The 1953 Chrysler Imperial featured a heavily chromed grille and a 180-horsepower hemi V-8.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1951, 1952, 1953, and 1954 Chrysler Imperial also offered other models. A club coupe was offered during 1951 and 1952, a relatively trim looking model, but another slow seller (about 3,500 in two years). Another two-door, the Imperial Newport hardtop, was always in the lineup, touting convertible-like airiness, a part-leather interior, and an expansive (for Chrysler) glass area.

Virgil Exner, who had been hired away from Studebaker to join Chrysler styling in 1949, effected improvements in the look of Chryslers from 1953 on. They evolved into a more shapely form -- but most any form felt soothing to the eye after the upright-oblongs of 1949-1952. There was more glass; windshields became curved, one-piece units; and all sense of dark caverns inside the car disappeared, helped by a large, wraparound rear window. While the Chrysler Imperial's grille duplicated that of 1951-1952, the near-vertical eagle hood ornament stood out as a unique touch.

Though lesser Chrysler models had been reduced in bulk, Chrysler Imperial -- striving for a greater visual difference -- was enlarged to a 133.5-inch wheelbase for four-door models. An interesting new model debuted as the Chrysler Town Limousine, fitted with a division window and riding this standard wheelbase. Unfortunately, the idea of providing a "compact" limousine for chauffeur-driven city work had little appeal. Production of Town Limousines amounted to 243 units in 1953 and only 85 in 1954. All standard cars in these two model years were referred to as "Custom Imperials," though there was nothing custom about them.

The Chrysler Imperial's part-leather interior added to its luxurious image -- and its hefty price tag.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The Chrysler Crown Imperial on its long wheelbase continued as before in these years, but production made it rare even then: a mere 48 long sedans and 111 limousines in 1953; another 23 sedans and 77 limousines for 1954. Unlike the Cadillac Seventy-Five, Chrysler did not cater to the commercial body builders with this model: Only one bare chassis is listed in company records, and that for a special parade model.

Check out the specifications of the 1951-1954 Chrysler Imperial on the next page.

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