Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stylists Gone Wild - 1960 Chrysler Imperial Coupe

I just spotted this and had to point it out...

Depending on your point of view, this is either the pinnacle or the nadir of late 50s / early 60s US car styling. Look at this thing...

The Imperial comes from another time, for sure. A time when the US auto manufacturers wanted you to notice their cars. It's hard to miss this one.

Take a look at the details of this car. The huge fins are obvious, they almost look like they'd reach out and slap you if you got too close to the car. But there's so much more to the styling of this car... A chrome spear heading down the side of the car. Chrome around the wheel wells. Chrome around the windows. Chrome around the huge chrome bumpers. There's even chrome on the roof!

The tail lights are suspended off the massive tail fins. They are surrounded by intricate chrome (of course) rings. They stick out as far as the bumpers. There is a simulated spare tire bulge on the trunk lid. Why? I have no idea. For awhile it was a Chrysler signature.

Look at the front end. The grill is huge and, of course, chrome. The headlights have a little hood over them. Each has a little emblem on it (and chrome).
The turn signals stick out from the huge chrome bumper. There's a huge chrome strip and emblem on the hood.

If you liked the exterior of this car, Chrysler didn't disappoint you with the interior. The front seats swiveled for easy ingress and egress and, of course, had chrome on them. The dashboard was curved and loaded with chrome. Two huge pods faced the driver. The transmission gear selector was a set of (chrome) buttons on the dash and the steering wheel was more or less oval.

This was a body on frame car with a massive and strong X frame. One really odd thing I just read about this car concerns the emergency brake. It was in the form of a clamp that would take hold of the drive shaft, and was not connected to the rear drum brakes. Weird.

The engine was a massive 413cu V8. It used a four-barrel carb and pumped out 350 HP. Still, it wasn't especially quick as these cars weighed close to 5000 pounds. That's probably good, as the suspension in this car was, as they say, built for comfort, not for speed.

This is not my type of car. I have no desire to own one. But, as I said in the beginning of this post, it comes from a time when auto makers, especially US auto makers, wanted you to notice their cars. I'm not advocating acres of chrome or giant tail fins again, but wouldn't it be great, in this day of cookie cutter automobiles, if car companies started once again making cars you couldn't help but notice?

Click here
to see the eBay listing for this 1960 Imperial.

The Online Imperial Club has a very impressive website. It's loaded with information. Find it here.

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