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Imperial

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Imperial
Vehicle Marque

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Wikipedia: Imperial (automobile)

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Chrysler/Imperial 1957 Service Manual

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A car produced by Chrysler and sold under its own brand from 1955 to 1975 and again from 1981 to 1983.  The Imperial name was used by Chrysler prior to 1955 and after 1983, those years of Imperials were sold under the Chrysler brand as the Chrysler Imperial.

Vehicle names used by the Imperial marque throughout history include:  Crown, Crown Coupe, Le Baron, and Newport.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Imperial (automobile) page on 2 June 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Imperial was the Chrysler Corporation's luxury automobile brand between 1955 and 1975, with a brief reappearance from 1981 to 1983.

The Imperial name had been used since 1926, but was never a separate make, just the top-of-the-line Chrysler. However, in 1955, the company decided to spin Imperial off as its own make and division to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac. Imperial would see new/modified body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as technologies that would filter down to Chrysler corporation's other models.

First generation (1955–1956): A separate make

For the 1955 model year, the Imperial was launched and registered as a separate marque (make), apart from the Chrysler brand. It was a product of the new Imperial Division of Chrysler Corporation, meaning that the Imperial would be a make and division unto itself, and not bear the Chrysler name. Chrysler Corporation sent notices to all state licensing agencies in the then-48 states that the Imperial, beginning in 1955, would no longer be registered as a Chrysler, but as a separate make. Chrysler introduced Forward Look Styling by Virgil Exner, who would define Imperial's look (and the look of cars from the other four Chrysler divisions) from 1955 to 1963. Even as early as in 1954, Chrysler Corporation ads at the time began to visibly and consciously separate The Imperial from the Chrysler Division car line in the eyes of the public, to prepare for the big change coming in 1955. Once the "Imperial" brand was introduced, Cadillac no longer used the "Imperial" name for its top-level limousines starting in 1955.

Second generation (1957–1966)

For the 1957 model year, the Imperial received its own platform, setting it apart from any other division of Chrysler. This would last through the 1966 model year. Imperials during this period were substantially wider, both inside and out, than other Mopars with front and rear shoulder room equal to 64.0 in (1,626 mm) and 62.0 in (1,575 mm) respectively. The front seat shoulder room measurement remains an unsurpassed record for Imperial and would remain the record for any car until the 1971–1976 GM full-size models. Exterior width reached a maximum of 81.7 in (2,075 mm) for 1961–1963, which remains the record for the widest non-limousine American car. After Lincoln downsized for 1961 this generation of Imperial had no real competitor for the title of largest car for the remainder of its decade-long lifespan.

Third generation (1967–1968)

Imperial styling was completely new for the 1967 and 1968 models. Using a two-inch shorter wheelbase, Imperial switched from the body-on-frame platform (D-body) to a unibody platform (C-body platform used in other full size Mopars.) While Imperial's front K member was 3.0 inches (76 mm) longer than a Chrysler's, dimensions behind the front fenders were similar. One reason for the change was that Chrysler had gained experience with unibody construction and was ready to apply it to the company's flagship line.

Fourth generation (1969–1973)

The "Fuselage Look" was how Chrysler described its new styling for 1969. Instead of the square lines of 1964-1968 models, the new Imperials featured rounded "tumblehome" sides, bulging at the belt line, and tucking in down to the rocker panels. The new styling not only made the cars look longer and wider, it also surrounded the passengers in a hull-like fashion, similar to an aircraft, hence the reference to "fuselage". The curved side glass, which had been pioneered in America by Imperial for its 1957 model, had a much tighter radius, while the increased curvature of the bodysides permitted the window frames to be moved outboard at their bases, resulting in an increase in shoulder room without an increase in overall body width compared to the previous C-body. In fact, front and rear shoulder room increased from 59.4 in (1,509 mm) to 62.7 in (1,593 mm) on 4-door hardtops.

To reduce development and tooling costs, and bring overall expenditures more in line with actual sales, Imperial was forced to share some of its bodyshell with Chrysler for the first time since 1956. Consequently, glass, and roofs were common with the entry-level Chrysler Newport. In other respects, however, little had changed; construction was still unibody, the wheelbase was still stretched 3.0 in (76 mm) longer than a Chrysler's in front of the passenger section, the engine and transmission were the same, and the torsion bar front suspension was still used.

Sixth generation (1981–1983)

The early 1980s Imperial was an attempt to reinvent the Imperial as a personal luxury car. This came about after Lee Iacocca took the helm at Chrysler, as he had been instrumental in creating the successful Lincoln Mark series for this market while he was at Ford in the late 1960s. Although the company was facing bankruptcy, Iacocca decided that "a new flagship would assure the public that Chrysler had a future." During the design of the car it was intended to be named Chrysler LaScala. However, when the car finally appeared, it was marketed simply as an Imperial, and the Chrysler name was not used.

The new Imperial was a smaller, two-door only model sharing its wheelbase chassis with the second generation Chrysler Cordoba and Dodge Mirada. Neither a convertible nor a 4-door version was available, though conversions were made of both by third party companies. The bustle-back appearance and prominent grille was an attempt at a revival of 1930s and 1940s luxury car appearances that was briefly popular during the early 1980s, with Chrysler drawing inspiration from its 1937–1939 Chrysler Imperial sedans.


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
2006 BookStandard Catalog of 1950's Chrysler by Jon G. Robinson; Krause Publications


Images

Chrysler Imperial Photo by "Alice"
View photo of Chrysler Imperial - 341KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial, 1,065KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 838KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 332KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 342KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 325KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 287KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 454KB
1955 Imperial 1955
Photo ©2006 Bill Crittenden
Morris Lions Fall Classic Car Show
October 8, 2006
View photo of 1955 Imperial - 348KB
2004 AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet (Hershey) Poster - 1957 Imperial 2004 AACA Fall National Meet at Hershey
Artist: Ken Eberts
Car: 1957 Imperial
Image courtesy CarArt.us
View 2004 AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet (Hershey) - 1957 Imperial - 83KB
1960 Imperial Advertisement 1960 Advertisement
From National Geographic, March 1960
View 1960 Imperial Advertisement - 2,332KB
1960 Imperial 1960
Photo by Christian Kath
Taken in 2006
View photo of 1960 Imperial - 1,387KB
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
1968 Imperial 1968
JM http://www.logodesignweb.com/stockphoto
View photo of 1968 Imperial - 58KB
1968 Imperial 1968
JM http://www.logodesignweb.com/stockphoto
View photo of 1968 Imperial - 69KB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
22 September 1966NHTSA Recall 66V002001
1967 Chrysler, 1967 Imperial, 1967 Dodge Monaco, 1967 Dodge Polara, 1967 Plymouth Fury
Fuel System, Gasoline:Carburetor System
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
8 January 1967NHTSA Recall 67V009002
1967 Chrysler, 1967 Chrysler Imperial, 1967 Dodge Dart, 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, 1967 Plymouth Valiant
Service Brakes, Hydraulic:Foundation Components:Master Cylinder
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
17 January 1967NHTSA Recall 67V009004
1967 Chrysler, 1967 Imperial
Electrical System:Wiring:Interior/Under Dash
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
10 April 1967NHTSA Recall 67V040001
1967 Chrysler, 1967 Imperial
Service Brakes, Hydraulic:Foundation Components:Disc
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page




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