T ulsa’s 1957 Plymouth Belvedere isn’t the only historic Chrysler Corp. product to rise this summer. On May 19, the one-of-three 1956 Imperial convertible hiding in the woods just a few miles away from the Old Cars Weekly office was removed from its 30-year resting place on the side of a tree-filled hill.
The Imperial was first featured in the March 3 and June 9, 2005, issues of Old Cars Weekly, and its existence captured the attention of Chrysler Corp. historians everywhere. Inspired by the buzz his car was receiving, Bob, the Imperial’s owner, decided to rescue the car from its less-than-ideal storage conditions in Amherst, Wis., and trust it to restorer Adam Harder.
Old Cars Weekly staffers Matt Gergeni and Angelo Van Bogart assisted Harder and Bob with the car’s retrieval. It took nearly eight hours to free the car from the earth it had become a part of, make its wheels spin again, mount fresh tires and navigate the car through a maze of trees to the top of a hill. Once there, the Imperial convertible was loaded on an enclosed trailer headed towards Milwaukee.
Bob and Harder said their first task to bringing the rare Imperial convertible back to life was to assemble Chrysler New Yorker and Imperial parts cars. The pair estimated it would take a year to assess the car’s condition and begin its restoration. For now, the car will be safely stored indoors and out of the Wisconsin weather.
While saving his car, Bob said the car was acquired from his father-in-law following an early 1970s car accident. When Bob’s father-in-law received an estimate for the repairs, he told Bob he was going to send the car to a salvage yard. Remembering how beautiful the Imperial once was, Bob told him he’d take the car. The Imperial was initially stored in a building from which Bob operated a business, but upon selling the building, Bob lost his indoor storage. That’s when he asked his friends, Roger and Merna Dudley, to store the car for a couple of years on their Amherst, Wis., property. A couple of years quickly turned into 30. Bob also said the car was frequently used in parades around the Milwaukee area before it lost its original wire wheels and was damaged. If you captured the car on film, we’d love to see photos.
For progress on the restoration, stay tuned to Old Cars Weekly for updates.