300B And Other Good Things
By John Lazenby

Reprinted from the 1987 Club News Volume XIII Number II

It’s been a while since I’ve written, but believe me I haven’t been sitting around. We got our garage under construction in mid July and as I speak we are getting pretty close to the final inspection. I now have four cars in it, but the plot thickens! In late June I was looking thru the local Auto Trader, something that I have become an absolute freak on. I buy 5 different issues from various areas in Southern California weekly. Also I go thru the Recycler and all of the newspapers. Anyway, back to the subject. I spotted a 1956 New Yorker 4 door sedan that looked very nice. I made the call and the car was about 4 miles from my house. Made arrangements with the lady to come and look at the car that evening. Upon arriving I couldn’t believe what I saw! The car wasn’t very nice, it was EXCEPTIONAL! All original with at that time 65,000 miles. Everything except air conditioning was there and worked, except for the radio. The price they were asking was very reasonable, but I made an offer for considerably less. The lady’s response was no, which didn’t shock me at all. I told her I would really like to have the car and before she sold it to give me a call. That was on a Thursday. Nothing on Friday, but Saturday at 6 PM the phone rang and it was her husband asking if I was still interested in the car. Of course my answer was yes. He stated that they were buying some real estate and needed the money so he would accept my offer! About 20 minutes, and I was there and made the deal.

Think that’s the end of the story? Well it’s not! Four weeks ago we were at a local car show and parade in Santa Ana. We took the New Yorker and got lots of compliments. Ken Woods, if you remember the name, was the fellow who helped me find my F coupe (see News-Flite #33, June 1986 for this story), was also there with his Imperial. When he saw me he handed me several newspaper clippings and a 3 x 5 card with a 1956 300B that was for sale. The info said it was a “nice car.” Upon returning home from all of the days events I made the phone call. It was a lady who lived in Palm Desert, Ca. Her husband had recently passed away and he had owned the car for at least 23 years that I could account for. I made arrangements with her for the following weekend to see the car.

It didn’t seem like that week would ever end, but it did. Sunday morning at about 11 my wife and I pulled up in front of her place. It was only about 90 degrees then! Her son showed me the car and we took it for a drive. The car was very nice on the outside, WHITE, aren’t they all? The front seat was very dried out and the carpet was worn some, but other than that it was way above average. It ran very good, not as strong as the F, but that’s comparing apples and oranges, isn’t it?

I asked her son what kind of money they were looking for and he stated a figure just about what I expected, but my response was I could only afford a lower amount. He said they would probably just park it before letting it go for that and I said I understood. Once again I asked them to keep in touch with me and we returned home.

Upon arriving home we went over to Ken’s house where my F was being kept while construction was being done. If you haven’t figured it out by now a guy couldn’t ask for a better friend than Ken! He proceeded to bring out the latest Imperial Club info that had various cars for sale. He pointed out a 1954 Imperial sedan with factory air, 6 wire wheels and various other items for sale. He then went and got a copy of “Collectible Automobile” and showed me a picture of the car. I got all charged up. This is really a terrible disease, isn’t it? Once again when I got home I called the fellow. He was located in Sacramento and I made arrangements to fly up the following Saturday to look at the Imperial.

When we got to the airport his secretary was there with a sign that said “IMPERIAL FOR JOHN” to greet us. She drove us about 15 miles out to where the car was and we spent about an hour looking the car over and of course driving it. I was somewhat disappointed in the car although it was very nice. It had lived its life in Placerville, which is the gold country and they do get snow, something both the other cars were not subjected to. I passed on it and returned home.

Once again upon returning home, there was a message on my phone machine. It was the lady from Palm Desert with the B. She said that she would accept my offer. I called her back and made arrangements to pick the car up on Thursday afternoon. Once again Ken came to my rescue by going out in the 110 degree heat with me to get the car. We picked it up about 3 PM and started to 100 plus mile drive back. I really didn’t know what to expect with the car, but it never skipped a beat!

This past Saturday we attended the annual CHVA Show here and I took the New Yorker and the B. Got lots of compliments on both cars and even a couple of offers on the B. Considering I had time only to wash it, not bad I’d say. Well, the story is not over yet. By the end of the week I should own a ’56 Imperial with factory air. This will be primarily a parts car although it could be restored. It’s really more of a project than I have time for with all my other ones. At this point I would like to say the story is over, but somehow I think it’s just beginning.