1968 Chrysler Imperial Crown Convertible - SOLD
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  • Overview & History
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The 1968 Imperials seem to hold a special place in collectors’ hearts and with just 474 being built in that final year, the Imperial Crown convertible is a very special car indeed.

Like Lincoln’s Continental brand, there was a time when Imperial was separate from Chrysler, representing the top-of-the-line in luxury and exclusivity. With the goal being a car that was a match for the world’s finest, Chrysler’s Imperials were standard-bearers for Mopar enthusiasts and buyers who appreciated a little verve from their luxury machines. But by the late 1960s, the writing was on the wall for bespoke full-sized luxury cruisers, and in 1969, the Imperial became simply an option package rather than a unique model. The end of an era for Chrysler’s finest luxury cars. As a result of all this, however, the 1968 Imperials seem to hold a special place in collectors’ hearts and with just 474 being built in that final year, the Imperial Crown convertible is a very special car indeed.

This particular Imperial Crown convertible is a one-owner car from a significant collection. Yes, it was purchased new as a daily driver, but by the early ‘70s it had already been retired, replaced by a new Cadillac, and it was used as a fair-weather toy after that. It has never been fully restored or refinished, although it has been freshened as needed—a paint job in the early 1990s, new upholstery on the front seats, recent exhaust, shocks, and tires, new carburetor, rebuilt A/C system, and most importantly, a fully rebuilt engine and transmission that were finished in 2015 by noted engine builder Frank Seme and Sons. If you want a heavy cruiser that’s ready for a road trip adventure, you’ll scarcely do better than this.

Today, this Imperial Crown ragtop offers an appealing combination of functionality and good looks, far from perfect but ideal for the enthusiast who wants to drive rather than show. The paint is a match for the original code RR Burgundy Metallic and while even the respray is now approaching its 30th birthday, it remains shiny and lustrous. There are a few minor signs of use and age, of course, but as a car that was never rusty or wrecked, the sheetmetal underneath remains in excellent condition. And that’s especially important on a car with mile-long quarter panels and clean, unadorned styling. The only issue of note is some bubbling on the driver’s lower rocker panel, but we do not believe this is a rust problem as everything around and behind it is completely solid—it is almost certainly a prep issue from the repaint. Beyond that, the chrome is original and in good overall condition and all the unique lenses and trim pieces are intact so you won’t have to hunt for any bits of unobtainium (important on a very rare car like this).

The black leather interior features a split bench that resembles bucket seats, giving the Imperial a bit of a sporting flavor that its competitors might have been lacking. It was also beautifully outfitted in black leather with real wood panel on the dash and a long list of comfort and convenience features. The wide dash is a beautiful piece of ‘60s design that accentuates straight lines and minimal ornamentation, so much so that even the AM/FM radio is hidden under a matching door in the center of the dash. Features include functional A/C, power windows, power seats, and a fairly comprehensive array of gauges for the driver. That skinny steering wheel is a beautiful work of Mopar art and it allows you to guide the car with little more than a fingertip in traditional American luxury fashion. Of note, the front seat upholstery was replaced a few years ago, and they accurately replicated the factory patterns and style, so it blends right in. The back seat, which was seldom used, remains original and in very good condition with only moderate signs of age. Everything works except the power antenna and the clock, and a few years ago a fresh black power convertible top was installed, which folds easily into the well where it’s hidden by a matching black boot. The cavernous trunk offers enough space for all your luggage, as well as a full-sized spare tire and jack assembly, and no signs of rust issues underneath.

The only engine available in the Imperial Crown convertible was also Chrysler’s biggest: a 440 cubic inch V8 rated at 350 horsepower and an earth-moving 480 pounds of torque. Like most of Chrysler’s big block engines, it’s impeccably smooth and the torque moves it like a turbine with barely perceptible shifts from the TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission. Of note, the rebuilt engine has about 7000 miles on it, and the rebuild was comprehensive so there’s another 50 years of enjoyment waiting under the hood. A fresh Carter 4-barrel carburetor means it starts easily and idles smoothly with a mellow burble from the fresh muffler out back. You will note that the engine was neatly detailed with new corporate turquoise engine enamel, and other than a few modern components for the rebuilt A/C system, it remains as the factory made it. Things like belts, hoses, fuel pump, master cylinder, water pump, and some of the wiring were replaced so mechanically this car is extremely fit. The big engine pulls the equally massive convertible around as if it weighs 1000 pounds less than it does and does it with barely a whisper. This is not a muscle car, but luxury in the traditional sense.

Underneath you’ll find a very clean undercarriage, and the lack of structural rust is important on a unit-body car like the Imperial. The aforementioned TorqueFlite was rebuilt along with the engine, the brakes were rebuilt, and there are new components on the front end, so it tracks straight and steers well. Chrysler’s torsion bar suspension was one of their better ideas and combined with the new-for-1968 power front disc brakes with giant 4-piston calipers, this is a big car that feels competent on the road without being mushy. The floors are solid, the trunk extensions and quarter panels are original, and an electric fuel pump with bypass was added to help prime the big carburetor after periods of inactivity (this was a collector car that was used sparingly for much of its life). 2.94 gears out back make this a fantastic highway cruiser and the big torque of the 440 means it never feels like it’s working very hard at all. The gas tank was cleaned and sealed a few years ago and it sits on fresh 235/75/15 wide whitewall radials from Diamondback Classic that make a huge difference in ride and handling.

Extras include a factory service manual and the original carburetor.

A great alternative to the much more common Cadillac convertibles of the period and a great find for the Mopar fan looking to add a little luxury to his muscle car stable. Not a perfect car but great for casual shows and cruising, offering just the right combination of handsome good looks and condition that mean you’ll always have admirers but you’ll never worry about them getting too close. And we can almost guarantee you’ll never park next to another one at shows. Traditional American luxury, Chrysler style. Call today!

Harwood Motors recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections on any car in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1968 Chrysler Imperial Crown Convertible
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 116108
Mileage: 7308
VIN: YM27K8C297918
Engine: 440 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 2.94
Wheelbase: 127 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 235/75/15 whitewall radial
Exterior Color: Burgundy
Interior Color: Black leather
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