Chrysler Imperial Crown Convertible

Walter P. Chrysler formed Chrysler Corporation in 1924, and the fledgling company quickly matured into one of America’s top three automakers. The Chrysler lineup expanded quickly during the 1920s, beginning with the addition of the Imperial line from 1927–1928, which provided a top-level model to compete head-on with Cadillac and Lincoln.

In early-1955, Chrysler Corporation officially registered Imperial as a separate marque, further giving the moniker its own distinct identity in the marketplace. For 1957, the Imperial models were radically redesigned, marking both a Virgil Exner design masterpiece and an unqualified market success that quickly gained acclaim for its bold styling, remarkable performance, and excellent handling.

For 1960, while the rest of the Chrysler Corporation switched to unitized bodies, the completely restyled Imperial models retained their separate body-on-frame construction with a stiff, reinforced, and undercoated body utilizing heavier-gauge sheet metal. While the large tailfins remained, they now terminated with a pronounced forward tilt, drawing the eye from the rear of the car to a revised frontal treatment with hooded headlamps, a finer mesh-type grille, and a new V-shaped bumper.

Interiors were upgraded with a heavily padded and supportive “High Tower” driver’s seat, as well as a futuristic, space-saving elliptical steering wheel. Mechanically, the 413-cubic inch Wedge V-8 engine supplied 350 horsepower and 470 foot-pounds of torque, mated to a smooth and durable Torqueflite automatic transmission with dash-mounted pushbutton controls. The aircraft-inspired instrument panel was dominated by a pair of large pod-shaped nacelles, illuminated by an advanced electroluminescent lighting system developed by Sylvania for the Chrysler Corporation.

As before, the 1960 Imperial earned many positive reviews, including that of Motor Life, which stated, “It handled and rode better than anything else of its size on the road. For all its mass, it feels like a light car, with the Torqueflite transmission, power steering, and power brakes doing everything they can to eliminate labor from driving. Compared to last year's Imperial, the 1960 is quieter, more comfortable, and even easier on the eye.” In particular, the Imperial Crown Convertible epitomized the glamour and progressive spirit of the era. Weighing nearly 5,000 pounds and priced from $5,774, just 618 of these majestic cars were originally built, with each survivor being highly coveted today.

Series P1Y-M. 350 bhp, 413 cu. in. V-8 engine, Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with torsion bars and semi-floating rear axle with tapered semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel power-operated hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 129 in.

Part of the RM Auctions event in Arizona in January, 2013.

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Erik Fuller

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