| Hershey, Pennsylvania
- One of just 554 produced in 1962
- Final year of Virgil Exner’s venerated “Forward Look” Chrysler designs
- Presented in Embassy Red over beige leather upholstery with beige convertible top
- Powered by a 413-cu.-in. V-8 engine fed by a Carter four-barrel carburetor
- Well optioned with factory air conditioning, power windows, power six-way seat, power convertible top, remote driver-side mirror, and AM radio
In redesigning its Imperial models in 1955, the Chrysler Corporation split them into a separate line of prestigious automobiles to compete directly with Ford’s luxury-focused Lincoln and General Motors’ Cadillac. True to its name, the new Imperial was to be an opulent line of cars above and beyond all other Chrysler branded vehicles.
Initially, these luxury offerings wore bodies designed by the engineers who built the chassis. They were considered spartan and unstylish. This would change with the ascension of designer Virgil Exner and his “Forward Look” aesthetics. After seeing the fighter-plane inspired tail fins of late 1940s Cadillacs, Exner adopted tail fins as a central element in his designs. While other companies simply enjoyed their appearance, Exner truly believed in their aerodynamic effects, going so far as to wind-tunnel test many of his works at the University of Michigan. The resulting designs sported lowered rooflines with tall fins, making for a sleeker, more aggressive appearance. With a long hood and short deck, the wedge-like look of these Chryslers brought the company to the forefront of American car design, leaving Ford and General Motors scrambling to catch up.
By the early 1960s, Exner’s Forward Look Imperials had evolved with radical free-standing headlights sitting astride a polished, split grille. The grille’s upper trim developed into a polished body line running the length of the car, eventually tying into the Imperial’s sky-high “Gunsight” taillights.
Powering these Space Age masterpieces was a 413-cubic-inch V-8 engine fed by a single Carter four-barrel carburetor. The setup was rated to produce an impressive 340 horsepower. Power steering and power brakes were standard. Enterprising buyers could upgrade to the Crown Imperial series—in the case of the convertible, a near $1,000 option.
Said to have been fully restored several years ago, this example is presented in Embassy Red over beige leather upholstery with a beige convertible top. The cosmic design carries into the interior, most prominently in the dash. Two enormous, diamond-shaped panels house the push-button transmission controls as well as factory air-conditioning and heat controls. These panels flank a horizontally oriented, metallic multigauge with 120-mph speedometer, oil pressure, battery, water temperature, and fuel level readings. A mid-century-modern clock sits in the center of the gauge cluster, which is framed by the Imperial’s unique squared-off steering wheel.
In addition to factory air conditioning—a staggering $600 option—this car is equipped with power windows, power vent windows, power six-way seat, power convertible top, remote driver-side mirror, and AM radio.
Well optioned and wearing striking colors, this Imperial Crown Convertible waits to impress its next owner with Space-Age American style.