Presenting the IMP – Lost Fiberglass Car From The 1940’s

Hi Gang…

Who can’t show a bit of affection for a fiberglass car called an “Imp?”

Pictured Here is the 1949 IMP - DeLuxe Model.

You know… if I would have created a car, the name of it would have been something glorious – something memorable – something fantabulous – something unforgettable.  I’m still working on a name, but it would not have been “Imp.”  Perhaps I’d take a cue from my brother Jon who wanted to start a band in his teenage years.  His name for the band was “The Great Jon and the So-Sos.”  His tentative band members were not so approving of the name, and voted for something else.

Anyway…. Let’s talk “Imp.”

Paul Sable, University professor and consummate automotive historian, passed me additional information on the IMP from his voluminous files.  This is not the first time I’ve written about Paul and his depth of knowledge on early fiberglass cars (and other automotive history).  I introduced you to Paul back in January of this year in a story about “Track Kraft.”  Click on this link for additional information about Paul Sable and the Track Kraft story.

What Paul shared with me was a letter from R. Stanley Griffin – including sales literature – I was ecstatic!  The letter was from 1950 and answered a prospective buyer’s questions about the purchase of an IMP.  Let’s review the letter:

Letter From Imp Motor Sales, From R. K. Griffin (June 26th, 1950)

Dear Sir:

The “IMP” is powered by a Gladden Series 75 one cylinder air cooled engine.  The engine is 7.5 horsepower.  The “IMP’s” cruising speed is 35 miles per hour, and 65 miles to the gallon of gasoline.  The car is constructed of standard parts, which can be obtained in most automotive parts stores.

The terms are one third down, the balance due when the car is ready for shipment.  Immediate Delivery.

We trust that the enclosed specifications slip will answer further questions.

Hoping we hear from you soon.

Very truly yours,

IMP Motor Sales
R. K. Griffin
Sales Manager

Also included with Paul’s materials was a sales brochure from IMP Motor Sales titled “Presenting the IMP.” 

Let’s take a look at the IMP Brochure next:

Presenting the IMP (1949/1950 Sales Brochure):

Presenting the IMP:  
A Little Car With A Big Future

Something brand new in the automotive transportation field is being offered by the IMP Motor Company, Inc.  This car is called “The IMP.”

Designed as  an auxiliary to the standard size passenger car and not as a competitor to it, the IMP is pointed particularly at the teenage market and as a companion to the average family rolling stock.  This car has three speeds forward and a reverse.

The IMP is in production in a modern equipped plant here, according to Mr. R. Stanley Griffin, designer and president of the company.  The current production is confined to a two-passenger roadster type, selling for $695 F.O.B. Glendale, California.

The body is laminated fibre-glass and comes in five colors, trimmed with matching upholstery which is quickly detachable.  One outstanding feature is the frame which is located on the outside and gives all around protection for the body.

The price of $695 does not include freight, Federal excise, State, or other taxes if any.  The IMP carries a 30 day or one thousand mile guarantee against defects in material and workmanship.

Specifications:

  • Engine: Gladden Series “75”
  • Transmission and Rear End: Borg Warner
  • Starter, Generator, and Coil: Auto-lite
  • Engine Cooling: Turbine Blower
  • Wheelbase: 72”
  • Tread: 40”
  • Weight: 550 lbs
  • Seat Width: 43”
  • Height: 34”
  • Length Overall: 98”
  • Tires: 4.00 x 8-16”
  • Semi Elliptical Front and Rear Springs
  • Timken Wheel Bearings
  • Sealed Beam Headlights
  • Safety Glass Windshield
  • Adequate Brakes
  • Parking Brake
  • Windshield Wiper
  • Utility Top Available
  • Many extras available.  Pictured is the De Luxe Model.

For Further Information:

IMP Motor Sales
International Distributor of the IMP
6223 San Fernando Road
Glendale 1, California    

Summary:

Be sure you read the “Specifications” above and how they describe the brakes on the IMP.  I love their description!  I also am fascinated on how they targeted the car partially to the “teenager” market.  Hmmmm not sure about that one, but I can kind of picture the type of teenager who would be caught driving this car – and I’m sure that would not have been James Dean-ish.  Still a cool car, though, in every way.

As you review the stories I’ve posted on the IMP, it becomes apparent that there were more than one.  I have pictures of at least 4 different ones and maybe more.  If we assume these are all different chassis, then we presume there were many cars made.  

So….where are these cars today?   No one knows.  

No IMP has been seen since 1950.  So….the hunt begins.  Set your sights on one small cool car and as the brochure above mentions…your teenager will love what you find (or the teenager in you).

Thanks again to Paul Sable for loaning us the IMP documents for today’s article.  Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…

Glass on gang…

Geoff

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