The interior was originally a white fabric/leather combination. When Martin first brought in the Imperial, the original material was covered up with slip covers, but couldn't be salvaged. Since the original-style material wasn't available, Lloyd's used all white leather to cover the swivel-mount front-bucket seats, and a custom green carpet lay underneath. The dash was restored by Just Dashes and features a deep-dish padded steering wheel, AM radio, and plenty of buttons to give it a cockpit-style feel. Just Dashes also did the horn center.
Control over nearly all aspects of the car is available at the fingertips. The radio, air conditioning, headlights, dash lights, transmission, cruise control, trip odometer, clock, antenna, seats, windows, door locks, mirror, and emergency brake-all are controlled by the push or pull of a button. Even the gauges, which are fixed-needle instead of fixed-dial, look more like they came from NASA than NAPA. To top it off, the cruise control-new for the '59-was called Auto-Pilot. According to Jeff, "When we went into the cruise control [to restore it], it was scary."
The original 413ci block was sent to Regional Performance Machine in Haines City, Florida. There, it was completely overhauled, balanced, and rebuilt to reflect its original specifications. "The 413 was extremely worn out," Jeff says. "All of the serviceable [engine] parts-the rings, bearings, pistons (10:1)-were replaced. We installed a new wiring harness from Y&Z, too. But, the cam was reground and the crank and rods (4.18-inch) are original. Now it gets 350 hp at 4,600 rpm."
A Mopar coil/points ignition system gets the show started, and an AFB carburetor feeds the fuel. A 2-inch exhaust system that features stainless steel resonators was built to resemble the original dual setup. The exhaust system and other aftermarket parts for older models (especially those as detailed as an Imperial) are not quite as prevalent as, say, an E-Body 'Cuda. So, for Jeff and Lloyd (his father), locating the finishing touches required a combination of contacts and ingenuity.
"Gary Goers is a Chrysler 300 nut out of Montana, and he made the Imperial decal for the trunk handle," Jeff says. "Ray Geschke from Emblemagic in Grand River, Ohio, made the plastic dash medallions.
The exterior door handle was extremely broken, and they're impossible to find. But Sherm's Plating in Sacramento, which handles our chrome work, was able to repair and rebuild it. We also had to manufacture new aluminum inserts for the door panels ourselves."
After 111/42 years of work, the Imperial was finished and ready for the show field in 2000. Jeff and Lloyd went with Martin to the car's maiden voyage at-where else?-Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was an AACA regional show, and the Imperial picked up its first Junior recognition there. Since then, it has earned the title of Grand National award winner.
Even though this 129-inch, 211/42-ton rocket ship will never get off the ground, it is truly out of this world.