Some of the fastest, flashiest and funniest cars already are cruising Detroit's Woodward Avenue ahead of the annual 16-mile Dream Cruise on Saturday and a great one spotted yesterday by our friends at the Detroit Free Press: a 1959 Chrysler Imperial Speedster, which showed less is more when it comes to classics.
The Imperial started as a four-door sedan, but owner Murray Pfaff had a different vision. "I saw there was a little sports car in there, we just had to cut it out of the other car," Pfaff says.
So that's what the 42-year-old Royal Oak. Mich., guy and 10 friends did in his two-car garage -- 10,000 hours of work over 3 1/2 years. "We chopped it in half five times, took 52 inches out of the whole length of the car, shortening it in five different places, then we narrowed the car 8 inches," Pfaff says.
Three inches were taken off the top of the car, turning the champagne-colored classic Chrysler into a two-seat convertible.
"(Chrysler) designed and built a lot of two-seat sports cars to take around to the auto shows, but they never brought them to production," Pfaff said. "So, this was my 'What if Chrysler had built a two-seat sports car to compete against the convertible or Thunderbird?' "
With its orange accents, the Imperial is an eyecatcher, but chances are you'll hear it car before you see it. It's a modern pro-touring car, with 425 hp., 6.1-liter Hemi, a Schwartz G-Machine chassis, Dodge Viper independent rear suspension, and NASCAR superspeedway brakes by Raybestos, says Pfaff.
Even Pfaff's dapper driving hat is a custom look, from Henry the Hatter in downtown Detroit. "I went down there with photos of the car and said I need a lid to match," Pfaff says, and the result was a fedora with a shiny Imperial logo.
Pfaff says he's ready for the Dream Cruise debut of the Speedster, which has fewer than 700 miles so far on the odometer. "I look forward to it more than Christmas itself; it's just a car guy's dream come true. Nowhere are there people more crazy for cars than Detroit."