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Big Chrysler, Spooky Imperial: Car Spotter #29

by Tom Buss

As in my previous article, I will tell you two more Fish Stories.  Remember, I saw a Chrysler and it was THIS BIG!  Again, I’ve attached some photos of convenience to go with my stories.

My family attended a Lititz, Pennsylvania car show in July of 2019, but we went there a few days prior to be part of a Dodge Brothers Club event.  The DB folks purposely piggybacked their event ahead of the other show so everyone could attend both. 

1963 Chrysler New Yorker

We tried to keep things simple by staying in a mom & pop motel in Ronks for all seven days.  We had a 15 mile drive to Lititz Thursday thru Saturday, but we’d make it happen.   You don’t want to experience Dutch Wonderland traffic (on Rt 30) on any summer day.  So thanks to GPS and beautiful farm-country roads, we always had pleasant trips.

I never get tired of seeing Amish buggies, but on Thursday morning I saw something completely unexpected. 

On every drive to a car show, I enjoy scanning the traffic to see what Chrysler products are attending.   The closer you get, the more likely you are to see a cool Mopar. 

We got about 5 miles from Lititz and I saw a large, early 1960s Chrysler, driving towards me.  That’s strange.  Aren’t they driving the wrong way?  Or am I driving the wrong way? 

1964 Chrysler New Yorker car story

On this country road, we passed by a large C body Chrysler.  It was a ’63 or ’64, absolutely.  Probably was a Newport or New Yorker.  It had faded teal green paint, and it was driven by a 60ish year old lady wearing Mennonite clothes.  I say Mennonite because Amish people don’t drive cars, but Mennonites will use simple/old-school versions of modern technology. 

She had a carload of children with her.  I thought to myself, is it possible that a Mennonite lady is driving a bunch of kids to the car show we’re attending?  My daughter will be thrilled to see other kids.  And going the wrong way in her own neighborhood?  Not likely, of course.  But the whole thing sure threw me for a loop.

Teal 1963 Chrysler

After I lifted my chin from the floor of my car, I came to this conclusion.  This Mennonite lady uses a 56 year old Chrysler (simple and certainly old-school) in her daily life, and I was just lucky enough to see it.  I watched for that Chrysler until we went home on Sunday, but I never saw it again.

Imperial

Through my college years I worked as a cashier at the Hess station in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, whenever I was at my mom’s house.  If you ever drove to Das Awkscht Fescht from Rt 22 and south on Rt 100, you went right by.  Hess sold leaded gas back then, so many old cars came in.  If I had to miss a car show because I was working, many of the cars just came to me. 

The station was self-serve and I was in a locked booth.  When the old cars came in, I couldn’t resist asking customers about their cars.  But there was one time that I got a little creeped out….

Tale of the spooky Imperial

Imagine a Clint Eastwood movie, where the Man with No Name comes into town.  At first you think he might bring good things.  But this time you get a bad feeling in the back of your mind….

One August day, probably in 1987, a ’64 or ’65 black Imperial two-door pulled into the gas station.  When I was a little kid, any large black sedan was associated with two kinds of people; really ancient doctors or ministers who still made house calls and the Norma Desmond-type ladies that wore flowered hats and leopard print at my church. 

1964 Imperial by Chrysler

This Chrysler was original, not restored, faded but all there.  The driver was a 35ish guy, pleasant, but he seemed to have a dark soul.  He pumped his gas and came over to the window.  I asked him about his Chrysler because I assumed he was in town for the car show.  He said very little about his car and seemed almost secretive about it.  He wasn’t even aware that a car show was happening.  Then he stared at me a bit and read my name tag out loud. Lots of jobs require a name tag, but we hate it when customers read it aloud.   

1965 Imperial from brochure

I suddenly had visions of being robbed at gunpoint later that night or having the misfortune of being in a scene from Deliverance.  Maybe he liked to mess with people.  I’ll never know and didn’t want to find out.

A few days later he came in again for gas again.  I kept it short and sweet.  A few days after that I was driving past the station and that Imperial was driving out.  Needless to say, I just kept going.  After that, I never saw that car again.

Dark 1965 Imperial story

In 2012, I saw a similar Imperial at a car show in Maryland.  Recently I saw another one in a parking lot on Route 206 near Princeton.  I know those Imperials are well respected within the Mopar crowd, but there is just something strangely creepy about any late 50s/early 60s black sedan with gun sights on the fenders, giant tail fins, and rocket-inspired chrome.  Except for maybe The Black Beauty from The Green Hornet, I just can’t cozy up to a mid-60s Imperial. 

1964 Imperial car

Other Car Spotter articles by Tom Buss

More fish stories of Mopar cars and trucks

Big Chrysler, Spooky Imperial: Car Spotter #29

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1970-71 Dodge W300 Power Wagon

Vintage Dodge Bros, Plymouth, and Dinky models

1975 Dodge Charger SE: Comfy but slow cruiser

1957 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible

1940s Dodge pickup: Car Spotter #20

1949 DeSoto Custom: Car Spotter #19

1967 Dodge Coronet 440: Car Spotter #18

Car Spotter #17: 1966 Chrysler 300

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Car Spotter: Imperial Crown and Valiant

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Car Spotter: 1914 Dodge Bros. Touring Car

1951 DeSoto: Toothy-Grilled Car Spotter

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