Lot Number
801
language

1956 Imperial Crown Limousine

Sold For $126,500

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Sotheby's - THE MILHOUS COLLECTION 24 - 25 FEBRUARY 2012


Chassis No.
C561064

Series C-70. 280 bhp, 353.1 cu. in. overhead valve V-8 engine, two-speed push-button PowerFlite transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel power-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 149.5"

• Flagship, top-of-the-line Chrysler Corporation limousine

• 280 bhp Hemi engine

• Equipped with every option

In recent times, the term “limousine” has conjured up images of a stretched Lincoln Town Car. For those of an earlier age, it means a Fleetwood Cadillac. Often forgotten, however, is the fact that during the 20th century Chrysler Corporation offered more variations on the limousine theme than any other American manufacturer.

By far most of these were sold under the Chrysler badge, although at certain periods even Plymouths could be had with extended wheelbases and jump seats. DeSotos and Dodges were quite common. But by far the most prestigious were those from Chrysler, usually as part of the Imperial series. In the late 1920s and early ’30s, they were available both as factory bodies or as individual customs from the likes of LeBaron, Dietrich or Locke.

By 1941, the flagship Chrysler was the Crown Imperial eight-passenger limousine. This continued after the war, with the longer, 145.5-inch frame reserved for the Crown Imperial, which could be had either as a limousine, with division partition, or eight-passenger sedan, without.

The evolution of the Imperial began in 1949 with a vast expansion to five body styles in 1954. For 1955, the metamorphosis was complete. No longer badged “Chrysler,” two lines of Imperial broke forth, the C69 “plain” Imperial with sedan and hardtop on a 130-inch wheelbase and the C70 Crown Imperial, a sedan or limo on a new 149.5-inch chassis. Both benefited from Virgil Exner’s new “Forward Look” styling but differentiated themselves from the Chryslers with a bold new egg-crate grille and dramatic “gun-sight” taillights cribbed from the Ghia-built K-310 and d’Elegance concept cars. Crown Imperial production was very limited, with just 45 sedans and 127 limos built. For 1956, the Imperial hardtop coupe was dubbed “Southampton” after the posh Long Island town, and a four-door pillarless version was added. Crown Imperials continued as before, with eight-passenger sedans and limos, and popularity grew, to 51 and 175 units respectively.

This 1956 Crown Imperial Limousine is of the division limousine type with seating for eight. Presented in black, it has excellent contours and flawless paint. The passenger compartment is upholstered in a grey leather and cloth combination, with grey carpet on the floor. The chauffeur’s seat is black leather with matching carpet. Outfitted with power windows, air conditioning and an AM radio, the car has Imperial’s standard PowerFlite automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes.

The engine compartment is superbly detailed, with the Hemi V-8 in silver and ancillary units painted black. The undercarriage and underbody are unsoiled, appearing virtually as new. In fact, the car has been fitted with Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels, mounted with 8.20x15 B.F. Goodrich Silvertown whitewalls and was recently fitted with an NOS interior.

Among the rarest of Chrysler products in 1956, the Crown Imperial limousine was the best the company had to offer. This one, restored to impeccable condition, is just the car in which to make a dramatic entrance at any black tie affair.



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