1966 Imperial LeBaron

Sold, May 2010!

 Very nice California black-plate survivor 

114,000 miles, records show to be original

Always in Los Angeles area

New "Green Hornet" movie used 29 '64-'66 Imperials to make the Black Beauty- see May 2010 "Hot Rod" magazine.  Good Imperials are now more rare!


Beautiful chrome and stainless trim.  Both bumpers and grill replaced with better items

Regal Blue (metallic) paint is old but shines well and looks impressive. Car probably had vinyl top which was taken off long ago and possibly the car was repainted 25+ years ago.  There were 6-8 areas on passenger side where paint was bad or peeling when I got the car, which I re-painted. There is a color mismatch which normally is not noticed, but easily seen when pointed out.

The protector strips are from a prior owner. If I were keeping the car, I'd take those off and only repaint both sides

Excellent glass and trunk


Very nice original interior, headliner (4 small tears), newer rear package shelf

Dash is mint - no cracks 

Carpet and door panels are very good with newer, custom made carpet mats front and rear

All leather is original and very nice "pearlescent" blue, except driver's seat, which has been re-dyed with Leatherique. All leather was completely cleaned and treated with Prestine Clean and Rejuvinator oil - the best products I've ever used!

Extra original leather, exactly correct, to replace the driver's seat included. Passenger seat needs new foam.

All windows work, except vent windows need new flex cables and passenger side rear window only works with the local switch

Cruise control (disconnected), very nice steering wheel, trunk release, AM/FM search radio  w/floor selector 

Original interior walnut was re-finished and looks great

3-point seat and shoulder belts


Very strong 440 V8 - no major engine work during my ownership.  Very nice engine bay, and newer hood liner

Same for transmission, which has very slow leak.

All lights work

A/C works perfectly and is cold! 

Exhaust was replaced when I got car and is still very good

Tires new about 4 years ago, Kumho 235x70x15 (should be "75"), all give an excellent ride

Rear springs re-arched and shocks replaced

Power steering (newer pump, recent slight leak), power brakes, power seats, power antenna, power door locks, power windows and vent wing windows


One wheel, 3 wheel covers (1967 or later), instrument cluster, original seatbelts, original antenna, several square feet of blue, pearlescent leather, new fuel pump


Photos at:


and more are coming!

Call 818-233-0262 

or send e-mail to me at:


At 2010 Spring Fling, Woodley Park.  Trophy winner!

Bob Schmitt's 1966 Imperial LeBaron

1966 Imperial LeBaron History

I acquired this 1966 Imperial LeBaron on April 1, 1995 and now am probably the third "true" owner. It has a complete history with three families in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. It had 95,000 miles when I purchased it.  It wasn't love at first sight. I knew very little about Imperials when I first saw it - not even where "LeBaron" was in the model hierarchy! I had visualized an Imperial possibly with fins or at least pod headlights. The driving test was smooth and I was sold by the view over the hood to the "eagle" crest. After a little persuasion, I bought the car from my friends in Santa Barbara, Bob Sponsel and Patricia Chidlaw. Patricia's grandparents (John and Ester Chidlaw) were the second owners of the Imperial and it had spent most of its life with her grandfather and grandmother in the Village Trailer Park, (2930 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica). After they passed away, Patricia inherited the car and moved it to Santa Barbara.

Bob Schmitt and Patrica Sponsel, 1966 Imperial LeBaron - Blue Room, 1998

Patricia Chidlaw, me and the Imperial, on an overcast day in front of the Blue Room, San Fernando Road, Burbank.  Patricia's painting of the Blue Room was bought by the owner of the bar and hangs proudly inside!  For more about Patricia's work, click here!

While staying with Bob and Patricia during the weekend of purchase, I scrubbed the Imperial  and started polishing the paint - turning small sections of the "matte blue" into Regal Blue. It looked promising.  Cleaning continued on the paint, chrome, leather, interior and trunk. During 1995, numerous cosmetic and small mechanical items were fixed - hoses, air conditioning, torn leather, sagging driver's seat, etc. That October, I bought a much improved rear bumper and installed it in the seller's (Dr. Mike Bullock) driveway. I also acquired other parts from him at the same time - an antenna, headlight covers, headrests (not the correct ones), a service manual, leather for patching worn and torn seats, etc.

On the first long trip in October 1995, one front wheel developed cracks and leaks. The other front wheel cracked on a November 1995 trip to Las Vegas. I later bought four used wheels from Dr. Mike and now have a few in reserve.

One interesting project was installing shoulder belts for the front seats. I noticed a "ring fitting" in the middle of the roof mounted grab handle. Removing the chrome trim (for cleaning and sewing headliner tears) revealed a factory mounting hole for the fitting, but also a dealer-cut hole for access to the securing nut. Belts in 1966 were probably a dealer-installed option. I bought new fittings and had shoulder/lap belts made by Deist Safety (Glendale). The driver's side belt was easily installed and gave a feeling of great security. An access hole for the passenger's side was later cut in the inner roof panel and shoulder/lap belts installed for that side.

During 1996, the Imperial got several new mounts, a muffler, and brakes all around. The valve cover gaskets were replaced for the fourth time. Previous, partially correct work and other problems were fixed and the car seemed to be in good mechanical condition.

Late in 1996, the rear springs were restored by Hollywood Spring & Axle and new Gabriel shocks were installed. This greatly improved the ride and "attitude". After seeing restored 1966 hubcaps on another Imperial, I was inspired to take mine apart.  12 - 16 hours of cleaning have made a big difference. This is a great low-cost project for a rainy weekend.

Most of the paint looks to be still original and has polished up well, but the right side of the car had several area of strange "missing" paint and pock marks - one theory is that it was blasted with a shotgun! These spots were first touched up with paint which Bob Sponsel had mixed in Santa Barbara, but it was too light. Another mix from a San Diego paint shop to the original paint specifications in spray cans, was too dark. A third mix, done "by eye", is still slightly too dark! I'll eventually try again. All of these paints are acrylic enamel, which even from spray cans gives good results after wet sanding and polishing.

The seats got a complete "Leatherique" oil treatment in 1999 and the driver's cushion was dyed to cover the cracks and worn leather. My supply of good, used leather will eventually recover this cushion. In 2001, very nice carpet mats from ACC were installed.

Shortly after acquiring this Imperial, I visited a Imperial owners statewide meet in Oxnard, California.  I thought my car was too rough to enter, but the other owners at the meet were quite interesting.  I then joined the "local" club, the Southern California Imperial Owners, Inc.  Since that time, I've been to six more annual statewide meets in Paso Robles, Sonora, Deer Park (near Lawrence Welk Village, Escondido), Visalia, Modesto and Solvang. Until recently, not many '66's have been bought to these meets, so the Imp now has four first-in-class awards, one second place and one honorable mention!

As good Imperialists know, the 1966 Imperial is the first year of the 440 engine and the last year of the separate body and frame. It also has a full-width grill, covered headlights (with gold surround trim on the glass), full wood on the dash, hubcaps similar to a '67 and a trunk "bulge" that is more squared-off when compared to the '64-'65.

Although every Imperial owner has favorite years and models, I think the 1966 is a good compromise between a "classic old car" and a real, "use it every day in every way" type car. The Imperial is firmly in my driving rotation - it's a unique pleasure every time I fire it up and drive it away.

As with any 44+ year old car, there are many tasks left to do, but it seems like "The Blue Baron" deserves this attention! I think we'll stick together for many future adventures.

Bob Schmitt