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1962 Imperial LeBaron in Formal Black
1962 Imperial LeBaron in Formal Black

1962 Imperial Auctions


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Image: 1962 Imperial sloganThe Imperial entered the 1962 model year with one dramatic difference: no tail fins! Shorn of one of its most identifying styling features that dated back to 1957, the Imperial had held onto the tail fins a bit too long. By 1962, the big swooping fins that started a styling frenzy in the late fifties were dated, although small fins were still seen on many cars, but they were blended into the overall styling, as the desire was not to stand out as it had been in the past. Chrysler stylists knew it would be two years before a new restyled Imperial was ready to hit the streets, so they were faced with the rather daunting task of updating styling that was originally designed for tail fins. So what did they do?

They cropped them off. Completely. And what resulted was an Imperial that looked longer, lower, and more luxurious. A touch of traditional styling was retained with the small taillights perched atop the ends of the rear quarter panels. As impressive as this change was from the side, the rear also looked lower and wider. The two-toned roof paint jobs with sweep moldings was now a thing of the past, and that too contributed to the clean new look of the 1962 Imperial. A new divided grille emphasized the Imperial's wide dimensions, and the free standing individual headlamp pods, introduced in 1961, were basically unchanged. Sitting atop the new grille panel for the first time was an elegant round Imperial Eagle hood ornament.

The Imperial was still offered in three series, the least expensive Custom, popular Crown, and top of the line LeBaron. While exterior styling certainly received a lot of attention for 1962, other improvements were made as well. A new automatic transmission was 60 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and featured a one piece aluminum die cast case. Internally, everything was new and the new design contributed to a physically smaller transmission that made it possible to have a smaller hump in the front seat floor area. Torque capacity of the new transmission was improved by 10 percent as well. A new smaller, lighter starter motor was also fitted to the 1962 models.

23 interiors were available, in a choice of Jacquard Cloth and Saddle-Grain Vinyl, Cord and Leather, Metallic Cloth and Leather, Broadcloth and Leather, or all Leather. Each interior was carefully color matched to the 14 exterior paint colors, which were chosen to be appropriately subdued for an automobile of Imperial's stature.

All of these changes resulted in a 16.9 percent increase in sales over 1961, an immediate declaration that the changes made were effective. Tom McCahill, a well-known automotive journalist of the time said of the 1962 Imperial: "In my opinion the '62 LeBaron is the best sedan made in the world today. I've never driven a car that was as effortless to handle on long trips." Quite lofty words, but Tom would know as he spent virtually every day of his life at that point testing new cars and telling people about them. He had a particular fondness for sports cars, and apparently the Imperial as well.

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