Thursday, November 30, 2017

Early 1950s Chrysler Imperials

Chrysler's Imperial line never settled into a marketplace groove.  For many years, it was simply a Chrysler model, albeit at the top of the line.  At other times it was a separate marque.  In terms of styling, some model years the main exterior difference between a Chrysler Imperial and a New Yorker or Saratoga was its model nameplate -- at other times the cars were visually distinctive.

This post deals with Chrysler Imperials during the first half of the 1950s.  During those five model years their appearance evolved from near-identical to distinctive, this largely driven by the plan to make Imperial a separate Chrysler Corporation division for 1955.


Chryslers for 1950.  The upper photo shows a Chrysler Imperial sedan, the lower one a Chrysler New Yorker hardtop.  Their trim is identical in almost every respect.

All Chrysler Corporations cars shared the same body platform for 1949-1952, and for model year 1951 their hood prows were all rounded off.  It was at this point that Imperials became visually distinctive compared to other Chryslers.  The 1951 Chrysler Imperial in the upper photo has a different grille than the Windsor in the lower image.  Also, it lacks a chromed spear over the front fender and door. Plus, the rear fender rock guard has a different shape.  The Windsor photo is a common one on the internet ... no obvious source.  It is possible that the car is a 1952 model, as changes between '51 and '52 were minimal, perhaps related to Korean War induced shortages.

These are a 1952 Chrysler Imperial and a 1952 Chrysler Saratoga (for sale photo).  As mentioned in the previous caption, 1951 and 1952 models looked nearly the same.

The entire Chrysler Corporation line was redesigned for 1953, Chryslers and DeSotos sharing one body, Plymouths and Dodges another.  The Imperial in the first photo appears to have retained the front end from 1952, starting at the cowl, changing only the hood ornament.  The comparison car in the lower image is a 1953 Chrysler New Yorker Newport.

Chrysler Imperials for 1954 were given a new grille plus mid-fender side trim extending abaft of the wheel openings onto the front doors.  The lower image is a publicity photo (cropped) showing a 1954 Chrysler New Yorker Newport hardtop that also got a new grille and side trim.

1 comment:

jrm said...

These Chryslers were never considered styling home-runs, I don't think. The effort to copy GM cues in the front grille area are instructive. The Imperial was obviously trying to evoke and "important" front end styling, like Cadillac, but it comes off as weak and even indecisive IMHO. The Chrysler line openly mimics Oldsmobile and/or Buick, but again falls just a bit short of the mark. Chrysler gets much more interesting in the Exner years, at least the first few, before grotesque mannerisms crept in.