“Hemi Gator” – Paul Rosenbaum’s 1968 Chrysler Imperial Crown
Paul Rosenbaum grew up working on cars with his father and has kept the tradition alive through his adult life with several vintage cars, including a ’61 Corvette for his wife Gina and a restomod ’63 Falcon convertible, both built by the talented team at Dakota Muscle Cars. Soon after finishing the Falcon, Paul got the itch for something different.
“Having a Small Chevrolet and a mid-sized Ford, we need the biggest Chrysler I could find,” Paul says. They decided on an Imperial and embarked on a two-year search for the right candidate, a 1968 Chrysler Imperial Crown coupe. “My oldest daughter named the car ‘The Gator,’” Paul says. “The name stuck as it was dull green and big.”
Paul once again called on Dakota Muscle Cars, with the directive to turn the Imperial into a luxury muscle car. The team responded with a complete rebuild that started with the chassis, which was updated with a modified Magnum Force front subframe with RideTech Shockwaves and a triangulated four-bar rear suspension. Wilwood 13-inch disc brakes were installed on each corner behind 20-inch Raceline wheels and 245/40/20 and 255/45/20 tires.
“I decided the 6.4-liter Hemi truck engine was what big muscle needed,” Paul says. Then he decided to go one step further and install an SRT8 Shaker intake and hood scoop. “We loved this idea of a Shaker hood on ’60s luxury car,” Paul says. “Then, as all cool muscle cars have, it needed a matte black hood and early Mopar muscle graduating lines. I believe if someone at Chrysler would have thought about it in the muscle car days, they would have built this car.”
It’s not all muscle, though. To maintain the Imperial’s luxury character, Paul had DMC equip the interior with modern technology features like parking sensors, blind spot detection, cruise control, power windows and locks, push-button start, auto headlights, power seats, a surround camera system, a Kenwood touchscreen, and dual iPads. Custom Dakota Digital RTX gauges fill the leather-wrapped dash, Restomod Air keeps things cool, and a modified original shifter directs the RJ545 five-speed automatic transmission.
Dark green Relicate leather and orange houndstooth upholstery – stitched by Darren Carlson – add to the Imperial’s luxury muscle feel. It complements dark BASF Glasurit Unripened Green paint applied at Dakota Muscle Cars that covers the smoothed and exceptionally straight body.
The Dakota Muscle Cars team succeeded in Paul’s request for a luxury muscle car, but Paul had a final request. “I insisted the car be named and it be painted on the car,” Paul says. “The original name was ‘The Gator,’ but with the new engine it got a new name, ‘Hemi Gator.’ I loved it!”
Photos by John Jackson & Marc Gewertz