Sold for $522,500 at 2010 RM Sothebys. By 1931, the Great Depression was settling in for a long stay, but Chrysler introduced its first eight-cylinder models, including a top-of-the-line Imperial series on a lordly 145-inch wheelbase. Because it imitated the renowned Cord L-29 of 1929, this new Chrysler was the best-looking American car of the year, and is often considered to be the best looking Chrysler ever built. A total of 99 chassis were supplied to custom coachbuilders during 1931 for individuals to have built to their own specifications by Waterhouse & Company of Webster, Massachusetts. It is believed that there are only 25 Waterhouse-bodied cars known to exist today. Of those 25, three are Chryslers. Waterhouse built some 300 bodies for various marques, and their legacy continues through the reputation of their coachwork.
In 1931 Chrysler accomplished a new vibrant look. At the top of Chrysler's line was the incredible Chrysler Imperial with its V-eed radiator, exceptionally long hood and broad sweeping fenders accented by chrome and accessories. Walter P. Chrysler understood the prestige of offering a premium automobile product directed at this country's wealthy.
The CG Series Imperial was produced in limited quantities for only three years, between 1931 and 1933. In total only 339 CG Imperial models were made. These Imperials rode on a long 145-inch wheelbase and were powered by a super smooth nine main bearing Chrysler '8' engine capable of carrying the car to a top speed of 100 miles per hour. The car has a very low, 66-inch high roof line, typical of a Waterhouse Victoria.
In 2010, this car was offered for sale at RM Auctions 'Automobiles of Amelia Island' event, where it was estimated to sell for $450,000 - $600,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $522,500, inclusive of buyer's premium.
The 1931 Chrysler Imperial was designated the CG series, and is widely considered to be the most beautiful Imperial ever built. The new design was based on the Alan Leamy-designed 1929 Cord L-29. It features a 384 cubic-inch flathead eight engine, producing 125 horsepower.
The remarkable styling of the CG Imperials was the work of LeBaron, one of the greatest design firms of the classic era. The firm was founded by Thomas L. Hibbard, who was later joined by Ralph Roberts. LeBaron's CG Imperial followed closely the lines of the Cord L29, designed by Al Leamy. This 1931 Chrysler convertible coupe was one of just 10 such bodies built, and is the rarest of the open style Imperials. Chrysler's reputation for performance did not disappoint, with 125 horsepower on tap and a four-speed transmission, a new automatic spark advance mechanism, 'floating power' suspension, free-wheeling and an eight-cylinder engine, all firsts for Chrysler. The cars were quick and refined to drive. In 1931, Billy Arnold use a Chrysler roadster to capture several stock car records at Daytona Beach.
This example is body number 99 of the 100 built in the 148 LeBaron Roadster style, one of the last CG series produced. It features a low, slightly raked and vee'd windshield complementing the Imperial's low, raked and vee'd grille.
It was bought new at the 1931 New Yew York Auto Show by a featherweight prizefighter from Hartford, Connecticut, who went by the name 'Bat Battalino.' It has had only five owners since new, and remains completely original and in near perfect condition, well-maintained by its owners through the years.
Sold for $627,000 at 2006 Gooding & Company. Sold for $139,000 at 2009 Bonhams. The 1931 Chrysler CG Custom Imperial Dual Cowl Phaeton with chassis number 7801539 and 1931 Chrysler Imperial Sedan with chassis number 7803131 were both offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach. They were sold as a pair. Both have custom coachwork by Lebaron and finished in two-tone gray color combination. They have racked up numerous awards at prestigious events such as Best of Show at the Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance and First in Class at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island Concours. At the Burn Foundation Concours in Pennsylvania the award First in Class and Most Elegant Open car was awarded to these vehicles. The list of awards continues and a testament to the wonderful three-year restoration that occurred.
The vehicles were estimated to sell for $600,000-$750,000 which proved to be accurate, as the selling price was $627,000.
In 2007 the pair returned to Pebble Beach to be sold by the Blackhawk Collection.
• Multiple First Place Awards at Leading Concours Multiple AACA and CCCA
• First Place Awards Best of Show at Hilton Head Concours
• The Only Known Sedan Imperial Restored To The Highest Level
• The subject of a three-year 8,000-hour restoration from 1997-2000 by specialist Curt Austin of Sanford, Florida
This car along with the Dual Cowl Phaeton emerged to win numerous awards, including Best of Show at the Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance, First in Class at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island concours, and First in Class. Both cars have made a clean sweep of Antique Automobile Club of America firsts by winning Junior, Senior, Grand National, Grand National Senior and the AACA President's Award. The two cars have also won Classic Car Club of America Primary, Senior and Premier awards, scoring 100 points in each divisional judging. With a subtle and correct two-tone gray finish complemented by gray leather upholstery these cars possess a presence and beauty of fine few classics can match. The detailing on the restoration is amazing in its thoroughness, right down to the correct etching of the original supplier's name on the windshield glass! Wire wheels, dual sidemounts, correct trunk and chrome accents all add to the aura of these true classics, whose previous owners include retired Chrysler executive Darrell Davis, who had the cars restored to their impeccably high standard, well-known Chrysler Imperial enthusiast Willard Pike and prominent classic car collector Roger Willbanks. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2007
Walter P. Chrysler, after a successful career in railroading followed by stints at Buick and Willy-Overland, took over the Maxwell Company in 1921. He introduced an all-new car bearing his name in 1924. This first Chrysler six was extremely well-engineered and featured four-wheel hydraulic brakes something almost unheard of at the time, particularly in a moderately priced car. After adding Dodge, Plymouth and DeSoto to the corporate portfolio, Chrysler was ready to move upmarket in 1931.
The CG model featured a 384 CID straight eight-cylinder that delivered remarkable performance capable of 0-60 in 20 seconds, achieved 100 mph and cruised at 90 mph. The car rode on 145 inch wheelbase chassis and featured gracefully curved fenders and a rakish vee-shaped radiator grille.
This is one of the last 1931 Chrysler CGs built and it is body number 99 out of 100 roadsters. The car has a 145-inch wheelbase and is equipped with a 384 cubic inch flat head, eight cylinder engine with a four-speed transmission and hydraulic brakes.
The car was purchased new by the famous featherweight price fighter 'Battalino.' Battalino owned the car until 1941; it was then purchased by two of his friends who lost the car in a card game to a Mr. Sage, a nuclear physicist, who used the vehicle as his daily car. The car, as this point was a great original with a tan body, and red leather interior with a tan cloth top. Its history from new is well documented having had only three owners and just 77,000 original miles. It was restored in 1981 and received its CCCA National Senior Award the same year.
Sold for $170,500 at 2007 RM Sothebys. Sold for $126,500 at 2010 RM Sothebys. This 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Rumble Seat Coupe was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Amelia Island, Florida. It is one of just two surviving examples. It was estimated to sell between $200,000 - $250,000. It is powered by a 384 cubic-inch nine-main bearing eight-cylinder engine capable of producing 125 horsepower. There is a four-speed synchromesh gearbox and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. When new, it was ordered with the optional radiator stone guard and metal sidemount covers.
LeBaron created coachwork for the vast majority of bodies on the Imperial Custom Line. The Rumble Seat Coupe was the rarest of the CG Imperial bodystyles. It featured a low windshield and seating for up to three passengers in the main compartment. The rumble seat provided additional seating for passengers.
This vehicle has been treated to a complete restoration and shown at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It is finished in tan with dark red trim accents and a black top. The interior is finished in red leather.
The rarity and quality of the recent restoration, plus its visit to Pebble Beach made this an attractive vehicle to purchase at auction. Bidding rose quickly but failed to meet the estimated value. Still, the car was sold, netting $170,500. By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2007
Sold for $172,500 at 2007 Worldwide Auctioneers. Sold for $159,500 at 2007 RM Sothebys. This 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Roadster was offered for sale at the 2007 Sports and Classic Car Auction presented by The Worldwide Group, in Hilton Head Island, SC where it was estimated to sell for $190,000 - $200,000. It is powered by a 'Red-Head' straight-eight engine that produces 125 horsepower and mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. There is a leaf spring and beam axle front suspension and leaf springs and live axle in the rear. The four-wheel hydraulically-operated drum brakes keep the car, which has a wheelbase of 146-inches, in the drivers control.
The Imperial line, which was first introduced by Chrysler in the 1920s, was a very popular and luxurious model. The 'L' line was used in 1929 and 1930; it was replaced by the CG in 1931 and the CL for 1932 and 1933. These impressive machines were powered by an eight-cylinder car that complimented the very stylish and attractive bodies.
The CG series Imperials were given custom coachwork by LeBaron, one of the classic builders of the era. The LeBaron company was the work of Raymond Dietrich and Thomas Hibbard; Ralph Roberts later joined the firm and greatly added to the company's success.
This example was the subject of a restoration performed only a few years ago. It is believed that this vehicle began its life with a closed body but was later converted to the roadster configuration. It has dual mounted spare tires, top-mount mirrors, twin font-mounted Pilot Ray driving lights, and a grille mounted stone guard. It has achieved a CCCA National First Prize award and still proudly wears this badge in modern times.
Though this was one of the higher priced cars to cross the auction block, which was fitting, as it was one of the more prestigious, rare and well preserved examples on display. Though this vehicle had a reserve, it would appear the reserve was lifted, as a high bid of $172,500 (including buyer's premium) was suitable to secure new ownership. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007
Sold for $104,500 at 2008 RM Sothebys. High bid of $85,000 at 2009 Worldwide Auctioneers. (did not sell) There were 3,228 Imperials built in 1931 with 1,195 examples fitted with close-coupled club sedan bodywork by Briggs Manufacturing Company. Many of these club sedans were later re-bodied to make dual cowl phaetons. As a result, this original example is quite rare. It was given a professional restoration that was completed in 1999. It is painted in two-tone brown with a dark brown beltline. The list of accessories included with this vehicle are dual side-mounted spare tires with chrome-accented hard covers, dual cowl lights, dual windshield wipers, and a rear-mounted trunk. There are wide whitewall tires with dark brown painted wire wheels, with chrome-plated hubcaps and trim rings.
The interior has tan cloth upholstery with dark brown piping and matching tan carpets and floor mats. The dash board and steering wheel are black, while the window cranks and door handles are gold-plated.
The Chrysler CG Series Imperials were the work of designer Herb Weissinger. The overall height of the vehicle was relatively low at 70-inches, giving them a sporty persona. They rode on 145-inch wheelbases and featured a vee-shaped radiator shell and gracefully swept fenders.
The engine displaces 384 cubic-inches and promises 125 horsepower which is sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox with freewheeling. There are four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes and a well-tuned suspension.
In 2008 this 1931 Cadillac V12 Series 370-A Five-Passenger Phaeton with coachwork by Fleetwood was brought to RM Auctions 'Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook' where it was estimated to sell for $225,000-$275,000. Though bidding did not reach those estimates, it was high enough to satisfy the vehicles reserve and the lot was sold. A high bid of $192,500 was enough to secure new ownership.
This Imperial Club Sedan is believed to have been sold in Chicago when new. It was fitted at some pint with a surreptitious tank within its chassis frame. It is believed that the tank may have at one time served to transport then-illicit alcohol products, as it is unconnected to the fuel, lubrication, or cooling system.
The car was bodied by Chrysler's regular sedan supplier Briggs, and was restored in 1999 to very high standards. It is painted in two-tone brown and beige exterior color scheme. Inside, there is beige cloth piped in brown. There are dual side-mounted tires with chrome enclosures, wind wings, wire wheels painted body color, wide white wall tires, dual windshield wipers, and a luggage rack.
In total, there were only 909 examples of the 1931 Chrysler CG Eight Sedan produced.
In 2009, this CG Imperial Sedan was offered for sale at the Houston Classic Auction presented by Worldwide Auctioneers and held in Seabrook, Texas. The lot was estimates to sell for $120,000 - $150,000. The lot failed to sell after achieving a high bid of $85,000. Its reserve was not satisfied and the lot was left unsold. By Daniel Vaughan | May 2009
Sold for $137,500 at 2008 Worldwide Auctioneers. Sold for $150,000 at 2009 Bonhams. There were fewer than 90 Chryslers in 1931 with LeBaron coachwork. Many believe that the dual cowl phaetons are the most attractive and important of the Chrysler Corporation during this period. With the rarity of the LeBaron coachwork in mind, and the desirability of the DC Phaeton, this vehicle now wears a recreation body done in the style of LeBaron. It has been given a very detailed restoration and is in excellent condition. It is finished in Royal Red with a new parchment tan top and a complementing Bordeaux interior.
There are red matching carpets when most carpets of the period were tan in color. There are many period features such as a trunk rack, cowl lights, dual trumpet horns, and the Chrysler Imperial hood ornament. There are correct white wall tires on wire wheels with dual side mounts and accessories throughout.
In 2008, this Chrysler CG Imperial was offered for sale at the Hilton Head Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by Worldwide Auctioneers. It had an estimated value of $160,000 - $180,000. As the gavel fell for the third and final time, the lot had been sold for a high bid of $137,500, including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2008
High bid of $310,000 at 2008 RM Sothebys. (did not sell) The very elegant Chrysler CG Imperial models were introduced in July of 1930 and rode on a massive 145-inch wheelbase. It was a new car that had been completely transformed from the prior models. The radiator shell had become a grille which was positioned at a rakish angle. The forward surface was defined by a wire mesh screen. The fenders had flowing curves and had Duesenberg-style bumpers. The engine was a 384.8 cubic-inch, nine-main bearing unit that offered 125 brake horsepower.
There were four 'production' bodies by Briggs and four cataloged custom styles. Various individual customs for construction were available on the Imperial chassis. LeBaron performed the coachwork for the semi-custom bodies, roadster, coupe, convertible coupe, and the dual-cowl phaeton.
This car was acquired by the current owner in 1986. It has been given a show-quality restoration and painted in dark red with maroon fenders and accented belt moldings. It is one of 85 LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaetons built on the CG chassis in 1931.
In 2008, this Imperial DC Phaeton was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $400,000 - $500,000 and carried a reserve. A high bid of $310,000 including buyer's premium was enough to establish new ownership. The lot was sold. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2009
The Chrysler Convertible Coupe with LeBaron coachwork was the height of Thirties luxury and style. The 1931 Chrysler Imperial CG model was the first Imperial with custom body by LeBaron, but that wasn't the only thing that made these Imperials special. The 385 cubic-inch engine delivered remarkable performance, capable of 0-60 in 20 seconds, and able to achieve 100 mph, with comfortable cruising speeds of 90 mph. These numbers are very impressive, considering the conditions of the roads at the time. These cars were powerhouses with luxury, and had a strong following, even today. It is believed that only 10 convertible coupes were built, and only six remain today. This example underwent a complete restoration in 2008.
Sold for $605,000 at 2009 Gooding & Company. This 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Dual Cowl Phaeton is one of only 85 examples produced during 1931. It is a four-door rare original example with one of the most elegant designs of the era. This car was inspected at the Jefferson plant in Detroit on May 6th of 1931. It was loaded for delivery on May 29th and sent to Greensboro, North Carolina, where it was eventually sold to H.P. Sewell of Carthedge.
In the 1980s, the car was purchased by Dr. Fay Culbreth of Charlotte, North Carolina who obtained it from its original owner. It was later sold to Paul Quinn of Boston, Massachusetts who then commissioned a restoration. After it was restored it scored 97.5 points during competition at the Classic Car Club of America's Eastern Grand Classic event in July of 1988.
The current owner took possession of the car in December of 1988, at which time the car had 60,000 original miles on its odometer. The car is finished in classic gray metallic paint and features plush leather upholstery, door caps and padded dash. There are unique LeBaron windshield wiper mechanisms that are drilled through the windshield glass.
In 2009, this LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was estimated to sell for $500,000 - $550,000. As the gavel came down for the third and final time, the lot had been sold for the sum of $605,000 including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
Sold for $291,500 at 2010 Gooding & Company. This LeBaron bodied Roadster was originally delivered to Belgium. it would remain in continental Europe for nearly seven decades before returning to the United States in 2000 when collector David Kane purchased it from its second owner. This car was been given a comprehensive restoration by Mr. Kane, even though it is believed that the second owner had conducted a thorough 25-year restoration.
The car is finished in its original color combination of Pembroke Grey (tan) with a red leather interior. Accessories include dual side-mounted spares, wind wings, chrome radiator stone guard and twin Pilot Ray driving lights.
Upon completion of its restoration, the car was put on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it was awarded Second in Class.
The current owner purchased the car in 2004 and has seen little use since that time. There are only nine examples of the Imperial Roadsters believed to have survived.
In 2010, this Chrysler CG Imperial was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The lot was estimated to sell for $250,000 - $350,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $291,500, inclusive of buyer's reserve. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2010
This 1931 Chrysler Imperial CG Dual Cowl Phaeton with coachwork by LeBaron was delivered new to two doctors (a man and wife) in Reading, Pennsylvania in May of 1931. They maintained the car until the late 1950s. The current owner acquired the car in 2008 and it presently has 61,000 miles.
The car has a 145-inch wheelbase and features curved fenders and a rakish vee'd radiator grille. The engine is a 384 cubic-inch straight-8 unit capable of carrying the car from zero-to-sixty mph in 20 seconds. It could achieve 100 mph and cruise at 90 mph. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
Sold for $396,000 at 2011 Gooding & Company. This roadster is the 64th of the 100 roadster built between 1932 and 19323. It wears the factory LeBaron-designed coachwork and rides on the long wheelbase of the CG chassis. The car was built on March 24th of 1931 at the Jefferson Avenue factory in Detroit, Michigan and was delivered to Los Angeles, California on May 6th of 1931. By 1950, the car was in the care of Bob Hoffman of Los Angeles, California who gave it its first restoration. In the 1970s, the car was sold to Don Criteser of Oregon who gave it another restoration in the mid-1990s. The next owner was Joe Morgan of New Hampshire, who sold it in 1999 to Mr. Tillou. The current owner purchased the car in 2009.
The car is finished in two-tone blue with a gray beltline and chassis-edge accent.
In 2011, this vehicle was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale, Az. where it was estimated to sell for $300,000 - $350,000. Sadly, it would leave the auction unsold. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2011
Sold for $522,500 at 2012 RM Sothebys. High bid of $450,000 at 2014 RM Sothebys. (did not sell) Walter P. Chrysler followed a successful career in railroading with a move to Buick and then Willy-Overland. In 1921 he took over the Maxwell Company and in 1924 introduced an all-new car bearing his name. The first Chrysler six was well-engineered and featured four-wheel hydraulic brakes, an uncommon feature at the time, particularly in a moderately priced car. After adding Dodge, Plymouth and DeSoto to the portfolio, Chrysler was ready to move up-market in 1931.
The CG model featured a 384 cubic-inch straight eight-cylinder engine that allowed the car to race from zero-to-sixty in 20 seconds. It could reach 100 mph and cruise comfortably at 90 mph. Riding on a 145 inch wheelbase chassis, it featured curved fenders and a rakish vee'd radiator grille.
This Convertible Victoria was one of only six of this model produced by the Waterhouse coach building company in 1931. Waterhouse was only in business for five years, but produced 300 cars. The price for this car when new was $4,850. It has remained in the same family since 1939.
The Convertible Victoria was coachbuilder Waterhouse's trademark and is notable as one of the earliest American-built bodies to feature European styling. The design was penned by George Weaver and Waterhouse would build approximately 296 bodies, with approximately 251 of those resting on-top of Lincoln, DuPont and Packard chassis. Of 31 Waterhouse bodies built on various chassis, only six or less are believed to have been mated to the CG Imperial.
This example was built on June 15ht of 1931. In 1939, it was in the care of Mr. Calvin Collins of New York who purchased it from McComick Garage. It was used by the Collins family for several years but was almost lost to the scrap drives of World War II. At the insistence of his son Scott, the Imperial was spared, though they did give up the single heaviest piece of metal that could serve as war material - its engine.
The car was placed into storage in the family's barn. In 2009, after being in the family for 70 years, it was purchased from the Collins family by Canadian restorer Richard Grenon.
After the vehicle was restored, the car made its debut at Cincinnati's Ault Park Concours d'Elegance where it won the Early Prewar Best of Class Award, followed by the William K. Victor Best of Show Award. At the Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's, it was awarded Most Significant Chrysler in Show.
In 2012, this vehicle was offered for sale at RM Auctions sale in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was estimated to sell for $40,000-$60,000. Bidding exceeded those estimates, settling at $96,250, inclusive of buyer's premium.
Sold for $258,500 at 2011 RM Sothebys. It is believed that about 12 examples of the LeBaron bodied Roadster remain in existence. This example is an early example that was delivered in February 1931 finished in Pembroke Gray and likely had a red leather interior. It has a 3.82:1 rear end gear ratio and only two owners since the late 1950s. It was owned in the 1940s by a gentleman in San Bruno, California and then lived in Oakland, California before being acquired by Chrysler enthusiast Doug O'Connell of Sunnyvale. While in his care, the car was treated to a restoration. It was shown at a number of concours events including Pebble Beach where it secured a class award.
The current owner acquired the LeBaron Roadster from the O'Connell Estate in the late '70s, and in the early '80s the car was stripped down to the bare chassis for a restoration to modern standards.
The engine, which is not original to this chassis but reportedly a correct 1931 unit, does have the rare 'Red Head' cylinder head as opposed to the 'Silver Dome' head and in this case was likely added after delivery. It also has a four-speed transmission. The first gear is an ultra-low ratio which a period literature state is only to be used in emergencies for climbing steep grades. This first gear also allowed the Chrysler engineers to install higher ratios for the other three gears, resulting in a higher top speed.
A restoration was finished in 2001 and is finished in red with black cloth top and black leather interior. It won its CCCA National First Senior Badge #2331 in 2001 and was displayed for the second time in its life at Pebble Beach in 2002. The list of features includes dual Klaxons, radiator stone guard, Trippe lights, rear trunk, dual spotlights, chrome wire wheels with dual open sidemounts and mirrors, wind wings, dual wipers and altimeter.
In 2011, the car was offered for sale in Monterey, Ca. presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $250,000-$300,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $258,500, including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011
Sold for $101,750 at 2012 RM Sothebys. Introduced in July 1930, the CG Imperial was only produced through December 1931. The prior owner of this Close-Coupled CG Imperial Sedan acquired it in 1989 and commissioned a body-off restoration in 1995. At the time, the fenders were missing and new stock pieces were acquired before finishing the car in Royal Maroon lacquer with a casino Red pinstripe and wheels. The original interior was restored using new Bedford cord upholstery and maroon leather trim. When the work was completed, the car was driven on CCCA tours. In 2009, it was purchased by the present owner.
The car has an extensive list of awards including AACA Senior and Grand National honors in 1996, an AACA Southeast Region President's Award, a 100-point CCCA Premier Award, and a Mid-America Old Time Auto Association First Prize.
In 2012, the car was offered for sale at the St. Johns sale presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $110,000 - $130,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $101,750 inclusive of buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2012
Sold for $363,000 at 2012 RM Sothebys. This Chrysler CG Imperial Dual Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron was purchased sometime in the mid- to late-1930s, at auction, from the city of New York, having been seized for unpaid taxes or its possible association with organized crime. Though not confirmed, it is believed that car was originally owned by Arthur Flegenheimer, also known in the underworld as Dutch Schultz. Mr. Flegenheimer was killed in the late summer of 1935 and had amassed substantial debt fighting tax evasion charges, and that the mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, had a standing order for his arrest, should he return to the city from a self-imposed exile upstate. The mayor may have had the car seized, legally or illegally, before or after the gangster's death.
The presumed second owner retained the Imperial until the late-1950s. At that time, it was sold to Joe Fischer, of Media, Pennsylvania, and restored by him in 1965. It won a First in AACA judging and was retained by him until his death in 1982. It was then purchased by Terry Redy, who commissioned a second restoration from Bud Hicks in 1995, and it was subsequently awarded a CCCA National First Prize. It was owned by a gentleman from Minnesota for a brief period before being acquired by Joe Morgan and subsequently sold to the current owner in 1999.
The car is finished in medium yellow with green leather interior and a tan top with green piping. It is equipped with yellow wire wheels with stainless steel spokes shod in whitewall tires, dual side-mounted spare tires with the rare full metal covers, a radiator stone guard, a right-hand taillight, and dual exterior horns.
There were approximately 85 CG LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaetons originally built, and it is believed that less than 10 authentic examples survive. It is one of the few remaining examples with its original drivetrain, including the optional high-compression 'Red Head' cylinder head, which adds approximately 10 horsepower to the stock 125.
In 2012, this car was offered for sale by RM Auctions at their Monterey, CA sale. The car was estimated to sell for $350,000 - $425,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $363,000 inclusive of buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
This car is a former Chicago Show car and one of two pre-production cars by LeBaron.
In 1931, Chrysler produced this CG series in limited quantities for only three years, between 1931 and 1933. In total, only 339 CG Imperial models were produced. These Imperials ride on a 145-inch wheelbase and are powered by a smooth, nine main bearing, Chrysler 8 engine, capable of carrying the car to a top speed of 100 miles per hour. This example has a unique windshield and running boards delete.
The car completed a ground-up restoration in October of 2012.
The Great Depression was at its depths, but American car makers persisted with opulent luxury vehicles, and Chrysler was no exception. Designed to compete with offerings from Auburn, Cadillac, Cord, Duesenberg, Lincoln, Marmon, and Packard, the Imperials were substantial cars, particularly the CG sedans, which weighed close to two and a half tons. The Imperials couldn't match the V-12 and V-16 engines of some competitors, but 1931 marked the first year that Chrysler could boast eights - four of them - in its powertrain inventory. The Imperial's version of the new inline eight displaced 385 cubic inches (6.3 liters) and was exceptionally smooth, its long crankshaft turning in nine main bearings. Output - 125 horsepower - compared favorably with competing eight-cylinder engines, sufficient to propel this big sedan to 96 MPH. Chrysler publicized its new engines by setting several speed records at Daytona Beach in 1931.
Chryslers were also distinguished by hydraulic brakes and four-speed transmissions. Like other prestige makes, many Imperials went to custom coachbuilders. But 1931 also marked the establishment of a design department at Chrysler. To many, the Imperial sedan was strongly reminiscent of the Cord L-29, which wasn't too surprising given the presence of former Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg stylist Alan Leamy on Chrysler's new design staff. Painstakingly restored in 1973, this elegant cream and beige sedan changed hands a number of times over the years before finding a home in Don Kizziar's Oklahoma City collection in 1981. Its current owner acquired the car from the Kizziar estate in 2011.
Sold for $572,000 at 2007 RM Sothebys. Sold for $407,000 at 2011 Gooding & Company. Sold for $412,500 at 2015 RM Sothebys. This Chrysler is a well preserved Model CG Imperial Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron. Joe Morgan found the unrestored car in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in the early 1980s and brought it to its present high-level presentation. The original build sheet from Chrysler described it as having been delivered in Pittsburgh on January 13th of 1931. It left the factory with 3.82:1 gears and was finished in San Quentin Gray.
The car has its original engine, head, radiator, transmission, axles, and bumpers. During the restoration, the only item needing to be replaced was the trunk, which was missing. The wood in the body sills were remade, but much of the remaining wood was good and was saved.
After the car's three year restoration, the car was sold to John McMullen. It scored 100 points in both CCCA and AACA events. Mr. McMullen brought the car to Pebble Beach where it won Best in Class.
In 2007, Mr. McMullen sold the car and would spend the next several years in the collection of Paul Andrews in Fort Worth, Texas, before entering the current owner's collection.
The car has many original options and accessories, including dual side-mounted spares with metal covers. It has a body-colored radiator with a chrome frame, and dual front-mounted Pilot Ray driving lights. The car is finished in deep red with subtle gold striping, and a leather interior. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2015
Chrysler built the luxurious 1931 CG Imperial to compete with the Duesenbergs, Packards and Cadillacs of the period. Al Leamy designed the LeBaron-built Dual Cowl Phaeton following the style of his Cord L-29. The original CG Imperial featured gracefully swept bumpers and a V-shaped radiator, but LeBaron improved this with a longer bonnet and a more swept-back grille. At 17 feet from bumper-to-bumper, the CG Imperial is considered to be among the finest looking and best driving cars of the era. It is powered by a 384.83 cubic-inch straight eight with a top speed of 96 mph and could reach 60 mph in 20 seconds. The Great Depression was a difficult time for sales of the $3,575 automobile and only 339 were manufactured - of which 85 were bodied as Dual Cowl Phaetons. This car was acquired by its present owner in 2009.
Sold for $148,500 at 2015 RM Sothebys. This Chrysler was restored in the 1980s with a dual-cowl phaeton body in the style of a LeBaron original and wears a reproduction body tag of 147-32. The front fenders are original, but the rear fenders may have been reproduced or modified as needed to fit the new coachwork. It has red paint, and older brown leather interior, tan canvas top, and reproduction dashboard gauges. It rides on period chrome wire wheels, dual-side mounts with cloth covers and mirrors, dual trumpet horns, tail lamps, wind wings, a radiator stone guard, a rear luggage track, a trunk, and the Gazelle radiator mascot. Currently, it has just 1,232 miles since the restoration was completed. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2015
Sold for $192,500 at 2015 RM Sothebys. This Chrysler CG Imperial Convertible Coupe was owned by Joe Morgan who acquired it from David Buck, of Arizona. The car retains its original body, frame, and engine with which it was delivered in San Francisco. It has been given a restoration and finished in Abbott Gray and Tonawanda Green.
During its life, this car made its way through unknown parties from San Francisco to West Africa, from which it was repatriated to the United States by Mr. Buck.
This Convertible Coupe has correct Trippe Safety Lights fitted to the front bumper, a stone guard mounted over the radiator, and rides on proper chrome wire wheels. There are side-mounts which bear Cord-badged mirrors. Inside, there is tan leather and the odometer shows 12,378 miles, presumably since restoration.
Over the last few years, the car has remained in storage. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2015
Sold for $159,500 at 2016 RM Sothebys. This Chrysler is an early production CG Imperial and was reportedly one of 24 built in Ontario, Canada. After World War II, the car made its way from Canada to Queensland, Australia. Later, Max Houston purchased the chassis and subsequently had it restored with an accurate dual-cowl phaeton body. The body, in the style of LeBaron, is a Dual-Cowl Phaeton that is correctly fitted with a 'low boy trunk.'
The car was later sold to Mr. Bill Chorkey. The car has been awarded a Best in Class award at the Willistead Concours d'Elegance in Windsor, Ontario, and it became a Senior Premier award winner (number 1539) in CCCA national judging.
Mr. Chorkey owned it for several years before selling it to the current caretakers.
The car is finished in two-tone red paintwork with a tan cloth top and tan leather interior. It has numerous period accessories, including a radiator stone guard, dual horns, dual Pilot-Ray driving lights, front and rear 'wind wings,' and the trunk with fitted suitcases. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2016
In 1931 Chrysler introduced a new LeBaron-bodied Imperial Roadster. Built on a 145 inch wheelbase, this Imperial Roadster is considered one of the best looking Chryslers ever built. Styling cues included long, flowing fenders and a low-swept hood flanked by a raked windshield and grille. These roadsters also offered great performance, setting stock car records in 1931 of over 102 mph.
This car is one of the twelve remaining roadsters. It was originally sold in Los Angeles in December 1930. The car was restored in the mid-nineties by David Huckins, who could often be seen driving it on the roads of New England. The current owners purchased this roadster in 2014 and have spent the last two years restoring it so once again it can grace both the show fields and highways.
This Chrysler dual-cowl phaeton by LeBaron is fitted with a flip-up rear cowl, with dual cockpits and rolled pleats of leather around the top edge of the body. In the front is a V-windshield complimented by a LeBaron factory designed trunk. This restored vehicle has hydraulic brakes, a synchromesh transmission and floating motor mounts, and a 384 cubic-inch inline Red Head-eight engine.
The name Imperial had been used by Chrysler since 1924 representing their top models. These models were more expensive, larger, faster and more elaborate than the base model Chryslers. Two years later the Imperial became its own series. The 1926 version, dubbed the E-80, was powered by a 288.7 cubic-inch six cylinder engine capable of producing an astonishing 92 horsepower. Its impressive looks matched its 80 mph top speed.
In 1928, the L-80 series was introduced. With a 309.3 cubic-inch engine and more than 100 horsepower on tap, the Chrysler L-80 was faster and more powerful than its predecessor, raising the luxury performance bar even higher.
The early 1930 Imperial's continued the tradition of beauty, luxury, and impressive performance. They offered a gentle ride that was soft yet able to keep the car level in turns. The 51 percent front and 49 percent rear weight distribution amplifies Chryslers advanced engineering genius of its time. Under the hood was an enormous 384.8 cubic-inch straight-eight cylinder powerplant. The 'vee' shape radiator grill and fenders were courtesy of Chryslers Art and Color staff employee Herb Weissinger, patterned and inspired after the front-wheel drive Cord L-29. The windshield was split and slanted. Spare tires were mounted in the traditional location, on the side close to the engine.
From 1931 through 1932 the famous coachbuilder LeBaron produced most of Chrysler's custom and semi-custom Imperial bodies. Waterhouse was given six vehicles to create into Convertible Victoria's. Though the CG Imperials were very impressive, they were introduced during the Great Depression which meant only 339 custom and semi-custom CG' vehicles would be created. They were elegant with their sweeping fenders, and a vee-shaped radiator. The long hood hid the 125 horsepower engine which was matted to a four-speed manual transmission.
The early 1930's were tough times. Unemployment was at an all-time high. The stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression meant the short list of individuals capable of purchasing a luxury automobile was dwindling. The competition was stiff, filled with famous marque's such as Cadillac, Marmon, Auburn, Packard, and more. To stay in business, the manufacturers need to remain competitive. Chrysler responded in 1932 by shortening the wheelbase by ten inches and slashing the price by $800 and offering the Imperial CH. The straight-eight cylinder was retained. The goal was to provide moderately priced cars that could sustain a steady cash flow and keep the company in business. The result was a phenomenal car for the money and brilliant manufacturing economy for Chrysler.
The big-image builder automobiles were retained. The 145-inch wheelbase Imperial Custom Eight, Series CL was still available. These machines were identical to the 1931 versions except for the elimination of the traditional cowl. The hood reached from the windshield to the radiator in one unbroken line, a design courtesy of LeBaron. Mechanically, the chassis received modifications that gave it extra strength and lowered its center of gravity. The steering ratio was reduced from three turns lock-to-lock to four. The result was a vehicle that was more stable at speed and easier to park. New for 1932 was the vacuum-operated automatic clutch and vacuum-assisted brakes. The automatic clutch made it possible for the driver to switch gears without de-clutching. Since it was a new system it did not always work properly. The vacuum-assisted brakes were a welcome change and provided superb stopping power. For 1932 only 220 examples were produced.
For 1933 the Imperial was basically just a name slapped on a Series CP Chrysler Eight. The wheelbase was 126 inches and the engine displayed 298.6 cubic-inches and rated at 108 horsepower. The Custom Imperial, however, continued unchanged. For the 1933 production year, 151 examples of the Customer Imperial models were produced.
The Custom Imperials were easy to drive, fast, full of style, and superb automobiles that represented styling and mechanical advancements in the automotive community. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006
The work of LeBaron is considered to be the most remarkable styling of the CG Series Imperials. LeBaron was one of the greatest design firms of the classic era, and was established as innovative, creative and completely responsive. LeBaron was founded by Wand Ray Dietrich and was later joined by Ralph Roberts, and though Dietrich eventually left the firm to pursue other interests, the company continued to flourish at the hands of Roberts.
Hired to style the CG Imperial, Al Leamy was held in great regard for the L29 Cord, which was considered to be the most striking design in existence. The CG was long and low, much like the L29, and featured gracefully swept fenders along with a v-shaped radiator. The CG's design was improved by LeBaron with a swept-back grille, a much more elegant body-side treatment and a longer hood.
A variety of L29 Cord styling designs were incorporated into the design of the CG Imperial, and since the CG had a larger platform on which to display the styling, it was considered even more aesthetically successful than the Cord. Chryslers have held a reputation for performance the CG Imperial was no exception with 125 horsepower, along with a four-speed transmission. Along with a well-tuned suspension and Chrysler's 'floating power', the Imperial was a refined vehicle to drive. The Imperial was the first vehicle in the country that employed fluid coupling. This was also offered as optional equipment on the 1939 model.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful Imperial ever, the CG series was biggest change in 1931. The CG came with the new corporate work-horse, the Flathead Eight as Chrysler was in the process of narrowing engine production. Much advertising for the Imperial references the '8' in regards to the new engine. Becoming the standard wheel treatment until the 1940's, new tire wheels for the Chrysler Imperial were introduced with the Imperial CG.
In 1927, the first Imperials began appearing on the market utilizing a 92-horsepower flathead-six. Imperials would continue to be powered by the same engine until 1931 when the CG series was introduced in 1931. A Imperial was driven on a double cross-country run from San Francisco to New York, to Los Angeles, a total of 6,726-mile trek, at which the Imperial average 40.2 miles per hour to introduce the new line of luxury Chryslers.
Unfortunately, since the Great Depression was in full swing at the time of introduction, sales of the 1931 and 1932 Imperial were not as high as hoped. At an original list price of $3,575, only a total of 339 custom and semi-custom CG's were sold, making these vehicles even rarer than the Model J and SJ Duesenbergs.
Continuing to be produced until 1933, the Imperial CG's were updated with styling and even smaller semi-custom and custom sales, before eventually being replaced by the radical Airflow Imperials in 1934. These new radical airflow vehicles sold an amazing 2,000-plus models in that year.
Many enthusiasts consider the CG Imperial dual cowl phaeton to be among the best driving vehicle of the era along with one of the finest looking cars. Today this vehicle is extremely rare as only a handful of these vehicles are known to exist. At RM Classic Cars' Novi sale held on November 15, 2002, the CG Imperial dual cowl phaeton was sold at $214,500 that included buyer's premium.
Until 1954 the Imperial was produced with the Chrysler name before retiring until 1990. Wanting to rival Cadillac and Lincoln, the luxurious Imperial moniker stood 'supreme', 'superior' and 'sovereign, which aptly describes Chrysler's most expensive quality model. The first generation Imperial debuted in 1926 riding on a 120-inch, 127-inch, 133-inch and 136-inch wheelbase. Available in a variety of body styles that included a roadster, coupe, 5-passenger sedan and phaeton, the Imperial was also offered as a 7-passenger top-of-the-line limousine with a glass partition.
Powering the Imperial was a 288.6 cu inch (4.7 L) six-cylinder engine with seven bearing blocks and pressure lubrication of 92 brake horsepower (69 kW). At the front were semi-elliptic springs. The Customer Imperial convertible sedan was picked as the official pace car for the 1926 Indianapolis 500. Designated E-80, the name was chosen after the 'guaranteed' 80mph all-day cruising speed.
In 1930 the Imperial received four-speed transmission. The following year the second generation of the Chrysler Imperial was introduced. The Imperial model rode on a 124-inch wheelbase, while the Custom Imperial rode on 146 inches. 1931 brought with it many changes including a new engine, a 384.84 cubic inch I8. This generation was marketed as the 'Imperial 8', in reference to the new in-line 8-cylinder engine, which would also be found in many other Chrysler cars.
Other updates for 1931 included safety glass, automatic heater controls and rust-proof fenders. The limousine even offered a Dictaphone. New wire wheels also became a standard wheel treatment until the 1940s. Harry Hartz, stock car drive, set many speed records behind the wheel of an Imperial sedan at Daytona Beach, Florida.
The third generation of the Chrysler Imperial arrived in 1934 and lasted until 1936. The new 'Airflow' design was introduced with this generation along with the catchy slogan ' The car of tomorrow is here today.' With room for eight, the Imperial was incredibly roomy and was once again powered by an eight-cylinder engine. The first car to be designed in a wind tunnel, the Imperial's engine and passenger compartments were moved forward which gave better balance, ride and road handle. Exceptionally modern and advanced, the Airflow was 'an unparalleled engineering success'. Extremely strong, the Imperial employed an early form of unibody construction. It was also one of the first vehicles with fender skirts.
Unfortunately the public wasn't quite ready for the modern styling and the Airflow cars weren't a big seller at first. The lack of this success caused Chrysler to become overly conservative in there styling for the next two decades. Proving this point, the standard styling on the lower-end Chryslers outsold the Airflow by 3 to 1.
Riding on a 144-inch wheelbase the fourth generation Chrylser Imperial arrived in 1937. It featured innovative features like flexible door handles, recessed controls on the dash, seat back padding, built-in defroster vents and fully insulated engine mounts. Until 1939 the brakes were 13' drums, but then grew to 14' before shrinking once again to 12' drums the following year in 1940. The front suspension on the Imperial was independent.
This fourth generation offered three Imperial models, the C-14, which was the standard eight, the C-15 and the C-17. The C-14 looked very similar to the Chrysler Royal C-18 but featured a longer hood and cowl. The C-15 was only available by special order, had blind rear quarter panels and was the Imperial Custom and the Town Sedan Limousine. The C-17 was the Airflow model and it featured a hidden crank that raised the windshield and had a hood that was hinged at the cowl and opened from the front. The side hood panels were released by catches on the inside. An armored Chrysler Imperial was bought by the Prime Minister of Portugal in, António de Oliveira Salazar following as assassination attempt in 1937.
In 1940 the fifth generation of the Imperial was introduced. Now riding on a 145.5-inch wheelbase, the Imperial received a new designation, the Crown Imperial. This generation was available in two different body styles; an eight-seater four-door sedan and an eight-passenger four-door limousine. The two models had about 10 pounds different between them, and around $100 price difference. At the front and rear were hydraulic telescopic shock absorbers. Standard were two-speed electric windshield wipers.
In 1949 the sixth generation Imperial was introduced, this time in three available body styles. The short-wheelbase model was offered only as a four-door six-passenger sedan, while the 4-door 8-passenger Crown Imperial was offered as a sedan or a limo with a division window.
Taking its cues from the luxurious Chrysler New Yorker, the new custom-built Imperial sedan shared the same trim but came with a canvas-covered roof and leather and broadcloth Imperial upholstery. Derham installed these features on the all-new postwar Chrysler sheetmetal. Actually leftover 1948 models, early 1949 Crown Imperials filled the gap until the new models arrived in March of 1949. These newest models were much sleeker than before, but also conservative and featured fewer bars, used in the cross-hatched grille. Wrapping around the front fenders were upper and center horizontal pieces. Decorating the side body of the Imperial sedan were rear fender stoneguards, rocker panel moldings, full-length lower window trim and horizontal chrome strips on the rear fenders, and from the headlights almost to halfway across the front doors.
The Chrysler Crown Imperial was the first model to have production disc brakes as standard, beginning in the 1949 model year. The Crosley Hot Shot featured disc brakes, a Goodyear development that was a caliper type with ventilated rotor, which had been originally designed for aircraft applications. The Hot Shot was the only one to feature it. Unfortunately the brakes suffered with reliability issues, especially where salt was heavily used on winter roads and caused corrosion. Converting to drum brakes was a very popular option for the Hot Shot. Chrysler's 4-wheel disc brakes were much more expensive and complex than Crosleys, but definitely more reliable and efficient. First tested on a 1939 Plymouth, the 4-wheel disc brakes were built by Auto Specialties Manufacturing Company (Ausco) of St. Joseph, Michigan under patents of inventor H.L. Lambert. The Ausco-Lambert used twin-expanding discs that rubbed against the inner surface of a cast iron brake drum, which pulled double duty as the brake housing. Through the action of standard wheel cylinders the discs spread apart to create friction against the inner drum surface.
'Self energizing,' the Chrysler discs braking energy itself contributed to the braking effort, thanks to small balls set into oval holes leading to the brake surface. After the disc made contact with the friction surface the balls would be pushed through the holes, which forced the discs further apart with augmented the braking energy. This resulted in lighter braking pressure than found with calipers and its also avoided brake fade, provided one-third more friction surface that typical Chrysler 12-inch drums and promoted cooler running. Since they were so expensive the brakes were only standard on the Chrysler Crown Imperial until 1954, and the Town and Country Newport in 1950. On other Chryslers these brakes were optional and cost around $400, meanwhile an ENTIRE Crosley Hot Shot model retailed for $935. The Ausco-Lambert was considered to be extremely reliable with a good dose of power with its downsides being its sensitivity.
The 1950 Imperial was very similar to a New Yorker, with a Cadillac-style grille treatment that featured circular signal lights enclosed in a wraparound ribbed chrome piece. The interior was custom and the side trim was nearly identical to the previous year's model, though the front fender strip ended at the front doors while the rear fender molding at the tire top level and molded into the stone guard. Separating two Crown Imperial from the standard model, the Crown had a side treatment in which the rear fender moldings and stone guard were separate. All Imperials used body sill moldings, but were a smaller type than typically found on big Crown models. The limousine offered a special version this year with unique leather on the inside and a leather-covered top that blacked out the rear quarter windows. The Crown Imperial featured power windows as standard.
Strangely for the chrome era, the 1951 Imperial had much less chrome than the less expensive New Yorker that it was based on. Changes this year included a modified look with three horizontal grille bars with the parking lights nestled between the bars and a chrome vertical centerpiece. The side body trim was limited only to the moldings below the windows, rocker panel moldings, bright metal stone shields and a heavy horizontal molding strip that ran across the fender strips, and the front fender nameplate.
Three 2-door bodies were added to the 1951 Imperial lineup: a Club coupe, a hardtop and a convertible. Discontinued the following year, only 650 convertibles were sold. New for 1951 was Chrysler's 331 cu in (5.4 L) Hemihead V8 engine. For an additional cost of $226 'Hydraguide' power steering, an industry first in production automobiles was available on the Chrysler Imperial. Standard on the Crown Imperial was full-time power steering.
Not many changes differentiated the 1951 and 1952 Imperials. The most accurate way to tell them apart was through reference to serial numbers. The taillights on the Imperial weren't changed, unlike other Chrysler models. Standard this year was power steering and the front tread measurement was reduced one inch. The Crown Imperial didn't receive any changes this year. During the 1951-1952 model run only 338 of these cars were produced.
The Imperial name was changed once again in 1953 and became the Custom Imperial. Though the Custom Imperial still very closely resembled the New Yorker, the Custom rode on a different wheelbase, and had different taillights and side trim. Setting it apart from other 'ordinary' Chryslers were clean front fenders and higher rear fender stone shield. New this year was the stylized eagle hood ornament. Other standard features for 1953 were power windows and brakes, a padded dash and center folding armrests at front and rear. Different from other Chrysler models, Imperials parking lights were positioned between the top and center grille moldings.
Brand new for 1953 was the Custom Imperial limousine with room for six. Standard equipment was electric windows, electric division window, rear compartment heater, fold-up footrests, floor level courtesy lamps, special luxury cloth or leather interiors and a seatback-mounted clock. The Custom Imperial Newport hardtop model was added to the lineup on March 10, 1953. Costing $325 more than the eight-passenger sedan, the Custom Imperial Newport was an ultra exclusive model that brought even more class to the lineup.
Other changes this year included the 2-door Club coupe being deleted and the eagle ornament added to the 1953 Crown Imperial. Custom Imperial sedans grew slightly as they now rode on a 2-inch longer wheelbase than the 2-door hardtops. The limo received moldings on top of the rear fenders, and the nameplate was tweaked slightly. Custom Imperials still featured a 6-volt system, but Crown Imperials came with a 12-volt electrical system. Powerflite, Chrysler's first fully automatic transmission became available late in the model year, it was installed into a very select number of cars for testing and evaluation. Crown Imperials received power steering as standard along with a padded dash. This would also be the final year that the Imperial would have a one-piece windshield rather than a two-piece one.
The first production vehicle in twelve years to feature air conditioning, the 1953 Chrysler Imperial actually beat out Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Buick in offering the innovative feature. Optional Airtemp air conditioning units were much more sophisticated and efficient than rival air conditioners of 1953. Airtemp recirculated the air rather than just cooling the interior of the car. It was also very simple to operation with just the flick of a single switch on the dashboard that marked low, medium and high positions according to the driver's preference. In only two minutes the system could cool a Chrysler down from 120 degrees to 85 degrees. It also completely eliminated pollutants like dust, humidity, pollen and tobacco at the same time. The Airtemp system relied on fresh air and since it drew in 60% more than its competition it avoided the typical staleness compared to other systems at the time. Quiet, but effective, the system had small ducts that directed cool air towards the ceiling before it filtered down to the passengers, rather than blowing directly onto them like other cars.
For 1954 the Custom Imperial received a new grille that was made up of a heavy wraparound horizontal center bar with five ridges on top and integrated circular signal lighting. Spanning the length of the front door to the front of the door opening was a chrome strip below the front fender nameplate. Bigger than the previous year was the rear fender stone guard, though the rocker panel molding and rear fender chrome strip style remained the same. Instead of the lights being divided like in previous years, the back-up lights were now placed directly below the taillights. Basic styling was shared between the Crown Imperial and the Custom Imperial, though the Crown had standard AC, center-opening rear doors and Cadillac-like rear fender taillights.
The Imperial was registered as a separate make, beginning in 1955, in an attempt by Chrysler to compete directly with GM's Cadillac and Ford's Lincoln plush luxury marques, instead of GM's lower-price brands: Oldsmobile and Buick. Continuing to be sold through Chrysler dealerships, the Imperial nameplate became a stand-alone marque since its didn't separate itself enough from other Chrysler models. Through 1976 to 1978 no Imperial's were produced and cars that were previously marketed as an Imperial were rebranded as the Chrysler New Yorker Brougham during this period.
Chrysler and Philco joined together and produced the World's First All-Transistor car radio on April 28, 1955. Mopar model 914HR was a $150 option available on the 1956 Imperial car. Beginning in the fall of 1955, Philco was the company that manufactured the all-transistor car radio at its Sandusky Ohio plant for the Chrysler Company.
The seventh generation of the Chrysler Imperial arrived in 1990. Once again Chrysler's top-of-the-line sedan, the Imperial was no longer it's own marque was once again a model of Chrysler. Representing Chrysler's top full-sill model in the lineup, the Imperial was based on the Y platform and was similar to the New Yorker Fifth Avenue. Directly below that was the entry-level New Yorker. The Imperial was resurrected two years after the Lincoln Continental was Continental changed to a front-wheel drive sedan with a V6 engine.
Though very similar in many ways, the Imperial and the Fifth Avenue differed in various ways. The Fifth Avenue featured a much sharper nose and had a more angular profile while the Imperial led with a more wedge-shaped nose. The back of the two vehicles were very different as well with the Imperial featuring more rounded edges while the Fifth Avenue had more stiff angles. Similar to the taillights on the Chrysler TC, the Imperial had full-width taillights while the Fifth Avenue lit its way with smaller vertical ones. The Fifth Avenue's interior featured plush signature pillow-like button-tufted seats while the Imperial's interior was more streamlined with 'Kimberly Velvet' seats.
During it's four-year production run the seventh generation Imperial remained virtually the same. Powered by the 147 hp (110 kW) 3.3 L EGA V6 engine, the 1990 Imperial rated at 185 lb/ft of torque. The following year the 3.3 L V6 engine was replaced by the larger 3.8 L EGH V6. Horsepower was only bumped up to 150 hp though with the new larger 3.8 L V6, torque increased to 215 lb/ft at 2,750 rpm. Standard with both engines was a four-speed automatic transmission.
With available room for up to six passengers, the Imperial was fitted in either velour or Mark Cross leather. Automatic climate controlled AC, Cruise, ABS brakes, driver's side airbag and its own distinct Landau vinyl roof were standard along with power equipment. Similar to the LeBaron coupe and convertible, and the New Yorker and Fifth Avenue, the Imperial carried the same distinctive hidden headlamps behind retractable metal covers. Available with the option of several Infinity sound systems, the Imperial also came with a cassette player. Other big ticket options included electronically controlled air suspension system, fully electronic digital instrument cluster with information center and remote keyless entry with a security alarm.
Chrysler's market-leading 'Crystal Key Owner Care Program' covered all seventh generation Imperial models. The program included a 5-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and 7-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. The program also included a 24-hour toll-free customer service hotline for clients.
After the 1993 model year Chrysler decided to do away with the Imperial model because of slow sales. Imperial sales in 1991 peaked at 14,968 units produced; fell to 11,601 units in 1991, before dropping drastically to 7,643 in 1992, and 7,063 the following year. Its outdated platform dated back to the original 1981 Chrysler K platform. The popular cab-forward styled Chrysler LHS replaced the Imperial in 1994 as Chrysler's flagship model.
Chrysler debuted the Chrysler Imperial concept car at the 2006 North American International Show. Built on the Chrysler LY platform, an extended LX, the Imperial concept rides a 123-inch wheelbase. Sporting 22-inch wheels, the Imperial was met with rave reviews that appreciated it's 'six-figure image but at a much lower price', according to Tom Tremont, VP of advanced vehicle design for Chrysler. The concept design sported a horizontal themed grille, a long hood and front end and an upright radiator. Evoking memories of the freestanding headlamps of previous models were brushed and polished aluminum pods. Reminiscent of early 1960's Imperials were circular LED taillights with floating outer rings. The concept appeared much longer thanks to a rearward pulled roofline that enlarged the cabin.By Jessica Donaldson
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