The owner of the 1-of-3 1956 Imperial convertible covered in Old Cars Weekly in 2005 finally removed his car from its 30-year resting place. He intends to restore the car after he tracks down a couple parts cars. (He expects to start the restoration in a year.) In the meantime, it will be stored inside, thankfully slowing the decay process started in the late 1970s.
A couple weekends ago, coworker Matt Gergeni and I helped remove the car from its resting place in the side of a hill in Amherst, Wis., and from what we could see, the rear frame rail on the buried driver's side was pretty far gone. The bottom half of the quarters are rusty, as are the rockers, and the front clip needs to be replaced. Because of the surrounding trees, a come-along had to be used to move the car back and forth to get it out of the woods. With the first yank, the cowl or rear half of the body shifted enough to make it impossible to open the driver's door. However, the car remained intact enough to keep the passenger side door capable of opening through the whole ordeal, and the car didn't suffer any more damage. It's going to be a big job, but the car is certainly restorable. Happily, the owner seems excited to dig into the project. You can bet I'll be staying on top of him to finish the car. The owner will also be getting motivation from Adam Harder, a restorer who plans on tearing into the car. Harder is heaving into Kaisers (especially Darrins), and he supplied the Kaiser wheels pictured on the front of the car.
In order to unearth the Imperial, it had to be brought down the hill, around some treess, and the towed back to its top near the road.
While talking to the owner in person for the first time, I learned a bit more about the car. It seems the Imperial convertible was used in several Milwaukee-area parades to carry dignitaries, so there's a chance a reader may be sitting on a photo of it. Also, the owner said the car originally had wire wheels. Following the accident that damaged the front end in the early 1970s, the current owner's father-in-law planned to junk the car, and removed the wire wheels at that time. Unfortunately, the wheels are gone, but it will look sharp to see it restored to its original black color with whitewalls and wires again. As the car's restoration begins, we'll keep you posted with the car's progress. In the meantime, enjoy these photos of the car's retrieval.
(FYI, the images are in order of the car's retrieval. The gentleman in the top photo is the car's owner, Bob. The restorer, Adam Harder, is pictured at the far right of the third photo from the top, and Matt Gergeni is in the middle of this photo. I couldn't resist getting a picture of my family's '55 Cadillac next to the rare car, so you'll spot "Ol Yeller" in the fifth photo, as the Imperial was pulled to the top of the hill. The last photo shows the back side of Roger Dudley who, along with his wife Merna, stored the car on their Amherst, Wis., property since 1977. Merna is a longtime F+W Publications employee -- she was once responsible for helping enter the pricing information in Old Cars Price Guide. Her daughter, Merry, is the editor of Toy Cars & Models magazine. And don't bother calling about the cars in the background of these photos - they are not for sale!)