1975 Imperial build thread


May 2, 2022
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Ontario, Canada
After a year of ownership of my Imperial, I probably haven't solved even half of the issues that it has, so instead of continuing to post threads for each individual problem, I've decided to make a "master" thread.

As a reintroduction, I'm Ethan, a year ago I bought my 1975 Imperial from somebody who was planning on putting it in the derby. It's one of 32 Canadian '75 Imperials with a sunroof and is pretty much loaded with options. It's actually spent all it's life in south-central Ontario so the fact that it's still so clean is amazing to me





Nice car! Great shot of the Imperial Eagle, too!!

So far I've put way more work and money into it then I expected to get it to this point, which is not fun on a college budget. Here's a rundown of all the work I remember doing to it so far:
When I went to buy the car, the derby idiot had lost the keys, so I had to put in a new lock cylinder to be able to drive it. Of course, in that process the horn insulator broke, and stayed broken until mid-December, when I got a friend the 3D print me another one.
After sitting for over a year, it really didn't want to start up, I had to dump almost enough gas to hydrolock it down the carb before it even though about lighting off, which is weird because it will not start with anything more than 2 pumps now, 1 1/2 seems to be the sweet spot. It ran terribly for a while until I blew the cobwebs out, now it runs pretty good, still coughs from time to time at immediate half throttle but it's otherwise good.
The only problem listed in the ad was "Cracked pass manifold", which turned out to be a broken stud for the passenger exhaust manifold which caused a giant exhaust leak. The stud broke beneath the deck so I spent about a month of trying and trying to get that thing out. I was trying to weld to it but the giant 440 acted like so much of a heat sink, the little Hobart couldn't get enough heat to stick anything to the stud. Eventually I let it cook with a blow torch then welded it, which finally worked.
While I was doing the stud removal, I needed a side-project to keep me sane, so I decided to rip apart the interior. So many mouse houses. The interior is still disassembled and I think it'll stay that way until I can find a nice white-leather one to replace it with.
Ever since I had gotten it, whenever it ran there would be a bit of oil burning off the engine, I just assumed that was residual stuff burning off from sitting for a while, but after closer inspection, both valve covers were leaking, one right above the exhaust leak, and the gasket wasn't installed properly on the other side. After replacing those, all fixed.
The next (still ongoing) project was the brakes, the rear calipers were seized and, with the unobtanium rotors being very thin, they weren't worth replacing, so the drum brake conversion started. There was a '78 New Yorker local to me that someone was parting for the derby, so I bought the rear axle off of that (the guy didn't want to sell just the brakes). I didn't know this at the time, but the prop valve, booster, and master are all different on a disc/drum setup, so I didn't get those thrown into the deal. Installing the drums actually went pretty easy, I had to custom make a parking brake adjuster as the old one broke off then I tried to loosen it but that was the only snag. I put on all new stuff except the drum itself, which looked pretty good as is.
While I was taking parts off of that New Yorker, I also decided to steal the vent window assemblies. I'm not sure if ATC ii will ever work so that might have to be my A/C.
I then decided to finally tackle the brake light problem. someone tried wiring in a trailer brake light. So many scotch locks. I took that rat's nest out and I found that one wire hadn't been reconnected to the switch, reconnected that and they're back in business.
Somewhere around this time, I don't remember exactly, I impulse bought a set of spark plugs and plug wires, which turned out to actually be a great purchase. They were a bit of a pain to get in but the car runs so much better now.
While doing the brake light switch, I had to take off the lower dash stuff, so of course, I just decided to take the whole dash out. It's a good thing I did though, I was able to find some broken ATC ii vacuum lines, which I fixed with some thick heat shrink, and got the blower motor to work on high, even blows hot air too. I also found a giant mouse house right beside where the light switch was grounding out. the metal resistor(?) wire had broken so whenever I turned the lights on, it'd ground out, causing that wire to turn glowing red, right beside the mouse house. So I replaced that switch asap.
I also got a metric speedometer from the aforementioned New Yorker, so I put that in. You may criticize it for not being original but I don't want to do speed limit math while I'm driving. I'm sure I'd get used to it but I'd also like for other people to be able to drive the car every once in a while.
After I did that, a noticed that the front brakes were sticking, so out of inexperience, I fired that parts cannon, new calipers, pads, and soft lines, all from Napa so needlessly expensive. That's turned out to be my biggest regret on the car, buying the stuff from NAPA, Rock Auto stuff would've saved me probably a couple hundred dollars. The soft lines were an absolute pain to get off but I found the sketchiest, most effective way possible to do it. Get a blow torch, a welding mask, some long sleeves and pants, gloves, and a thing of water, heat up the connection until the hose pops, then pour the cold water onto the fitting, worked like a charm. All the new stuff got put on, and the brakes still stick. So the only things left were the prop valve, master, and booster. The booster worked fine but I wanted a new master anyways. Nobody makes Imperial master cylinders anymore though and the bolt pattern for the booster is different between the disc/disc and disc/drum, I found that out after I bought a disc/drum master. So I found a junkyard a couple hours away with a crashed '78 New Yorker, I gave them a call and got the booster, prop valve, and a very nice set of road wheels. The booster was filled with brake fluid so I had to get that rebuilt, now it's siting on the floor of my college dorm waiting for me to install it. My current guess is that the prop valve is just tripped.
I also decided to say goodbye to the emissions stuff, disconnected and capped all the vacuum lines and removed a few things exclusive to the emissions system. Cars in Ontario don't have to pass emissions and I doubt whichever modern day shop I get it safetied at will even know what to look for when it comes to this old school tech. Heck, I showed my friend, who's in the auto mechanics program at my school, a picture of a carburetor and the only part he could name was the throttle plate.
While I had the brake stuff off, I decided to redo the wheel bearings too, the passenger side was making a bit of noise anyhow. That was among my least favourite jobs I had to do on the whole car.
After that was to replace the muffler. One time when I was trying to start it during the summer *BANG*, it sounded like Uncle Buck's car when he shuts it down. Had the whole family rushing out of the house to make sure I was okay. That bang was the muffler going out. Then about a month later, it happened again. With that muffler being toast, I ordered a new one. Fun fact, Napa, Parts Source, Canadian Tire, Amazon, and Rock Auto all sell the exact same muffler for wildly different prices, same part number and everything. I started to cut the old one out, but realized that it was stuck in the over-axle section, so I broke the muffler to where only a sound tube was stuck in there. trying to get that out was a pain, once I realized that the hook part of a hammer would bind itself perfectly in the tube was when I started getting stupid ideas. Using the hammer's handle as a place to push, I couldn't put enough pressure on it to push it out myself, so I determined that I needed something that could put more pressure on it, then I looked at the tractor in the next bay over, then I remembered that I had a tow rope which I could use to attach the Hamer and the tractor together, then I did that, then I pulled, and broke the hammer. Who would've guessed. Looking back that's probably actually the best way that could've turned out. I ended up just taking the whole section out and got an exhaust shop to bend a clone, that worked a lot better. Some major struggling was needed to get the exhaust on but I did it, and now it's quieter.
The car seemed to like that because right after I got the muffler on, it fixed it's lazy eye. The driver's headlight door never closed all the way, but now, without me doing anything, it's decided to fully participate.
As I mentioned before, when I bought the car, the keys were gone, so I could start the car with the new ignition I put in, and thankfully it came with the remote trunk opener option, but I couldn't lock the doors. So I spent some time tracking down some new key blanks (Acme Lock & Key in Toronto makes very good new ones), which I took, along with the old ignition lock cylinder, to a dealer's and they cut me two new keys free of charge. Now I can lock my doors!
I've also decided to start replacing exterior bulbs, so I'm about half way through doing that.
Back at the start of winter, I decided to see how good this car was at doing doughnuts in my field (bad idea but very fun). I broke the Idler arm doing that. Of course, nobody sells those here in Canada so I had to make a trip down to the states. I got a Duralast one, which from what I understand, is the same as a Moog one, which I haven't head the best things about from this forum, but hopefully it works good enough. That install went pretty smoothly.
I decided to grease the front steering/suspension while I was doing that and with a combination of slight tiredness and extreme stupidity, gave the drivers lower ball joint all the grease possible, which popped the boot. Now I'm in the process of pressing that out and putting a new one in.
I also got some new tires, Suretrac 235/75R15 with the wider whitewall than factory, I think those'll look really good with the road wheels.

I'm hoping to get a lot of stuff done within the first week of summer break, the current "stuff it needs to pass safety" list is: wiper linkage bushings, tires mounted and balanced, ball joint installed, proportioning valve installed, booster installed, master installed, bleed brakes, seat belt install, reconnect some loose interior wires, reinstall sun visors, replace window motor gears, bend gear shift indicator back into place, replace an engine bay ground wire, and figure out why the rear suspension's uneven (I'm hoping that one of the air shocks just needs a little bit more air or that the air hoses to them went bad so I don't have to replace them altogether)
Nice car! Great shot of the Imperial Eagle, too!!

Thank you, that's probably my favourite picture that I've ever taken. All those ones were actually taken on a film camera from the 1970s so, with the exception of the GMC and Cadillac in a few of them, they're pretty period-correct. Even my dad's '46 ford in the background of the last one would fit right in for a picture from ~1975
Looks like you've got it under control. Nice that you saved it from the derby. My '57 (my avatar picture) was saved from the wrecking yard in 1964 by me. How is the paint? it looks like it's not too bad in the pictures.
Looks like you've got it under control. Nice that you saved it from the derby. My '57 (my avatar picture) was saved from the wrecking yard in 1964 by me. How is the paint? it looks like it's not too bad in the pictures.
Wow, that's impressive, nice looking car you've built. The paint on mine is unfortunately not original from what I can tell, it's the original colour but looks like it was given a cheap repaint at some point. It still overall looks good and will look better after I eventually polish it, but it's chipping and peeling in a lot of places, the repainters also didn't do a very good job stopping overspray. Sometime within the next decade I plan on getting it repainted, right now I'm leaning towards the same colour but also somewhat considering something like the Java Black Pearl like on some older Subarus
what field do plan on working in once you get out of school? after reading through all the above, i have little doubt that you'll be good at whatever you do.
Thank you, I'm in school for piloting, so becoming an airline pilot is the end goal. I was considering auto mechanic or even aviation technician but with the way the industry's changing, auto mechanics are soon going to be half programmers, and I actually bought this car partially to get away from the computer stuff, after dealing with a Volkswagen, I don't want anything to do with it. And aviation technicians have to do everything by the book, stuff like my brake line removal trick would not fly.
I'm in school for piloting, so becoming an airline pilot is the end goal.
well i'm sure you'll be a damn good one. you would have been an excellent mechanic, but if you had been a car mechanic it would have been a waste of you're life. the only way to have any future for yourself working in this lousy business is to find a job with a government entity otherwise there is no retirement. you are right also about electrics. if they become predominate, the repair industry is done for.
Sir, you have all my sympathy! Car and profession wise.
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Congratulations on your beautiful IMPERIAL!! Glad you saved her from the derby destruction. Best wishes from New Hampshire and keep up the good work!!
School's done for the year so now I've had time to work on the Imperial. So far it's gotten the new ball joint in, brakes finished, new wheels/tires put on, and I gave the passenger side a vent window while replacing the power window gear. Of course, more things have popped up that need to be addressed. I still have to fix another window gear and install the wiper linkage bushings, but now I've got to get the exhaust clearance, tighten the parking brake cable, give it a tune as it's running richer than John D. Rockefeller, repair the subframe, patch the bottom of the driver's side quarter panel, and look into a non-functional voltage regulator.
The sentence "repair the subframe" might cause all sorts of concern, fortunately, it's not too bad. The jack stands I have, although they are 3 tonne, don't have a wide enough mouth on top for the front subframe to sit in them, so I've been putting the car on top of them. I guess the bottom of the driver's side rail got a little soft and didn't like supporting 5,500lbs of car because it bent a bit and the seam weld started cracking a bit. Thankfully for me, I have some sheet metal laying around that'll work very well for this and the section I need seems really easy to cut out.
The quarter panel I've known might need to be repaired for a while now, thankfully it's a very thin line of rust along the bottom where the quarter meets the trunk. It's low enough, small enough, and close enough to straight that I think I'll give it a shot in repairing it myself.
As for the voltage regulator, I have no idea what went wrong. A couple days ago I decided to vacuum the engine bay and somehow that caused the passenger side horn to stop working and the ammeter to start thinking it's a tach, so I'm going to play the "find the bad ground" game.









kudos from a fellow Imperialist. Also I´m air traffic controller so maybe we´ll talk some day over the radio. what type rating are you looking for ?
kudos from a fellow Imperialist. Also I´m air traffic controller so maybe we´ll talk some day over the radio. what type rating are you looking for ?
That would be very cool, and we probably wouldn't even know that we're talking to each other.
Eventually, I'd like to fly internationally for Air Canada. Right now I'm projected to get my private license within the next month, as long as weather cooperates. In about a year I should be able to get my commercial license, then a year after that my ATPL.
you should prob put where in ontario u is in your profile, might find help and advice close to home........
im in bc but i go to windsor and moparfest each summer