Chrysler Imperial L80 Convertible Coupe

This Chrysler Imperial L80 was originally supplied new to the UK and is a rare right-hand drive version. It retains its original UK registration number and features the optional redhead 112-horsepower engine, the most powerful of the three options offered. Of the total of 2,400 cars produced, only 142 were fitted with the elegant but sporty Convertible Coupé body by Locke of New York. This two-seater drophead coupé with a dickey seat was distinguished by a number of features, including an unusual and elegant separate door to access the rumble seat, wind-up windows and a fully lined and weatherproof three-position top. It is estimated that less than 25 L80s of all types survive and only four with this body.

The car was taken off the road in 1959 and stored in a barn for a few years before being pushed into a field where it was rescued in 1966. It was then partially dismantled and stored again until 1998 when the prior owner bought the car and started a restoration. The vendor bought the car in January 2009 and completed the rebuild, at the same time upgrading it for use in the gruelling Peking to Paris rally. Medical issues have prevented the vendor from participating in the rally, which is taking place at the time of this auction.

The car has been subject to a total body-off and ground-up restoration. The engine has been re-bored and features new pistons, new valves, new valve guides, new main bearings and new big ends (all white metal). The crankshaft was also reground. The water pump and starter motor were rebuilt and the dynamo upgraded to 12 volt. The car has been rewired throughout and the gearbox restored with new bearings. All lights and bumpers were re-chromed, and the window frames, radiator and radiator shell were rebuilt. The rear axle was rebuilt with 3.77:1 ratio, with new crown wheel and pinions and new bearings and seals.

An overdrive was installed to help ease the load on the engine for long distances and to permit relaxed highway speeds. The hydraulic brakes feature 15-inch drums, and the suspension has been beefed up with heavier springs for the Peking-Paris with new rubber trunnions throughout. The chassis frame was shot blasted and stove enamelled. The ash body frame and body panels have been renewed as necessary before repainting, and the interior was re-trimmed in high quality automotive leather with new wool carpets. The hood material is new, lined with grey wool headlining. The instruments have been rebuilt or are new old stock. Stronger wire wheels were custom built for the Peking-Paris Rally in the style of the optional period Imperial wire wheels (there were originally five styles of optional wheels). The original wooden wheels, which are good condition, accompany the car as well.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2010 at the Battersea Evolution, London.

110 bhp, 309 cu. in. side valve inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, leaf spring and solid axle front suspension and leaf spring and live rear axle rear suspension, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 136"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood

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