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  •   Jay Leno reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    Jay Leno uploaded a new video
    Why do I suddenly like cars that I used to detest? This question occurred to me recently when, for some inexplicable reason, I bought a low-mileage two-door #1957-Imperial . To the uninitiated, Imperial was a luxury brand built by Chrysler to compete with Lincoln and Cadillac. Virgil Exner was the designer who turned Chrysler around when he joined the company in 1949. KT Keller was the president and chairman of the board at the time and, prior to Exner joining the company, Chrysler’s styling was stodgy, to say the least.

    / #1958-Imperial-Convertible / #1958 / #Imperial-Convertible / #Virgil-Exner / #Chrysler / #392ci-Hemi / #Hemi

    For example, Keller liked a higher roofline on his cars because he believed men should always wear a hat while driving. Exner had other ideas and by 1955 he was able to introduce them, starting with the Forward Look. By #1957 , at the height of his powers, he had designed the Imperial.

    By that time Imperial was its own brand with no Chrysler reference anywhere on the car. It was also Imperial’s best year because the Styling was so fresh and new. It even had a great slogan: ‘Suddenly It’s 1960!’ It gave everyone the impression that Imperial was three years ahead in the industry.

    These cars were built at a time of unbridled optimism. Gas was 25 cents a gallon, the interstate network was opening up, the space race was starting, climate change and cigarettes causing cancer were all so far in the future that nobody even thought about them.

    They were huge, too, built like tanks. I remember Imperials being banned at Demolition Derbies because Their massive frames, far stronger than anything else, were deemed an unfair advantage. Hot rodders in the ’60s cannibalised these cars for their 392ci Hemi engines. When I was a young man, these cars represented everything we hated about American automobiles. They weighed two-and-a-half tons, they got abysmal gas mileage, they couldn’t stop and could barely get around corners. While Jaguar had polished wood and Connolly leather, these American behemoths featured chrome put on with a trowel and an interior like Elvis’s coffin.

    ‘IT HAS A MASSIVE AIR-CONDITIONER, MORE LIKE A REFRIGERATION UNIT FROM A MEATPACKING PLANT’

    By the time I was able to drive, cars from this era were already over a decade old. They were built before steel was galvanised and they rusted almost immediately. By the time the ’70s and ’80s came around, gas prices had started to rise and most of the cars from this era looked like crippled-mastodons flailing around in some tar-pit. So why the attraction now? AmI trying to regain some part of my youth? Possibly. Or is it because it’s just so different from what we think of as an automobile today?

    First, let me tell you about the car I found. It’s all original and painted in Desert Sage, which is really just another name for pink. A man bought it new for his wife but it was too big for her to drive. It’s 19 feet long and it weighs just shy of 5000lb. She rarely drove the car, and it was parked sometime in 1964 with 64,000 miles on it. There it sat, indoors, for almost 55 years, so there is zero rust and the chrome is perfect. I drove it home on the tyres that were fitted in 1963.
    Modern cars have almost no exterior brightwork. In contrast the Imperial looks like a Wurlitzer juke box. There’s even a massive chrome strip that runs over the roof like some sort of roll bar. The steering wheel is enormous and the gauges are the size of dinner plates. If you have to wear glasses to see the speedometer, you should not be allowed to drive.
    It has push-button drive and all sorts of goofy switches; believe me, they couldn’t have cared less about ergonomics. Trying to figure out how to operate the turn signal took 10 minutes. It has a massive air-conditioner which looks more like a refrigeration unit from a meat-packing plant. You actually have to press down hard on the accelerator to compensate for the 25bhp needed to drive it.

    If you like buying cars by the pound, this is the way to go. Ferraris are about $1000 per pound and cars like this are about $5 per pound. When you hit somebody in a Ferrari the damage is life-altering. Hit somebody in this thing, and you don’t even know it till you get home and find the other car crushed up under your wheelarch. I don’t think I’ve ever had another car that stops traffic like this thing. In a town like LA, where Bentleys and McLarens barely get a second look, folks jump out at stop lights to ask me what it is. One guy in a hip part of town asked if he could buy my interior so he could make a suit out of the sparkly brown-material.

    It’s fun to jump between different automotive worlds. For example, last Saturday was the perfect day; I took the McLaren P1 out for a ride in the hills above LA and then took my wife out to dinner in the Imperial. After all, you need to have one sensible car to drive.
    1958 Imperial Convertible - Jay Leno's Garage
    With it's "Forward Look" design and massive 392 Hemi, Jay takes us on a ride in his Imperial Convertible that was the biggest and widest luxury car you could...
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  •   Jay Leno reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    CAR: #Chevrolet-Nomad / #GM / #1957-Chevrolet-Nomad / #Chevrolet /

    Year of manufacture #1957
    Recorded mileage 18,850
    Asking price £37,500
    Vendor Dave Caruso, Hertfordshire (private sale); tel: 07737 096073

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price $2757
    Max power 185bhp
    Max torque 275lb ft
    0-60mph 12.3 secs
    Top speed 99mph
    Mpg 15

    This rare wagon came to the UK two years ago, imported from California by the vendor. It’s going only because he has too many other cars vying for his time. It’s straight and apparently rot-free under an older repaint. The solid chassis has a few minor knocks, the inner wings and arches are mint. The only flaws were small bubbles at the base of the passenger door. All of the brightwork is present and undamaged, most of it likely original, and the correct Nomad rear script will be on by the time of sale. The front ‘Dagmar’ rubbers are undamaged, plus the wheeltrims are undinged, the centre badges all intact. It wears a sunvisor plus the dash-mounted ‘signal seer’ prism for reading traffic lights. All the windows (sliding at the sides) open and close as they should, and there are H4 lights, plus new exhausts. It sits on Classic radials, with plenty of tread – including the spare, near which we find new rear dampers and a repaired upper mount on the right.

    The 283 is stock apart from a four-barrel Holley, but the original twin-choke Rochester is included. Its coolant is full and green, the oil darkish and mid marks, while the transmission fluid is pink and sweet-smelling. Inside, it’s superb with all the dash trim intact, though the instrument bezels and the steering column shroud are chromed. The seat covers are probably repro items; the driver’s seat base velour is worn threadbare and a tear in the back was due to be fixed. The headlining is excellent and all of the chrome strips are in place. There are electric wipers, auxiliary gauges under the dash, and it has a modern digital radio in the original slot.

    It starts easily, and drives really well for a 60 year old, suggesting that it’s never been significantly apart. There’s plenty of grunt from the V8 and smooth changes from the three-speed Turboglide, though it’s quite lowgeared. It tracks straight, with no clonks from the suspension, and the re-lined brakes are sharp, but they pull slightly to the right. It’s easy to manage and the compact turning circle comes as a surprise. Oil pressure is over 50psi warm when driving, and coolant steady at about 85ºC. The Chevy will be sold UK-registered – its NOVA paperwork is already done.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Straight; repainted; good trim
    INTERIOR All there and all works; some wear to the driver’s seat
    MECHANICALS In rude health; performs well
    VALUE 7/10

    For Standard and super-cool, with desirable options
    Against Bubbles on offside door

    SHOULD I BUY IT? Well priced compared to similar cars in the US, it’s deceptively usable on UK roads, being about the size of today’s large European cars
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  • Car #Nash-Rambler-Rebel-Custom

    Year of manufacture #1957
    Recorded mileage 71,174
    Asking price £24,995
    Vendor European Classic Cars, near Avebury, Wilts.

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price $3971.08
    Max power 255bhp
    Max torque 345lb ft
    0-60mph 7.5 secs
    Top speed 116mph
    Mpg 13


    This well-known car – it’s the only one in the UK and probably Europe, arriving here via France in #2008 – sure is an ugly critter. But it does have a 327cu in (5.4-litre) V8, making it a muscle car of its day, being the only car available at the time with a biggish motor in a medium-sized body. All Rebel Customs were silver with a gold anodised trim strip down the side, which in this case is in excellent shape, along with all the brightwork, and fitted with Nash’s Weather-Eye heating and ventilation system. Structurally, the bodywork is excellent – the older paint showing a few minuscule bubbles on the sills and around various items of trim. There’s also a new fuel tank plus a decent exhaust.

    Under the bonnet, the inner wings and bulkhead are perfect. The #Nash 327 V8 looks tiny in the factory finishes and has a more recent addition of an air-conditioning pump running R134a refrigerant. The heater and aircon hoses are new, the oil is clean and near ‘Max’, and the green coolant is full in the top tank. The tyres are a tidy set of Dimension IV All Seasons, including an unused spare in the boot and a much older Goodyear with cracked sidewalls within the Continental Kit.

    The interior is all smart, with nothing missing or broken and no splits in the silver vinyl, plus an additional aircon unit under the dash. It starts easily, by pulling the gear selector towards you – shades of a semi-auto #DS . The four-speed Hydramatic Flashaway transmission, as fitted to Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs of the period, is smooth changing up and has a very responsive kickdown, with generally low gearing conferring strong acceleration. It doesn’t click into top until about 60mph.

    The Rambler Rebel is softly sprung, although it’s less wallowy than you might expect, so it’s easy to place, and the massively assisted brakes are super-sharp, but they take a little getting used to. It will be sold with a new MoT plus the original bill of sale, workshop manual and handbook, the period American car magazines that informed its purchase, as well as other nice bits and pieces such as muffler service flyers.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR
    Good; older respray; all brightwork present and correct.

    INTERIOR
    Wearing really well, with nothing missing or broken.

    MECHANICALS
    All in fine order; aircon added.

    VALUE ★★★★★★✩✩✩✩

    For - Rarity; originality; condition.
    Against - ‘Robbie the Robot’ looks – but it might grow on you.

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    Outstanding order, plus it drives well. And it’ll be the only one at pretty much any car show...
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