Row of Imperials

Kerry Pinkerton's Toy Box


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Here is a brief interview we recently had with IML member Kerry Pinkerton.  All the pictures displayed on this page are from Kerry's past and present herd.  If you have any questions for Kerry, please feel free to send him a message!

 

 

Introduction:

I'm the guy who does some of the sagas and how-to's that are referenced on the IML site.  I don't do it because I think I'm good or even think I know what I'm doing.  I do them because I like to write and in my past, there were many folks who shared my knowledge with me.  When I asked what I owed them they said  "Just don't let it die, share the knowledge and pass it on."  Besides, at my age, it's helpful to have a record of how I took things apart when I'm trying to remember how to put it back together.

I really enjoy the building process and am pretty fearless when it comes to tackling new things.  Back in 84, my wife and I built a 4000 sq foot house nearly by ourselves.  There was less than 10 grand in other peoples labor in everything.  Saved about 50% or more and everything was done exactly as we wanted although my wife did have to sleep with her builder...

 

 

 

My fabrication interest has led me into metal-shaping and for the past year or so I've built or acquired some neat metal-shaping equipment including an English Wheel.

finished.jpg (51998 bytes)

I've got a pretty decent shop and a fair amount of tools and 'stuff' but I spent a lot of years working on a gravel driveway in the rain.  The 'stuff' has been accumulated over a lifetime of being a car guy.

All my sagas and articles can be reached from my site at:  dte.net/57imperial

Question:  When did you purchase your first Imperial?

Not really sure, I think it was about 95.  When I was growing up, my Dad had a 61 Desoto (last year for the manqué and the most butt ugly grill in the world).  I always had the hots (still do) for 61 Chryslers.  While reading the want ads one night, I saw an ad for a 61 Imperial.  I had no idea what it looked like but I hoped it looked like my desired 61 Chrysler.  After all, it is a Chrysler Imperial isn't it?  :) It was nearby and still daylight so I drove over.  I was in decent shape.  Some rust, motor stuck but decent trim and apparently low mileage.   Did not really crank my tractor but it was cheap (600 bucks) so I bought it.  It has the silvercrest roof but no flitesweep decklid

 Rrear.jpg (225240 bytes) They guy had a trailer and we pulled it home and I promptly stuck it in a shed and ignored it.  In November of 97, I saw another ad for a 57 Imperial coupe which I really liked.  I bought it also and had it hauled home on a rollback.  It was then I was beginning to use the internet and did a google search on 57 Imperial, found the IML, read some of Tony Lindsay's sagas about his 61, joined the IML, and got hooked.


Q:  Do you still own it?

Yes and two more.  I bought Wayne Davis' two 61's summer before last and drug them home from Dallas (I live near Huntsville, Alabama)  This was the same trip that we picked up Jeff Carrothers 60 Crown.  Drove to Jeff's in Jackson Mississippi.  Connected with Elijah Scott and Mark Harris and we all drove over to Dallas in my GMC.  Looked at the "pink" 61, was not impressed.  Drove on to Abilene and got Jeff's 60 loaded on the trailer.  Drove back to Dallas and decided to look at the other 61.  By this time I had talked myself into getting them.  I had a business meeting the next morning but by noon we were on the road.  Drove back to Jackson, unloaded the 60 crown.  Slept a little and left at 4am to make a day trip to Dallas to get the second 61.  Got back to Jackson about midnight and the next day I drove home with it.  A couple weeks later Jeff, Robert Soule, and I drove over and got the pink car.  It was 101 degrees and we loaded it with a hand winch.  Fun road trips but I now have an electric winch.  Learned that lesson well.

Q:  What, if any, restoration did you do to that car?

Unfortunately, it and the other two are all parts cars.  The years have not been kind to the first car and it's now stripped of trim and other things that would continue to deteriorate.  It's destined to be a donor for my "GeeA Limo" project (dte.net/57imperial/geea)   John Corey did a design study for me and this should be the way it looks more or less.  Probably not that color though.  Maybe by then, I'll be ready to build a black car.Ghia did not make limos using the 61 for the basis. The 61 Ghias were based on the 60 Imperial.  GeeA is a take off on how my redneck friends might pronounce Ghia.  It's a southern thing...  maybe I'll work a confederate flag into a cloisonné emblem (KIDDING)  ...Dang boy, I ain't never heard of no Geera car befur


Q:  What is your favorite year Imperial?

I like all the finned cars especially.  Pre-69 is a favorite because they are simpler.  I've had two 73 Imperials and while I enjoyed the process of restoration, I did not enjoy ditzing with all the doodads, solenoids, and miscellaneous other 'stuff'.  I really, really, dislike getting upside down under a dash.
                                
Q:  Why is it your favorite?  What do you find appealing about that particular year?

It would have to be a 57-58 Imperial convertible with factory air.  Simple car, great styling, ragtop, 392 hemi, worth a ton.


Q:  Do you have a favorite Imperial gadget or styling feature?  

I've GROWN to like the styling of the 61's.  It took several years.  The freestanding headlights are just so outrageous.  Fins of course.  I also just love the way 73's look at night with that rear side light lit up.  Looks like a starship.

Q:  Any other automotive gadget or styling feature that you like or would like to own?

Gadgets are hard to work on and are usually broken when I get my cars so I prefer the simple cars.  The 66 300 I'm currently restoring is simple to work on.  Motor, trans, AC, 4 tires...

Q:  What does your Mopar collection consist of? 

Addiction is more like it although I've thinned the herd somewhat in the past year.

  • 50 Crown Imperial Limo 50Crownside.jpg (46755 bytes)
  • 50 Imperial Crown (parts car) You can see it next to the 60 T&C below.  I bought it for 4 perfect hubcaps and the left front inner fender.  Wasn't worth the 500 bucks I gave for it given I had to go to Cleveland to get it.  Ah well, got to spend some time with my favorite Uncle.
  • 57 Imperial coupe Now a customized roadster in process (the car in the 57 saga at dte.net/57imperial) Sketch1a.gif (9169 bytes)
  • 60 Newport sedan (for sale)
  • 60 NY Town and Country Wagon (9 pass dual air, also for sale but rough  http://dte.net/57imperial/60TandCOct26_22.jpg (95792 bytes)
  • 64 Imperial Crown (for sale and NICE...http://dte.net/57imperial/64saga)

    Dec20_11.jpg (111638 bytes)

  • 66 Chrysler 300 four door.  Very nice car being restored at the moment.  This is the car in the paint saga.

    300front.jpg (38602 bytes)

  • 68 Imperial Convertible.  Number 4 car but will be very nice when finished.  


Q:  What other collector cars (at least 20 years old) have you owned in your lifetime?

Also have:

  • 40 Buick Roadmaster (for sale)
  • 38 Studebaker Coupe Express (Pickup, street rod project, 1 of 1000), kind of sold if the guy ever comes to get it.
  • 72 Montego that's been in my family since new
  • 67 Mustang I restored with/for my youngest son when he turned 16.  The 64 Impala we did for my oldest son was sold a few years back.  He'll regret it but neither one of them got the old car bug in spite of my efforts to be contagious.


Q:  Which car has been your favorite and why?

It would have to be Eisenhower, the 54 Imperial.  Wonderful car. 54K mile original.  Working factory air.  Near showroom chrome.  Drove great.  It was just worth too much for me to 'restore' as much as I wanted to.  Like Dick Benjamin says, "You can restore a car as often as you wish, but it's only original once."

Q:  What are your future plans for your present collection?

I've discovered/decided that it's really hard for me to keep more than 3 'drivers' up.  These are old cars and they always need attention.  Attention is not something I particularly enjoy.  If you haven't figured it out from my sagas, I'm a fabricator.  Diddling with carbs, points, etc and doing TLC isn't as much fun for me as building a new one.  I'm really looking forward to the GeeA project because I'll get to get very creative, use my machine tools, make lots of sparks with the welder, and make some neat body panels using my metalshaping tools.

 

The 66 300 is a wonderfully fun car to drive.  It was a 2 owner car and the guy I bought it from on 9/11/03 bought it from the original dealer as a trade-in in 1968.  He had the motor, trans, radiator, brakes, etc all done about 1000 miles back.  He was getting ripped by his mechanic.  The carb had been built twice and when I drove the car it killed ever mosquito in the county with the black smoke.  The floats were upside down.  He had also been told the AC (which had just quit working and was probably the last straw for him) was going to need 'everything', to the tune of 1000 bucks.  It was low on freon and I put 12 oz of Duracool in it and it works great.  This is the same place that told him his front end was shot so he ordered 600 bucks worth of front end parts (EVERYTHING) from Just Suspensions.  I took it to a front end shop and the only thing that was wrong was a broken sway bar bracket which I welded.  I feel sorry for the old guy.  He was crying as I drove off.  I'm looking forward to taking him for a ride when I finish it.

 

The 68 Convertible is next.  I bought this car from my good friend Robert Soule.  He had done the brakes and most the mechanicals which I don't enjoy anyway.  The car had been wrecked years back and poorly repaired.  I took it to a frame shop and they pulled the front end THREE INCHES!!!  Its a low mileage car with a nice interior and will make a very nice car.  Not sure if I'll keep it or sell it when I get it finished.

 

Then I'll get to start on the GeeA limo which should take a good while.

 

At some point, I'll do the disk brakes on the 50 Crown Limo.  Once it's running, I'll have to decide if I want to keep it or sell it and let someone else finish it.  The chrome work will be expensive and I normally don't like to spend much money on things I can't do myself.

 

After that I might get back to the 57 Imperial Sports Roadster.

 

This is probably 6-10 years worth of projects if you throw in miscellaneous work I do for other people like patch panels and paint jobs. If I get all that done, I'll probably be old enough that I'll be thinking of slowing down.  Or course, who knows what neat car will show up tomorrow just begging to follow me home.....  


Q:  Do you have any, "I can't believe I let that car get away from me" stories? 

 

I missed a MG TC and a 190 SL Mercedes roadster when I was in my 20's.  Just waited too long.  I'm too cheap and risk adverse.


Q:  Do you have any funny or interesting stories about purchasing an old car?

 

Well the trips to Dallas to get the 61's were a blast.  But dealing with Mr. King on the 54 was really unique.

This car was purchased from Mr. King of Guntersville, Alabama and had been stored for years, probably 12+ years in an unheated store building in the small town of Town Creek, Alabama.

Mr. King is an original piece of work.  I saw the car when we went to get Jeff Carrothers 56 Imperial but he would not quote a price.  I could not stop thinking about it and during the Anniston gathering I called him and he quoted me a price out of a 6 year old price guide.  I said 'yes' on Saturday and the following Monday, I took him a check.

I went into his clothing store in Guntersville and we were looking at some photos of his cars.  He pointed at a picture of a 54 and said, "That's the one you're trying to buy."  Quickly I pulled the cashiers check from my pocket, handed it to him and replied, "Trying hell!"  During my visit, he realized he had quoted me a low price but it did not seem to bother him and I certainly did not offer to pay more than we had agreed.

I've had a lot of fun going on road trips to get some of these cars since I retired a couple years back.  I've been to Dallas/Abiline twice, Cleveland, Moline Il, Tampa, Dallas and twice to Rockford Il.  The trip to Rockford for the 50 limo was kind of interesting.  

It was originally listed on Ebay but I was outbid by a guy in Rockford, Il.  The car was in the DC area and I contacted the winner expressing an interest in the car and inviting him to join the IML.  He decided he wanted the car to drive people to his diner (??) and had no idea what he had bought or what he was getting into.  He had the car hauled to Rockford and immediately decided he was in over his head and emailed me.  I tentatively offered him what he paid on Ebay but not his transportation costs.  In mid April I drove from Alabama to Rockford to buy the car but when I saw the condition of the chrome and pot metal I offered him 2 grand less than he wanted.  He passed and I came home with an empty trailer.. Six weeks later, he had decided he needed to get rid of the car and I gave him 500 more than my original offer.  He had not been able to get a clear title which is not an issue in Alabama pre 76..  He lost about 2 grand on the deal. ANOTHER 1500 mile trip later the Crown is at his new home.  

Q:  Are there any other collector cars (besides Imperials) that you would like to own??

I keep expecting to find a 61 300 convertible in some little old ladies barn for little of nothing.  I have a set of cross rams that I got with the deal for the 60 Newport but really need something neat to put them on.


Q:  Do you belong to any other antique car clubs?

No

Q:  What was the best car show you ever attended?

By far my favorite events are the Anniston and Chattanooga gatherings.  Chryslers at Carlisle is a great event and I've been the last two years and plan on going for many more.  I'm not into showing with cars that only have to look good.  I've seen too many "Senior" AACA cars that would barely run.

Q:  Do you have a favorite car related book or movie?  

Not that I can think of....


This page was last updated February 28, 2003.   Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List