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Thread: Imperial (1st gen) 1955-1956

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    Imperial (1st gen) 1955-1956

    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 rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac. Imperial would see new 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.

    As a stand-alone brand (1955-1975 & 1981-1983)

    First Generation (1955-1956)

    For the 1955 model year, the Imperial was launched and registered as a separate marque, apart from the Chrysler brand. It was a product of the new Imperial Division of Chrysler Corporation, meaning that the Imperial would be a make and division unto itself, and not bear the Chrysler name. Chrysler introduced Forward Look Styling by Virgil Exner, who would define Imperial's look (and the look of cars from the other four Chrysler divisions) from 1955 to 1963.

    The 1955 models are said to be inspired by Exner's own 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton show cars (which were themselves later rebodied to match the 1955-56 Imperials). The platform and bodyshell were shared with that year's big Chryslers, but the Imperial had a wheelbase that was 4.0 inches (102 mm) longer, providing it with more rear seat legroom, had a wide-spaced split eggcrate grille, the same as that used on the Chrysler 300 "executive hot rod", and had free-standing "gunsight" taillights mounted above the rear quarters, which were similar to those on the Exner's 1951 Chrysler K-310 concept car. Gunsight taillights were also known as "sparrow-strainer" taillights, named after the device used to keep birds out of jet-engines. Such taillights were separated from the fender and surrounded by a ring and became an Imperial fixture through 1962, although they would only be free-standing in 1955-56 and again in 1962. Models included a two-door Newport hardtop coupe (3,418 built) and a four-door sedan (7,840 built). The V8 engine was Chrysler's first-generation Hemi V8 with a displacement of 331 cu in (5.4 L) and developing 250 brake horsepower (186 kW). Power brakes and power steering were standard. One major option on the 1955 and 1956 Imperials was air conditioning, at a cost of $535. Production totaled 11,430, more than twice the 1954 figure, but far below Lincoln and Cadillac.

    The 1956 models were similar, but had small tailfins, a larger engine displacement of 354 cu in (5.8 L) with 280 brake horsepower (209 kW), and a four-door Southampton hardtop sedan was added to the range. 10,268 were produced. With a wheelbase of 133.0 inches (3,378 mm), longer than the previous year's by 3.0 inches (76 mm), they had the longest wheelbase ever for an Imperial. This also contributed to an increase in their overall length to 229.6 inches (5,832 mm), making them the longest non-limousine post WWII American cars until the advent of the Imperials of the "Fuselage Look" era.

    On April 28, 1955, Chrysler and Philco had announced the development and production of the World's first all-transistor car radio. The all-transistor car radio Mopar model 914HR, was developed and produced by Chrysler and Philco, and was an $150.00 "option" on the 1956 Imperial car models. Philco was the company, who had manufactured the all-transistor car radio Mopar model 914HR, starting in the fall of 1955 at its Sandusky Ohio plant, for the Chrysler corporation.

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    Chrysler Imperial (1ste gen) 1926-1930
    Chrysler Imperial (2nd gen) 1931-1933
    Chrysler Imperial (3rd gen) 1934-1936
    Chrysler Imperial (4th gen) 1937-1939
    Chrysler Imperial (5th gen) 1940-1948
    Chrysler Imperial (6th gen) 1949-1954
    Imperial (1ste gen) 1955-1956
    Imperial (2nd gen) 1957-1966
    Imperial (3rd gen) 1967-1968
    Imperial (4th gen) 1969-1973
    Imperial (5th gen) 1974-1975
    Imperial (6th gen) 1981-1983
    Chrysler Imperial (7th gen) 1990-1993
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    Last edited by Duell; 11-13-2014 at 11:08 AM.
    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
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    Imperial (1st Gen) #2
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    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

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    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
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