- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2002

Although Charles Tynes was too young to personally enjoy the tail-fin era, which began in 1948 and petered out in 1964, he nonetheless is attracted to outrageous befinned cars.
More than 30 years after the last tail fin had been produced, Mr. Tynes began looking to fill that void in his life.
He wanted a Chrysler product with tail fins but those he found didn't light his fire.
When his grandmother died in 1998 he drove to the funeral in Philadelphia. That's where he first saw a ragged-out 1959 Imperial on a car lot. "I'd never seen such a car," Mr. Tynes said, referring to its distinctive silhouette. Five of the eight windows were demolished, as well as the Space Age taillights during the 20 years it had sat on the lot in Philadelphia.
He liked what he saw but for more than a year a deal couldn't be worked out with the seller.
Eventually, Mr. Tynes' perseverance paid off. He bought the beat-up, once-elegant, Imperial Aug. 30, 1999.
He trucked the 4,810-pound car home to Fort Washington, where his neighbors greeted him with several variations of "Why are you bringing that thing home?"
Several told Mr. Tynes' wife, Patsy, that; "You need to get rid of him AND the car."
The first order of business was to pull the 413-cubic-inch V-8 engine. The wrist pins had seized years before so Mr. Tynes, a professional automobile mechanic, spent the next three months working to free the engine.
While the engine soaked, Mr. Tynes shoveled all the accumulated debris from the interior.
The push-button transmission was sent out for an overhaul. While it was gone, rust spots in the floor pan were cut out and replaced with healthy steel.
The original dashboard was salvaged while all the upholstery was replaced with tan naugahyde, including the headliner and the swiveling front bucket seats.
Five push buttons operating the three-speed torqueflite transmission are stacked on the left side of the 120 mph speedometer.
From the top they are Drive, Neutral, Reverse, Second, First. There is no Park.
The car is secured by placing the transmission in neutral and setting the emergency brake.
The 18-foot, 10-inch-long Imperial, riding on a 129-inch wheelbase, is filled with innovative touches such as the turn signals being activated not by a lever on the steering column but rather by a dashboard-mounted lever below the stack of transmission buttons.
Not one, not two, but three buttons are on the floor by the driver's left foot.
The lowest button activates the high-beam headlights while the middle button operates the signal-seeking AM radio. The topmost of the three buttons, when stepped upon, turns on the windshield washers.
The luxurious car is equipped with:
Power seat.
Power locks.
Power brakes.
Power antenna.
Power steering.
Power windows.
Air conditioning.
Two-speed wipers.
Mr. Tynes acquired his Imperial because he wanted something unusual. The problem with an unusual car is that parts are scarce. As for the myriad number of chrome-plated parts, he said, "I'm still working on it."
When new, the car was all white and sold with a base price of $5,403. By the time Mr. Tynes bought the car it was white and rust.
In May 2001 the Imperial was stripped to bare metal and painted Sherwood green with the accent of an off-white top forward of the chrome band across the top.
The restoration was complete as far as any restoration is ever complete in June 2001. "It was a challenge," Mr. Tynes concedes.
He filled the 22-gallon fuel tank with gasoline and then boosted the octane with a lead additive.
On a 300-mile round trip to Carlisle, Pa., he reports fuel economy figures in the 10-to-12 mile per gallon range.
"The 350-horsepower motor has got some power to it," Mr. Tynes affirms. "It can level the mountains."
In the year and a half since the restoration was complete, he has driven his incredible Imperial about 8,000 miles. "She's come a long way," he said, "and I've been enjoying her ever since."
A mere total of 1,728 such Imperials were manufactured with an advertising slogan in 1959 of "Excellence without equal."
Mr. Tynes enjoys settling into the easily accessible driver's swivel seat and swinging around to take control of the two-spoke steering wheel.
On the aft end of the soaring tail fins he installed aftermarket red taillight lenses to match the lenses that were on the Imperial when it left the factory with its famous "gunsight" taillights.
When at the wheel of his Imperial Mr. Tynes enjoys looking in the mirror and seeing the brake lights illuminate at the tips of the soaring tail fins when he steps on the brake pedal.


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