Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1958 -> Denis Dougherty
I bought the car in January of 2000. It was only 60 miles away and the car was running, so a friend drove it to my house. With fantastic timing, its bald tires did not give out until we were backing it up the driveway! Then the transmission began leaking copiously all over the place. What a nice welcome that was.
Mechanically, the car posed some challenges. It may have come from a junkyard, as one of the sellers worked in one, or from a long term storage lot. Work had been done on the engine and it looked pretty good except they had finished it off by spray painting the engine bay and some minor rust areas with Cadillac Gold. The gas tank had been cleaned out and sand blasted. The worst thing on the car was an incorrect, air-cooled transmission which was hooked up to the oil cooler lines! No wonder I had so much trouble. I had the transmission rebuilt several times before it was realized that it was the wrong type for the car. With a correct replacement, things are so much better, as you can imagine. Other than that I have had the entire brake system redone and some more engine work. I have had to replace the carburetor, too. Like any old car, it can be both a joy and a royal pain. As of right now, February 2002, I am having to get the steering box rebuilt. Also, the antenna does not work, so no sounds yet from my spiffy AM-only radio.
I have done a lot of cosmetic work on the car as well. First, of course, was all new tires. I chose Lesters, with a 2 1/2 inch white wall. I have had the entire interior re-upholstered, as correctly as possible. The car came with a nice, new, white roof. The color codes on the maker's plate indicate the car was triple tan originally, tan roof, tan paint and tan interior. The color looked so dowdy to me. I wanted one that sparkled. I wanted one that looked like the one I had seen in a showroom many moons ago, when I said to myself that I would have one of these beauties one day. Well, my day has come. I had it painted Turquoise. It is not, technically, a correct 1958 color, but my mind says it is - and it happens to be very close, really - and the paint on it now is fantastic. It seems to change color with the light, making the car seem new and exciting every time I see it.
I use the six or seven cars in my small fleet in rotation. I have several vintages of Lincoln, a 59 New Yorker and three 1962 Imperials. I love driving them through my small city, and everyday the residents check out what rolling piece of history I am driving. The local kids say I must have a lot of money and I tell them, yep, and you're looking at how I have invested it. The reality is I'm always kind of broke getting the many small and large things they need. I have entered all my cars in one show or another, except my 59 New Yorker, which happens to be the only non-hardtop in the bunch.
One of the things I am really looking forward to is being able to open the roof on the 1958, my only convertible. Up to now, I have been unable to, because of a defective locking mechanism. Of all places, I have acquired a functioning latch from France. Once installed, I will be able to cruise in the style it's designers intended. The car still needs many minor items. Maybe I'll never get it finished. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is that somehow this wonderful car has survived and that I have attained my dream of owning the car of my youthful heart's desire.
This page was last updated February 28, 2002. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club