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1957-1959 Imperial

1957 Imperial Interior

Another ergonomic misstep in the 1957 Imperial interior was the location of rearview mirror. Forced onto the top of the instrument panel by the low roof, the mirror was moved to a left-of-center position in 1958 in order to give the driver a better view rearward with a full complement of passengers.

1957 Imperial convertible interior
Two-tone leather upholstery covered the
1957 Imperial convertible's interior.

Field of vision was improved by 30 percent, but this location remained awkward at best. Original plans called for two car-wide sun visors designed to check unwanted sunlight formerly blocked by a header-mounted mirror, but this feature never made production.

More successful was Imperial's new steering wheel with its handsome, shallow, boomerang-shaped padded leather center intersecting a two-tone rim embellished with chrome-plated thumb depressions. Interior door handles were lever-type and on all but the base models, the front door armrests flipped up for access to handy built-in storage bins.

Seat fabrics were suitably luxurious, with names like "Silver Ripple Boucle," "Snowflake Brocade," and "Basket Weave." Interesting options included the under-dash Highway Hi-Fi record player with its seven-inch, 162/3-rpm discs ($77.35, but you also had to order the $158.15 Touch-Tuner radio).

Of course, the entire interior sparkled with myriad of chrome accents that wouldn't pass federal safety muster today. Buyers could choose from 21 exterior colors and 121 exterior and interior color combinations.

Underneath its spectacular body, Imperial shared two of Chrysler Corporation's most significant engineering advances. One was the new Torsion-Aire Ride: "Torsion" for the new front torsion-bar suspension that delivered superior handling, reduced body roll, and high-speed float, and offered flat, no-dive braking; and "Aire" for the new 14-inch tires, the wider cross section and lower air pressure (22 pounds cold) of which were designed to absorb more road shock.

The other advance was Torque-Flite, the benchmark pushbutton three-speed automatic transmission that had been fitted to 761 Imperials built in mid-1956. Tucked under the hood was Chrysler's famed FirePower "hemi" V-8, newly enlarged to 392 cubic inches via increases in bore and stroke. Horsepower was upped to 325 from 280. As such, the Imperial engine was larger than those offered in 1957 by Cadillac and Lincoln, and was matched in output only by the twin-carb mill optional in Caddy's Eldorado.

Learn about the model options offered for the 1957 Imperial on the next page.

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