1964, 1965, 1966 Imperial

The 1965 Imperial gained a one-piece grille with covers over the headlights.
The 1965 Imperial gained a one-piece grille with covers over the headlights.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1964, 1965, and 1966 Imperial evolved gradually. The only major change for the 1965 Imperial was a new grille with glass-enclosed quad headlamps. At the New York Automobile Show, Imperial displayed the exotic LeBaron D'Or show car, which used gold striping and embellishments, and was painted a special Royal Essence Laurel Gold. Prices rose a couple hundred dollars and the model lineup was unchanged.

Ghia of Turin stopped building Crown Imperial limousines in 1965, though 10 were constructed in Spain for 1966, using grilles and rear decks from that model. Starting in 1967, Imperial arranged to have the limousine built domestically. Production during 1964-1966 was only 10 units per year.

Again in 1966, an evolutionary approach produced a line of Crowns and LeBarons that closely resembled the design of 1964 and 1965. The changes did make 1966 one of the most beautiful Imperials, and probably the cleanest and most understated of them all.

The split grille of past models was replaced by an oblong unit that framed multiple rectangles. The rear deck was smoothed off, finally eliminating the ungainly looking bird emblem and tire cover outline. Wheelbase and overall length were unchanged. The previous 413-cid V-8 was replaced by Chrysler's new 440, which was rated at 350 bhp, 10 more than 1964-1965.

Comfort was the name of the game, and even rear-seat Imperial passengers sat in the lap of luxury.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1966 Imperial was the last with a separate body and frame, and thus marked the end of the Imperial's different construction method compared to other Chrysler products. After 1966, Imperials would share the Chrysler unit body, and gradually they became more and more like a luxury version of the Chrysler.

To management's disappointment, Imperial had never really established itself as a separate make, and most people still referred to it as a "Chrysler Imperial." This image problem made it difficult to rival Lincoln, let alone Cadillac. Production tailed downward, with only about 18,000 1965 Imperials built and fewer than 14,000 of the lovely 1966 Imperials. Convertibles were extremely low volume cars, the figures being 922, 633, and 514 for 1964 through 1966, respectively.

See the specifications for the 1964, 1965, and 1966 Imperial on the next page.

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