Ed Trenn's 1964 Imperial Crown Coupe

Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1964 -> Ed Trenn

Sixteen years with my 1964 Imperial Crown Coupe, by Ed Trenn

I'm an Imperial fanatic who was "converted" to the fold. I remember as a teenager reading a luxury car comparison (Imperial, Rolls-Royce, Cadillac, Lincoln and Jaguar) in an old Popular Mechanics. At the time, I thought the '65 Imperial looked odd from the back; its bulging decklid and propeller-like bumper didn't appeal to me at all.

Ten years later, I rode along to a Pennsylvania Imperial club car show in a friend's '65 Crown. The Crown was quiet and comfortable, and I began to appreciate its crisp lines and relatively restrained use of chrome on all the Imperials. I was hooked! Even that '65 tail end looked better to me. When I could afford an Imperial to grace my garage in 1992, I purchased a 1964 Crown Coupe.

I bought my Crown Coupe from a young Virginia man who was selling five or six Imperials, all basically parts cars. This 1964 Coupe looked complete, but needed in my zeal to adopt this neglected orphan, I ignored the incorrect hubcaps (from 1966, inexplicably with painted centers matching the Royal Ruby exterior), the frayed and mismatched upholstery (aqua checkered in front, pinstripe black + white in back), the questionable mechanicals, and paint so badly faded that no buffing would revive it. On the plus side, it was basically rust-free and reasonably priced. A classic case of, "If I had known then..."

My brother followed me in his car as I drove the Coupe home and he noticed a rear wheel wobbling and fluid dripping from beneath the car. I got home safely, but I walked in the door and promptly got sick to my stomach. This diamond-in-the-rough needed LOTS of polish. After replacing the power steering pump and fixing the wobbly wheel, the cooling system needed work. Then the driver's door latch gave out on a curve, swinging the door out and putting a big crease in the front fender. Bungee cords kept it closed. Then the brakes failed when a line blew. (THAT was fun--careening off a highway before I realized I had no brakes.) When the brakes were done, the power windows failed, and then the exhaust system, the carrier bearing, the radiator, the transmission... in short, everything that coud be worn out has been replaced.

But I was able to find the correct hubcaps. I disassembled them and polished every nook and cranny; they drew people's eyes away from the faded paint. At the point of total frustration, my vanity plates arrived by mail. As with most states, I had submitted several choices. Since Imperials were the choice of the banker in the TV series, "The Beverly Hillbillies," I tried a variation of the last name, Drysdale. One choice was DRYSDAL. The State of Virginia added another humiliation to the list. The license plates read, "DAYSDAL."

In my large condo building, a couple of neighbors would pass the Imperial when driving to their parking space. "Look at the shiny hubcaps," one would say as they rounded the corner. "DAYSDAL," the other would read sadly as they passed the rear bumper. "Poor Ed!"

By now you must be wondering why I kept the car for sixteen years. I have several reasons. First off, it's an Imperial. Even needing a paint job and mechanical work, the lines of the car are classic. Coupes are rare and attractive, with unusual and stylish interiors. Also, my Imperial-owning friends are a wonderful source of advice and help. My Chicago friends even located a parts car, helping me strip it of all useful pieces. All of us shared the mechanical parts over the years. (A parts car is great comfort when you drive such a rare beast.) Other friends helped install its beautiful black leather interior into my Coupe when the bodywork and repaint was completed. My partner generously paid for the paint job and has listened patiently to every ongoing tales of mechanical woe, which certainly made it easier on me. And Virginia antique car plates superceded the vanity plates and didn't require explanation of their meaning.

Trenn Coupe 2008 Trenn Coupe 2008 rear

Eventually, though, other 1964 Imperials were added to my fleet and I needed to let the Coupe go. High gas prices and an indifference towards full size Mopars made it difficult to find a buyer, so in mid 2008 it was sold on eBay and shipped to a new owner in Sweden, who will hopefully enjoy it for years to come.

Trenn Coupe front Trenn Coupe interior

General info on 1964 Crown Coupes:

Crown Coupe in 1964 was aimed at the Thunderbird "personal car" market, but it was far too large, despite its similar roofline. This roofline matched the LeBaron, with its smaller rear window. The exterior design (by Elwood Engel, creator of the 1961 Lincoln Continental) adapted successful Lincoln styling features to the existing Imperial chassis, using elements like the split grill, forward slanting fenders, and distinctive taillights to give Imperial a unique look. The strong 413 engine, curved side glass, panoramic windshield, pushbutton Torqueflite, gloveboxes in the doors, and excellent torsion-bar suspension were signature features carried over from the Exner era.

Coupe interiors had unusual detailing on the seats; the cushions were one solid, flat piece of cloth or leather; seatbacks featured two simple, rectangular seatback cushions above a single rectangular bottom cushion. A strip of trim, attached below the uppermost seatback cushion, bisected the lower back cushion and the seat's bottom, giving it the appearance of an airliner seat. The passenger seat also reclined, and the rear continued the trendy bucket seat look when the center armrest was lowered.