1981-1983 Imperial

The 1981-1983 Imperial was a short-lived and cynical resurrection of Chrysler's luxury make. It was actually a clever reskin of the long-wheelbase 1976-vintage M-body platform used for the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare compacts, among other things.

The 1981 Imperial coupe, part of the 1981-1983 Imperial line of collectible cars.
1981 Imperial coupe.  See more pictures of Imperial cars.

The 1981-1983 Imperial was marked by chiseled, "formal" lines, a stand-up grille, hidden headlamps, a razor-edge roofline, and "bustle" trunk. The last looked to be a copy of Cadillac's similar treatment on the new 1980 second-generation Seville four-door, but was purely accidental and, arguably, nice-looking.

Drivetrain was comprised of the veteran 318 V-8 (injected) and TorqueFlite. The orthodox rear-drive chassis (save the odd transverse front torsion bars) was inherited from lesser M-body models and old-fashioned rear leaf springs.

Frank Sinatra sang "It's time for Imperial" in TV commercials, and a (give-us-a-break) 1982-1983 "Sinatra Edition" Imperial included tapes of his songs. Neither this nor fully equipped "one price" marketing stimulated much interest in a difficult market then doubtful of Chrysler's ability to survive.

Imperial was revived yet again for 1990, this time as a four-door that was even less special than this coupe.

of the 1981-1983 Imperial:
  • Interesting, low-volume modern Chrysler
  • Luxurious leather-lined cabin
  • Power everything
  • Smooth and quiet, except for those Sinatra tapes
  • Used-car cheap
Minuses of the 1981-1983 Imperial:
  • Roly-poly handling
  • Numb steering
  • Overassisted brakes
  • Quality not as originally advertised
  • Not very interesting even to MoPar mavens
Production of the 1981 Imperial:

Production of the 1982 Imperial:

Production of the 1983 Imperial:

Specifications of the 1981-1983 Imperial:
Length, inches: 213.3
Wheelbase, inches: 112.7
Weight, pounds: 3,945-4,020
Price (new): $18,311-$20,988 (U.S.)

Engines for the 1981-1983 Imperial:
ohv V-8318 cid

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