In 1955, Chrysler introduced the Imperial as a separate line of prestigious cars, competing directly with Ford’s Lincoln and General Motors’ Cadillac. The goal was to surpass all other Chrysler models in luxury and opulence.
Designer Virgil Exner transformed the Imperial’s design with his “Forward Look” aesthetics, inspired by Cadillac’s tail fins. He believed in the aerodynamic advantages of fins and even tested his designs in wind tunnels. The result was a sleek and aggressive appearance, with lowered rooflines, tall fins, and a wedge-like shape. Chrysler’s design prowess put Ford and General Motors on the defensive.
By the early 1960s, Exner’s Forward Look Imperials featured striking free-standing headlights, a split grille, and a polished body line extending along the car’s length. The iconic “Gunsight” taillights completed the distinctive look.
Under the hood, the futuristic Imperials housed a powerful 413-cubic-inch V-8 engine with a single Carter four-barrel carburetor, delivering an impressive 340 horsepower. Power steering and power brakes came standard. Buyers could also choose the Crown Imperial series, including the convertible option for an additional cost of nearly $1,000.
Source: RM Sotheby’s