1933 Chrysler CL Custom Imperial
|Model History||Auction sales research||Specifications||Body styles and Chassis Data|
The Series CG Imperial was succeeded by a new Series CH line in 1932. These came with double-drop frame, vee-type windshield, and Floating Power. A long-wheelbase version was available and dubbed the CL Custom Imperial. The CL line was distinguished by a longer hood, extending from the radiator shell back to the base of the windshield. The catalog for the CL line listed six body styles, three of which were by LeBaron, and a handful of individual customs for specific customers.
At the 1931 Paris Auto Show, Ralph Roberts was inspired by a design he saw and commissioned a Lincoln to be built in similar fashion. Edsel Ford was not impressed by the Lincoln's experimental hood, but Walter Chrysler did and ordered it adopted for the new CL.
For 1932, the Chrysler CL's original dual cowl phaeton was replaced by what many call a sport phaeton with a crank-up rear screen, housed in the back of the front seat. For 1933, the CL received very few changes.
LeBaron Carrossiers, Inc.
The LeBaron coach-building firm was formed in New York City in 1920 by Raymond Dietrich and Thomas Hibbard. Their first project was a drawing of a seven-passenger limousine for the New York branch manager for Packard. The task of building the body was handled by Fleetwood. The customer was so impressed and satisfied with the design, that soon referrals began to come in.
Within a short time of the company's inception, Ralph Roberts (a recent Dartmouth graduate) was hired by the LeBaron company as a partner. Soon, the company was designing bodies for chassis supplied by New York dealers for Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Minerva, Fiat, Hispano-Suiza, Packard, Cadillac and Pierce-Arrow (and others).
In 1923, Hibbard left for Europe, where he associated with Howard 'Dutch' Darrin in Hibbard & Darrin. Before the close of the year, the remaining partners of LeBaron were approached by the Bridgeport Body Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut to become design partners, in exchange for stock.
After a favorable meeting between Dietrich and Edsel Ford at the New York Auto Show, the LeBaron Company received a large order from the Lincoln marque. Soon, Lincoln had become LeBaron's best customer. Pleased with the work, Edsel tried to get Dietrich and Roberts to relocate to Detroit. Dietrich was persuaded by the very generous offer and moved to Michigan. Roberts and Stickney, however, remained at Bridgeport. In 1927, Walter Briggs of Briggs Body Company in Detroit approached Roberts with a buyout offer. This time, Roberts accepted the offer and departed for Detroit, where he and LeBaron became an in-house design studio for Briggs.
The Briggs Company was a major body supplier for the newly formed Chrysler Corporation. The recent purchase of LeBaron allowed Briggs an opportunity to provide an upscale series of designs.
In 1953, Chrysler bought out Briggs and the LeBaron name was part of the purchase. The name has been used by Chrysler on certain prestige models ever since.
Chrysler Custom Imperial Five-Passenger Phaeton
Chassis number 7803657 is believed to be the last example completed. It was the built for Ralph Roberts as a gift for his wife. The car was given several unique features including dual rear-mounted spare tires, a painted radiator, and lower-mounted headlights.
The car remained with the Roberts until the early 1940s. It was later purchased by Bob Harrison of San Francisco. At the time, it still wore its original paint and with all the unique features. A few changes were made over the years by Mr. Harrison, including black paint and a stone guard. It remained in his care until 1960, when it was purchased by fellow San Franciscan Bob Burkholder. The new owner had the top removed and replaced it with a canvas tonneau cover. The fender skirts were removed along with the unique wheel discs.
By the mid-1980s, the car was in the care of its seventh owner, Mr. Otis Chandler. Later owners included Joe Morgan in the early 1990s as well as Neil Wynn, who commissioned a complete restoration by Curt Austin, after which the car was awarded the Most Elegant Open award at Pebble Beach in the mid-1990s.
The car resided in another prominent collection before its acquisition by the Milhous Collection in 1998. Currently, the car is painted in its original Moon glow Polychromatic and the original Roberts-ordered features have been restored. The interior is upholstered in tan leather and furnished with a rear seat arm rest. The floors have grey carpet, and the top is tan canvas, with matching tire cover at the rear.
In 2012, the car was brought to auction. At the time, the car had fewer than 78,000 miles. RM Auctions was tasked with finding a new owner for the car. The car was estimated to sell for $750,000 - $1,000,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for $1,210,000 inclusive of buyer's premium. A few months later, the new owner brought the car to Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's where it was awarded Best of Show.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2012
|Auction Sales Information|
|Auction||RM - Milhous Collection, Fla|
|Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance||American Classic (1930-1934)|
|Concours d'Elegance of America at St. Johns||American Classic Open 1928-34|