Monday, February 7, 2011

Space Age

'61 Imperial, originally uploaded by William 74.
A lot of people think that the idea of mass manufacturers introducing "luxury" brands started with Acura (Honda), Lexus (Toyota) and Infiniti (Nissan), but Chrysler was ahead of them when they spun the Imperial line off into it's own separate marque in 1955. Imperials were Mopar's top line, and between '57 and '66 had their own platforms separate from other Chrysler products. Styled by Virgil Exner, Imperials reflected his "Forward Look" style, featuring dramatic rooflines and aggressive long hood-short deck proportions. There was nothing quite like them.

This particular Imperial is a '61, probably the most iconic version. It features the biggest fins (the last year for fins on Imperials), complete with characteristic gunsight taillights. More strikingly, Exner added separate, podded headlights to the front end, giving a truly unique look to the car. This style lasted for only one season, before the fins were cut off and the headlights returned to a more normal position.

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