NORTHERN MOPARS

​AUTO CLUB

1973 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron

Del & Jeannette Reinhart 

Although the convertible’s colour went well with her nearly white hair, it didn’t fit with her age. Then again she could have been the model for that song "Little Old Lady from Pasadena". This little old lady had to be 75 or more, about 5 foot nothing and maybe 100 pounds fully clothed in winter duds. But, as I found out when I tried negotiating price, she was somewhat tougher than a mother wildcat. Nevertheless we arrived at a deal and I now was the proud owner of an almost brand new, 18 year old daily driver. 

I drove the Imp daily for ten years becoming more attached to it each year. Somewhere in the later 1990’s I learned about Northern Mopars Car Club and joined. Associating with the grand bunch that are the club’s members allowed absorption of all kinds of information on old cars. Since I started with none everything was an improvement. 

In attempting to learn more details on the Imp’s "lineage" I contacted Chrysler Historical Collection. They informed me that "The microfilm that contained information for model years 1968 and newer was accidentally destroyed years ago". Consequently, other than knowing she is the 172,254th vehicle assembled at the Jefferson plant in Detroit, there is no specific information. The ‘little old lady’ told me it was purchased from Renfrew on ground hog day 1973.

"THE IMP"

Early in 1990 my daily driver was showing definite signs of giving up the ghost. It was a 1979 model and rust was doing its best to try to claim her.

When shopping for a newer replacement I was disappointed with those being offered. They did not ride or handle as well as my old 1979.

Although the Imp was in beautiful condition the whole heating/cooling system had to be rebuilt or replaced. The antifreeze solution and/or lack of use seemed to be dissolving every component. Also, a set of Michelin radials, an alignment and wheel balance improved the ride significantly. During 1995 the exterior was painted. That is also the year it did two tours of duty as a wedding car - for our youngest daughter and our son’s best buddy. Other than the above repairs, it is original.


SPECIFICATIONS
IMPERIAL (4-Door Hardtop) 

 - WHEELBASE............................127 inches 
 - TRACK (front)..........................62.4 inches
 - TRACK (rear)...........................63.4 inches
 - LENGTH................................253.3 inches
 - WIDTH.....................................79.6 inches
 - HEIGHT....................................56.2 inches
 - HEADROOM (front)................38.3 inches
 - HEADROOM (rear)..................37.0 inches
 - SEAT HEIGHT (front)................9.0 inches
 - SEAT HEIGHT (rear)................11.5 inches
 - LEGROOM (front)....................41.9 inches
 - LEGROOM (rear).....................41.2 inches
 - SHOULDER ROOM (front).....62.7 inches
 - SHOULDER ROOM (rear).......62.7 inches
 - KNEE ROOM (rear)...................6.9 inches

*From "Imperial for 1973" Brochure

During 2001 I acquired another big cruiser (brand x) and retired the Imp from daily duty. By 2005 the paint was showing the signs of the years so in 2007 Investment Vehicle Restoration removed some rusting spots and painted the exterior. I would have loved to redo her to showroom appearance. However, the cost to do so would never be remotely reflected in a market value.

Although she doesn’t look as good as most of your cars, I think she’s great and I love to drive her, particularly on the highway. I’ll do what I can to keep her looking decent and take her to "Show and Shines" for as long as I am able.


 PS: Yes Larry, I’m a chicken camper.

I had always liked the late 60’s and earlier 70’s vehicles, especially the big "ole" cruisers. However, at that time having a young family meant I could not afford such vehicles. So now I started reading the for-sale columns that might contain a big "ole" cruiser. There were several vehicles advertised that categorically "fit the bill" but inspections revealed mileage was very high and/or existing ailments meant too much fixing expense. 

After about a year of searching I noted a 1973 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron offered in the Herald classic cars for sale column. The ad said 26,000 miles. Wow, I thought, 18 years old and only 26,000 miles; I must see this car. 

So I ‘phoned and asked to speak to the person who had advertised the car. A little old lady’s voice said it was she, so we agreed on a time and I went to examine the "beast". It was quickly evident that it was in beautiful shape as every tell-tale item examined said the mileage was for real. As well, it seemed to have every option offered by Chrysler. The car was her late husband’s. He had been sickly for the last 10 years of his life so they hadn’t used it very much. As well he had a truck as his daily driver and she had a fire engine red convertible.