1981 Imperial, a long way from home

There’s one example of the last car to have the Imperial marque (as opposed to a model line) in Wellington, New Zealand

3y ago


This Imperial’s looking very imposing among Japanese domestic appliances

This Imperial’s looking very imposing among Japanese domestic appliances

I never imagined I would see one of these in New Zealand, far away from its birthplace in Canada. It’s a 1981 Imperial (more on Autocade at autocade.net/index.php/Imperial_(1981%E2%80%933) ), which, from memory, was the most expensive car sold by Chrysler back then. Imagine that: US$20,000 for what was basically a flash Plymouth Volaré. Sure it had a newfangled digital dashboard and fuel injection, neither of which actually worked for long. It has a “bustle” back, which the 1980 Cadillac Seville (see autocade.net/index.php/Cadillac_Seville_(1980%E2%80%935) ) and the 1982 Lincoln Continental (autocade.net/index.php/Lincoln_Continental_(1982%E2%80%937) ) also had. I credit this to industrial espionage and not any real trend. No one else did this—only the Big Three.

These were never sold in New Zealand, and even in the US, where they were mainly exported, they were not popular. Only 12,385 were made in Windsor, Ontario. I guess with downsizing, people (namely the older buyers this was aimed at) knew what they were really getting was actually a “compact” six years before, and they just weren’t fooled. Having a single two-door body style didn’t help things, either: you couldn’t walk into a Chrysler dealer and get the four-door limousine version that appeared in Cannonball Run II. And there was a Frank Sinatra special edition, the FS, but even that didn’t really get the buyers rushing in to the showrooms. A Lincoln or Cadillac challenger it was not. I will admit, however, that as a child, I did think it was cool. Evidently someone else in my city still believes so, as it’s not a small effort to import your own car.

This was in surprisingly good condition—as good as it could be given that they were never that well made to begin with. It’s nice that one of these cars is being cherished by a real Mopar fan Down Under.

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