19-20 January 2017

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Lot 148

1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

  • Chassis no. CG 3417
  • Serial no. 7802580
  • Engine no. CG 3417
  • Body no. 147-54

$325,000 - $375,000

125 bhp, 384.8 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission with overdrive and freewheeling, solid front and live rear axles with semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 145 in.

  • An excellent genuine, authentic, and well-known example
  • One of about 10 known survivors of 85 originally built
  • Original chassis, engine, and body
  • Formerly of the Terry Radey and Joseph Morgan collections
  • Restored by the respected craftsman Bud Hicks

By 1931, Chrysler’s Imperial had grown from simply an upmarket version of lesser models into something truly unique and special. It had been graced with classically beautiful styling, which was inspired by the Cord L-29, and was noteworthy for its massive 145-inch wheelbase chassis and smooth 125-horsepower straight-eight. Not only was this car big and powerful, but it was also a superb driver, with advanced steering geometry that made it shockingly easy to swing through wide corners at speed. The term “driver’s car” is seldom applied to American Classics of this era, but it is apt for the Imperial.

Drivers with funds to spare could opt for “semi-custom” bodywork that had been supplied by the LeBaron imprint of Briggs and styled by Ralph Roberts. With aviation in the forefront of American culture, the open LeBaron custom body styles adopted aircraft-like leather interiors that wrapped around the cowl and over the doors. Riding in one of the 85 Dual-Cowl Phaetons built in 1931 was like coasting along the ground in one’s biplane.

Surviving 1931 Imperial Dual-Cowl Phaetons are scarcer than their 1932 or 1933 counterparts, with only 10 examples known to exist today.


Imperial historian Joseph Morgan has traced and documented the known ownership histories of many of the surviving Dual-Cowl Phaetons. He notes that the example offered here, serial number 7802580, was acquired during the 1950s by Joe Fisher of Media, Pennsylvania, an early enthusiast of Classic Era Imperials, who performed the first restoration. Mr. Fisher retained the car until his death in 1982, at which point it was sold to the well-known Canadian collector, Terry Radey, who submitted the Chrysler to Bud Hicks of Marshall, Michigan, for restoration.

Now retired, Mr. Hicks was considered one of the Midwest’s foremost professional restorers, winning numerous honors in CCCA and concours d’elegance competitions nationwide. In a recent telephone conversation with RM Sotheby’s Research and Editorial team, he recounted that the Chrysler was a solid, complete older restoration, with good body wood and strong, largely rust-free original sheet metal, none of which had to be replaced in the course of the fresh body-off, ground-up restoration. The car was finished in “Hicks Yellow,” the unusual and attractive hue regularly used on his personal cars, with an interior in rich forest green leather. The restoration was awarded a CCCA National First Prize.

Mr. Hicks remains extremely proud of the Chrysler, and he considers it one of the finest restorations that he ever completed—a fact still evident in how well-preserved its finishes are, inside and out, to this day. Mr. Morgan, too, speaks well of the correctness, noting that the car was “done very well.” No surprise, the Imperial historian eventually acquired the Chrysler for his own personal collection and enjoyed it enough that he would own it twice over the intervening years. After over a decade in another private collection, it joined the current owner’s wonderful stable several years ago and has enjoyed good maintenance and care ever since.

A beautiful and rare example of what is arguably one of the most beautiful Full Classics, this Chrysler deserves a fine home in a new collection—one where its excellent older restoration will continue to be looked after and preserved for many years to come. It is due for a fresh round of show appearances, or, given the CG Imperial’s famous drivability, enjoyment on CARavans and tours. The possibilities are beautiful and endless.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more