Imperial Home Page -> Mailing List & Club -> Member Spotlight -> Ken Miller
Here is a brief interview we recently had with IML member Ken Miller. All the pictures displayed on this page are from Ken's impressive Imperial collection. If You have any questions for Ken, please feel free to send him a message!
Question: When did you purchase your first Imperial?
Answer: I bought my first Imperial in 1970. It was a 1957 Crown Southampton in really good condition with about 70,000 miles on it. It was pink with a maroon top and I thought it was great! I paid $395 for it.
Q: Do you still own it?
A: I sold it in 1989. I had owned it for 19 years! I also sold my other 57, a 2 door, at the same swap meet. I had purchased the 2 door for $125 in 1976. The cars sold for $3,000 each.
Q: What, if any, restoration did you do to that car?
A: I did paint the 57 four door. The maroon top had faded terribly and at the time I really didn't care for the pink (I would think differently today). I painted it a 1967 General Motors (augghhhhh!) champagne beige with a Cadillac Eldorado brown top. It looked pretty cool. I'm told the car was eventually sold to someone in Great Britain but I'm not sure.
Q: What is your favorite year Imperial?
A: I like them all! I guess if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the 1964 black LeBaron that I owned for about 5 years. It had the black vinyl top and red leather interior.
Q: Why is it your favorite? What do you find appealing about that particular year?
A: I guess it's the overall design. The rear deck lid, rear window and that flat hood with its Imperial eagle ornament in front was stunning.
Q: What does your Imperial collection consist of?
I currently have 2 convertibles, both of which I have had for many years. I bought my 67 with 69,000 miles showing in 1977. It was a real nice original car and I used it as my daily driver for years. It's got 160,000 on it now - all put there by me. It's showing it's age in the paint and interior department but it runs and handles perfectly.
The 61 came to me in 1981. It had just 41,000 miles on it. It had been sitting for seven years under a carport near the airport and the cumulative years of deposits from jet engine exhaust took its toll on the pot metal and chrome. It still sports its original paint and interior though. I've got it up to about 57,000 miles now so of course it still drives like new.
Q: What other collector cars do you own today?
A: My only other collector car is a 1964 Chrysler New Yorker Salon. I bought it from the original owner with just 51,000 miles on it. I use it mostly to pull a travel trailer. It's up to 125,000 now.
Q: What other collector cars (at least 20 years old) have you owned in your lifetime?
A: I won't provide too many details here, but understand that I always bought the cars nobody else wanted (they were cheap!). That philosophy kept me out of Fords and Chevs but allowed me to own some marvelous cars. I had 2 Hudsons, 2 Nashes, 1 Frazer, 2 Buicks, a DeSoto and a Willys hardtop among others.
Q: Which car has been your favorite and why?
A: I guess the 57 4 door would be my favorite. The reason is simply that I had it the longest. I took my kids home from the hospital in that car and eventually they wound up driving it. I went through some good and some bad times in my life with that car but it was always there for me.
Q: What are your future plans for your present collection?
A: I would sure like to get some paint and interior work done on those convertibles. They are both in their original state and are in amazingly good shape given that, but it would be nice to upgrade them. I am not a show car person at all, but would like nicer looking cars to drive around.
Q: Do you have any, "I can't believe I let that car get away from me" stories?
A: I wish I still had all those cars I had in college and shortly thereafter. The Nashes, Hudsons and that Frazer were wonderful cars in pretty decent shape but with no money and no storage, they all simply had to go away. Strangely enough, I don't feel bad about getting rid of the 57 Imperials. Even though I owned them many years and loved them dearly, they were without a doubt the most difficult cars I have ever worked on.
Q: Do you have any funny or interesting stories about purchasing an old
A: I did trade a 64 taillight lens for a car. This was many years ago. I spotted a guy driving a 64 Imperial with a broken taillight lens. I flagged him down and told him I had a replacement. I took it over to his house and when he asked how much, I said "no charge" (I love giving stuff like this away).
I guess he was quite taken with this because he said he there was an abandoned Chrysler (it turned out to be an Imperial) on his business property that I could have if I wanted. I did the paperwork and towed home a complete 58 four door sedan. I still had both of 57s so you can imagine the parts bonanza! The engine actually ran and the interior wasn't too bad, but after sitting in the field for so many years the body was beyond restoration, at least in those days. I stripped the car of everything and hauled the carcass to the wrecking yard. I still have some of those parts although I have sent a lot of them to IML members.
Q: Are there any other collector cars (besides Imperials) that you would like to own?
A: I only want Imperials. But, if there were no Imperials, I'd have a Kaiser or a Nash in a second. No, make that a 1956 Packard.
Q: Do you belong to any other antique car clubs?
A: My only club membership is the IML. I am a charter member and cherish the long relationship I've had here and with most of the members. Before the IML, restoring or even repairing an Imperial was nearly impossible. There just wasn't good forum to find parts and advice. Now, I run through the Web pages so generously created by all the wonderful volunteers and hosted by Manuel Alvarez (at no charge to us!) and am constantly amazed at the wealth of information and resources available.
We would like to thank Ken Miller for sharing his wonderful Imperial collection with us!! Please check back next month when we will be spotlighting another Imperial Club member.