This 10th installment of our Imperial coverage finds us at a turning point in its styling. Virgil Exner had been fired but was allowed to stay on as a design consultant at Chrysler. Exner’s immediate replacement was Elwood Engel, who’d designed the 1961 Lincoln Continental and then jumped ship when he was not promoted at Ford. Chrysler execs wanted out of Exner’s winged, googly-eyed stylistic cave, and Engel took the aged D-body in a very different direction for 1964.
Today marks the ninth installment in our history of Imperial, as the calendar flips over to 1961. The second generation Imperial is not quite to the middle of its tenure on its own platform, the D-body. Virgil Exner imposed a wild new styling direction on Imperial for 1960 that was both outlandish visually, and heavy-handed in its execution. “More of that,” said Exner for ’61.
Today’s installment of the Imperial series is our seventh and coincides with the seventh generation Imperial. Officially it was the second-generation car under the new Imperial marque, an independent arm of Chrysler launched in 1955 to compete with the likes of Lincoln and Cadillac. The move to independence brought with it a resurgence of interest in the brand, as the Exner styled ’55 and ’56 Imperials stood out from the rest of Chrysler’s offerings visually, and in terms of quality and luxury. We pick up in 1957 when it was time for another new Imperial.
Our Rare Rides Icons series on the Chrysler Imperial picks up today at perhaps the most pivotal time in Imperial’s history. As the model’s fifth generation concluded in 1954, Chrysler was also concluding development of its big secret plans for Imperial: A new luxury brand of exclusivity and prestige.
Our history of the Imperial series continues today, as Part V coincides with the dawn of the Fifties. Imperial wasn’t in the best place after its long-lived fourth-generation model was parted by the cruel reality of World War II.
But Chrysler was determined to launch the Imperial of the Fifties in a big way, with more body style availability, the return of two wheelbases, and new technology.
Our series on Imperial continues today, after a strong start in the coachbuilt Twenties turned into a big aerodynamic flop in the Thirties with the Airflow Imperial. The error in judgment was immediately apparent; the Imperial with groundbreaking styling lasted only three model years.
Chrysler was determined to start Imperial over, and in its third generation returned to a much more conservative large luxury car template.
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