1960 Imperial Custom

by Donn Reese & David Nolta; Anchorage, Alaska

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April, 2006

Here is the 1960 Imperial Custom that I bought from a friend of mine. He purchased it from a lady here in Anchorage in 1996. From the registrations left in the glove box I�ve found that an H. L. Plummer in Richland, WA owned it as far back as 1978. From his signature on the registrations I�d say he was an elderly gentleman who may have passed away in 1984 or so for that is when it is registered in Alaska to Daulphin Plummer, perhaps his son. 

The car was originally a light blue; I haven�t looked up the code yet. It appears to have been repainted (poorly) between 1987 and 1990 as the color specification on the registration changes between those years -- it doesn�t appear to have been registered every year.

The car had to be moved by wrecker to my place as it had been sitting for the past five or six years. The tires reinflated and are still holding, about the only thing that�s given me a break. The car looked kind of rough when it first hit my driveway but a good scrubbing made a big difference. The door panels also look a lot better after I removed them for a good cleaning. The fabric inserts below the armrests have not held up well, however.

 A tree from a neighboring lot fell on the car a few years ago causing the dent in the fin and denting in the roof. My friend was able to pop the roof back up but in so doing the headliner was ripped up pretty bad so he just removed it. It�s sickening as the body was straight and original up until then. The neighbors had no insurance and weren�t even apologetic. Their house burned down a year later... electrical fire, not my friend�s fault.

A previous owner replaced the right hand instrument pod with lovely looking modern gauges. He also seemed to think that blue tape was a good fix for dashes and sun visors. I managed to get the visors cleaned up they look nearly new.

You can see the after market A/C sitting on the driveline hump. Neither the compressor nor the A/C fan works at present. I�m undecided about leaving it in the car, it will depend upon how much work it takes to repair the system.

There are a lot of little things wrong with the car, switches broken, a few parts missing. Almost as if at some point it was being used as a parts car. But enough parts aren�t missing for that to be completely true.

So far I have most of the windows working and the engine running. It started fairly easily and runs very smooth (95,000+ miles).  I put in a new fuel pump and master cylinder and bled the brakes. It will stop now but the transmission won�t drive -- no forward motion, but it goes like the wind in reverse. The transmission shop is the next stop and hopefully then it will get on the road.

We had a late snow this year, May 1. It stuck to the colder stuff like cars and lawns but was gone by 10a.m. I thought it looked rather nice on the car.

There�s a lot of work to go but I�m enjoying having an Imperial again (I had a �62 LeBaron many years ago) and this is one of my favorite body styles.

I�ll try to post more photos and story as things progress.

(Click on any small image to view a larger image.)

Getting Unloaded

Will it Start?

Cleaned up Pretty Good!

After-Market A/C Under Hood

Missing the Headliner

Imperial Custom Interior

October, 2006
Below are a few new pictures after getting the car on the road, which turned out to be an all-summer deal waiting for funds and time to work on it.

The transmission had to be rebuilt and I was able to find a local mechanic who knew what he was doing with older Torqueflites while not charging an outrageous amount.

While the car was on the rack for the transmission I was able to make a detailed inspection of the undercarriage. Fortunately it's all still in good condition, to problems that I could find even after sitting in the dirt for five years.

I replaced the valve cover gaskets, cleaning the covers up as best I could for now. I got most of the sludge off at least. I'll do a more detailed cleaning when I decide how far to take the restoration.

The alternator seemed iffy so I ended up replacing that. The new alternator came with a different sized pulley wheel so that necessitated replacing the belts, which meant I had to take the belts off for the water pump and after-market A/C. I ended up pulling out the A/C compressor (it wasn't working anyway) and cleaned all the extra hoses out of the engine compartment. With the compressor out I was able to better check the power steering fluid and adjust the tension for that belt which solved a periodic squeal in the steering.

I drove the car around town a bit and was getting more comfortable with it so we took it on an outing to dinner in a small town thirty miles South of Anchorage. We stopped at the Bird Creek parking area for a few pictures, then went on to Girdwood for dinner. The Imperial ran great the entire time and enticed several smiles and a few waves from other drivers.

The next day I took it on a forty mile trip North to see Dan's 1967 Crown Coupe. Again the car ran fine. However the following Monday it wouldn't start (I've been having trouble getting it started all along) and it hasn't moved since. I suspect the points/distributor/carb is messed up. As winter was coming anyway I decided to let it sit until it warms up here again. But it will be on the road again in a few months hopefully.

(Click on any small image to view a larger image.)

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