I signaled to the engine room to increase power as I hefted the helm over to full starboard to clear the iceberg curb. Just like the ill-fated Titanic, I failed; however, unlike the ill-fated luxury liner, my interstate bound ship of dreams shrugged off the concrete obstacle with only a slight disturbance of the ever present floating waft. Never had I piloted a vehicle so large and vast feeling as my Avocado Green Metallic 1967 Imperial, made by Chrysler. At 224in long, and over 5600lbs of pure American uni-bodied steel, puts the similar sized Hummer H2 to shame in its ability to show of its largess. At least the Hummer has a modicum of efficient design, not so the Imperial, one of the shining examples of the de facto “Detroit Schoolhouse of Design.”
Back then, just like now, Chrysler trailed the offerings from the other two large American automakers. It didn’t have the cache, build quality, nor sales numbers enjoyed by Cadillac and Lincoln. It didn’t matter that in 1955 Chrysler spun off the Imperial into its own brand in an attempt to persuade wealthy bankers of Dallas to part with their money. However, unlike today, the interior fittings were still stunning in their execution, especially to a teenager of the 1990’s who grew up with European sports sedans before they embraced high quality plastics. The dashboard stretched so far out to the horizon that the air vents grew hazy in the distance. Toggle switches complemented chrome plated wheels to lend an air of sophistication to someone used to the click-n-crunch buttons of a Chrysler LeBaron. If you could tear your eyes away from the tape-measure style speedo, you would find the turn-signal indicator placed way out on the front fender tips; cool, but not functional when you could barely see them in the daylight.
But who cared? This car was built for ultimate cruising, right down to the bench seats covered in leather dyed in such hideous shades it would make Baby Jesus cry. The 440 V-8 pushed out an impressive 350bhp and 480ftlbs of torque, and returned a miserable 12mpg overall. While that sounds impressive, it really wasn’t as the 0-60 times of 10 seconds are matched by a modern Prius. What the Prius doesn’t match is the ride. Oh to feel the waft of the Imperial, the sheer isolation and solitude of a big lazy car riding on whitewalls stirs nostalgic feelings of a decade I never saw. At least I was able to pretend in the big Imperial in my polyester tuxedo on the way to my Senior Prom.