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John Bradley's 1956 "Imperial" Deluxe Estate Wagon

Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1956 -> John Bradley

Recently, this beautiful "Imperial" based on a '56 New Yorker Deluxe Estate Wagon came up for sale. The notes below are from our recent conversation with members Henry Hopkins, Richard Rowlands and Chris H. They told us about this unique car's history and about the last owner, John Bradley.

from the sale
This is a 1956 Chrysler Station wagon that started out life as a New Yorker. The previous owner, a big Chrysler collector, wanted to customize the car into an Imperial since Chrysler did not offer an Imperial wagon. An Imperial front clip was used and the car was fitted with Imperial badging, lights, and trim. Beautiful burgundy paint, very high quality supple black leather interior, 354 cid HEMI V8, push-button automatic, power steering, power brakes, chrome wire wheels, power seats and more. This car is truly one of a kind and is a total show stopper. It always gathers a crowd. The car is extremely reliable, so much so, that it could be used every day if one wanted. This is a total show car that speaks for itself.

from Chris:
That car belonged to (and was created by) a late friend of mine who was well to do and had a fantastic car collection (he was also a super nice guy). It's an incredibly well done conversion (even if the CHRYSLER lettering on the tailgate always bothered me) and is as nice as the photos show. I hope it finds its way into good hands. It makes me a little sad to see it on the auction block...

from Richard:
This 1956 Chrysler/Imperial station wagon belonged to my former boss and friend, John Bradley. John was a wonderful man with a beautiful collection of cars. Mr. Bradley passed away a year and a half or so ago and his cars have been dispersed. This dealership has a few of them and is now offering them for sale. Although not a real Imperial wagon, it's a very nice car and whoever ends up with it will not be disappointed. I hope it ends up in a nice home.

from Henry:
We owned the wagon in the late 90s when a friend sold it to us. It was then a dark metallic gray and in excellent driving condition, a #3. The person who had it constructed is a longtime collector of full classics, for the most part, with quite a few non-classic 50s cars as well. The collection is rarely available for viewing, as in, mostly never. However, the collector completed the modifications, I am guessing maybe in the 80s, but have no official word on that. The car had a 300 engine in it, and the power steering had been removed. It drove beautifully. Right after we bought it, I drove it up the Healdsburg from here in Richmond(San Francisco area). What a rocket! However the lack of power steering made driving a bit difficult. We really didn't want/need/have space for the car at the time and purchased it to assist in disbursing the owner's collection as he was moving away from the Bay Area. There was other interest in it and we drove it to San Luis Obispo for a week-end Meet Car Show, and a couple of guys from LA drove it home after money and papers changing hands. Of course, now I wish we had kept it. Shortly after the purchase, I heard another fellow, Bradley, had purchased it and proceeded to have a meticulous, very, very high quality restoration done. The gentleman who had it restored had beautiful cars in his collection, including a Duesenberg among quite a few others. A few years later, we saw the car at the same annual show/club meet in San Luis Obispo and were stunned by the beauty and quality of the car. Believe it won Best in Show, if not, certainly first in class.

So, a bit more history. Knowing now that it is not impossible to put power steering back into a 56 Chrysler/Imperial, we occasionally slap hands to foreheads and say "What were we thinking, selling that wagon?" but we pretty much say that about every car we've sold. Usually it has something to do with needing $$ for the current or next project, sigh.

Check out Henry's restoration of his beautiful 1960 Imperial Crown Convertible. Richard has an amazing collection too!

(click on small images to see larger ones)


This page was last updated February 2018.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club