Imperial Home Page -> Mailing List & Club -> Member Spotlight -> Elijah Scott
Here is a brief interview we recently had with IML member Elijah Scott. All the pictures displayed on this page are from Elijah's collection. If you have any questions for Elijah, please feel free to send him a message!
Question: When did you purchase your first Imperial?
Answer: My first Imperial came to me in October 1988. I was 16 at the time, and I had known for years that I wanted a ’71 Imperial! My Grandmother always had Imperials when I was a kid. Some of my earliest memories are of riding in a 1969 Imperial that she used to own, along with other Chrysler products such as a 1965 Newport sedan, a 1967 Newport sedan that my Mom drove for many years, and a 1969 Dodge van that my Grandfather drove darn near forever.
In 1976, my Grandmother bought a 1971 Imperial LeBaron with about 12,000 miles on it (for the princely sum of $1250!). I spent most of my youth in this car, since I often rode to school with her. By the time I was about 12, I was totally hooked on “playing” with old cars, and I was completely addicted to Imperials.
We found my very own 1971 Imperial in Chattanooga, TN, one afternoon while some repairs were being made to Grandmother’s Imperial. The owner at that time had only had the car a couple of months, having purchased it from the widow of the couple who had bought it new in 1971. He wasn’t ready to sell at that time, but he called us only a few weeks later. For a whopping $375, I now had my very own Imperial!
Q: Do you still own it?
A: Yes! The car now has over 240,000 miles on it and is still fun to drive! I drove it all through high school, college, graduate school, and beyond. It’s now semi-retired and enjoys a cozy spot in the garage. I’m planning on keeping it pretty much forever.
Q: What, if any, restoration did you do to that car?
A: When I got the car, it had 131,000 miles on it, and it was pretty tired. Over the years that I’ve owned it, I’ve had the engine rebuilt, front end rebuilt, replaced LOTS of miscellaneous parts here and there, painted the car (see Elijah's 1971 Imperial Body and Paint Restoration), replaced the vinyl top, and replaced the interior. I’ve done many other things as well, but those were the major projects.
Q: What is your favorite year Imperial?
A: For many years, I thought that ’71 was my favorite year. However, after I became a member of the Imperial club in 1996, I’ve found that I pretty much like all years! Even so, I have a special fondness for 1971, 1961, and 1959.
Q: Why is it your favorite? What do you find appealing about that particular year?
A: I’m pretty sure that I like 1971 so well because that’s what I grew up in, and it was my introduction to Imperials. I really think the fuselage styling is at its best in the ’71 Imperial – the lines are LONG and clean, the use of chrome and trim on the exterior is restrained and tasteful, and the overall shape is very pleasing. There are lots of little details that are neat once you notice them – the headlight doors with the Imperial eagles on them, the cornering and sidemarker lights, the eagle emblem on the trunk, the LeBaron script on the sailpanels, the fender mounted turn signal indicators, and even something as simple as the curve and shape of the rear window are all items that speak of tasteful luxury. And I’ve always been fascinated by all the power gadgets on the car, the effortless power of the engine, the smooth, quiet ride, and the sense of total control one has behind the wheel. The fuselage Imperials are absolutely terrific road cars and provide total comfort to the drive and passengers.
As for why I like ’61 and ’59 – to me, those years (and really all Imperials) are simply works of art. The ’61 is an exuberant exercise in excess that still maintains an air of dignified luxury, and the ’59 is just an AWESOME example of the Forward Look. Best features? For ’61, it would have to be the tail fins and brake lights, while for ’59 it would be the massive grille and wonderful shape of the tail fins.
Q: Do you have a favorite Imperial gadget or styling feature?
A:Swivel seats would probably be my favorite gadget, although I’ve never owned an Imperial with them. I also really like the glass covered headlights for ’65 and ’66, and I do own a ’65 LeBaron. I also think the location of the gas cap for ’55 and ’56, hidden in the fin, is just a treat! And the electroluminescent dash panels are incredible!
Q: Any other automotive gadget or styling feature that you like or would like to own?
A: No, I think the Imperial already has everything!
Q: What does your Mopar collection consist of?
A:I currently own a ’65 Imperial LeBaron, a ’70 Imperial LeBaron, and three ’71 Imperial LeBarons.
The ’65 LeBaron has about 89,000 miles on it, but it spent many years sitting outside before I purchased it, so even though it’s in great shape mechanically, it needs a lot of help cosmetically.
The ’70 LeBaron is my newest acquisition. I purchased it in the summer of 2002. It has 60,000 miles on it and is a garage-kept and pampered original in excellent condition. The car had not been driven in over ten years, so I’ve been attending to some minor mechanical issues, but it’s currently roadworthy. Ironically, the previous owner bought this car in October 1988, the same month that I got my first ’71 Imperial!
The three ’71 LeBarons consist of my “driver” that I’ve had since I was 16, the Imperial that my Grandmother drove, and a parts car. My “driver” has over 240,000 miles on it and is in excellent condition. Last year, I drove it from Chattanooga, TN, to the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, PA, so that tells you how roadworthy it is. The car that my Grandmother owned had over 400,000 miles on it (yes, 400,000) when she quit driving it. Unfortunately, Grandmother was never a terribly good driver, and this car was involved in countless accidents over the years. At this point, it’s pretty much going to be a parts car. And the other parts car is one that I bought from a collector in Hamilton, OH. This car was EXTREMELY rusty, but had an excellent leather interior, which now resides in my “driver” ’71 Imperial.
Q: What other collector cars (at least 20 years old) have you owned in your lifetime?
A: None So Far
Q: Which car has been your favorite and why?
A: The ’71 Imperial is still my favorite. I’ve always appreciated all the gadgets, such as power windows, power locks, cruise control, rear window defroster, etc. And the factory stereos in these cars are great! Mainly, though, I love the way this car drives. When the engine was rebuilt a few years ago, it was beefed up considerably, and it still amazes me how much power this car has. And it’s a very tight, solid feeling car – just a joy to drive.
Q: What are your future plans for your present collection?
A: My next goal is to cosmetically restore my ’65 LeBaron. This car is black with a red leather interior, which I think is an awesome color combination. The car has no rust, but the paint is completely shot. And the leather interior is beyond crispy, so it will need to be replaced as well. I’m hoping to complete this project in the next couple of years.
Q: Do you have any, "I can't believe I let that car get away from me" stories?
A: Yup. Sometime when I was about 17 years old, I was with my parents in Knoxville, TN, when I saw a white 1969 Imperial LeBaron two door hardtop. Even then, I knew this was a RARE car, and it looked great! I was walking along the side street where I saw the car, so I pretty much just stopped the guy in the middle of the road. It was a hot summer evening, and as the window rolled down, I felt a blast of cool air from the AutoTemp. The driver was wearing a white smock and said, “Sorry, Ace, I’m on the way to surgery.” He rolled up the window and drove on up the hill to the Fort Sanders hospital.
That was probably 1989. Some time later in about 1994, I saw the same car at a transmission shop in Knoxville. I managed to contact the owner, who said his sister had bought the car from the doctor (it was originally the doctor’s mother’s car and was incredibly pampered), but it was too big for her to drive. He offered it to me for $1,000, but since I was in my last semester of college, I had no extra cash.
A few months after that, I saw the car on a used car lot in Knoxville. I stopped and inquired, and the price was $4,500. I got a chance to look it over closely, and it was just a beautiful car – the white paint, white vinyl top, and white leather interior were all in immaculate condition.
So that one slipped through my fingers. Knowing I could have had it for only a grand has tortured me ever since!
Q: Do you have any funny or interesting stories about purchasing an old car?
A: Are you kidding? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this hobby, it’s that you meet some strange people chasing down old cars! Probably the strangest was a guy in Knoxville who had a ’61 Imperial that I went to look at back in 1997. This guy probably had 200+ old cars on several pieces of property, all of which were in various stages of decay. But the guy was CONVINCED that they were all worth a small fortune. He was a retired used car dealer, and gave me the biggest line of bull that I’ve ever heard from anyone! A stellar example was the ’57 Buick that he showed me and stated with total confidence that that car had cost over $15,000 when it was new! I think this guy had been lying so long that he even believed himself.
Q: Are there any other collector cars (besides Imperials) that you would like to own??
A:Yes, but I’ll never be able to afford any of them!
Q: Do you belong to any other antique car clubs?
A: I’m a member of the national WPC Club and the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the WPC Club.
Q: What was the best car show you ever attended?
A: I was fortunate enough to go to one of the annual Ohlone, California, Mopar show in the fall of 1997. It was the first time I had EVER seen so many nice Imperials in one place! Wow! I was totally overwhelmed. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed the Alabama Packard and Imperial Meets, as well as the Atlanta and Chattanooga meets.
Q: Do you have a favorite car related book or movie?
A: Actually, I’ve always enjoyed the cars featured in many of the James Bond movies, probably due to my penchant for gadgets. I’d have to say my favorite is probably On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, because Dianna Rigg does such a superb job of driving her Mustang. Too bad no Imperials show up, though.
Author's note: If you would like more information on the Meets Elijah Mentioned, please go here to view more details about these events.
We would like to thank Elijah Scott for sharing his wonderful Treasures with us!! Please check back next month when we will be spotlighting another Imperial Club member.