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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

Murray Pfaff’s ‘59 Imperial Speedster is the Mopar moonshot that never was

In the fab ‘50s, when GM and Ford blessed America with tantalizing two-seaters, Chrysler failed to rise to that challenge. Who says that misstep can’t be fixed, no matter how many decades have passed? Certainly not Murray Pfaff, Royal Oak, Michigan’s most creative and industrious automotive imagineer with some 300 car, truck, and motorcycle designs to his credit.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/murray-pfaffs-59-imperial-speedster-is-the-mopar-moonshot...

65 REPLIES 65
DavidHolzman
Detailer

I love the '59 Imperial, as I do many of Exner's creations. The Speedster does it justice. 

gfviperman
Detailer

You are 100% correct ... my exact thoughts.
CarciergeGlenn
Intermediate Driver

Wow!  Good thing I saw this article.  If I'd seen the car on the street first, I probably would have driven into a ditch after craning my neck.

 

Iso_Grifo
Advanced Driver

Amazing. Kicks Chip Foose to the curb and splashes mud in his face as it drives by.

Papa-tony
Intermediate Driver

Interesting comment... as the design of this vehicle is probably the "polar opposite" of everything Chip appears to do...

Montrose
Pit Crew

Love and admire the workmanship, but overall, the car just looks awkward.  It's all front and rear, with nothing in-between.

lyndsczewski
Pit Crew

I agree completely.  It's impressive, but not appealing

pfridays
Pit Crew

Love it except the wheels don't project the 50's image and I think detract from the beautiful creation.

hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

agree as well

1959Imperial
Intermediate Driver

Some "works of art" are not to be messed with. As a '59 Imperial Custom Coupe owner I'm glad he did not find it before me. The original designers would be either laughing or rolling over in their graves.

hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

i agree

OldCarMan
Instructor

The 2 prior commentators, must have missed the comment by Virgil Exner Jr. that said he felt it DID the Imperial and his father's legacy very well!I think he should have a much better handle on the success of the design than these 2! This car will be remembered as an iconic custom, long after their cars are rust piles.

jlevey
New Driver

I own an original 61 Imperial Crown convertible and LOVE it but this is next level gorgeous!  Too bad it was never produced by Imperial back in the day as it is a beauty!

topside
Detailer

I think the update improves on the original Speedster version, which is a nearly miraculous build. I agree with the observation that the midsection of the car could be longer: another couple inches of door length would make it more homogenous/proportional with the impact of the Forward Look grandeur of the fenders and quarters. That said, the wheel size may affect that, and I've only seen photos; those proportions may look perfect in person. Nevertheless, a fantastic build.

RobertLLR
Intermediate Driver

I realize the front fender trim strips are necessary to carry the line of the eyebrow trim over the headlights; but it just looks awkward to have that line quit abruptly at the front door cut.  Besides, the piece divides the fender and contradicts the nice door and rear 1/4 treatment.  I would have (reluctantly) deleted the eyebrow trim to avoid this problem.  But overall, it's amazingly well-done: true to the era, to Exener's work (of the period) and overall a fine blend of stocker, custom, and restomod.  Oh, and I agree  about the wheels--very out-of-character.

tahend
Detailer

I appreciate the talent but the car looks stubby and out of proportion.  No convertible would have the rear wings so far above the occupants of the car.

RR
New Driver

‘59 Cadillac 

1933ford
Intermediate Driver

It is like all customs from bygone era, youhave to find someone (the buyer) that likes your individual taste otherwise it has little value. As he would acknowledge it was a labour of love. So to turn down $200,00,twice, means his family will get it in the will.

hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

i have to agree with a couple other comments. workmanship notwithstanding, proportions are awkward, wheels are ugly, and worst yet, a barn find survivor was cut up to create this. when you own something, you can do what ever you wish with it. for good or bad.

OldCarMan
Instructor

The writer apparently never looked at any Chrysler history to see how many 2 seat concept cars they built, most with Ghia. Understanding that it took Exner 8 or 9 years to get a VP designation, explains why the engineering controlled organization never did a production 2 seat car. The 1955 Chrysler Falcon was the most likely candidate, but never made it. The 1957-58 Chrysler Ghia Dart-Diablo, were wonderful 4 pass convertibles that saw very limited production, along with the Dual-Ghia convertibles used by so many celebrities.
I wish this imperial that was a tour-de-force of sectioning, had a few more inches of wheelbase and wasn't green. The tan version was a more palatable color, but the wire wheels or the mags do not speak to the mission statement as much as they could. This car by far, is still the most outrageous and well-done custom, since the '60s!

Figuero
Intermediate Driver

Beautiful.  The only thing I would second guess is the drivetrain. Wouldn't a period correct 392 Hemi or a 413 Wedge TorqueFlight transmission add a stronger tie to 1959?

1d1a2d2a
Pit Crew

My hat's off to Camron Neven for his beautifully shot session with this iconic car.

You do it justice and understand what makes a car enthusiast's heart beat. Incredible car, appropriately portrayled and nice shots of those subtle and not so subtle  details

Really
Passenger

Beautiful, I would have preferred to keep it a four door but a convertable, as it adds the length that this car should have.   To me, as a 2 door, it looks like it was chopped off.   But, hey, everyone has different tastes. 

Catchcondron
Passenger

Two fools met; twice! this things a hot mess!

Bunka
Intermediate Driver

It completely lacks any gracefulness and is way to busy.  The eyes just jab left and right, up and down, trying to make sense of what it is seeing.  The proportions seem forced. Are we sure that this did not start out as a Pontiac Aztek? Or maybe the Aztek was born out of this.

farna
Advanced Driver

It's not supposed to be a modern custom! The only thing modern about it is the wheels (on the exterior, not counting engine and chassis, though engine cover does have a late 50s style). It would look more period (late 50s) with the wire wheels he originally used. It certainly looks like something that could have been done by Chrysler circa 1957-59 as a show car -- which was the whole point, at least originally. The new wheels do "freshen" it up a bit, the plaid and leather upholstery looks more late 50s to me than tuck and roll would have... 

JBaguley
Intermediate Driver

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don't behold it here at all.

wild4bill
New Driver

It is so sad to see you are totally blind.

woodyambison
Pit Crew

I agree LOTS of great work it looks too short of a wheelbase and forget those rims.

monctondave
New Driver

It looks like something that is better off seen not driven.With that shortened wheelbase I would imagine the ride and handling would not be great.Put a bubble on it and it could be a Big Daddy Roth car. 

Maestro1
Instructor

It's wonderful and one of the great things about the Hobby is that people create things like this to enjoy and for us to admire. It's a beautiful job. Very well done.

jbelway
Passenger

What about the '49-50 Dodge Wayfarer Sportster? It was a 2 seater convertible and although it didn't sell well it was still a classic.

DUTCHMAN
Passenger

What a fabulous car! Creation meeting perfection and beauty all combined into one stunning automobile. 

craftsman1
Passenger

I respect a builders interpretation, particularly when they put their money and effort where their mouth is (as this builder certainly did). That being said, when you create art for the public to see, you get legitimate opinions. I agree that the car is too stubby, the lowering of it and the large wheels may be better for performance, but I don't believe for one minute that Chrysler of the 1950's (and Exner), would produce such a car...particularly one without a convertible top. Kudo's to the builder, though, great craftsmanship!

Pilott
Pit Crew

Fantastic execution done by talented and passionate people.  

To dream it is one thing (we all built those plastic models), but to execute with this level of craftsmanship is beyond admirable. Exceptionally well done!

Even if this is not within the scope of your personal area of interest ( I like post-war microcars ), this project still demands respect and admiration for the pure joy and energy apparent in the result ... and I can only imagine how much fun the builders had when getting together each week for those 4+ years.  

rdsieber
Pit Crew

Hard to believe that all of the Imperialness is kept within a much shorter chassis. Beautiful rendition that keeps the Imperial's essence.

 

I hope to see it at a concours if they ever open up again!

=rds

JACY
Pit Crew

The Imperial Roadster is amazing and beautiful,only improvement IMO would be a full windshield surround it looks a little awkward with no  top rails . And does it have a top?

Carguy362
Passenger

Hi Don, 


I love the overall craftsmanship, choice of color (and even the plaid fabric - inside).

One problem...the Driver's door to rear fender Character Line i apparently miss-aligned. It even shows in the distance 3/4 view photo. The passenger side looks fine...with all the hours spent, what is up with that?

I know...picky-picky, but it is kind of glaring for otherwise beautiful workmanship. - Gar

Jay
Intermediate Driver

While I too might have built it differently (if I had Pfaff's skill, dedication and budget - which I don't), I certainly respect his design choices.  I guess the question is: what was his concept?  Is this a car that Chrysler might have built in the late 1950's? A 21st Century hot rod that re-interprets the design ethos of the 50's?  Or simply one man's dream?

 

To me, a re-creation of what might have been would have been more interesting.  To accomplish that, a full windshield surround, 15" wheels with Chrysler hubcaps and a vintage powertrain would be more appropriate. 

 

But hey, it's Pfaff's car and if he needs 425 hp and a 300 watt stereo, so be it.

Zephyr
Instructor

Absolutely wonderful design and execution. The only thing I would change is that the St. Christopher should retract into the dash at speeds over 70. Or maybe start talking to you - "Easy there brother, we're goin' a little fast don't ya think?"

BlakeX2
Pit Crew

A Priceless Creation - Suitable for The Peterson Automotive Museum.

 

This piece of work confirms to me that a Force of Will provides the world something Money can't offer.

 

Priceless and Timeless.

 

 

gdelfium
New Driver

Not feeling this one.  Foose went after the E Type Jag for a makeover, let's see what he would do to this creation.  For starters, the A pillar doesn't come close to intersecting with the front wheel center bumpers look a little heavy, et al.  

Papa-tony
Intermediate Driver

I haveta admit I am enamored by this build when I first saw it a few years ago... and again with the refresh.

 

The quality and execution and resizing is amazing.  BUT, IMHO... it just appears disproportionate.  Maybe because I'm use to seeing the full size car, but I just can't get my arms around it.

 

As others have said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that goes for me too and my choices.  One critical point though in my mind is the lack of framing on the top of the windshield.  Granted, it would probably interfere with the forward view being chopped so much but there are certainly several workarounds.  For me it is the only part of the car that appears "unfinished".

 

Still... probably some of the best work ever and a remarkable idea. 

MTPantera
Pit Crew

Kind of reminds me of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, she looks a little scary at first, but man did you ever want to ride her.

Dusted
New Driver

Wicked.....Nuff said.

M5BMRBoyee
New Driver

Hot mess?!!! LOOK at that engine bay

M5BMRBoyee
New Driver

Hot mess?!!! Look at that engine bay and interior. The "amateur" builder killed it! Another great story,  thank you Hagerty 

jsfury
Intermediate Driver

Simply beautiful. 

drm101
Detailer

Murray showed up at my house one day to pick up a car I sold to his friend. Not to understate this vehicle which I love, but he is much more than just this car. He showed me all the custom trim and details on the late model Ram truck he was driving that he designed then had 3D printed. He is one cool dude, super nice, and he loves cars.