Repair Information for Your Imperial's Shock Absorbers


Imperial Homepage -> Repair  -> Frame, Spring and Shocks -> Shocks


Question from (difference between Monroe and Gabriel):

I wanted to put a pair of rear air shocks on my '57. I ordered MA 704 Monroe air shocks at the Shock Shop. Unfortunately they are out of stock!  They told me that they could provide the same air shocks in Gabriel brand.  How are the Gabriel's ? I know Monroe quality but not Gabriel. And, as you think, I need quality.

Replies:

From Dick:

I don't know of any significant quality difference between the two brands.

From Andy:

Gabriel is a good shock. I have them on all my cars and truck. The lifetime warranty is nice. Twice i have received a set of replacements for zip! They are nice shocks!

From Larry:

I have used Gabriel air shocks on several cars including my 68 Imperial Crown 4door hardtop. They work well and last for years.

From Chris:

There is little difference between them. However, it has been my personal experience that neither are particularly good on a 5200 lb. Imperial. Two of my four Gabriel's wore out completely (meaning NO resistance left whatsoever) in about 7,000 miles.

I run KYB's exclusively now, and they are vastly superior. However, I do not know if they make an air shock that fits. They do have a website with a customer service e-mail address that can help you with the answer to that question.

http://www.kyb.com/

From Bill:

I would go with KYB, and forget about the other two, and I would also loose the air shocks for a more Imperial like ride, unless you are planning on hauling heavy loads.


Question from Quint (1953):

I am having the toughest time finding shocks for my 1953 Custom Imperial. Anyone have any suggestions. I just received the Kantor catalogue and it looks like they may have them. If I can't find the shocks elsewhere I will probably order them from Kantor and hope they fit. Any comments?

Replies:

From Joe:

You can call Atlas Obsolete Parts 909 694 3062 .They specialize in Chrysler parts suspension etc....

From Phil:

One other thing you may want to consider, I know on my old 54 New Yorker Deluxe, the rear shocks for a 60-66 Valiant were a direct swap . Both the length and the fittings on the end were the same, which was a hoop with a bushing on each end, IIRC. I expect that the rear suspension on a 53-54 Imperial would be the same as a similar year New Yorker, so this may be worth a try. You could even take one of your old shocks with you to one of those parts stores like Western Auto or something similar, check the number on the newest possible interchange, then compare, just to be sure. Rear shocks usually aren't as difficult to interchange as say , front shocks where they have to be fitted thru the control arms on occasion, and if the diameter is thicker than original, they won't fit.

Follow-up from Quint:

Both Bernbaum and Atlas have these shocks.


Question from David (1954):

My '54 Custom Imperial is really needs new springs--most likely. But, in the mean time, I am hoping some heavy duty shocks will help settle the car down from bouncing while going over small bumps.  

Two Question: 1) What shocks should I use? and 2) How do I find the "right" size/model for my Imperial?

Replies:

From Phil:

Hopefully this is helpful, I don't know what to say for the front shocks, but I needed rear shocks for my ol' 54 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe some years ago. There were none listed cause at the time, they didn't keep track of parts for old cars, like they do now. Using an old JC Whitney catalog for an interchange manual, I found that a Valiant-Dart used the same rear shock, so ordered a set of shocks for that, and they worked perfectly. If a 54 Imperial is the same as a 54 New Yorker Deluxe, at least on the rear shocks, maybe that will work for you too. Those old Warshawskis and JC Whitney catalogs were a good poor man's Hollander interchange.  

From Luc:

Phil Paterson is right with his 54 New Yorker advice. We can add that ALL the 1954 Chrysler cars are equipped with Oriflow Shock Absorbers (similar to those used on 1953 models). These models: 

1953 1954: 

Windsor.......... C-60 C-62 

New Yorker....... C-56 C-63 

Custom Imperial.. C-58 C-64 

Crown Imperial... C-59 C-66

The principle of operation of the Oriflow Shock Absorber is that they provide greater damping effect than the precious type of Shock Absorbers. For this reason it must be remembered that the only way to properly check a car equipped with Oriflow Shock Absorbers is to road test the car. The car should never be jounced up and down and free oscillations used as the basis for replacement of the shock absorber. If the indications point to a complete failure, a bench test should be made to determine replacement.

The torqueing specifications for the shock absorber to frame cross member is 63 foot-pounds, and for the lower shock absorber stud, 160 foot-pounds.

REMOVAL AND INSTALLATION To remove a shock absorber, remove nuts from pins which pass through eyes at top and bottom of shock absorber. Then slide unit off pins.

When installing a shock absorber, first install the bushings in the shock absorber's eyes. Then install the inner bushing retainers, the shock absorber and bushing assembly and the outer retainers. The concave face of each retainer must fit again the convex face of the adjacent bushing.

On page 19 of the last Kanter's 2001 catalog you can find them. They make shock absorbers for Imperial 1937-83, I see... You can order the catalog on-line 

From Dick:

Assuming you don't want to pay Kanter's price for the correct fit shock, take one of your old ones off, measure the collapsed and extended lengths, and take the measurements and the old shock to your most old car tolerant auto parts store. Get the "Buyer's guide" catalog and just sit there comparing, until you find a shock with at least the length extended, and no more than the length collapsed, and the correct mounting provisions. Then you know what number to order. (You can also save others the hassle by noting what the shock fits in the current catalog application, so the next guy only has to ask for "shocks for a 1974 International 1200 Traveler" or the like.  


Question from Bill (1959):


Does anyone know where I might find some front shocks for my '59, at a reasonable price? Our web site suggests Sears, but they no longer carry Gabriel shocks, and have switched to Monroe. I was able to find rear shocks from Gabriel at Pep Boys, but they said the ones that fit the front were discontinued. I tried Rare Parts, and they had the front shocks manufactured by Airshox, but they were $54.00 each, OUCH! Any other suggestions?

 

Replies:

 

From John:

 

Try Andy Bernbaum or Mitchell's, they should both have them.

 

From Chris:

KYB makes a superb shock - far superior to anything else on the market. KG 4507's in the front. KG5511 in the rear.

The lower mounts on the front shocks need to be trimmed slightly, which is why they are not cataloged. But they give outstanding ride and performance once installed.

They are about $32 each, and worth it.

Follow-up question from Bruce:

 

Thanks for the KYB tip. Does anyone know if the same model numbers should fit a '57 post sedan? Also, what part of the shock needs to be trimmed a little?

 

Reply from Jay:

 

The front KYB shock needs to have it's lower bushing shortened from 1.50 to 1.25 inches. This is what I had to do for my installation. My guess is that the same mod needs to be made for other years as well.

 

Reply from Chris:

I, too, have had my share of trouble installing these gas shocks. They exert about 100 lbs of pressure on the fronts, and thus are tough to compress short enough - or for long enough time - to thread thread them through the narrow opening of the shock tower. They will not go through this opening if they are extended full length.

The trick is to remove the shock from it's nylon packing sleeve - but DON'T CUT THE SLEEVE. Save the sleeve. Grind off the lower mount to correct size (dipping in cold water regularly so the heat from grinding doesn't damage the bushing), and install the upper bushing and washer on the shock.

Then compress the shock and re-install it in its original nylon packing sleeve. This way the shock is now short enough to easily maneuver it into position. Align the upper mount to the hole in the frame. Cut the nylon packing sleeve and guide the upper end of the shock through the mounting hole as the shock extends itself. Simultaneously guide the lower end into position. It will hold itself in place now by pressure until you can screw both ends down.

Easy and simple, compared to the hours of cursing and compressing I did the first time I installed them!


Question from Bob (1964):

I'm having the damndest time locating front shocks for my 64Imp. Does anyone know of a reference number for a new shock for my car? All leads I've followed so far have been dead ended. I know there must be a replacement shock absorber for the front end of my 64Imperial. I just replaced them about ten years ago! Now , the same company (Firestone) tells me they no longer index the numbers I gave them off the shock.  Even my local Imperial wizard let me down once again.  Any ideas?

Replies:

From Carl:

I replaced the front and rear shock absorbers on my '65 4dr Crown with replacements from Kanter Auto Parts. I put gas charged shocks in front and coil booster shocks in the rear. The ride is great and so was the price. Kanter Auto Parts is located in Boonton, NJ. Their phone number is (800) 526-1096.  Here is Kanter's website.

From Rolf:

If the shocks are the same as a '66 Crown coupe. I took my car into Big O tires and they were able to special order the shocks from Monroe, they were labeled special edition. unfortunately I don't have the part number. and as I recall I was surprised at how small they were.

From Chris:

Gabriel listed shocks (front & rear) for '64 as of last year when I bought a set.

From Bob:

I was able to find Monroe shocks last year for a '66 at Pep Boys and both Monroe and Gabriel had web sites that allow some searching or inquiry. Yes, they seem a little small, but a big improvement over shot shocks. Also only about $12 each.

From Mark:

I was able to get gas shocks for my 63 LeBaron through my local Carquest parts house. They weren't too spendy and the car rides great. I would recommend them.

From Elijah:

Last summer, I had a very good experience getting new shock absorbers for my '71 Imperial -- at Sears, of all places. I hunted and shopped around quite a bit, and either had not luck, or got *outrageous* prices (one place could get me 4 shocks -- in a week, and the job would *only* cost $250!!!!!!). Sears had the correct shocks available, but not in stock. They ordered them ($15 each, so $60 for the set), and had them shipped to me, since the manager said they would get there quicker. I received the shocks in about 4 days, drove back to Sears, and it took them about an hour or so to install them ($10 per shock to install). I looked at their books, and remember that they had shocks available for Imperials all the way back to '55. Even though the shocks say Sears, they are actually Gabriel shocks, a very reputable brand. I have been thoroughly satisfied with the ones that I got.


Question from Stuart (1965):

Anybody know what shocks fit '65 Imperial convertible? I hear Gabriel's sag fast. KYB lists other big Chryslers but not the Crown. Would they be too expensive to rebuilt?

Replies:

From Chris:

Use KYB model KG 4507's in the front. KG5511 in the rear.

They don't list the front shock in the KYB catalog for use in Imperials because the lower mounting tube will have to be trimmed a little to fit in its intended bracket on the lower control arm.

To trim: Remove one of the old shocks, measure the lower tube thru which the mounting bolt goes through, and, using a grinder, trim the KYB's tube to match. Make sure to have a bucket of water next to you, and dip the portion of the shock being ground off repeatedly in the water during grinding, to avoid damage from heat to the rubber bushing around the tube. Sample its fit in lower mounting bracket. When it slides in snugly, install shock.

To install front shocks, remove packing strap (intact) that keeps shock compressed. Install lower retainer and bushing on top end. Compress shock and re-install packing strap. Position shock on suspension, cut the packing strap, and guide top end through upper mounting hole as the shock expands in length. Install upper bushing, retainer, and securing nuts. Doing it any other way will take many hours, big muscles, and a lot of cursing!

From Kerry:

I just found the receipt for the shocks I put on my 64 last night. Should be the same. Autozone 359133 82011 and 359935 82131. Don't know the brand but they had a lifetime guarantee and seem to be fine. They were 54 bucks total about 3 years back. two were in stock and two were special order.


Tip from Dave (1973):

At long last, new front shocks are on my 1973 Imperial LeBaron. Installation wasn't easy.

The Gabriel 82011 shock I'd ordered did not fit. While the Gabriel catalog describes 82011 as about 8 inches long compressed, the shock that actually was shipped is more like 12 inches long compressed, and therefore unable to fit up into the Imperial shock tower.

The same was true for the shock Monroe specifies. I believe the number was LE0009. The catalog describes a short shock of the type Imperial needs, but the shock that was shipped does not match the catalog description. In fact, the shock looked a lot like the Gabriel shock.

It became obvious that if shocks were to fit the Imperial as Chrysler Corporation intended, then some modifications to a set of shocks were in order.

As it happened, I found a set of shock absorbers that I had ordered from Kanter Auto Parts about ten years ago for my 1971 Imperial. These shocks are too long to fit a '69 through '73 Imperial front-end, and they look very much like the Monroe and Gabriel shocks autoparts stores kept pushing as "correct" for my car.

By cutting about an inch and a quarter off the rod of the shock, and extending the thread down, the Kanter shocks were made to fit. About half an inch of thread shows through the top side of the shock absorber bushing, which matches the illustrations in the 1973 Imperial factory service manual.

Speaking of bushings, none of the shocks listed for Imperial by KYB, Gabriel, Monroe and Kanter came with correct bushings. The car requires a mushroom style bushing about two inches long and an inch and a half wide. The little doughnut style bushings that came with the replacement shocks weren't a match by any means. Luckily, my original bushings were in good shape.

I consulted with my favorite MoPar parts department at a local Dodge dealer regarding shocks. The man there gave me the part numbers for the original '73 Imperial shocks. The shocks are unique to Imperial. Chrysler, fullsize Dodge and fullsize Plymouth DO NOT interchange. The front shocks are part number 03683994. The rear shocks are 03722735. The MoPar computer listed the shocks as being in stock at some dealerships, but none that I phoned claimed to have them. If you do, I'd like to hear from you. I still need shocks for the rear.


Tip from Kerry:

Came up with a trick for installing the front shocks. The problem is the shock has to be compressed in order to get it in and it wants to expand as soon as you let it go. After fighting one side, I got smart and got 2 LONG cable ties, put one through the eyehole and wrapped the other around the top rubber. I then compressed the shock and tightened the cable ties. It held the shock compressed and it slipped right in. Once it was in place, I cut the cable tie and pulled them out. Another interesting thing happened. While I had the car on the lift without the shocks in it, the rear shackle 'reversed'. When I let the car down, it dented up into the trunk floor. I did not know it until I vacuumed the trunk and started wondering about the hump. Back on the lift, apply crowbar, PUSH, Pop, and its back in place. Big lick with the ceremonial rubber mallet popped the trunk floor back in place.


Tip from Philippe:

Just a little story about shock absorbers, I think that it could help you and the Imperial owners.  Last year I bought a 57 wrecked Crown (no glasses, rust everywhere, transmission out ). This car was neglected since 1966 so all the parts on it were never replaced with aftermarket parts ! Except one thing : the shock absorbers! Maybe the original Oriflow weren't as strong as Chrysler said! I was very surprised when I removed the shocks : they aren't made in Brazil or Mexico as actual sold by K....R or B......M. There are KONI shocks, a very reliable & famous make (more expensive also). But I don't know if Koni make them always. Summit has Koni shocks on his catalog.  I give you the reference (as they are the same from 57 to 65) : Front : 80 C 1229 Rear : 82 1066 Date of manufacturing : 11/64 If they are always manufactured, buy them and don't buy $80.00 for four : I bought 4 gaz charged absorbers (from kanter) : after one year, one was leaking and one was jamed ! Mexico made ...

Follow-up from Dietmar:

You are right- KONI is the worlds best qualitiy shock absorbers for street and race cars. They will serve You a 100 000 miles without any complain. I use them on my IMP 60 so this havy car dont swim nor incline in the curve, I use KONI an all sports car I have.


Question and Tip from Richard:

While trying to fix other items under my dash, I finally removed the control dial for these shocks and traced the last air lines under the hood to a cylindrical shaped "device" that could be an air pump for the shocks. Aside from the thin air line exiting, there's only an air/vacuum type inlet - no electrical connection. Does anyone have any idea how this operated? This device sounds like the automatic load leveler air compressor. Get this: it's vacuum operated. The disconnected air inlet routes to 'T' connector on the power booster for the brakes (in later years), suppose manifold vacuum is just as good. There should also be an air tank (under the chassis below the back seat on later years) and ride height sensors on the axles.


This page last updated February 18, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club