Saturday, September 29, 2012

1962 Imperial Lebaron Southampton: Facelifted

This chop of a 1962 Imperial LeBaron 4-door hardtop, or Southampton, is a facelift that might seem pretty minor unless you were to see them side-by-side. After Exner's classic 1957s came out with their sculpted-in-form lengthy rear fins, which put the emphasis on the rear of the car, he began thinking about his "next" look. This next look, as previewed by the 1960 Valiant, would have gone back to classic proportions with a long hood and short rear deck. There was an emphasis on fender forms, as evidenced by the Valiant and the '62 Fury and Polara. "Ex" suffered a major heart attack before these cars could be finalized, the so-called "S-cars," and his successor, Elwood Engel, took things in a different direction.

"My" Imperial, above, takes the '57'-63 chassis and body, but changes it in some ways to more closely replicate this new emphasis on the front. I lengthened the hood and wheelbase around six inches in front of the windshield, giving a more classic steering wheel:axle proportion. I shortened the rear deck by about the same amount, giving a forward rather than rearward "motion" to the car. I also gave this imposing sedan rear fender skirts. I'm not really positive Exner would have, he was very much moving into a classic look with full wheel cutouts, but I like skirted rear wheels. I like to think I might have been able to talk him into it, at least for one year, lol. I left the amazing separate chrome front- and rear lights, but I lowered the roof about three inches for a bit more of a custom look. I also "finished" the chrome rocker panel trim behind the now-skirted rear wheels, the entire bottom of the car now edged with chrome.

12 comments:

  1. This is an interesting reworking, I love chrome, fins pointed edges and loads of metal. I wish the more modern looking cars had 3 diminutional looking rear tail lights. When I was looking at a brand new XJ in the parking lot, I wish they added that juxtaposing feature so that your eyes can see exactly where the slopping rear deck falls.

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    1. thanks, Woody! Those new XJs are incredible looking though. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Bravo! You had me as soon as I saw the title of this one -- you know how I feel about Imperials! This would have been an excellent reworking for the 63, although the changes you made would have been expensive. You really made it look "right" with the more classical proportions. It looks less ponderous than the real thing. Excellent work as usual.

    Paul, NYC

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    1. Thanks, Paul! I love working on these old luxury cars. Would have been SO much fun to be in the studios back then.

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  3. Very good. :-) I imagined recently about how Pontiac should had designed the front end of the 1976 mid-size LeMans then I posted on Deviantart. I come with 2 possibilities, one with stacked headlights similar to the 1976 Chevelle Malibu Classic or the hidden headlights.

    And I found by luck, another guy, Keith Kaucher who posted his own "what if?" about how the 1969 Firebird should had look.

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    1. Hi St├ęphane! Thanks. I think you're both on the right track with the hidden headlights on those Pontiacs. The '69 GTO we had when I was a kid had hidden headlights and it was super sleek and clean looking. The '76 could surely have used some more "sleek and clean" in its shape! Hope you've been well lately.

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  4. Funny how things change. I used to hate some of the Chrysler products of that time because of the way the tailights and in this case headlights looked glued on. I thought cars had too much chrome also. Now that most cars look somewhat the same with little chrome and the aero shapes I'm appreciate the older designs even more. Thanks for the update and,as usual, the great detailing.

    BobF

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  5. Have you noticed how the older cars, the ones with a lot more character seem to get more comments than the more modern cars?

    BobF

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    1. Hi Bob! yes, I've noticed. I get more comments on the older cars on my blog, but the new cars get more comments elsewhere around the web. To each their own I guess! I enjoy both, lol.

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  6. Your sense of proportions is rite on regardless of weather the car is old or new!. This is very elegant and I'm sure Ex would approve . One of my all time favorites of yours is the razor back Seville"coupe" You didn't change details just proportions then lost the 4door sedan body style in favor of a pillar less coupe! I like it so much I've figured out how to build it using Eldorado/Toronado inner doors etc. I think your work on newer cars gets my attention because you have studied the traditional classic shapes and they greatly improve the somewhat awkward proportions of so many new cars. Styling starts with overall shape first then the details! Well that's my opinion anyway ! As always ,thanks for the entertainment,Marty

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  7. Wow, what a beautiful car. If I had the means, I would build it today.

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