The C-body Chrysler Imperial for 1969 is sporting a new fuselage body which gives passengers more room-about 3 ½” more shoulder room in the four door sedan, but the unibody Imperial is no longer or wider than last year. The newly styled cabin is narrow at the rocker panels then wider at shoulder height, narrowing again towards the roof line, like an aircraft’s passenger compartment. The widow glass is curved to fit the new body shape. The Imperial shares a number of the same body panels with the lesser Chrysler Newport, which means a saving in production costs. This Chrysler is looking streamlined and elegant for ’69, with 22,083 discerning customers that chose the Imperial this year. The Imperial, only for 1969, features sequential turn signals, but it’s the last year a pillared sedan is on the table. The newly introduced Imperial LeBaron coupe is 229.7 inches (5834. 38 mm) bumper to bumper, and the line-up is once more, in ’69, the longest post-war personal luxury car, short of a limousine. The only power available is the 440 cu in “Wedgehead” V8 which is coupled to the A727 Torque-Flight Automatic three speed transmission.
There are a few trim changes for 1970 with a new egg crate grill for the front fascia. The “shark gill” parking lights have been dropped in favour a more squared configuration and for’70 only, the fender skirts are also gone, but additional chrome trim is added to the rocker panels, with a vinyl trim offered optionally. The Crown series will be retired at the end of 1970, leaving the LeBaron as a coupe or hardtop the only models available. Production dropped by half- of last year to 11,822 in ‘70.
The Imperial Eagle logo is gone from the hood in 1971 and replaced with the word “Imperial”, while the rear deck has the same name, but adds “by Chrysler”. The ‘71 Chrysler Imperial is the first car made in the states that could be equipped with four-wheel anti-lock brakes. This ABS system is made by Bendix, but it was a seldom chosen option at that time. This makes an ABS equipped Imperial a very uncommon find among the original 11,569 factory produced units. The white or black vinyl roof is a standard feature in ’71, but there were a few Imperial models with factory applied burgundy body paint that have a burgundy vinyl roof, that fades to a purplish color and reveals a paisley pattern underneath. There is speculation that this “Mod Top” may have been leftover vinyl material used for the sportier Dodge or Plymouth units. The material was then printed over for use on the Imperial. A Chrysler designer and spokesperson, Jeffery Godshall, did say, in a “Collectable Automobile” magazine article that: “This is untrue, the vinyl had simply faded, to the purple paisley pattern after exposure to the weather.” Chrysler Corporation replaced a large number of the faulty burgundy tops under full warrantee, but there are still some of these remaining.
As sign of the times in 1972, the Imperial sheet metal is all changed, now with a much more rounded look from a side view, the car is also looking larger and heavier than the first three years of the G4 production. The fuselage style cabin is now more refined, but lacks the character line along each side. This year there is a chrome trim strip over the top of the fender seam running from the rear windows forward. The newly revamped front fascia is an eye catching feature, as are the new vertically configured teardrop taillights, while the rear side marker lights are now in a shield shape with an eagle in the center. The sales pick up a little in ’72 with a total of 15,796 leave the assembly line that year.
For 1973 the Chrysler Imperial is now 235.3 inches (5,977 mm) long with the new impact absorbing bumper guards adding another 5.9 inches (147 mm) making it the longest production car produced on this continent. This is a good year for car sales in N. America with 16,729 of the Chrysler Imperial roll off the assembly line. Two of these, black ones, were sold to the U.S. Secret Service and were last officially used to take President Ronald Regan with his entourage to the swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in January, 1981.
Growing up in the Pomona Valley during the early to mid-’70s meant being around the baddest muscle cars and hot rods in SoCal. On just about every block it was common to see an open garage door on a warm summer night with a few young gearheads listening to Led Zeppelin while wrenching away on a hot rod of some sort. And if you lived near a guy with a Funny Car or Top Fuel dragster you were really lucky. Those guys were absolute rock stars and your popularity went up a notch just for living nearby...
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