Chrysler : 1960 Imperial Crown
According to the lore developed around the Imperial nameplate, 1960 was an iconic year in the life of the Chrysler Imperial Crown. Corporate management had decided to spring the Imperial line as a submodel under the Chrysler nameplate into its own full line as they wanted to compete with Lincoln and Cadillac in the luxury market.
The Imperial line was the result. Plans had called for new body styles every two to three years, an ambitious project in itself with an industry just coming out of recession.
The 1960 Imperial Crown was a big vehicle at 228 inches on a 129-inch wheelbase. Its standard powerplant was the 413-cubic-inch wedgehead V-8 and it featured brightwork everywhere.
To be truthful, the lines of the Imperial Crown were nice but somewhat confusing. The lines swooped backward from a brightwork front end that was a mass of chrome. For example, the eggcrate for the grille was a huge mass of chrome and a slight overhang from the hoodline hooded it. The bottom of the – what is now called the valance – of the front end was a massive chromed bumper.
The overall lines were carried from hooded quad headlights through the doors and on through the quarter panels. The beltline was about midway on the vehicle and was carried from the wheel wells through the doors and on to the rear end by a fluted line and chrome strip.
The rear end featured the famous phony Chrysler Imperial spare tire hump that made it appear there was a spare under the trunklid.
And, in an ode to the fin, it was as if the automaker never realized the era of the fin had passed as the line established by the fenders was carried through the body and on through a set of fins that would give "Jaws" a run for its money. Chrysler, the company that set the fin on the market, was the last to see that it was on the way out by 1960. The taillights were special bullet-style that sat near the top of the fin.
The interior was a massive ode to chrome with brightwork everywhere. The driver was faced with a myriad of pushbuttons, including those needed for the transmission, and the driving position gained a little more weirdness when you realize the steering wheel was actually squared off.
Interestingly, the 1960 Imperial was a winner in its first year as it passed Lincoln sales with 17,700 for the first and last time to lead this segment.
Finally, reviewers at the time were surprised by the handling ability of the Imperial but that was hardly surprising as 1960 was the year that Chrysler moved toward the torsion bar suspension and handling system that kept the wheels in place and gave you decent road feel.
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