Wednesday 2nd February 1955
The Chrysler Corporation legally made Imperial a separate marque, to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac, and European luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer and the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.
The 1955 models are said to be inspired by Virgil Exner’s own 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton show cars (which were themselves later rebodied to match the 1955-56 Imperials). The platform and bodyshell were shared with that year’s big Chryslers, but the Imperial had a wheelbase that was 4.0 inches (102 mm) longer, providing it with more rear seat legroom, had a wide-spaced split eggcrate grille, the same as that used on the Chrysler 300 “executive hot rod”, and had free-standing “gunsight” taillights mounted above the rear quarters, which were similar to those on the Exner’s 1951 Chrysler K-310 concept car. Gunsight taillights were also known as “sparrow-strainer” taillights, named after the device used to keep birds out of jet-engines. Such taillights were separated from the fender and surrounded by a ring and became an Imperial fixture through 1962, although they would only be free-standing in 1955-56 and again in 1961-62. Two “C-69” models were available, including the two-door Newport hardtop coupe (3,418 built) and pillared four-door sedan (7,840 built), along with an additional “C-70” Crown limousine model (172 built). The “FirePower” V8 engine was Chrysler’s first-generation Hemi with a displacement of 331 cu in (5.4 L) and developing 250 brake horsepower (186 kW). Power brakes and power steering were standard, along with Chrysler’s “PowerFlite” automatic transmission. One major option on the 1955 and 1956 Imperials was air conditioning, at a cost of $535. Production totaled 11,430, more than twice the 1954 figure, but far below Lincoln and Cadillac.
The Chrysler Corporation’s luxury automobile brand between 1955 and 1975, with a brief reappearance in 1981 to 1983, and a second reapearance from 1990-1993.