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Spotlight on Rob van der Es


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Here is a brief interview we recently had with IML member Rob van der Es.  If you have any other questions for Rob van der Es, please feel free to send him a message!

1) When did you purchase or acquire your first Imperial?

I bought my first (and so far only..) Imperial in May 2005, it is a white 1960 Imperial Crown Hardtop, 4 doors, with a red interior. Bought it from the fleetmanager of Brasher's Car Auctions at Rio Linda in California (close to Sacramento). It was a so-called repo car, and the salesman noticed from my ad at the club webpages that I was looking for a 1960. I flew in from the Netherlands together with my then 10 year old son, checked out the car and agreed to buy it since it was in a perfect, rustfree, condition. Drove the car around for 2 weeks in the Bay area and then have it shipped from Oakland to the Netherlands.

2) What motivated you to purchase or acquire that car?

I think it all started with a classic car magazine that was given to me by my father in law, I really liked the fantastic designs of the late fifties and early sixties cars. Ofcourse I was already familiair with the big finned 59 Cadillacs, but never saw before other finned cars of that area. From that moment on I wanted to find out more and soon discovered that there were 3 outstanding brands available in those days: Imperial, Cadillac and Lincoln. From all those cars I liked the 59 till 61 Imperials the most, together with the 59 Caddy. I studied a few road tests of those years and found out that the Imperial was the best performing and handling car. So, an Imperial it should be.. After careful studying I decided to go for the 1960 model, because I liked the over the top instrument clusters of that year the most. It also has the magnificent "glow in the dark" electroluminance dials, a feature that the 59 Imperial (my other favourite) doesn't have. I must admit though that my first thoughts were going out to a 1960 New Yorker, but my very wise and understanding wife advised me to go for an Imperial, cause it has "more class and style". Ofcourse I couldn't argue with that :)

3) What, if any, restoration did you do to that car? How much of the work did you do personally? Did you have the help of a colleague or did you pay a restoration shop to do the work? Was there a combination of all of the above?

When I bought the car 4 years ago it was already in a pretty good condition, but as we all know: there is always room for improvements! I had to deal a lot with electrical gremlins in the beginning..The previous owner messed around withn the wiring a lot, he had an alarm installed and an electronic device to prevent unauthorized starting of the car :) Somehow he found time to remove all this stuff before the bank reposessed the car, leaving a lot of cut wires behind.. I started with bringing back the wiring to OEM specs, repaired the Electroluminance powerpack and the radio and replaced the horn relay to get that famous "Queen Mary II" sound again. I prefer to do all the work on my car personally, I even mastered to do paintwork on my car. With those modern HVLP paintguns available today and the modern 2K paints it ain't that difficult anymore and no-one can tell which parts of the car are repainted. Pretty proud of that! All I have to do now is replacing the roof rail and doors weatherstripping.

4) Do you have any other Imperials that you currently own?

No, I haven't ! But I would love to start a collection with adding a 59 and 61! Maybe if I win the lottery..

5) Do you have a favorite year Imperial? This does not have to be one you own, and why would this be your favorite?

Yes, the 1960 Imperial is my absolute favorite, everything is just right about this car! I like the exterior with it's "smiling" front bumper, the design of the eyebrow emblems and those great "rocketship" taillights. The interior of this year is just a great as the exterior, first year of the electroluminance system, 2 huge round instrument clusters, lots of chrome inside the car, and ofcourse those luxury options as powerwindows, powerlocks, powerseats and swivelseats. Just everything is right about this car! Virgil Exner was a true genius for sure!!

6) Is there a style feature or gadget that you like best on the Imperial? This does not have to be one you own.

This does not have to be one you own. At the moment I am busy with repairing a 1960 Mirrormatic rearview mirror and an automatic beamchanger. Those two gadgets are really over the top if you ask me, and I like it!!

7) If you had a choice of installing one modern day feature on your Imperial, what would you like?

Allthough the car is very complete and drives like a dream, the only thing that I would like to install is a modern brakesystem with discbrakes on every wheel combined with ABS. Just to be able to brake as good as any modern car on the highway, allthough the original brakes are OK you simply need a lot of road to bring the car back to 0 when you are doing 80 mph on the highway..

8) Is there a book that you have read relating to Imperial or Chrysler that you enjoyed reading and would suggest to others to get?

Yes, there a few worth to mention: Virgil Exner, the biography by Peter Grist, a great book about a great person! Another one that ever DIY mechanic should have is "How to rebuild Big Block Mopar engines by Don Taylor". Very well written and a source of very useful information.

9) Do you have other collector cars that you currently own or would like to own, or have owned in the past that you would like to mention?

I don't have any other collector cars at the moment, my daily driver is a Opel Calibra. That one is slowly becoming a collector car overhere, but I don't think it is known in the US:) My wife owned a Volvo Amazone of 1967 and a 1977 Mercedes 250 . Both cars are gone now due to rust issues and mechanical trouble. Not every car is as perfect as an Imperal I guess! Right now I am looking for another collector car for my wife, it should be a 1983-1985 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in pristine condition, so if anyone of you knows one for sale please let me know!

10) Considering all the collector cars youíve currently own or have owned, is there one that you would consider your favorite and why? (I strongly suggest you donít answer Cadillac as Iím sure Kenyon will tag your name on the membership list)

There is only one car that will do for me, and thats the 1960 Imperial I currently own!

11) Do you have any short term and/or long term plans for your present collection?

Like mentioned before, I hope to broaden my collection of collector cars this summer with a Jeep Grand Wagoneer and if my ship with money comes in I would love to obtain a 59 and 61 Imperial.

12) What do you enjoy the most about working on or owning collector cars?

I like to do all the mechanical and cosmetic stuff myself. I like to work on that big 413 RB engine and recently found out that I also like to do paintwork myself. This summer I planned to do some repaint work on my daily driver, the Opel Calibra. Proud of ownership comes automatically with a 1960 Imperial, you won't easily spot a second one here on the Dutch roads!

13) Do you currently belong to any car clubs? Are you a member because you gain knowledge of the trade or is it more of a social gathering?

The only car club I belong to is the Online Imperial Club!! We don't have Imperial clubs here in my country, but I am very glad that I can be part of the OIC!

14) Do you have someone that you can pass your knowledge of collecting and restoring cars onto? How important of a factor is that for you?

I think my 14 year old son Thijs might be interested when he grows a bit older. He wants to be a car mechanic but is not into classic cars right now. On the otherhand, I wasn't into classics either when I was 14, so there is hope!

15) Do you have any local, regional, or national car show(s) that you have enjoyed attending that you would like to mention?

Together with fellow OIC member, 60 owner and buddy Tom Scott I visited Carlisle last summer and spend my holiday at his place afterwards. We all had a great time and that was the biggest car event I ever attended in my life! Never saw so much Mopars together before, and I highly recommend everyone to visit this great car show.

This page was last updated 4 June 2009.   Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List