1964 Chrysler Imperial
Technically speaking, the car you are looking at is not a Chrysler Imperial. It comes from a period in the model’s history when Chrysler was trying to better differentiate its top-end luxury model from the rest of the Chrysler lineup, and Imperial became its own brand, with no Chrysler badging to be found on the car. This met with limited success, with most people still referring to the cars as Chryslers. But, the cars still sold, possibly not in the quantities that they could have, but certainly in a high enough volume to be profitable for Chrysler.
The Imperial nameplate had been around since 1926, and was created in order to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln. It might never have had the 12- and 16-cylinder engines offered in other top tier American luxury cars at the time, but it did a good job of competing with entry level models by being something a bit different from the competition. In 1934, it adopted the aerodynamic bodywork of the Chrysler Airflow, and became the best selling of all the Airflow models. In 1953, the Imperial was the first postwar production car to get air conditioning. But, this still wasn’t enough to set it apart, and the Imperial became its own brand in 1955.
When the second generation of the dedicated Imperial brand was launched in 1957, it set a record for Imperial sales that Chrysler was never able to break. But in 1964, the year of the car you see here, Chrysler came closer than any other year. Exterior styling had a lot to do with this, as it represents a major departure from the styling of the 1963 model. There is a good reason for this too. Chrysler had just hired the designer Elwood Engle away from Ford, the man who had just redesigned the 1961 Lincoln Continental and given a much more modern look. Chrysler wanted to give the Imperial the same kind of update, but it should be noted that the 1964 Imperial is still considered a second generation model, since it was just the bodywork that was changed.
Continue reading to learn more about the Chrysler Imperial.