it would always continue to exist, and would be possessed by individuals who could afford to keep it in secure circumstances.  It never bothered him that the car became something that only a wealthy man could own.  He was proud that he had rescued it from the salvage yard and given it its second birth.   

This page was last updated on May 9, 2002. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club