Amelia Island

9 March 2013

Lot 161

1932 Chrysler CL Imperial Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

To be auctioned on Saturday, March 9, 2013

High Bid of $485,000

  • Chassis no. 7803368
  • Engine no. CL 1067
  • Body no. 171-24
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


135 bhp, 385 cu. in. high compression Red Head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid axle front suspension with leaf springs, live axle rear suspension with leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 146 in.

  • “The Denver Car”; one of 28 built
  • Show-winning restoration
  • One of the most beautiful two-door Chryslers of the Classic Era


As Chrysler rolled into the 1931 calendar year, it mounted a serious assault on the fine-car market by offering a more affordable luxury car that still offered bountiful styling and performance. With its long-wheelbase chassis, flowing fenders, and smart LeBaron-designed coachwork, the Imperial was among the most beautiful classics of its era. While its chassis and drivetrain was certainly conventional, the car was quick, with its 385-cubic inch, nine-main-bearing straight eight producing 125 horsepower.

For 1932, the original CG Imperial was refined into the CL, with enhanced front end design, an extended hood with ventilation doors rather than louvered, and new bodies. Many of the bodies were “semi-custom” designs by LeBaron Carrossiers, the prestigious coachbuilding firm established in 1924 by Thomas Hibbard and Raymond Dietrich. By the time of the CL Imperial, the company was an imprint of Briggs, the large Detroit body firm, and was led by Ralph Roberts, an equally talented designer.

Unfortunately, by the time the Roberts-styled CL Imperial appeared in 1932, the fine-car market had all but disappeared. As a result, today these are among the most rare and desirable Chryslers of the era—just as they were when new.

The car offered here was one of only about 220 Chrysler CL Imperials built in 1932, and it is one of just 28 fitted with the sporty convertible coupe bodywork. Delivered new in Portland, Oregon, it eventually wandered south to North Hollywood, California, specifically to the Atlantic Wrecker Company, the fabled junkyard of Mike McManus, from which numerous classics were rescued during the 1950s.

In the case of this Chrysler, the rescuer who eventually came for the car was a young man from Denver, Colorado. The car returned to Colorado with him, and it was, in short order, reportedly engaged in a wild and hectic police chase—so wild, in fact, that the new owner missed a turn and rolled the car into a ditch by the side of the road. The reason for the chase has never been confirmed, but it has always been rumored to have been a bank robbery—perhaps he had trouble paying for the car.
The car was damaged but not severely, and it was put away in a garage for several years. It eventually made its way through Nebraska ownership and eventually found its way into the noted collections of Don Sears and Knox Kershaw, and then was acquired in 2002 by Joe Martin. After examining all of the serial numbers and body tags, Martin satisfied himself as to the car’s authenticity and endeavored to continue the restoration that Kershaw had begun and to return the car to its original beauty.

The car’s nut-and-bolt, body-off restoration was completed by Richard Fass’s Stone Barn Restorations, of New Jersey, whose cars have won many awards at concours events nationwide, including multiple Best of Show awards at Pebble Beach. It should be noted that Fass executed a total rebuild of the engine and that the spectacular interior was done by Sharp Automotive Upholsterers, of Ohio. The large binder of documentation that accompanies the car thoroughly documents its restoration and the lengths that Kershaw and Martin went to in order to ensure the authenticity and excellence of all components.

Since completion, the stunning Chrysler has also been very successful on the show field, winning several Best of Show awards itself. Finished in a simply spectacular two-tone green, “The Denver Car,” as it is known among CL enthusiasts, remains an outstanding, show-quality automobile with its original engine, and it has been properly cared for by its collector caretakers. Like many other early Imperials, it sports a desirable three-speed gearbox that has replaced the troublesome four-speeds with which these cars were originally equipped; it also has a trunk rack, wire wheels, and wide whitewall tires, as well as dual side-mounted spares with hard covers. Above all, it has the thrilling kind of stories that make wonderful conversation in one’s garage or in the driver’s seat of one of America’s grand pre-war autos.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

aclassick@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

aabaci@rmauctions.com

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

dwarrener@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

pgiddings@rmauctions.com

+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

pblond@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

jwhiteside@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more