noise and vibration - You should not feel any vibration when your
air conditioning compressor comes on, only a slight drop in RPM. If there
is vibration and noise, do not immediately assume your compressor is at
fault. Tighten all the mounting bolts associated with your
compressor. If you find they were already tight, don’t give up. 9 times
out of 10 the source of vibration will be your alternator brackets. Oddly
enough, I have discovered that the lower mounting bolt on the
alternator is most often the primary cause of any compressor vibration
and dancing fan belts. Be sure this bolt is tightened securely and your
vibration problem will quite likely disappear.
Fanbelts - Be certain you are using the correct length belts
- the shorter the belt the less chance for vibration. If your parts
counter person cannot find a specific fan belt listing for your Imperial,
do not assume the equivalent year Chrysler with the same sized engine used
the same alternator-A/C belts. They did not. The Chrysler Parts Manual
gives the same alternator-A/C fan belt part number for the equivalent year
Dodge or Plymouth with a 361 or 383 engine w/ AC. For whatever reason, a
longer length belt is used on all Chryslers!
Decals - Several years ago I took my ‘66 LeBaron to Jim
Osborn Reproductions in Lawrenceville, Ga. and had all the decals
reproduced in the engine compartment and the trunk. The reproductions are
superb and provide a wonderful finishing touch to your restoration
efforts. Call for a catalog at 770-962-7556. (P.S. Some of these decals
are not yet listed in his catalogs so don’t assume it doesn’t exist if
you don’t see a listing. Call and ask!)
NOS / NORS parts - It is surprising how many Imperial
mechanical parts are carried by purveyors such as Year One, Inc.
Unfortunately, their catalogs rarely indicate that fact. However, a little
investigation reveals that a surprisingly large amount of their inventory
is also used by Imperials. Thus, all Imperial owners would do well to
acquire a Chrysler Parts Manual for their year Imperial and see which
Plymouth or Dodge muscle car used the same mechanical bits -- and order
accordingly. My favorite Year One item is an NOS Chrysler Trunk Release
Kit (about $32.00) It is a simple MoPar bolt-on kit quite similar to the
original Imperial factory unit - except for the lack of the black plastic
shroud that fits over the solenoid in the trunk and a slightly different
release button. I also like the Year One NOS-style hose clamp kits, tan
distributor caps, spark plug wire grommets, and reproduction black
Chrysler oil filters. Order the Year One MoPar catalog at 770-493-6568.
Parts Manual Revelations - Another advantage to having
a Chrysler Parts Manual is the many odd discoveries you make regarding
interchangeability. One of the more unusual discoveries I’ve made
concerns the rear bumper. Rear bumper pieces take a real beating on
Imperials of this era and as a result I had to replace virtually every
piece of trim on mine. I encountered a real problem when I started looking
for back-up lights and lens on my ‘66. Then I discovered that the
vulnerable back-up light housings and lenses for a ‘66 Imperial are the
same parts numbers as those used on a 1965 Dodge Monaco. When I switched
to looking for Dodge backup lights I got immediate results and found an
inexpensive NOS set the same day.
Another interchange I discovered is that the fragile brushed aluminum
"propeller" appliqués are the same for 1964 and 1966 Imperials.
(1965 used much more sturdy and attractive 2-piece diecast inserts.)
A Parts Manual for your year Imperial will soon become indispensable. You
will soon recognize that parts numbers tend to reflect the year of initial
manufacture. New part numbers appeared approximately as follows:
1960 - 2000 000 and up, 1961 - 2100 000 and up, 1962 - 2200 000 and up;
and so forth through the mid- sixties. Thus, if your 1965 Imperial needs
part number 2036 453, the numerically low part number means it is very
likely that the part was used on all Imperials (and sometimes Chryslers)
from about 1960 through 1965. This broadens the number of available parts
Pinging - Many Imperials have this problem with today’s
lower quality gas. If the timing is correctly set -or even backed off a
couple of degrees - and 93 octane gas is used and pinging still occurs on light
acceleration, it is often due to a tired distributor vacuum advance.
(Pinging under heavy acceleration is usually the result of
incorrect initial timing.) These vacuum advance units are rather unusual
because they are strongly spring-loaded to give minimal advance.
Little advance is needed because at 10-12 degrees BTDC (depending on the
model year) the initial timing is already pretty far advanced. After 30
years of use the advance springs can start to weaken and the result is
excessive vacuum advance. This will bring on pinging during light
Clean Air Package cars and later 440’s retarded the initial timing
setting by a full 17degrees (!) and used much more vacuum advance to
compensate. This later-style vacuum advance is the only one typically
still available, and is likely to be installed in any replacement
distributor you might acquire.
Year One sells correct NORS vacuum advances. Check the distributor part
number in your Parts Manual and order accordingly. Another solution is to
install a Chrysler Electronic Ignition Conversion Kit. This is a wonderful
bolt-on factory retrofit unit that is visually identical to the original
distributor and has the advantage of an adjustable vacuum advance.
I set mine on the minimum setting and have not had any pinging trouble
since. (Note: that is until I began having recurring trouble with toasted
"brains", so be sure to mount your control module in a cool
location. Electronic ignition systems also require a strong charging
system, a consistent 12.5V and above - even at idle. Chronic low voltage
conditions - stop and go traffic with lights and A/C on - can also cause
the "brain" to fry. Be sure your battery, alternator, and
voltage regulator are in peak working condition before installing an
Shock Absorbers - These are now available from Gabriel and
KYB for the 1964-66 Imperial. Personal experience with Gabriels on 3 cars
have shown that they give out quickly and thus must be frequently
I recently discovered that KYB makes shocks that fits these cars
(57-66). KYB’s are twice as expensive, but are 10 times better
shock absorbers. They absolutely transform the ride and handling. I
strongly recommend them.
Update, April 2000. It
has been my experience that 82072 Gabriel shock turns to mush pretty
quickly. I took them off my Imperial after about 5K miles and one was so
limp there was ZERO resistance left in it!
Front - # KG4507 (trim lower sleeve
to 1.25" long)
Rear - # KG5511
I put KYB's on and they transformed the car. The 300 club recently gave
the following info. (Note: 1957-61 300's shared the all the same front
"Use KYB model KG 4507's in the front. KG5511 in the rear. Front
shock, lower mounting tube will have to be trimmed a little to fit in its
intended holder on the lower control arm. Remove one of the old shocks,
measure the lower tube thru which the mounting bolt goes through, and,
using a grinder, trim the KYB's tube to match. Make sure to have a bucket
of water next to you, and dip the portion of the shock being ground off
repeatedly in the water during grinding, to avoid damage from heat to the
rubber bushing around the tube.
The KYB's are 200% better than other normal, gas-charged shocks. Well
worth the little extra effort in obtaining them and modifying the fronts
KYB has a website that can refer you to a local distributor.
The KYB shocks I mentioned also fit
1957-66 Imperials. It is possible they fit earlier and later Imperials,
but one should verify with KYB first.
Note: because of the modification necessary for installing the front
shocks, the Imperial application is not listed in any of the KYB catalogs.
Thus, be sure you have the part numbers when you go to your KYB dealer.
Installation tip, from
Jay Mc Kee:
I just stepped in from finishing up putting four new KYB Gas-A-Just shock
absorbers on our '62 Crown. Here's a tip for installing the front shocks
that the gentleman at the parts counter taught me.
Some Imperials owners have struggled to compress the gas-charged shock and
race to get it into the shock tower before the gas charge fully extends
them. Full extension happens within seconds, giving you little time to get
the shock into position for mounting before it is too long to fit. It
could and often does) take several attempts before you win this race with
the shock. Save yourself the frustration by getting the shock into the
proper position *before* you begin to extend it.
"What?!?" you say. "How can you get the shock into position
before extending it?" It's really simple. So simple, I would have
never thought of it unless someone else told me about it!
Most gas-charged shocks are shipped in their boxes in the
"compressed" state. A nylon "strap" holds the shock
closed. You will notice that the strap does not go through the shock's
bottom mounting hole, it actually goes around it. DO NOT CUT THIS STRAP!
You can use it as an installation tool!
Compress the shock a little bit
further and carefully remove the strap. Install the bottom hardware
(dish-shaped washer and rubber doughnut) on the shock's upper mounting
pin. Now compress the shock fully and reinstall the strap. The shock now
stays compressed, ready for installation!
Get the shock into position in the shock tower. Fasten the shock's bottom
mount to the control arm. Leave the nut a little loose so the shock will
pivot a little bit (this will make pin alignment in the top of the tower
easier). Now get a pair or scissors, hobby knife, wire cutters or
whatever you like to cut things with. You will need two hands to perform
this next amazing trick. The idea is to cut the strap, and at the same
time remove it before it get pinched between the mounting hardware and the
top of the shock tower.
Give it a try...
The shock quickly and smoothly extends itself. If the top mounting pin
pops through the mounting hole in the top of the tower, you are lucky. If
the end of the pin is stopped inside the top of the tower, you are not as
lucky, but still in real good shape! nonetheless! If the pin does not pop
through the hole, you will need a screwdriver to reach in there to move
the pin a little. Eventually it will find its way through the hole in the
top of the tower.
You're almost home...
Install your top mounting hardware, then tighten the lower mounting nut to
You are done!
Piece of cake, huh?
Now you will never have to struggle mounting a gas-charged shock absorber
again. Just remember not the cut that strap. It is your tool and your best
Propeller Shaft (driveshaft) Support Bearing - Anyone who
does not have a spare "propeller shaft center bearing support"
should get one. Major driveline vibration problems can be caused by
failure of this part, which is simply a rubber insulating donut that
retains the center driveline bearing. If your bearing support is original,
it is a 35-year-old piece of rubber that has been exposed to every kind of
chemical and temperature abuse. Its days are probably numbered. In fact,
you might want to get under your car and check it at your next
opportunity. Push up in the center of the driveshaft, if there is any
significant movement, you need a new center bearing support. Even if in
good shape you might want to get one now while you still can and store it
until you need it. (Editor's note: The
Damper Doctor and Antique Auto Parts Cellar, (phone
781-335-1579) are now rebuilding these units.)
All Imperial owners who do not have a catalog from Gary Goers would
enjoy having one. As many people know, for years Gary was responsible for
the restoration of all of Richard Carpenter’s magnificent MoPars. Not
being able to locate many MoPar restoration parts back then he began to
manufacture them himself. As a result he is the one of the finest sources
for reproduction Chrysler and Imperial parts you could be lucky enough to
find. Hood bumpers, molded weather stripping, trunk cardboard & carpet
kits, etc., etc. are all made to order by Gary. For the most part they are
exact Chrysler duplicates, are of very high quality, and most items are
not available anywhere else. Additionally, he has dozens of little screws,
retainers and other bits unique to Imperials that are difficult or
impossible to locate elsewhere. Gary recently moved to the peace and quiet
of Montana. Write to: Gary Goers,
37 Amdahl Lane, Kalispell, Montana 59901, 406-752-6249. Catalogs are
$3.00. Gary has a good reputation for delivering quality goods. Be aware,
however, that he is a one-man operation and many parts are handmade to
order. Be prepared. He will ship off the shelf items fairly quickly, put
you must be patient about the made-to-order stuff.
Use 1/4" black striping tape to revive the faded
appearance of the painted areas on chrome upper fender moldings on ‘64
& ’65’s. 1/8" tape works well on Crown Coupe and LeBaron roof
Trunk Leaks - If your trunk lid weather-strip is in good
condition and still there is moisture getting into your trunk, it is
likely coming from the back window. Check the condition of the rear window
weather-stripping for shrinkage or gaps. Also check the chrome moldings
around the base of the roof. I have applied a bead of sealer around the
window and chrome moldings on my car. An easy and invisible way to do this
is to carefully tape along the full length of both sides of the gap that
is to be filled with sealer. Apply black sealer and work sealer deep into
the gaps with your finger or a flexible plastic spatula. Smooth out any
excess and, when finished, peel back the tape and you have a neat,
professional, almost invisible seal. And a dry trunk! Another common
source of leaks is the chrome upper fender moldings. If for any reason
these have been removed, be sure they have been correctly re-attached. All
bolts holding the molding on must have a ring of sealant and the correct
flared-edge nuts must be used.
Transmission - Is your ‘65 or ‘66 Imperial slow or
unwilling to go immediately from Park into a drive gear after it has been
sitting for a few days? If so, it should not be a major concern, assuming
the transmission operates properly at all other times. I have been told
that the early 727 Torqueflites were designed for the engine to start with
the pushbutton in Neutral. The column-shift "Park" position was
tacked on during 1965 and now that these transmissions are 30+ years old
they sometimes can be momentarily reluctant, when cold, to go from Park
directly into Reverse or Drive. If this happens to you, either start the
car in Neutral or simply put the transmission in Neutral for a second or
two after you have started the engine. In the Neutral position, the torque
converter will pump up and refill itself at once. (It will not so in
Park.) Therefore, after a few seconds in Neutral, chances are your
transmission will go immediately into gear and operate perfectly from that
Carpets - Although not listed in any of their
catalogs, Auto Custom Carpet (800-633-2358) recently unearthed
carpet molds for 1964-66 Imperials. (With a little modification over the
parking brake hump, these carpets should also fit 1960 - 63 Imperials,
however, I’ve not known of anyone who has tried.) The carpets are an
excellent fit and are perfectly molded. The heel pad is a generic one, but
it might be possible to supply your good original to be used in any carpet
set ordered. (Or have an upholstery shop detach the generic and sew on
your original.) The only other down side is that the cut pile carpet stock
offered by ACC is not an exact duplicate of the original Imperial thick
carpet material. It is closest in appearance and texture to the carpet
used in 1966. 1964 -65 models used a deeper, thicker pile and ACC has
nothing like it available. Although not suitable for concours restoration,
the incorrect cut pile they do offer has a nice overall appearance and it
sure beats a worn, stained, faded, dirty original. It is ideally suited
for use in a daily driver. I installed a carpet set in my 1964 driver and
it dressed up the interior beautifully. (Note: I have written a very
detailed carpet installation guide, based on my trial and error
experiences doing 3 installations. Please feel free to request a copy if
you want to tackle this job on your own!)
I recently supplied patterns to Auto Custom Carpet to create
templates for carpeted floor mats for this era Imperial. (Again, they
should fit 1960 - 63 also) The mats are extra large, contoured to cover
and protect ALL the carpet from the door sill to the transmission tunnel
in front, and covering the entire footwell opening in the rear. (Note: I
made separate rear mats for sedan, coupes and convertibles to accommodate
their differing footwell contours., so be sure to specify.) These mats are
neatly bound on the edges with color-keyed vinyl and have a thick, hard
rubber backing with hundreds of nubbies to grab the carpet below and
prevent slippage. They are available in dozens of colors and give a
wonderful custom look when installed. A great idea for those who have
white interiors cars would be to have the mats bound in white vinyl
instead of the carpet color. Nice coachbuilt touch still done in
Tires - I installed a set of the 9.15 x 15"
triple stripe whitewalls on my '66 LeBaron. I have had mixed results
from them. On the plus side, they alter the overall stance of the car
dramatically. The tires are at least 2" taller than the 235x15
Michelins formerly on the car, so the car sits at least 1" higher off
the road. (For an even more imposing appearance!) Although the alternating
thin/wide whitewall stripe pattern is reversed from the original pattern,
the overall appearance reads quite nicely and makes the radials on my ‘66
convertible look puny. The LeBaron doesn’t hang in corners quite as
confidently, but it is infinitely smoother over small impacts, completely
swallowing corrugated road surfaces that previously had the ashtray
vibrating. Also, the steering is lighter.
On the down side, the particular set of tires I received (eventually six
in total) were out of round and proved impossible to properly balance. I
even had them "trued" and rebalanced at a local performance tire
shop that has a machine that will shave the tire until it is completely,
truly round. (One tire was visibly out of round laterally and has
already been exchanged.) I loved the looks, but hated the vibrating,
squirmy ride this set of tires gave. I put on a set of Firestone FT70’s
and the car was transformed to serene smoothness. On the other hand, Jeff
Stork put a set of these triple stripes on his ‘65 Crown and is quite
happy with the results.
Interior Trim - Chris replied to email@example.com's
"I'm looking for suggestions on sprucing up my '66 convert. door
panels. The aluminum panel at the bottom of the door has been kicked and
beat up and is in need of polishing or shining or something to put it back
in good and original shape. The wood at the top is in need of help too.
Can anyone help?"
I had a similar situation with my '66 convertible. I discovered the metal
kick plates are not really restorable. There seems to be some kind of
plastic coating over them which does not allow all scratches to be
polished out. I just cleaned mine up, waxed them, and let it go at that.
If your kick panels are really beat up, I suppose you could have real
brushed stainless panels cut and installed. Or, you might investigate the
brushed stainless-look acrylic veneers at a sign shop. They could be cut
to fit and you could install over your original. I've seen this method
done on the bronze trim of a '68 Imperial and the result is spectacular -
identical to original.
If the wood veneers in your car are not rotted, split or buckled, they can
be made to look good as new again. On '65 & '66 coupes and
convertibles the wood trim on the door & side panels is completely
removable. The chrome strips retaining the veneers can be taken off by
bending their tabs from the back of the door panel. Usually it is only
necessary to remove the upper U-shaped chrome strip to allow the veneer
panel to slide out completely.
Once removed, take a sanding block with 320 or 400 sandpaper and sand the
crusty finish off. Warning, the veneers are paper thin, so don't sand
deeply into the wood - just sand off the top layer of varnish.
On my convertible I miraculously had no water damage or sun-bleaching, so
all I needed to do was sand the veneer panels smooth and apply 4-5 coats
of polyurethane, polishing with steel wool between coats. Once dried, this
was followed by rubbing with finest steel wool and brown MinWax. The
results would look at home in a Rolls-Royce.
If the veneers have some discoloring, even out the discoloring with wood
bleach for the dark spots and walnut stain for the light spots. Use a
small artists brush and blend carefully. Before applying the finish coats
of exterior grade varnish, rub a little mineral spirits into the wood.
This will mimic what you will see when you apply the varnish. If the wood
color is still uneven, work a little longer with the wood bleach and/or
wood stain. (Note: urethanes tend to yellow over time. Great if you have a
dark green, red, gold or black interior. Light blue interiors should avoid
this by using Varathane or some other water-based, non-yellowing acrylic
This same re-finishing technique can be used on the dash. Just be sure to
mask off the chrome trim very carefully. If you don't want to brush or
spray the varnish, you can rub it in with your finger using a smooth,
lint-free cloth. The more coats of varnish, the better the final
appearance. Steel wool between coats and apply varnish until all pores are
filled and a glass smooth finish is achieved. Also, the more varnish the
more protection you have from future damage.
If your veneers are too far gone to be refinished, install new ones!!
Walnut veneer is readily available. Have it matched for color and grain to
a good piece of your old veneer. Cut to size and apply over your originals
with contact cement. Then just varnish as above. For final color matching
to your dash you can practice varnishing a scrap piece of new veneer to
see if it matches. If not, you can apply wood bleach or walnut stain to
bring it to the color you want.
How's that for a winter project?!
Chris H. (The one from GA)