Does the CC Commentariat have room for one more Imperial this week? I gave some serious thought to which one of my mini Mopars to use to see off Mopar Week. The Hawaiian Blue ’68 Barracuda with white interior? The ’69 Dart GTS in green with green top, white interior, green dash and carpet and the “recall” wheels? The burnt orange ’70 Challenger R/T with burnt orange interior? No, they’re cool, but I want something really wild. And what could be wilder than my mini 1961 Imperial convertible?
1961 was the year of the Mopars From Outer Space. You had the Dodges with the giant air scoop nose, reverse-slant fins and jet-tube taillights sunk into the quarter panel. Then you had the Plymouth, which looks like a yacht under full throttle from the front–those crazily-curved front fenders are the “waves” breaking over the bow. The ’61 DeSoto? Yikes, a face only a mother could love, and a let down from the attractive, albeit Chrysler-derived ’60. And then there was the Imperial.
The 1961 Imperial makes the ’60 model look almost normal. With wild free-standing headlights attached to the bumper, parking/turn signal lights integrated into the front fender eyebrows, and deep dish, turbine-vaned wheel covers. And then there were the fins.
Keep in mind, by 1961 fins were on the way out. Cadillac still had them, but they were getting lower and lower every year since the unforgettable ’59 model. When you compare this car to the 1961 Buicks and über-classy 1961-65 Lincoln Continentals (CCs here and here), this car stands out–but for the wrong reasons. Of course, today, they look great and I love them. But in 1961 this car was a bit of an anachronism.
But let’s take a closer look at the scale version. This is not your usual $20 discount store model, and has much more attention to detail. The trunk is carpeted, and a 1/18-scale jack and lug wrench are thoughtfully included.
Here’s the miniature 413 CID V8, with Imperial logos on the valve covers. Also note the accurate hood hinges.
One of the neatest features of this Imperial is the windows that actually raise and lower. But that’s not all…
…for the model also comes with a removable top. A miniature convertible top boot is included, allowing a better view of the detailed interior–Torqueflite pushbuttons, rectangular steering wheel and all.
There is simulated carpeting inside, the front seats fold forward, and even the rear armrest folds down. Pretty cool!
And what an instrument panel! These Imperials just shout “Jet Age” extravagance.
It reminds me of the ’63 Crown used in the 1963 film The Wheeler Dealers, starring James Garner. That Imperial was equipped with two phones, so his secretary could screen calls for the boss! A fun film, check it out if you haven’t seen it.
So far this model, made by Road Signature, has been released in red/red, white/red and green/tan color schemes. I think the red on red is the best of the bunch.
However, should they release one in aqua (Teal Blue, officially) with white interior, as shown here in the ’61 brochure, I of course will have to get one to keep the red one company!