"Originality is a pain, and I don't collect pianos. I'm not going to experiment with my original cars. If you drive one and crack the block, you've knocked $100,000 out of the price of the car. That doesn't interest me anymore," Matt says. Instead, he swaps the original engines out for safe-keeping, while he enjoys the cars with relatively cheap crate motors.

The motor destined for the Imperial's engine compartment was a 500ci wedge from Mopar. "It needs 500 ci, because it can't be slow. That was something Chrysler never had the budget to do, but it needed it. The car drives effortlessly now," Matt says. Upon hearing of his motor upgrade, one of his friends reportedly said, "You're sick! Your Imperial will outrun my Roadrunner!"

Normally, a big-cube motor will be outfitted with a lumpy cam and a throaty exhaust, but that would go against everything the Imperial was designed to be and Matt would hear none of it, literally. "I couldn't resist getting a good set of exhaust manifolds off a '69 Roadrunner 440 six-pack, but I wanted manifolds, because I didn't want to hear the exhaust," Matt says. "You've got to look at the original spirit of the car, and that's a 5,000-pound, personal luxury sport coupe." Likewise, Matt went through several different mufflers, before finding a set of Cherry Bomb Turbo mufflers that had a resonance to his liking. Even with the quiet exhaust, the big-block still provides 585 hp and 610 lb-ft of tire-melting torque.

The transmission is a 727 TorqueFlight, mated to a TCI torque converter with a 2,200-rpm stall. The Mopar 8 3/4-inch rearend is packed with 2.94 gears loaded on an Eaton Posi unit. That's a combination that epitomizes the "built for comfort, not for speed" approach, and with four U-joints and a heavily weighted two-piece driveshaft, it's not likely to run much faster than the 13.18 Matt recorded with a G-Tech. He claims the land barge will still pass you like a hydroplane on the highway though.

On the suspension, Matt put all new rubber up front and had the springs rebuilt, but the torsion bars were fine. "When I started thinking about improving the handling, I didn't go with any polygraphite, I just put all new rubber on everything. The car has a phenomenal ride and at 4,800 pounds, it corners decently. You can try to make it handle, but you won't make it into a road course machine," Matt says. "You feel everything in a Roadrunner; you don't feel anything in this car."

He also modernized the rolling stock, outfitting his Imperial with 17-inch Billet Specialties GTP47 wheels, wrapped in Kumho rubber. The wheels hide 12-inch rotors up front with a massive set of four-piston calipers that Matt claims are as big as any six-piston caliper ever made. The rear brakes are the factory 11-inch drums, which were the largest available at that time.

Matt finally has a car he can put all of his stuff into, go anywhere and be comfortable, while knocking down a very respectable 17 mpg on the highway. The Imperial cruises at 2,600 rpm and while Matt is tempted to add a Gear Vendors Overdrive unit, he first wants to experience the car as the original designers intended. After that, it may be your turn behind the wheel.

Matt only claims three of the cars in his collection cannot be bought at any price. The rest can all be had for the right number and the Imperial is one of them. He'll have it out on Power Tour this year, allowing folks a chance to see it up close. After that, he may not lose interest, but he will move on to the next project. That one will likely return him to more familiar turf and involve some combination of either an all-aluminum 572 Hemi or a 468ci small-block and a Mopar that starts with the letter "C."

Matt's wife thinks he likes building them more than he likes driving them. That may have been true so far, but this Imperial is unlike anything he's ever built or driven before.

By The Numbers
'67 Imperial Crown Coupe
Builder: Matt Delaney/Delaney Auto Design
Shreveport, Louisiana
Total cost to build: $27,200

ENGINE
Type: Mopar 500 wedge crate motor
Block: heavy-duty cast-iron, cross-bolted block
Oiling: Milodon high-volume pump, stock pan
Rotating assembly: Mopar forged crankshaft, flat-top cast-aluminum pistons, 9.0:1 compression ratio
Cylinder heads: Mopar Performance heads, ported by Hughes Engines to flow 320 cfm at .600-inch lift
Camshaft: COMP Cams Xtreme Energy XE272
Valvetrain: Mopar high-lift single valvesprings, 2.14-inch intake and 1.81-inch exhaust stainless steel valves
Induction: Mopar Performance single-plane M1 intake manifold, Edelbrock Thunder Series 800-cfm carb
Ignition: MSD distributor, coil, and 8.5mm Super Conductor wires
Fuel system: Edelbrock fuel pump
Exhaust: '69 440 Six-Pack cast-iron manifold, five sticks worth of 2 1/2-inch exhaust with Cherry Bomb Turbo mufflers
Cooling: '67 Chrysler Imperial radiator
Output: 585 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: 727 TorqueFlight, stock shifter
Rear axle: '67 Mopar 8 3/4 rearend, 2.94:1 gears; Eaton Posi unit
CHASSIS
Front suspension: stock torsion bars
Rear suspension: Eaton leaf springs, Edelbrock shocks
Brakes: stock Mopar 12-inch discs with four-piston calipers
in the front, stock Mopar 11-inch drums in the rear
WHEELS & TIRES
Wheels: 17x8 Billet Specialties GTP47
Tires: 255/55R17 Kumho ECSTA