The Story of Kenyon Wills' 1970 Imperial LeBaron

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This is my 1970 Imperial LeBaron. I am calling it "All Green, All the Time."  I have a 1973 called "Imperial Margarine," and I'm trying to come up with a good name for this one, but Imperial Margarine's hard to top.

Doc Bullock

Doc Bullock

I bought this car in April 2004 from Doc Bullock. I mention his name with great respect as he is the owner of the parts stash that I have been involved in liquidating that is described in my 1960 Epic.

This car was part of Doc's collection and is one of the last cars that he has (he's down to just 2 now, from a high of 125). Doc has a large property, and there is a carport that is large enough for 4 cars, which is where I first met my 1970. Doc has all sorts of parts, and the car was covered in a thick film of the brown dust that is always present there.

Doc Bullock
The Imperial being pulled from hibernation. Notice my newest aquisition in the background; a partially restored 1916 Model T!

I had not paid the car much mind in my earlier visits, as it always seemed rough and dirty, and I figured that the paint was a goner because Doc always had a pile of metal parts on the hood in the most improper fashion possible.

Anyway, I started going through his stuff in January of 2004 and asked about the car. Turns out that it's a 1970, and that's the year of my birth. I finally asked if I could pull the car out and wash it, and he said that was just fine. I had by this point ascertained that the car was in clean condition, had 71,000 miles, and had an interior that, despite being green, was to die for.  California is quite harsh on car interiors, and only garage-kept cars are likely to have anything worth keeping.

I got the car running (chugging along on what I thought was 7 cylinders!) and took it up and washed it on the driveway. It looked pretty nice, and I started the rationalization process that allows me to spend money that I don't really have on cars that I don't really need but like very much anyway.

I returned the car to its place and left it alone for several weeks until I decided to ask and was rewarded with a price that was too good to be true, so the deal was done on the spot, and I returned the next week with payment in full.

I had to wait another week to get the car as I needed a ride out there, but in the meantime, I pulled the car out again.  This "1 minute" procedure wound up taking an hour as Doc has an orchard and is in prolonged mortal combat with the local gopher gentry. He has all sorts of traps and chemicals and gopher bombs, but none seem to work. He is 87 years old and has managed to dig 2-foot deep trenches around the 20-30 trees that he has out there. That work would kill me, but he is very focused on it.

Doc's famous Gopher holes Doc coming to the rescue This Chevy can't pull out the Imperial!

The reasons that I mention this are:

  1. That I have spent one afternoon a week around Doc, and he's always keen to show me the latest outrages that the gophers have perpetrated against his trees and plants. Doc spends at least 15 minutes a day railing against gophers to anyone that will listen, and guess who's normally available?

  2. I pulled the car out just like before, but must have pulled a little wide, as the front tire immediately plopped into this 2-foot deep ditch. I spent the better part of an hour jacking the car up and putting wood under the tires to level it enough to get it to come out. I tried pulling it with my surplus police car, but a small-block Chevy just isn't made to do that sort of work.

So I got the car out and started cleaning it up. There were at least 150 apricot pits on the top of the engine block between the AC compressor and the carburetor. Seems that someone had been using that area as their personal dining hall. It was at this time that I also learned that 3 of the 8 spark plug wires had been chewed through too. They were orange and probably looked just like apricots or something.

I replaced these wires and started the car again. It was smoking, so I resigned myself to the fact that I had a car with engine troubles that would need attention sooner or later. The engine dropped to a quiet idle, however, and I got the feeling that it just needed to be ran. I took the car out to the local carwash and was pleasantly surprised to find that the car had stopped smoking and was running very smoothly after I had driven a few miles and cleared out its throat with a little "Wide Open Throttle."

That carwash got a workout, as the brown dust was simply everywhere.

I inspected my newly cleaned and very straight looking car and discovered that the eyelids were flopping; I figured that one of Doc's other guests had used his "5-finger credit card" to remove the headlight door motor and axle. If you have an extra axle, my car would like to be your new best friend!

So I went down to get the car with a neighbor driving my 1964 Crown, and we drove the 50 miles back in happiness. The car loves the freeway!  Everything but the oil gauge works, including the cruise control, and the car takes off like a jet when you step on it. There is what seems like a 20% difference in power in this car over the 1973 that I have. 1973 was a very hard year on motors, and many point to 1971 as the last hurrah for the American performance motor due to subsequent emissions regulations.

The car is resting comfortably in the carport and will get polished and sorted with new parts as soon as I can afford the time and parts to do so.

Any car that I get that is new to me gets the following:

  • New Belts
  • New Hoses
  • New Power Steering Pressure and Return Lines
  • New Brake Cylinders
  • New Front Calipers
  • New Brake Soft Hoses
  • New Air Filter
  • New Oil & Filter Change
  • New Tires
  • Changed Trans Fluid and Filter
  • Deep Pan 727 Transmission Pan from Mopar Performance

These things will keep me from walking and are most prudent to do on any car that you're going to trust your life to, especially a 30-40 year-old car such as this one.

I also got possession of the partially restored 1916 Model T that was behind the Green Machine, and am looking forward to some fun in that car as well, but this isn't the place to go too far into that . . . but they were roommates, so I thought I'd mention it.

This page was last updated 17 December, 2004. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club