Unusual Predicament: Rare 1962 Chrysler Imperial Only Drives in Reverse

Prepare to be intrigued by a peculiar automotive anomaly—the 1962 Chrysler Imperial that defies convention by exclusively moving in reverse. While the Imperial brand existed within the Chrysler lineup from 1926 to 1993, it often played second fiddle to Cadillac and Lincoln, resulting in modest sales figures. This particular 1962 Imperial, featuring remnants of the late 1950s “Forward Look” design language minus the flamboyant tailfins, currently resides in Bay City, Michigan. Listed on Facebook Marketplace for $3,900, this luxurious Mopar project captures attention. We extend our gratitude to Jim A for bringing this vintage land yacht to our attention.

Chrysler sought to elevate the Imperial’s status by positioning it as a separate brand from 1955 to 1975, attempting to rival the likes of Cadillac and Lincoln. However, the Imperials were still sold alongside comparable New Yorker models at Chrysler dealerships, leaving us questioning the strategic intent of Chrysler’s management. The 1962 Imperials displayed a sleeker appearance compared to their predecessors, abandoning the audacious tailfins in favor of gun sight taillights reminiscent of the 1955-1956 models. Up front, the free-standing headlights maintained a distinctive presence. Sales saw a modest uptick, with approximately 2,000 more Imperials sold compared to the previous year. The seller’s edition may be one of the roughly 8,500 Crown Imperials manufactured in 1962.

Although some restoration work has been undertaken on this ’62 Imperial, it currently presents a unique challenge. The vehicle is capable of running, albeit exclusively in reverse. Notable repairs already completed include the installation of a new gas tank, fuel pump, and master brake cylinder. However, further brake repairs are necessary, and the automatic transmission only engages in reverse gear. On a positive note, the robust 413 cubic inch V8 engine reportedly runs well, boasting a mileage of 84,000 miles.

The extent of rust damage is yet to be determined, but signs of prior bodywork are evident, indicated by the presence of Bondo. The interior exhibits signs of wear and tear, with the seats, door panels, and other components likely in need of attention. A generous assortment of additional parts will accompany the purchase, including a spare transmission that may offer a potential solution to the current reverse-only predicament. These majestic beasts have become a rare sight on the roads, partly due to the substantial costs associated with restoring them, which can rival the sheer size of the vehicles themselves.

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