By Andrew Tanner
It is a well-known fact around campus that there are lots of unique old cars owned by the automotive restoration students. It is a lesser-known fact that there are perhaps even more unique old cars stuffed away in storage units near campus, awaiting repairs to be presented at the annual car show. Until early this year, Winston Staufferís 1966 Imperial Crown was one of those cars. Stauffer purchased his Imperial his freshman year in the spring semester from a person just outside of Wichita. The seller was a ìderbier,î meaning he liked to strip out old cars and take them to demolition derbies to compete for profit.
Imperials have long made for great derby vehicles, but now they have become collectable enough to save. The person Stauffer bought his car from opted to sell the Imperial to him to be restored because he felt it was too nice to destroy. When Stauffer received the car, it was complete but in need of a full restoration. Upon inspecting the condition of the engine, he found what looked like a crack in a cylinder wall. By this time, Stauffer was in Advanced Engines class and decided to rebuild the 440 V8 as his class project.
After the original engineís cylinder walls disintegrated during the machining process, he was forced to find a new block. The first one he purchased as a replacement had equally as bad damage to the cylinders, so he purchased yet a third 440 block from a young man in Hutchinson. The third time was the charm, because that block was solid. After fully rebuilding the third engine block using as much of the original 1966 parts as he could, Stauffer began the process of reinstalling the engine after it had been out for nearly a year and a half. After tuning the engine, replacing the front pump seal in the transmission, and rebuilding the brakes the Imperial was driving under its own power!
This year the car will be making its first appearance at the car show in functional condition. In the future, Stauffer plans to make it a high-quality driver restoration that he can enjoy, but also take to shows. Once restored, it will be painted in the original shade of white with the interior changed from red to white and black. Stauffer hopes to soon be able to sail his ìland-yachtî across the United States!