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David Duthie's 1964 Imperial Crown Convertible

My father was a salesman at Roy Burnett Chrysler-Plymouth in Portland. My favorite cars were the Imperials, which were displayed behind red velvet ropes in the corner window of the showroom. I loved their styling, features, and magnificent ride. I dreamed of owning a Crown convertible, and in 1986 my dream came true when I bought this car.

This 1964 Imperial* Crown convertible had originally been a Chrysler Corporation auto show display car, and was then sold new on April 29, 1964 in Wichita, Kansas to George and June Tussing. They moved to Oregon in 1966. I’m fortunate enough to know the Tussings, the original owners of this car. The Tussings bought their new Imperial as a 20th wedding anniversary present to each other. In 2004 I drove their former Imperial to their 60th wedding anniversary party. In addition, their daughter learned to drive and took her driver’s test in this car. Years later, I drove her and her new husband from the church to their wedding reception in the Imperial.

My Imperial has been repainted in the original Royal Ruby metallic color and the leather interior has been replaced, but other than that the car is original. The 1964 Imperial was one of Elwood Engle’s first re-styling jobs at Chrysler Corporation after leaving Ford. It displays the Engle styling trademarks of slab sides, front and rear corners filling out the box, and chrome-capped fenders.

The 1964 Imperials were advertised as the largest and quietest car made in America. Size mattered then! The car rides on a 129-inch wheelbase and is 19 feet long. It’s powered by a 413 cubic inch V-8 developing 340 horsepower. 1964 was the last year for the pushbutton automatic transmission and the first year for the tilt steering wheel option. This particular car cost over $7,000.00 when new – a lot of money in 1964.

This Crown convertible now carries dignitaries in parades and has won many awards at car shows, including the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, and Best of Show - Imperial at a National W.P.C. Club convention. It also has appeared in a movie and the Collectible Automobile magazine. With a total production of only 922 convertibles built in 1964, this Imperial is a rare sight as it cruises down the highway.

* Most people make the understandable mistake of calling this car a “Chrysler.” It is not a Chrysler – it’s an “Imperial.” It was built by the Imperial Division of Chrysler Corporation. Imperial was a separate division within Chrysler Corporation from 1955 to 1975 and it competed directly with Lincoln and Cadillac.

The Tussings, the original owners, on their 60th wedding anniversary.

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