AJ’s Car of the Day: 1960 Chrysler Imperial Custom 4-Door Hardtop

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1960 Chrysler Imperial Custom 4-Door Hardtop

Car: Chrysler Imperial Custom 4-Door Hardtop

Year: 1960

What makes it special: 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. But 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 or modified body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as innovations that would filter down to Chrysler Corporation’s other models.

What made it famous: The 1960 Imperial adopted wildly exaggerated styling, featuring front fascia with a swooping bumper, gaping mesh grille, giant chrome eagle, and hooded quad headlights, and tall rear fins. Soaring fins had bullet style tail lamps at the peak of the fin, with a chrome ring surrounding it. The grille and bumper on the front of the 1960 used large pieces of heavy chrome, and the ‘furrowed brows’ of the fenders over the double sets of headlights. Imperial featured the new “High-Tower” seat with the driver-side back individually contoured and raised above of the rest of the front seat for increased driver comfort and shoulder support. Also for 1960, Imperial changed back to 15 inch diameter wheels from the 14 inch diameter wheels that had been standard since the 1957 model. Imperial LeBarons now featured a distinctive smaller “formal rear window” for greater rear seat privacy. While the rest of Chrysler’s lineup adopted unibody construction, Imperial retained its body on frame construction. It was equipped with a 350 hp, 413 V8.

Why I would want one: It’s a luxury car that’s not often seen. We see many Cadillacs and such, but to see an Imperial doesn’t happen often.

Fun fact: ‘imperial’ according to Webster’s Dictionary means sovereign, supreme, superior or of unusual size or excellence. The word imperial befits Chrysler’s highest priced model.

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