How To Remove Your Imperial's Chrome

Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Body -> Chrome

Question from Charlie:

Does anyone have a method for removing chrome, or is this strictly a professional operation?  I'd like to paint my bumpers for the first season I'm  going to run my car and want to remove the old chrome.

Reply from Allan:

After talking to my chrome plater, he said they either acid dip the part or the glass bead off the chrome and nickel and copper very carefully , then polish the parts and replate. He said they use a 150 grit glass bead and are very careful not to stay in one place for to long. Do not use the glass bead method on Brass or other very soft metals as you will wear away to much of the detail in the part.

Question from Charles (1957):

I am removing the chrome on my '57 Imperial, and I don't know how to get the chrome off the front fenders and the Imperial signature off the fenders.


From Kerry:

The script has bolts that can be reached when you take the inner fender liner out. The eyebrow trim is a bear but the bolts can be reached by going in the wheel well and reaching WAY up toward the front over the headlights.

From Philippe:

If you are talking about the die-cast moldings which run from "T" over headlight and curve around the fender, there are 5 or 6 bolts you can reach from the wheel opening. To remove those, at the front of the molding you'll have to remove the fender splash (metal) shields in front of the wheels which are bolted to the inner fender/radiator yoke. It isn't very easy to remove the front bolt because it is very far into the headlight "pocket". You will need lights, extension sockets, etc..

The "Imperial" scripts have 4 or 5 studs with small snaps at the rear. You must put your arm between the fender and inner fender, there is a rubber (2 " wide) which closes the gap between them and then find the rear of studs. Also, the "crown" are only press fitted into the fender in small inserts.

Question from Bill (1959):

I was doing some spot touch up painting on my '59 Imperial today, and while waiting for areas to dry I decided to remove the trim ring around the Flitesweep tire. I removed the screw at the top which released the band, but was unable to get the band off. I started prying with a screw driver, but I got afraid I might bend it. Does anyone out there have previous experience with this? I need to get the ring off to repair a small rust spot that goes up under it towards the rear of the trunk.

Reply from Henry:

Try pushing on the pointy things sticking through the ring into the underside of the trunk lid. As I recall, they are sealed with some rubbery stuff, sort of a caulk. There is more than one screw holding the ring in place. Have to get a nut driver to stick up through the larger holes in the underside to get at them. At least that's the way my 61 was.

Question from Mark (1964):

Well, I signed up for an auto body class this summer to help me work on my Imperial. My goal is to have the car painted by the end of the class (it runs end of may through beginning of April), so this is rather ambitious, especially for me. I am trying to get a head start on things and do as much prior to the class as I can. This morning I went out to start removing trim, and discovered that I have no idea how to remove some of the pieces.

There is a nut that holds the trim ring around the grill half that I can't figure out how to get to (actually there are two, but a previous owner was kind enough to leave the top one off for me). The one I can't get to is on the fender side on the bottom. I can feel the nut, but I can't get anything to it to be able to loosen it. Is it necessary to remove the bumper to get to it? or is there some other trick?

Also, the strips that run from front to back along the fenders and doors, how do you get to the nuts that hold them on? I am assuming that I can get the ones on the door by removing the door panels and having the windows up, but I don't see any way to get to the nuts on the front fenders (I haven't checked the trunk to see if I can get to the ones on the back yet, I am waiting for it to dry out before attempting anything in there).

Reply from Chris:

There is a nut that holds the trim ring around the grill half that I can't figure out how to get to (actually there are two, but a previous owner was kind enough to leave the top one off for me). The one I can't get to is on the fender side on the bottom. I can feel the nut, but I can't get anything to it to be able to loosen it. Is it necessary to remove the bumper to get to it? or is there some other trick?

Alas, there is no trick. The bumper must come off. Actually, you want to do this anyway to take off the chrome/rubber moldings between the fender and the bumper. You'll get a much better paint job that way. Same with the rear bumper.

Also, the strips that run from front to back along the fenders and doors,

There are a nut and bolt at each end of the doors. The center section is held on by compression clips. After unbolting, gentle prying will pop the trim off. Carefully tape these compression fittings when painting, and they can be re-used.

The trunk and front fenders are similar. There are bolts wherever there is access. i.e., inside the trunk and up in the front fender well. The remainder is held on by compression clips. On the front fenders, the front fender liner panels (between the bumper and front wheel) need to come out to get access to the bolts at the front of the fender.

Question from Johan (1965):

I'd like to remove the side moldings that run front to back on both sides of  the exterior (the "rails") without busting the fasteners. How best is this done?


From Chris:

In 1966, they are held on by a combination of nuts and bolts and plastic fasteners. (1964-65 are likely similar.)

The front fenders are all nuts and bolts. Note: the fender liner panel in front of the front wheel will have to come out to gain access to some of these nuts at the leading edge of the fender.

The rear fenders are mostly nuts and bolts, except for several plastic fasteners around the "C" pillar. These are unique in that they are posts in the trim that fit down into the plastic holders. Just carefully pull up and out. Note: be sure to seal these openings in the fender well when re-installing or you will have leaks in your trunk.

The doors have one nut and bolt assembly at either end of the trim. The remainder of the trim is retained by plastic fasteners. Carefully pry the trim from the plastic retainers. I would suggest doing it on the side facing the interior of the car - less likelihood of paint damage, and more easily repaired if there is any. Use a "padded" pry tool - one wrapped with a layer of duct tape to prevent paint damage.

From Greg:

I removed these trim pieces myself before sending my '65 convertible to the restoration shop. I wish now I had just let the shop do it but at the time I hadn't found the shop! Some of the fasteners are easy to reach (i.e. the ones you can get to in the trunk compartment) but others can really be a pain. I used a nut driver (screwdriver looking tool with a socket on the end) but had to use other types of wrenches (open/closed end, socket etc.) for some of the fasteners in the front quarter panel areas. The pieces on the doors can be trying to say the least (door panels must be CAREFULLY removed first obviously) with all the motors, window glides etc. to maneuver around. It will take some time but they will come off intact if you are careful. There are small thin rubber washers or spacers so be careful with those too. I guess they wouldn't be too difficult to replace if you tear one or two. I remember scraping a few knuckles and cutting a thumb removing this trim because some of the spaces are really cramped. Be patient and take your time. Good luck!

Question from Ken (1966):

What is the best way to remove the body chrome off of a 1966 Imperial? I was told thay there was a nut on the end of each of the chrome strips and to take them loose. Then the chrome would slide off. I tried that on the door but it didn't seem to work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


From David:

I think you have been told correctly but something that has not moved in 36 years may be reluctant. If you don't have a manual go to a wrecking yard and see how a damaged piece can come off, there may be more nuts holding it on is another possibility. Whatever you do take it slow as to act in haste is a good way to piss yourself off.Let me know how you get on, sorry I could not be more specific.

From Chris:

In addition to the nuts & bolts at each end, the door chrome is held on by 3-4 compression clips. Gently pry under the chrome strip and it should just pop off. If you don't want to damage the paint, use a soft plastic spatula, or tape off the paint wherever you are prying and wrap the the screwdriver in tape.

Question from Tom (1966):

A question about accessing the nuts for removing the grille from my '66 convertible. Most of them were easy and I needed to remove the  front splash pans to get to the outer upper ones. My question concerns the outer lower nuts. Does the bumper need to be removed to gain access?


From Jeff:

Yes, the only way I have ever been able to get to them is to drop the bumper which makes them fairly easy to get to then.

From Dave:

Yes, the bumper needs to be removed to get to those bolts on the 64 - 66 models so that grille removal can be accomplished.

From Chris:

Sorry to tell you, but the answer is yes, the bumper has to be removed.

Question from Clay (1967):

Is there a trick to removing the stainless windshield trim that is on a 67? After studying the FSM, and armed with my nifty new trim removal tool from Eastwood, I decided to try and remove the trim. Taking my time and being extra careful I promptly bent the $%# out of the passenger side trim piece (sigh). The trim is being removed for a re-paint, and windshield replacement.


From Paul:

Yes there is a trick. Its called patience. If you are not having any luck, take the car to your local glass shop and they will have it off in a jiffy!

From Mark:

Yes, to paraphrase G. Gordon Liddy, the trick is not to bend it.

I don't think anyone who has ever removed windshield trim has NOT bent it. So don't feel bad; you are in a big club.

I have heard the trick is to rock the tool back & forth, but I just let the pros do it.

From Roy:

That stuff is nearly impossible to remove without mangling it! One of the problems is that the excess sealer used around the gasket also helps to stick the molding to the body in addition to the now corroded metal clips. How you approach the process is best determined by exactly what you need to do. If the windshield is actually damaged and needs replacement, I would suggest that you tape a plastic dropcloth or a bedsheet around the inside of the windshield opening and smash the glass! That way you can pull the gasket out and the trim will remove without damage to it or the gasket. You will then spend about six hours removing the glass fragments from the gasket, but that's easier than standing next to the car cussing! If you don't like that idea, and you are going to repaint, then I suggest that you use a sponge brush to dab lacquer thinner into the joint between the body and the trim to soften up the excess gasket goop that is sticking the molding to the body. Finally, you can look for a glass shop that the muscle car guys go to do the work and hope for the best.

Question from Tim (1967):

How are chrome trim pieces connected to the body, and what's the right way to temporarily remove them? I'm talking about a '67, in case it makes a difference. The pieces on the hood and trunk seem obvious -- there are screws along the underside. But what about the ones around the roof, for example? Does one use some special tool for prying them off without damaging them, or what?


From Bill:

There is a special tool for this, but I am sorry that I can't give you it's name. Check with any body shop, they should be able to help you. Even with the special tool, some of the removal is difficult, even for an experienced body man.

From Dave:

In my experience, one breaks the clips that holds them on then buys new ones to put the chrome back on with. If you find a way to salvage the clips, let me know. I want to repaint my 68 the original color. I am very leery of taking off the chrome.

Question from Clay (1967):

I have a question concerning the chrome side trim on a 67. After I removed the nut holding the rearmost part of the trim, I was able to then slide the trim off of what looks to be square headed plastic studs. I am now trying to figure out the best way to remove these plastic studs, or pegs from the body of the car.  Are they pressed into the body of the car?  Can they be removed with out breaking ?  Are they a common item?

Reply from Ken:

These can be easily removed if, and only if, you do it the right way.

They must be removed from the inside of the car. You must take the door panel off to get to them. To remove them, place a Phillips screwdriver in the center of the plastic pin and pound lightly with a hammer. This will drive the pin out and then the square part can be removed from the outside.

This page last updated June 1, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club