This '63 Crown Imperial convertible is one of the rarest products of Chrysler's ongoing battle wîth Cadillac for American ultra-luxury supremacy. These cars were very expensive when new and a mere 531 were produced total. This car is arguably one of the most spectacular Crown Imperial Convertible in existence.Source - Barrett-Jackson
The Imperial was designed by Virgil Exner and hailed by Chrysler as 'The Finest Car America Has Yet Produced.' A very bold statement considering some of the masterpieces produced from Packard, Cadillac, and countless others. This was Chryslers first vehicle to have a wraparound windshield. Produced in limited numbers, only 11,430 examples were created in 1955. This was Chryslers interpretation of a true luxury automobile. The Imperial was a highly priced vehicle for its time, costing $4,483 for the four door sedan, over $500 more than the Cadillac Series 62. Even though it was pricy, it offered items as standard equipment that were optional on other vehicles. For example, power brakes and power steering were both included with the sticker-price of the vehicle, while other manufacturers charged extra for these luxury items. The Imperial Newport hartop coupe sold for roughly $4,720.
A two speed automatic transmission with a 250 horsepower Hemi engine was offered for the base models.
The 1957 Chrysler Imperial is probably the most famous and popular Imperial in history. Styling was once again handled by Virgil Exner. Tailfins could be found in the rear of the vehicle. The curved door glass were not only creative, they were the first in the industry. The long, stylish front hood hid a giant 392 cubic inch V8 capable of producing 325 horsepower. The Hemi V8 version produced 350 horsepower.
In 1956, Chrysler had introduced a TorqueFlite, three-speed automatic transmission. In 1957, it found a home in the Imperial. This transmission, coupled with the V8 powerplant could propel this large, luxury vehicle from zero to sixty miles per hour in 9.8 seconds easily beating the nearest competitor. Its top speed of 125 miles per hour was also unmatched.
Three body styles were offered, they were the two door hardtop, convertible, pillared sedan, and four door hardtop.
In 1957, 35,734 Imperials were produced, the best year Chrysler would have with this vehicle. Production continued until the 1970's with both mechanical and styling changes occuring throughout the years.
In 1958, the Imperial was fitted with cruise control and electric door locks. In 1959, a new 413.2 cubic inch V8 engine was introduced, producing 350 horsepower at 4600 rpm. In 1961, large tail fins were fitted to the rear of the vehicle. This was not the first time tail fins were used on the vehicle. The tail fins first appeared on the vehicle in 1956 but they were subtle, unlike the 1961 fins that were large and commanding. Was it styling, was it more competition Was it a market that was headed towards more economically friend vehicles, or Was it simply some other reason? During the 1961 model year, Chrysler only produced 12,249 Imperials. Whatever it was, the Imperial carried a bold statement, an unbeatable powerplant, superb luxury elements, and handling that could tame and control the vehicle even at high speeds.
In 1966, the horsepower was increased again with the introduction of a 440 cubic inch V8. Better power-to-weight ratio improved the performance and handling. With 350 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 480 ft-lbs at 2800 rpm, the Imperial 440 was the most powerful luxury American automobile ever.
In 1967, 17,620 Impericals were produced. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2006
The Chrysler Thomas Special SWB Prototype was the answer to a lackluster styling problem that had plagued the Chrysler Corporation during the late 1940's and early 1950's. K. T. Keller was Chryslers President from 1935 through 1950. Under his direction the Company had prospered but the designs of the vehicles were criticized for being too conservative. After World War II many maruqee's saw their production figures begin to rise while Chrysler's stayed stead but falling behind the rest of the pack. Chrysler looked to Europe for inspiration.
A war torn Europe was recovering from years of battle. Many factories had been ruined and many intellectual knowledge had been destroyed. Fiat invited Chrysler to Italy to aid in their rebuilding and to train their technicians in the latest methods and techniques of automotive production. This included teaching them modernized ways of constructing cars and the most effective means of assembly line techniques. Not only was Chrysler imparting knowledge to a struggling economy, they were gaining knowledge on the art of carrozziere, Italian meaning custom coach building. This was a dying art but had been very popular in the early 1900s. A manufacturer would supply a rolling chassis to a custom coachbuilder to complete. The coachbuilder often corresponded with the customer to determine the exact specifications, resulting in unique creations.
Chrysler began discussions with one of the most famous coachbuilders of all time, Pinin Farina. However, it would be Ghia in Turin who would be commissioned to build a series of cars inspired by the designs of Virgil Exner, Chryslers chief stylist. Ghia and Chrysler continued working together for 15 years creating some of the most memorable Chryslers of all time. From 1951 through 1954 the Exner-designed Ghia Specials were produced. The mechanical components were provided by Chrysler including a 331 cubic-inch hemi V8 capable of producing over 175 horsepower. The two-speed PowerFlite or Fluid Torque transmission was also courtesy of Chrysler but the exquisite bodies were the creation of Ghia with inspiration from Exner.
The Chrysler-Ghia relationship was beneficial to both parties. When Chrysler approached their own shops for a quote on who much it would cost to build such a creation, they were told around $125,000. When they posed the same question to Ghia, they were quoted $10,000 to $20,000.
The first fruits of this relationship was the Chrysler K-310 introduced in 1951. The 'K' represented K.T. Keller's initial in his name. While the 310 represented the horsepower produced by the engine. In 1952 the Chrysler Special was produced and made its debut to the public at the Paris Auto Show of that same year. It was built atop of a shortened New York Chassis and powered by a 331 cubic-inch Hemi V8 engine producing 235 horsepower. It had power steering, brakes, windows and power antenna. There was only one SWB (short wheel base) version produced in the series. The Thomas Special was specially commissioned by C.B. Thomas, who was president of the export division of Chrysler Corporation.
These 'idea cars' were meant to inspire Chrysler's design team while giving the general public a glimpse of things to come. They were showcased at auto shows where they always drew crowds. They were the perfect blend of American styling and power with coachwork by one of the greatest Italian coachbuilders.
In 1954, the limited production Chrysler Ghia GS-1 coupe was introduced. They were sold exclusively in Europe by Societe France Motors. The vehicle was built atop a Chrysler 125.5 inch chassis, the same used on most of the Chrysler automobiles. Power was supplied by a 180 horsepower Chrysler Hemi V8 engine. The vehicles were equipped with either a Fluid Torque transmission or the newer PowerFlite two-speed automatic.
Other creations between Chrysler-Ghia were the Dodge Firebomb and the Chrysler Crown Imperial Ghia Limousines. By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006
Nine rare and important Chrysler Concept Cars from the forties, fifties and sixties will be presented together for the first time at the 19th annual Amelia Island Concours dElegance on March 9, 2014.