Robert Louis Brezout's 1961 "Shriner" Imperial Crown Convertible

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IML Member Philippe Courant of France was kind enough to share these photos and story of his friends' beautiful 1961 Imperial Crown.


The car's owners, Robert Louis Brezout and Guy Equille of France, performed an amazing 4-year restoration, using many N.O.S. parts, to bring this car up to true #1 condition.  Despite its better than showroom condition, this Imperial is no "trailer queen", as Robert Louis and Guy both enjoy driving it regularly.



One of 23 "Shriner" Imperials for 1961

Not only is this '61 a gorgeous and fully-equipped Imperial Crown Convertible, it is also one of the rare and desirable "Shriner" cars.  Here is what Robert Louis has learned of the car's history:

In the USA as well as in Canada and in Mexico, the Shriners from the "American Shrine" charity has always taken care of disabled children and, more recently, of burn victims. There, medical care is free for all children up to the age of 18. In the '50s a group of 23 Great Donors dealt with this association.

Each year from 1957 through 1968, the 23 Presidents of the "American Shrine" flew to Detroit, to the head office of the Chrysler-Imperial division, in order to take possession of the new Imperial Convertible model produced. They wanted their 23 cars to be identically equipped, with the same color schemes and complete with all available options and accessories. Such an important yearly order was the object of the utmost care from the Chrysler group Managers who had these 23 cars especially manufactured for the Shrine Presidents. Known in the USA as "Imps of Omaha", those cars were, since that time, soon sought after and collected.

Once they had taken delivery of their new convertible, the 23 Presidents went to Omaha, Nebraska, headquarters of the "American Shrine". Then they would embark on a fundraising campaign, traveling through the country in a line of shiny brand new Imperials, organizing well-publicized events. In every town they were met by enthusiastic crowds gathered to attend their parades, their huge barbecue parties, their coast-to-coast events and concerts featuring famous singers. After 1968, Imperial ceased convertible production. The "American Shrine" Presidents then turned to Cadillac and Ford....

In 1961, the color scheme chosen by the 23 Presidents was an "Alaskan white" body with a white soft top with pink piping, and a metallic salmon-pink leather upholstery with white piping. Just like the 22 other "Imps of Omaha" purchased that year, this convertible was ordered from Mr. F. M. Briley, president of the Briley Motor Company of Omaha. VIN is 921410 2299.

Its first owner was the "Shriner Potentate" from the Minneapolis region. The handing over of the keys of the 23 cars took place the same day, at the same time, on Monday, October 3rd, 1960, at the Chrysler-Imperial headquarters in Detroit. For 19 years this convertible was part of the stable of cars owned by Nebraska collector Alvin Krenzien, who always possessed a great number of these "Imps of Omaha". It then belonged to a businessman in New York, and later went down to Florida with his fourth owner. In March, 1998 I purchased it at the Kruse auction in Auburn, Indiana, where it was certified as an authentic "Shriner" Imperial. The car arrived in France in May, 1998, in poor condition--but I had an authentic "Imp of Omaha".  Its frame-off restoration began in February, 1999 and was completed in the spring of 2002. Presented in June, 2002 at the "Bagatelle Concours d'Elegance", its body style and restoration won the "Boldness Grand Prix".



Frame - sand blasted, phosphate coated, aluminized, epoxy painted by cataphoresis

Wheels, Rear Axle and Suspension were sand blasted, phosphate coated, aluminized, black and grey epoxy painted (original colors) and rebuilt with NOS Mopar parts

Engine and Transmission were rebuilt with NOS Mopar parts and painted with matching factory colors

Power Steering and Pump were rebuilt with NOS Mopar parts

Brakes were overhauled, drums turned with new brake shoes

Wiring Harness replaced

Power Top mechanism renewed with NOS Mopar parts

Body Work and Paint - renewed with 50% new sheet metal. Fenders and all removable parts were disassembled, sand blasted, leaded and painted body color. Top bows were painted "salmon pink" as original. Top links were plated. Some dash pieces were painted "Russet" as original.

Upholstery - All the doors and seat upholstery have been redone - new leather was tinted "salmon pink metallic" as original.  Rubber parts are NOS Mopar or remanufactured in the USA (Gary Goers).

Miscellaneous - moldings were polished or plated - all bolts and screws were galvanized. RCA 45 rpm and automatic headlamp dimmer were overhauled in USA.


Original Equipment

  • "Golden Touch" Radio with power antenna

  • "Mirror-matic" Rear View Mirror - automatically dims when headlights approach from the rear

  • "Airtemp" Air Conditioning with "Solex" tinted glass

  • Automatic Headlamp Dimmer - automatically switches from brights to low beams when approaching oncoming cars

  • "Auto Pilot" automatic speed control

  • Dual Outside Mirrors - remote-controlled driver side

  • "Flite-Sweep" decklid with simulated spare tire trim

  • Wide White Wall tires

  • All other standard Imperial power luxury features, including power steering, power brakes, power windows, and power front seat.  About the only option that the Shriners didn't order this year was swivel seats!

  • Other accessories (not ordered in 1961 but available from the dealer): RCA 45 rpm record changer phonograph, General Electric inspection lamp and General Electric electric car jack.




This page was last updated December 14, 2002. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club