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1972 Imperial Survivor Comes Out of the Barn, Gets First Wash and Drive in 41 Years

It's 2022, and Chrysler is a sad sight, with only a sedan and a minivan in showrooms. But it wasn't always like that. Back in the 1920s, during its first years on the market, Chrysler built all sorts of automobiles, including luxury cars.
1972 Imperial LeBaron 7 photos
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One such vehicle was the Chrysler Imperial. Introduced in 1926, the Imperial competed against America's finest luxury rigs coming from automakers such as Cadillac, Lincoln, Duesenberg, Packard, and Pierce Arrow.

Chrysler's top-of-the-line offering remained on the market with significant upgrades until 1954. But when the sixth-generation model was discontinued, the nameplate didn't disappear altogether. That's because Chrysler turned it into a separate brand.

Even though it returned without a "Chrysler" badge, the Imperial continued to share design cues and drivetrain components with the company's full-size cars. However, they came with far more luxurious interiors and, in some cases, longer wheelbases. The brand also offered a special line of Crown limousines from 1955 to 1965 and then again from 1967 through 1971.

Unfortunately, Imperial wasn't as successful as Chrysler had hoped, and the line was discontinued in 1975. The brand was revived in 1981 under Lee Iacocca, but financial issues forced Chrysler to drop the division for good in 1983.

Come 2022 and Imperial is largely forgotten compared to other brands under the old Chrysler Corporation company. And because they don't get the attention they deserve, most Imperials are currently rotting away in junkyards and barns. And very few of them get saved.

This 1972 LeBaron four-door is one of the lucky ones, having been freed from a barn after a whopping 41 years. Saved by "Rusty Revivals," the Imperial emerged into the light in surprisingly good condition. While classics that spent decades in storage come out with severe rust that makes them too expensive to restore, this sedan is a full-blown unmolested survivor.

Not only almost rust-free, but it can also brag about having straight body panels, an original paint job that still shines, and an interior that shows next to no wear and tear. On the flip side, its numbers-matching 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) V8 engine was locked up.

Unable to get it to fire up again without a rebuild, our host opted for a quick swap, using another 440 V8 that was supposed to go into a Dodge Super Bee. With the replacement mill in place and with the braking system fixed, "Rusty Revivals" managed to give the Imperial its first drive in more than four decades.

He also gave the Imperial its first wash since it was parked, and the result is impressive, to say the least. Not only the blue paint still holds a shine, but the matching upholstery is only a professional detailing away from looking almost like new.

Oh, and before you click the play button below, this Series HY-M Imperial also shows only 16,000 miles (25,750 km) on the odo. Yes, the sedan might actually have 116,000 miles (186,684 km) instead, but based on the way it looks inside and out, it could very well be a low-mileage survivor. Check it out for yourselves.

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