1929 Duesenberg Model J by LeBaron
As part of this gig, I see a lot of cars. Besides attending the major corporate auto shows like the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, from spring into late fall almost every Sunday will find me at some kind of car show. Car museums are also some of my favorite places. Having entered my teens during the 1960s, when there were E Type Jaguars, Corvettes and Mustangs, it was easy for me to dismiss cars from the ’50s as old-fashioned, let alone vehicles from the pre-war classic era. As Mark Twain pointed out, though, I’ve learned a few things since I was a young man and my perspective has changed.
It was the late 1970s. Following the oil crisis in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Japanese automakers were able to go from having a foothold on the west coast to being major players in the domestic American market. In 1976, Honda introduced the first generation Accord, a revolutionary package that combined outstanding fuel economy, front wheel drive, reliability, practicality, sprightly performance and a standard equipment list that included a stereo and air conditioning. At the time, Chrysler was headed by Lee Iacocca and in a changing automotive world, for some reason Iacocca decided that what Chrysler needed was a large personal luxury car. Burton Bouwkamp, who was director of body engineering for Chrysler at the time, recalled his boss barking “Where the hell is our Cadillac/Lincoln entry?” The result was the 1981-83 Chrysler Imperial, the last V8 powered Imperial to be produced. (Read More…)
By 1991, Chrysler was using the K platform as the basis for everything from penny-pinching econoboxes to minivans to the once-majestic Imperial. One thing about the Whorehouse Red Interior Era (approximately 1983 through 1994), though, was that enough red velour and gold-plastic emblems could make even an Iacoccan front-wheel-drive first cousin to the Plymouth Reliant-K into a quasi-credible luxury sedan. Here’s a ’91 Chrysler Imperial that I found in California a couple of weeks ago. (Read More…)
The most luxurious member of all the extended Chrysler K-Car family had to have been the K-based (actually Y-based, the Y being yet another variety of stretched K chassis) 1990-1993 Imperial. We’ve seen some serious Whorehouse Red interiors in this series— this ’80 Skylark, for example, or this ’83 Pulsar, or this 1993 Dynasty— but no vehicle interior this side of a Acapulco Gold-scented custom van ever came with as much screamin’ red velour as this Imperial. (Read More…)
With scrap steel worth so much these days, does a fairly rough ’63 Imperial have any chance of evading The Crusher? Probably not. (Read More…)
Is time slowing down? Just fifteen years separate this 1960 Imperial and the Horizon’s birth. Or was it just that Detroit was terribly slow to embrace the inevitability of modern European design? Better late then never, because not only were the Horizon and Omni the first proper small cars ever built in Detroit, they also saved Chrysler from irrelevance and bankruptcy just in the nick of time. (Read More…)