Sam Pack Collection

14-15 November 2014

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Lot 187

1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Roadster by LeBaron

  • Chassis no. 7801798
  • Engine no. CG 2853
  • Body no. 148-21

Sold for $341,000

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

  • An iconic CCCA Full Classic
  • One of a dozen known, genuine survivors of 100 built; Formerly owned by Doug O’Connell
  • Well known, respected, and beautifully presented

The 1931 CG Imperial was a bellwether of where Chrysler’s top-of-the-line models would be heading, as they were now entering the Classic Era at full steam. Earlier Imperials had been well-built, quality cars, but they were somewhat, dare we say it, dull. This new model was wonderfully different. It was a grand 145-inch wheelbase beauty that had a bold radiator shell canted back at a rakish angle and a long hood that emphasized the great power lurking below it, which was a 384.8-cubic inch, nine-main-bearing unit that could produce 125 horsepower. The fenders flowed behind Duesenberg-like bumpers, and the headlights became sleek bowls.

While “production” CG Imperial bodies were supplied by Briggs, there were also four catalogued semi-custom styles, which were under the LeBaron nameplate. Among the most prominent of these was the open roadster, which was a jaunty ragtop with rakish lines that were set apart by an interior that wrapped up over the edges of the doors, as on a vintage biplane. It was dramatic and exciting, and it dared Old Man Depression to chase it down. It is believed that only about 100 Roadsters were manufactured, and of those, only a dozen or so are known to have survived.

The Roadster offered here is a wonderful, genuine survivor. It was originally delivered in February 1931, and it spent much of its life in California. Its provenance is known since the 1940s, when it was owned by a gentleman in San Bruno. Its next owner lived in Oakland and sold the car to Chrysler enthusiast Doug O’Connell, of Sunnyvale. O’Connell was immensely proud of this Imperial, and it took pride of place in his collection. It was lovingly restored by him to its original condition, and it has made many show appearances, including being flaunted at Pebble Beach, where it won a class award. So attractive was the car that it was borrowed by Shell Oil for their advertising, and it was one of numerous eight-cylinder classics depicted in the famous Hiram Walker “Straight 8” bourbon advertisements during the 1970s. O’Connell’s experiences with the car earned both the car and owner features in Motor Trend in 1973 and a cover feature in Car Classics two years later. Indeed, man and Chrysler remained together until the former’s passing in the late 1970s.

The car was sold from Mr. O’Connell’s estate, and in the early 1980s, it underwent a second thorough restoration, during which it was stripped down to the chassis and found to be essentially rust-free. The restoration work was performed by local shops in northern California, with the body and paint applied by Avenue Auto Body and the interior worked on by Bill DeBucke. In 2001, the restoration was completed, with the car outfitted in red with black leather upholstery and a matching canvas top. That year, it won its CCCA National First Senior, medallion number 2331, and the following year, in 2002, it again appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

While the car’s engine is not the original, it is a correct 1931 CG eight, and it is equipped with the rare and incredibly desirable high-compression “Red Head.” The engine exhales through an exhaust system that has been fabricated in stainless steel, for trouble-free operation and longevity. Options cover the car from stem to stern and include dual Klaxon horns, a radiator stone guard, Trippe driving lights, dual side-mounted spares with mirrors, a rear-mounted trunk, wind wings, dual wipers, an altimeter, dual spotlights, and chrome wire wheels. Included with the car are a top boot and isinglass side curtains, which have reportedly never been used, as well as an archive of invoices and photographs that date back many years.

In the Car Classics article, Doug O’Connell said of his treasured Imperial, “After about six hours, you’re in the clouds when you are driving it.” We cannot say it any better than that!

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

+1 864 313 6844
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

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
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

+1 203 912 7168
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

+1 415 302 2247
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

+1 617 513 0388
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

+1 954 566 2209
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

+1 519 352 4575
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

+1 310 559 4575
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

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

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

+1 805 231 6410
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 352 4575
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

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 784 9300
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

+1 310 559 4575
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

+31 653 84 19 60
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