Jim Corbett's 1971 Imperial LeBaron

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In 1972, my Dad purchased a dark blue 1971 Imperial.  As a 16 year old, I took pride in that car (I didn't learn to drive in it, but pretty close).  I have a photo of me washing that car sometime around '72/'73.  My parents let me have the car when I went to college (my last 2 years anyway) from 1977 to 1978.  My sister had the car after me for one year when she was in college.  In 1979, my Dad gave me the car (he was going to junk it since it wasn't worth much at the time, so when I asked, it was mine).
I learned to work on cars while I owned it and did all my own servicing.  I had a real hard time getting that spark plug replaced on the last cylinder behind the steering column!

Unfortunately, in 1984, I totaled it.

Here's the story of its demise: I was 28 and still single.  I was returning home on a Friday night around 1:00 a.m. and was very tired.  Less than a mile from my home there was bridge construction on a 4-lane (2-span) bridge, where a single span was narrowed to two-way traffic.  A very dirty (lights obscured and hard to see) tractor-trailer was traveling in the same direction and I came up behind it too fast and saw it too late to avoid a collision. I hit him pretty hard. The front end of the Imperial rolled up over the trailer tires and was pinched between the trailer and tires.  The driver of the tractor trailer dragged his trailer and newly-attached Imperial across the bridge and pulled over.  He thought he had a flat and was surprised to see the additional load.  I wasn't wearing a seat belt and feel fortunate to have walked away with only some bruises (all that Detroit iron probably saved me). 
I always wanted to resurrect the car, so the wreck sat in my driveway for a few years.  I pulled the engine and transmission and eventually had the car trucked to a body shop.  It sat there for a few more years.  I purchased a front clip for it and asked the owner of the body shop if/when he'd put it on his frame straightener.  He hemmed and hawed for a few more years and around 1994/5 asked me what I wanted done with the car.  I asked if he'd do any repairs, and he declined.  He offered to deliver it to me free of charge, but the neighborhood I now lived in wouldn't allow a non-working vehicle to sit in a driveway.  I sadly said he could send it off to be crushed.
Well, I still have the engine and transmission in my garage. Still have the bill of sale, title and keys, just wish I had the car.  The '71 is definetely the best of the fuselage body types and I think the midnight blue was the best color. 

In the fall of 2006, I found and purchased this 1971 Imperial.  Bear in mind that this car will be returned to its rightful color (B9 Midnight Blue Iridescent). The current color is '86 Cadillac Silver. 

So far, I've put on a new muffler and tailpipe (can't get the resonator anymore) and replaced the horn relay.  Now my horn sounds all the time.  I know it's the rim-blow switch shorted out (now disconnected under the steering wheel pad, not the horns, don't want to burn up a new relay). I hope to replace the rim blow switch soon.


Here are some recent photos of my '71.  I just had it repainted (B9 Blue).  The odometer is at 35K and I believe it is actual (not >100K).  The leather interior and carpet is original as is the vinyl top. 

I've done a partial upgrade to add cruise control (NOS servo and used throttle cable).  Still need to install the turn signal lever switch (was able to get an NOS one) and brake switch.
I'm also in the process of adding power door locks.  I've completed the front doors (they work nicely).  All the wiring into the doors and to the PDL relay was already installed.  You can see my new switch plates in the photos.  I just need both rear door pigtail harnesses and one rear door solenoid connecting rod.
After that, I plan to fix my rim blow horn switch (any installation advice?) and get the permanent solution (aluminum) Auto Temp II servo.  At some point I will try to find some power seat tracks to make the upgrade to power seats.Finally, I will try to add a factory AM/FM stereo 8-track in place of the AM/FM mono.  I'll give up the floor button auto seek, but the stereo sound would be much better. 
Enjoy driving this car almost daily (dry days only).

This page was last updated November 8, 2007.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club