The Imperial was the Chrysler Corporation's luxury automobile brand from 1955 to 1975, and again from 1981 to 1983.
The Imperial name had been used since 1926, but was never a separate make, just the top-of-the-line Chrysler. However, in 1955, the company decided to spin Imperial off as its own make and division to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac Imperial would see new or modified body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as technologies that would filter down to Chrysler Corporation's other models.
The 1957 model year was based to an even greater degree on Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" styling (also used on other full-size Chryslers of the period). It featured a "biplane" front bumper, a full-width egg crate grille and quad headlights (where legal). Taller tailfins now encompassed the trademark gunsight taillights and framed a downward tapering decklid that met the rear bumper. Curved side glass was employed for the first time on a U.S. production car. The Hemi engine with a displacement enlarged to 392 cu in (6.4 L) was standard for 1957-58. Power seats and dual exhaust were made standard across the line. A convertible was available for the first time on an Imperial and only offered in the mid-range Crown series. Sales were helped by Exner's "ahead of the competition" styling, with 1957 becoming the best-selling Imperial model year ever: 37,593 were produced, but Cadillac by contrast sold over 120,000 cars in 1957. Quality control also slipped considerably, a consequence of the second total redesign in two years.
Starting in the 1957 model year, Imperials were available in three levels of trim: standard Imperial Custom, mid-range Imperial Crown, and the new top-of-the-line Imperial LeBaron (a reference to LeBaron, Carrossiers). The custom-built Imperial Crown limousine was also offered. Through the late 1950s and into the early 1960s styling would continue to become "Longer, Lower, Wider", with the addition of some of the wildest fins on a car. The "FliteSweep Deck Lid", a simulated Continental tire bulge, was an option for 1957 through 1961 and again in 1963 (due to demand). It was shared with contemporary Mopars, including the Valiant. Exner's love of this feature extended back to early-fifties concept cars like the 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance.
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