Imperial model name


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Sep 7, 2019
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Good morning everyone.

I just bought a 1956 Imperial. Not sure it's actually a C Body but maybe someone will know. I know starting in 55 the Imperial was its own make. My car has the familiar crowns on it but nowhere does it have a model name. My punchcard only says Series C70. The front of the shop manual says Crown Imperial. I want to get this right so the people at the tag office don't call it a Chrysler.


Thanks everyone.
I don't have an answer for your car. I am watching, because I asked at our transportation office about Imperial, They had no idea what I was talking about and that it was listed under Chrysler.
If you truly have a "Crown Imperial" you likely have an Imperial limousine, which for a time were assembled in Italy by Ghia. Otherwise you have an Imperial Crown, although I'm not positive that designation existed before 1957. Getting the tag office / Motor Vehicle Division, and other authorities to correctly categorize Imperial vs. Chrysler has long been one of the banes of Imperial ownership. Best place to verify your car's model/designation is on the Imperial Club website.

C70 should be defined there. Some on here will likely know as well. Welcome to the group.
C70 was "ringing a bell" in my mind and my next thought was that "C70 means LIMO" Here's an article from the OIC website, originally from a WPC club magazine article: The Eagle Spreads its Wings

Have a look at pages 7 - 8, C70's were the Chrysler built long-wheelbase car, and they are amazing if/when you ever see them. If that's what you have - WOW.
I knew the Crown Imperial was a limo in the 60s but didn't know if that went back to the 50s. I for sure don't have a limo.

My car is a post model so it isn't a Newport or a Southampton. So far I haven't found an actual name for it. The tag office ought to love that.
You have a sedan, then. At that point in time it was less about "limo" than extended wheelbase, sorry if I threw you off with that.

Take a look at that article, page 8. C69 cars (Imperial) had a wheelbase of 130", C70 cars (Crown Imperial) had the extended wheelbase of 149."

Hopefully this will tell you what you have.
My understanding is that Imperial 2 door models were called Imperial Newports and the 4 doors were called Southamptons in the 1955 model year but I do not believe there were model names to this effect on the vehicle itself. Gloriously styled vehicles in my opinion. One of Virgil Exner's first Forward Look cars that was a harbinger of things to come in later model years.


My parents had a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker when I was a kid. I still recall it and it was an outstanding vehicle that I loved riding in back in the days........................

Ours looked just like this:


It was called a Chrysler New Yorker St Regis and had a model nameplate on the lower portion of the C pillars Which is concerned with C300 Letter cars, but has the '55-'58 Chrysler Parts Manual too. In the "Parts Manuall" page, click on the "Information" pages. Scroll down the pages of the model IDs until you come to the Chrysler listings for 1955.

"C69" is a normal Imperial, "C70" is the 149" wheelbase Crown Imperial, with Detroit build designations. Same in 1955 and 1956, other than the build designations.

Back in, on the page where you click on the parts manual, go one line down and click on the Service Manual (which is Chrsler and Imperial). In the Information Pages, scroll down the page and find an illustration of the C-69 and C-70 Imperials. Then continue to the following pages and it will detail the factory designation of Custom Imperial (normal 130" wheelbase) and Crown Imperial (149.5" wheelbase).

You can probably print those pages to take with you or take some screen shots with your phone.

Obviously, the car is "Imperial", whether "Custom" or "Crown". Just that they put the descriptive words in front of "Imperial" rather than behind "Imperial", as in later years. Now that that is under control . . . what to do with "Chrysler"? Which is YOUR judgment call. With references to that page in the Service Manual.

Just some ponderings,
Thanks for that link. Quite a lot of information I'm sure I'll be referring to again. According to what I read, I have a C73 Custom Imperial with a 133" wheelbase. So what I think I'll do, is ask them to leave the model name blank. If they won't, I'll say it's a C73. The word "Chrysler" will not be entertained at all.

So thanks everyone for weighing in.
I just remember people calling my '65 Crown Coupe a Lincoln! It was much easier telling them it was a Chrysler because of all the confusion about an Imperial! What's that?! Thank you Mr. Engle!
I just remember people calling my '65 Crown Coupe a Lincoln! It was much easier telling them it was a Chrysler because of all the confusion about an Imperial! What's that?! Thank you Mr. Engle!
and definitely better than someone saying "oh yeah.... .my uncle had an Impala........" which I gave up trying to respond to........
In some cases, Chrysler Corp's marketing operatives tried to do some things the general public (mostly a bit ignorant of car brands and such) was just not prepared for.

Basically, Chrysler Corp had a line/brand of vehicles which equated to similar General Motors line/brands. Plymouth was Chevy (entry level), then Dodge was Pontiac, DeSoto was Oldsmobile, Chrysler was Buick, and Imperial was Cadillac . . . in that order of hierarchy. Nothing was wrong with that, especially after GM declared that "What was good for GM was good for the country".

In some respects, Ford was more efficient in their marketing, having fewer resources. Ford tried to cover everything with Ford, with Lincoln getting Cadillac. Then adding Mercury in the late 1930s to catch the middle stuff.

When Lincoln brought out their new (first time sold) Continental in 1955, branded as "not a Lincoln", but sold only by Lincoln dealers, the Chrysler operatives probably said "WE can do that, too!", so the separate Imperial brand was born . . . "not a Chrysler", at the top of the model mountain. Looking at the original "Imperial" cars, it was not hard to see their lineage and blood lines in the 1955 Chryslers, but when the new 1957 chassis/platform cars hit, then the Imperial was more about something other than just a longer wheelbase. Looking at the print ads, they were about prestige and elegance, with a new Imperial logo to go with that.

Chrysler had been building in-house limos under the guise of "8-passenger DeSoto sedans", mostly used as taxis in larger cities (as New York), even seen in some exterior shots in the tv series "Amos and Andy", just that those shots were lower resolution so the front of the car was not seen. Then Cadillac started to build similar cars for a few years starting in 1959!!! Except the Cadillacs were aimed at the corporate executives and such, who wanted to take their assistants with them, or body guards.

Although there were many print ads in the major consumer magazines of the later 1950s, "LIFE" and "LOOK", etc., to many people who might have seen then, they were "just another car ad", for something they couldn't afford in the tight economy of those times. Basically, ignored by people not interested in such things.

Considering "eliteness", the lower-production Imperials certainly got that point, if it mattered. Everybody who had money still drove Cadillacs with some opting for Lincolns, but still very few opting for Imperials. Although the famous Tom McCahill of "Popular Mechanics" magazine very plainly admitting to owning Imperials as "The Best Road Car in America" (paraphrasing), when being a great car for cross-country trips really mattered, in a time before the expansive Interstate Highway system was started to have been built. Cornering, a firmer suspension for bumpy roads, and "passing gear power" were safety features which Cadillacs and Lincolns did not have to the same degree as normal Chryslers AND Imperials had due to their engineering blood lines.

Now, IF you want to see some eye-opening comparisons, look at the several segments of "On The Test Track with the 1957 Chrysler Products" on YouTube. No Imperials in those vids, but the Chrysler-brand cars are compared to their GM counterparts. Then there are a few more comparing the Chryslers to Mercurys. The great roadability of the torsion bar/leaf spring Chryslers is so far above what the competition had it is unreal!!!!!

THEN, that one segment where the cars encounter a rural railroad crossing and then a sudden elevation change (lower), where the integrity of the Chrysler UniBody structure is graphically demonstrated as the cars hit that sudden lower elevation angle. So much for that quieter and smoother-riding GM body/frame configuration if it can't keep the bumper from moving so much in relation to the rest of the car body.

Back in the early 1960s, I had a favorite uncle (who knew about cars and what made them "tick"), he lived down near Houston, TX (with smoother roads). He normal drove Oldsmobiles and Buicks. When he would come to visit and also go out to see older relatives "on the dirt roads" of the rural areas, one day he was out wiping down the door weatherstrips on his '60 LeSabre 4-dr sedan with a silicone-lube'd rag. I asked him what he was doing and he said that those dirt roads and dust made the weaterhstrips squeak, so this lube stopped that and kept them quiet. As I knew that I had never seen my Father do that on our '56 Plymouth and the weatherstrips did not squeak. But I later determined that GM's body/frame cars were more prone to this than Fords or Chrysler products.

Through all of the "Chrysler Products are BETTER" ads of those 1950-1960 eras, few people seemed to notice and Chrysler remained #3 in corporate sales after GM and Ford. Few conquest sales for Chrysler brands, whereas consumers might switch between GM and Ford brands a bit, by observation. Only people who really understood or appreciated the Chrysler way of doing things seemed to keep buying them, by observation. Not to forget that many of the Chrysler dealers tended to be a bit flakier to deal with than similar GM or Ford dealers. Chryslers got bad-mouthed for things that GM dealers got "a big PASS" on, it seemed. Even back then, it seemed that Chrysler tried to design things "too good", but to do otherwise would have put them in the same "mediocre, with a few exceptions" category that Ford (and especially) GM was in.

Sorry for the length. Just some thoughts and long-time observations,
Here is my 2 cents. The Imperial Limos started in the early 30's. They were produced unbroken by Chrysler until 1956. After that, Ghia produced a very limited number of limos on and off until 1965. Now, if this is 1956 Crown Imperial limo there is a simple way to tell. Look at the top of the rear fenders. If it looks like it has "tacked on" fender tops with several chrome slashes under the rearmost side windows it is indeed a Crown. If however, it has vent windows built into the rear doors that open with a small lever then it is an Imperial. My dad owned a 1956 Imperial Sedan and it was a very unique vehicle. I never remember it ever being referred to as anything but an Imperial Sedan. Starting in 1957, they had three designations. 57 and 58 were called Imperial, Crown and Le Baron. In 1959 the renamed the entry model The Custom, next was the Crown and Lastly the Le Baron. Do not forget the Imperial Le Baron Ghia produced in 1959. It was a Le Baron 4 door hardtop with special maroon paint and matching interior. I only saw one in my life - but it was STUNNING - at least to a 12 year old!