Curbside Capsule: 1968 Imperial Convertible

(first posted 8/12/2012)      I keep scoring big at my favorite local garage… I noticed this 1968 Imperial convertible when I had some work done on my beater farm truck last week. The shop did a lot of the restoration work, and the car was in for a little touch-up as the owner now has it on the market.

JCP already did a CC on the ’68 Imperial, so I won’t plow that ground again. Instead, I’d like to highlight that the designer of this car, Elwood Engel – who was hired away from Ford in 1961, was also the man responsible for the ’61 Lincoln Continental. And from certain angles (in my opinion), there’s more than a passing resemblance between the design themes.

Only 474 copies were made of the convertible, and I echo JCP’s comment that this may be one of the rarest cars covered here at CC. Finding one smack dab in the middle of corn country makes it even more unique.

Where modern cars try to create cocoons around each occupant, the Imperial instead brings to mind a line from Bruce McCall’s Zany Afternoons about the dash being a ‘solid wall of chrome.’

It’s obvious that the design theme, both inside and out, is long, parallel horizontal lines. It’s a clean, crisp look that comes off looking very elegant. In fact, the only real complaints Imperial owners had were related to poor workmanship – feature-wise, it seems to have hit the mark squarely.

Notice the “turbine” treatment on the wheel covers? It’s the same linear theme, repeated radially.

The ’67 Imperial was the first year for unit body construction, and was based on the slightly shorter C Body. Styling themes were largely unchanged from the former ‘body on frame’ D Body models, which were so strong that they were eventually banned from demolition derbies because they were too hard to knock out!

The ’67-68 Imperials also lost the spare tire bump on the trunk, which helped move it away from the Continental design-wise. Personally, I think it really cleans up the rear styling.

Again, keep in mind that some drafting board jockey was tasked with designing each of the elements you see here: the side marker lamp, rub strip and bumper “wings” treatment.

This particular car has 57K miles on it, and the owner is asking $9,800, which is a steal compared to some of the prices I saw researching online. This car cost $6,522 when new ($40,412 in 2010 dollars).

My wife and I are planning a road trip out West later this year, and just for a very brief moment, I thought “this would sure make a neat road trip car.” Thankfully, reality quickly set in.