1965 Imperial Crown ImperialT
he Imperial brand of automobiles was produced from 1955 to 1975, and again from 1981 to 1983. They were the top-of-the-line Chrysler, although they did not bear the Chrysler name. They were a product of the new Imperial Division of Chrysler Corporation, meaning they were their own make and division. Upon their arrival they wore the Forward Look styling by Virgil Exner, which is said to be inspired by Exner's own 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton show car. The chassis and bodyshell were sourced from Chrysler, then stretched an additional four inches, allowing more rear seat legroom. They were larger and more luxurious than the Chrysler, although they were similarly styled. In the front was a wide-spaced split eggcrate grille, the same one that was used on the Chrysler 300. In the back were free-standing 'gunsight' taillights mounted above the rear quarters, in similar fashion to those found on Exner's 1951 Chrysler K-310 concept car.
Many automobiles of this era - especially those in the higher priced segment - wore excessive amounts of chrome, had growing tail fins, and other flashy features. Bucking this trend, the Imperial was sedate, with a practical and clean design (apart from the free-standing taillights).
Power was from the 'FirePower' first-generation Hemi V8 displacing 331 cubic-inches and offering 250 horsepower. Power steering and power brakes were standard, along with Chrysler's 'PowerFlite' automatic transmission. Air conditioning was a $535 optional accessory for 1955 and 1956. For 1955, Chrysler produced 11,430 examples of the Imperial, which was over twice the amount produced the prior year, yet still trailing the numbers produced by Cadillac and Lincoln.
The designs would continue to evolve and change over the years, with input provided by Exner. The Imperials used the same basic platform introduced in 1956 for the 1957 model year, with annual changes to the body sheetmetal. As the 1950s were coming to a close, Elwood Engel was hired as a possible successor for Exner. Management had felt the Imperial had taken a path of excessive design, and it was hoped the Engel would lead Chrysler along a more conventional path. The Imperials of the early 1960s would contain influences from both Exner and Engel.
For 1964, the Imperial received a complete redesign entirely by Engel. Engel's work at Ford included designing the Lincoln Continental, so there was little surprise when the 1964 Imperial strongly resembled the Lincoln. In the front was a split grille inspired by the 1955 model's appearance. In the back, the previous faux spare tire bulge atop the trunk lid became squared-off. The taillight and backup-up were located in horizontal spear shaped housings, and the fuel filler cap was covered by a large Imperial Eagle. Standard body styles included a four-door hardtop offered in the Crown and LeBaron levels of trim, and a two-door hardtop and convertible only in the Crown level of trim. The base Imperial Custom model was no longer offered.
Power windows and defroster were now standard on all Imperials. Standard equipment on the convertible included power seats, power steering, power brakes, a padded dash, and head rests. A new option offered this year was an adjustable steering wheel. During the 1964 year, 23,295 Imperials were sold, making this its second best year.
The 1965 years saw minor changes, mostly focusing on the trim and front fascia. The front split grille feature was a one-year only design, replaced in 1965 by a large chromed crossbar and surround. The headlights were inset into the grille behind glass covers. The push-button automatic transmission system was replaced by a more conventional steering column-mounted shift lever. Standard equipment included remote-control outside rearview mirror, padded dash, power steering, power brakes, power windows, carpeting, and electric clock. Pricing began at $5,770 for the 4-door hardtop and rose to $6,200 for the convertible. 11,628 examples of the 4-door hardtop were built and 3,974 of the two-door version. Just 633 examples of the convertible found willing buyers. Total production was 18,409, a decrease of nearly 5,000 vehicles for the prior year.
The 1965 Imperial had a 129 inch wheelbase for the Imperial Crown and LeBaron, while the Crown Imperial rested on a larger 149.5 inch platform. The overhead valve V8 engine displaced 413.2 cubic-inches and produced 340 horsepower at 4600 RPM.
The list of optional equipment was vast, and included air conditioning, power trunk lock, AM/FM radio with rear speaker and power antenna, automatic beam changer, door guards, outside right mirror, two-tone paint, six-way power front seat, positive crankcase vent system, and more.
The following year would be the final year for the Imperial platform that was first introduced in 1956 for the 1957 model year. The Ghia Imperial
Ghia of Italy produced the long-wheel Imperial Crown cars from 1957 through 1965. After being shipped across the Atlantic, Ghia would cut apart the two-door hardtop bodies, and lengthen the frame by 20.5 inches. Later models used the four-door body styles to the same specification. Each example took a month to build and often demanded a price of $18,500. Between 1957 and 1965, a total of 132 Imperial Crowns were manufactured for Chrysler by Ghia.
The ten examples sold during 1965 were 1964s wearing 1965 exterior styling, and had the pushbutton gearshifts of 1964.
Ghia then sold its tooling to Barreiros Coachbuilders of Spain, who continued to build limousines in similar fashion to those built by Ghia.by Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2020
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