Saturday, September 29, 2012

This chop of a 1962 Imperial LeBaron 4-door hardtop, or Southampton, is a facelift that might seem pretty minor unless you were to see them side-by-side. After Exner's classic 1957s came out with their sculpted-in-form lengthy rear fins, which put the emphasis on the rear of the car, he began thinking about his "next" look. This next look, as previewed by the 1960 Valiant, would have gone back to classic proportions with a long hood and short rear deck. There was an emphasis on fender forms, as evidenced by the Valiant and the '62 Fury and Polara. "Ex" suffered a major heart attack before these cars could be finalized, the so-called "S-cars," and his successor, Elwood Engel, took things in a different direction.

"My" Imperial, above, takes the '57'-63 chassis and body, but changes it in some ways to more closely replicate this new emphasis on the front. I lengthened the hood and wheelbase around six inches in front of the windshield, giving a more classic steering wheel:axle proportion. I shortened the rear deck by about the same amount, giving a forward rather than rearward "motion" to the car. I also gave this imposing sedan rear fender skirts. I'm not really positive Exner would have, he was very much moving into a classic look with full wheel cutouts, but I like skirted rear wheels. I like to think I might have been able to talk him into it, at least for one year, lol. I left the amazing separate chrome front- and rear lights, but I lowered the roof about three inches for a bit more of a custom look. I also "finished" the chrome rocker panel trim behind the now-skirted rear wheels, the entire bottom of the car now edged with chrome.

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