1960 Imperial Trim Removal

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1960 Imperial trim removal:

I have been asked several times about what trim on the 1960 Imperial should be removed in preparation for painting. I will list the easiest things to remove, and then the rest… A note about stainless. On all early 1960s Imperials the stainless steel was flash plated in chrome. The chrome is like a very thin wash. Be careful not to add additional scratches when handling as the chrome cannot be polished out. You can, of course, polish through the chrome to the stainless if you have damage but the color of the piece may not be the same in the end. There were numerous high-end makes that used this process to add brilliance and life to the stainless. This also made for better color transition between pot-metal elements and the stainless.


Remove headlight surrounds, 3 screws.

Tail lights, pull the bulb/plug, 3 nuts per side.

Right hand side mirror, two screws. The LH remote mirror cannot be removed, to my knowledge, without removing the fender.

Wheel-well trim/fender shields, just screwed on. I found stainless screws at Ace Hardware that were a perfect match so that’s what I use to reinstall. Always remove these pieces, they are full of dirt.

Trim at base of side glass on top of doors (on post sedans), pops right off. The pieces are retained by wire clips, pry the trim up with a stiff putty knife where you feel resistance at the clips, not between. Remove pot metal at base of vent window, 2 screws. Be very careful reinstalling the stainless as the clips will transfer right through the metal if you press too hard when installing. I think the factory used a rubber mallet so you may already see some bumps.

Rocker moldings, when present, are removed by prying up from the bottom, they just snap off. Hold on so you don’t drop them as they may pop off before you get to all the clips. The clips are screwed to the body in most cases (some pry off). I would remove the clips to clean and rust-proof them.

Remove side trim on doors, gently pry up from the bottom with a stiff, wide, putty knife and they pop right off. Try to do the prying where you feel the clips resisting and not between. Clips can be squeezed from behind to remove for cleaning and painting. Or clean and paint the clips on the body if you think you can avoid drips.

Front and rear side fender trim is pretty easy to remove. Nuts are used where accessible from the trunk and front wheel-well. Pop clips (like on the doors) were used at the ends of the trim where they are not accessible from the back side. Again, pry carefully where you feel resistance. There is a combination clip that uses a large nut to hold on both the trim and the front fender panel (just ahead of the front tire at trim level.) I HIGHLY recommend that you remove the side trim, it is not difficult, and I guarantee it is all holding a whole lot of dirt. This also gives you a chance to wire brush and paint the clips. This may also expose some surface rust on the body. The clips can be removed by squeezing from the back side or careful prying. If they break there are replacements with threaded studs available. All the side trim clips will have a lump of clay like substance pushed over the center hole to seal. See windshield trim paragraph below.

Outer flight sweep deck lid ring has sheet-metal nuts, easy, the inner ring is pot metal and you will lose those pins in a heartbeat. Don't remove if you don't have to. If the ring needs re-chroming and you break the pins, pot metal workers can usually drill the piece and insert threaded rod.

Tap off the door edge guards, if you have them, with a block of wood.


The chrome spears on top of the fins are always clean underneath and it takes a real contortionist to get them off. If your arm is 50" long it’s no problem getting to that front nut. I would leave them on if doing a driver quality paint job. The fin reflectors are held on with one nut.

Remove wipers using a socket. I use two small flat head screwdrivers, held in tandem, to remove the bezels. This also works for some dash knob bezels. Or, make a tool by grinding out the center of a putty knife to span the center post.

The trim on the side of the windshield just unscrews and the lower windshield trim just pops off. I would remove these just to get the dirt out and rust proof the clips at the base of the windshield. If you have the headliner out you can remove the windshield header chrome via a few nuts. Be SURE to seal all holes when reinstalling. I use 3-M strip caulk available from Eastwood Supply. The pieces on each side of the windshield also need to be sealed with rope caulk, just watch for the original stuff when removing the parts and you’ll know where to re-apply it. All the side trim clips had a lump of this clay like substance pushed over the center hole to seal. Roof trim is self explanatory, just a number of nuts. The roof trim and pot metal sail panel “vents” were sealed using white sheet foam “washers”. I was able to find the foam at a surplus store and cut my own replacements.

Exterior trim around rear windows. Unscrew interior trim. Then there are a few nuts that retain the exterior trim, mainly the outboard pieces. The two top and bottom pieces of trim can be popped off from the outside edge. These have the same clips used at the windshield. There will undoubtedly be some rusted ones. Arizona salvage yards seem to be the only source. All clip suppliers tell me they have not been available in years.

All trim on the hood is just held on by nuts, the hood bar and the hood ornament. None of this is difficult, however, the pins on the pot metal hood split are very fragile so use care.

To remove the headlight brow moldings, carefully pry out the plastic emblems. This will expose two screws. Remove the screws and the nuts that are accessible from the fender-well. It does take a bit of a reach. I always use silicone to re-glue the emblems. They stay stuck but can be pried off again. I have yet to break one. However, the backing will have to be repainted each time. This sounds strange but I have found that a couple passes with a red and a blue Sharpie marker work great, then spray the back with silver.

The pieces that angle up from the front wheel-well are held on with nuts and a screw at the leading edge over the headlights. Most of these nuts will come out with the threaded stud attached, versus the nut coming off of the stud. The two short chrome bars that are left and right of the bottom hood bar can be carefully pried off. They have a threaded rod that is pushed through a sheet-metal clip. This clip is almost never re-usable. Use a nut and washer to re-install.

The air intakes at the base of the windshield are a little difficult. First remove the center cover bar. Pry up carefully using a gentle rocking motion. Try not to pry from the glass side but the hood side. The piece has a pot metal pin that may break off. This is one case where I condone silicone adhesive in reinstalling, should the pin break. It is retained by a sheet metal clip that rusts and then undermines the pin. Now easy, there is one screw under the center cover and the two chrome trim screws at the outboard ends. Aluminum grills are always like new with a little scrubbing using a nylon brush.

Remove trim over rear bumper. These are all attached with nuts accessible from the trunk. There is a screw at the bottom end of each outrigger. The problem here is that most of the clips will not be reusable. The tension springs will be rotted off. They are available from numerous resources. Gas door and trim is self explanatory.

The grill is retained by nuts in the engine compartment and front fender-wells.


All the rear I M P E R I A L letters, and C R O W N fender letters are held on with small cylindrical push clips. Most can be very carefully tapped out from the back side if necessary and then pried out the rest of the way. Use careful, slow prying, from all directions. Remove RH antenna access panel in the fender-well to get to the back side of the RH fender letters. This is nearly the most difficult thing I would recommend doing. The hardest part is not gauging the letters with the knife. The trunk valance letters are accessible from the trunk. I use a large flat ¼” punch to slowly tap the pins out. You have to aim through the access holes below the inside deck lid opening. However, if you don't hit the pin straight you can easily break it off. These cylindrical push clips are readily available/re-usable. On the Crown fender letters there is a small secondary pin that keeps them from rotating. The push clips on the back must be up tight enough for the second pin to be bearing in the hole upon reinstallation.

Rear fender crowns are retained the same way, carefully tap two pins, alternately, from inside the trunk.

Stainless roof panel inserts. If they are not welded then just rock them out from under the drip rail moldings. If they are welded, good luck! It will take patience and careful use of cut-off wheels and they will not likely be usable if removed. They originally had a fabric backing for anti-rattle. I use vinyl screen door screen attached to the back of the stainless with 3-M spray adhesive. I use silicone along the top edge leaving the front and bottom open to breathe.

Most difficult of all is if you have to remove the drip rail moldings for rust repair. Using a block of wood, hammer the whole thing straight off. Do not try running anything, especially a putty knife, down the length of the trim. The trim has to be taken straight off or it will corkscrew. I panicked and ruined my first pair. If you have a parts car, practice on that. I take absolutely no responsibility regarding this procedure!

If you have your door panels off you can pop off the door handle rods and the handles are secured with two nuts each.

That’s all Folks!

This page was last updated September 13, 2011. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club