Andrew Z 1960 Chrysler Imperial Crown Southampton

The Land Yacht that saved Columbia!

In the early '70s I was a student at ( the original) USC in Columbia ,SC. as an out of stater from NC. My parents insisted that my '57 MGA was too small to travel back and forth between Greensboro and Columbia,and besides it wouldn't hold all of my dirty clothes from the weeks (more likely months!) between visits.

Thanksgiving break of '72,while riding with a friend home to NC,we passed the Chrysler dealer in Rock Hill ( no super highways finished then) and lo and behold in the back of the lot was a rose cream ( okay PINK) '60 Imperial Crown hardtop.As my Father always drove Imperials,and he was a traveling salesman,he couldn't claim that this was too small! Even though she was anxious to get home, my friend pulled into the dealership and waited for me to negotiate with the salesman. My deposit would hold the car until my Dad and I came back on Friday.Dad was impressed with the 12 year old car,and as I was still underage,signed for me to buy it. It was a very popular car around campus,and many were the late night trips to Myrtle Beach to watch the sunrise,then back to Columbia for a 9AM class!The car was actually recruited to drive Martha Graham around when she visited.

On the night of the Earl Scruggs concert,a snow storm was predicted. Snow in SC was so unusual that 1/4" was all it took to close everything down! As one of the promoters of the concert,I agreed to not cancel.The 8 o'clock curtain found about 1 inch on the ground, and by the time we left there (before midnight ),there was about 6 inches (!) and still falling heavily. We went to the prearranged afterparty anyway.By the time we emerged from the party around 2AM, there was 22-26 inches on the ground and drifts up to 5-6 feet! Most cars were covered,but the Imperial's tailfins were there sticking out of the snow to guide us.Having learned to drive in snow in NC,and having a solidly heavy transport,I felt confident that I could get everyone in our group back to their dorms and apartments.And for the first 20 or so people,I was right. I even stopped to pick up stranded friends who had to abandon their cars, as most did. They said that the tailfins gliding through the snow drifts looked like a pink shark!

Finally, I was ready to call it a night. With just my close neighbors left in the car,we headed to our apartments off campus. And the old girl did great!....until the steep hills about 2 blocks from home. There even we had to abandon ship and walk the rest of the way. The city was closed down for a week,and is still talked about to this day! ( and yes,I still have both cars in my garage....and plan on restoration "one of these days"!)

0 Reader Comments

Join the Discussion