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1964 Imperial Crown Convertible in Roman Red

1964 Imperial Crown Convertible in Roman Red

1964 IMPERIAL
 THE INCOMPARABLE IMPERIAL
CONTENTS:

1964 Imperial Auctions

Production/Specifications

ARTICLE:
The Incomparable Imperial

Exterior Paint Colors

Interior Trim

Standard Equipment

Optional Equipment

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THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY?

Image: 1964 Imperial Crown Convertible interior

You've heard the saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Does it make a difference if the designer imitates his own design? That's exactly what happened in the 1964 model year. Word is that some folks were doing a double-take in the fall of 1963...was that the new Lincoln that just passed by? It sure looked like one, even had the spare tire shape on the deck lid, which was certainly a Lincoln styling trait. Upon closer inspection, some were shocked when they noticed that what they had mistaken for a new Lincoln was actually a new Imperial! And there's a good reason for the confusion. The same man was responsible for both designs, and his name was Elwood Engel.

Engel was key to the legendary styling of the 1961 Lincoln Continental, styling which would establish a "Lincoln look" for the brand and carry Lincoln forward for many years, which was certainly something Chrysler would have liked to accomplish for its flagship Imperial line. The clean lines of the 1961 Lincoln were simple, refined, distinctive, and elegant. Engel's interpretation of his design for the Imperial lost nothing that he gave Lincoln, and updated it with a fresh new look that was certainly a nod to Lincoln, but Imperial carried it off beautifully, and it became distinctly Imperial's own.

The beautiful Imperials for 1964 were completely new from front to rear, inside out. The Virgil Exner styling was now history. The classic free-standing headlamps of 1961-1963 were gone, replaced by an attractive new two section grille that dominated the front of the car. Dual headlamps were mounted within the outboard egg crate grille sections, and combination parking and turn signal lights were contained within the three piece front bumper, below the headlamps. A body-colored section separated the two grille sections, and was wider at the top near the hood than at the bottom, by the front bumper. The front fenders angled outward at the top, and the bumper continued this angle, giving the front end a wide V shape when viewed head on. A center crease ran down the center of the hood, between the grille sections, to the bumper.

Squared-off body sides were unadorned, except for a feature line that ran high up on the car, from front to rear, which faded into the surfaces at each end. Down low, a chamfered line ran between the front and rear wheel openings, giving the sides just a touch of an angle. A bright molding ran along the top of the body side from front to rear, another Lincoln-like styling touch. Both the front fender and rear quarter panels leaned forward, an angle that was mimicked in the wide C-pillar angle as well. The upper roof design in this area was certainly a nod to the Ford Thunderbird, which was known for its formal roof lines.

On the rear quarters, an unobtrusive flared body line began above the middle of the rear wheel opening, and widened slightly as it reached the rear bumper, which wrapped around the sides of the car and simulated the rear quarter panel design. This body line emphasized Imperial's "forward motion" concept, which gave the impression the car was moving even when standing still.

The center-opening rear doors were not repeated on the four door Imperial models, but another distinctive Lincoln styling touch was used instead. The rear bumper was a two-piece design, and the upper section had a circular opening in it that hid the fuel filler door, which was the center of attention and was disguised by the addition of a large Imperial Eagle emblem. The ends of the bumper were narrow and pointed, which made the upper rear bumper section look like a two-bladed airplane propeller! Ribbed metal filled the upper bumper from the center section to the area where the rectangular back-up lights and arrow-shaped taillights were housed. The taillights were blended into the design very well, and were small—so small in fact that Chrysler got complaints about them from customers.

Above the rear bumper, the deck lid had a squared-off, simulated spare tire hump shape that widened at the base of the deck lid, and was continued into the lower half of the rear bumper, interrupted by the propeller design in between. The rear surface of the deck lid leaned in to match the angle of the rear quarter panels, and the hump area protruded out from the deck lid. A discreet crease line ran down the center of the deck lid, all the way down to the rear bumper. The overall look was incredibly elegant and beautiful, as well as a huge departure for the Imperial. The license plate was moved to the left side of the bumper, tucked under the left taillight and back-up lights. Imperial appeared in chrome block lettering on the deck lid, in a semi-circular shape just above the center Eagle emblem, and above that a tiny key hole for the deck lid lock was so small it didn't require any disguising.

Image: 1964 Imperial modelsThe Crown Coupe and LeBaron models received a smaller, more formal backlight, measuring just 690 square inches. Both could be ordered with an optional vinyl roof for the first time, if desired.

Inside the glamorous new Imperial, a full-width instrument panel was all new, and contributed to the spaciousness of the front seating. A ribbon-style speedometer was flanked on the left by Chrysler's push-button transmission controls and a clock on the right. Below the speedometer, at center, were turn signal indicators, and a trip odometer and odometer, below which were gauges for oil pressure, temperature, alternator, and fuel level, with heating and air conditioning controls on the extreme right, and a "Sentry Signal" warning light that called the driver's attention to the gauges, one of which was in need of attention, on the left. A concave, ribbed chrome die casting decorated the panel.

A flat section in front of the driver, angled upward to meet the instruments and had a brushed facing. The headlight switch, outside mirror control, and wiper-washer controls were on this panel to the left of the steering column, and optional Auto Pilot and ignition switch were located to the right.

The 1964 Imperial was offered in 17 exterior paint colors, which were complimented by 10 different interior shades, in Jacquard Nylon Cloth and Leather in 4 colors for the Crown Four-Door or 5 colors for the LeBaron; 3 shades of Pebbleweave Nylon Cloth and Leather for the Crown Four-Door; Nylon Bedford Cord in 5 colors for the Crown Coupe; or Top-Grain Leather in 8 pearlescent colors for the Crown models and 5 colors for LeBarons. Optional vinyl roofs were available in three color choices, dark blue, black or white, and the Crown Convertible top was offered in two colors, black or white.

A new circular, deep dish steering wheel replaced the oblong wheel used previously, and instruments were now lit by incandescent bulbs, rather than the more expensive electroluminescent lighting that had been used since 1960. Most of the changes being made at this time were in a move to make Chrysler more mainstream. While many liked the oblong steering wheels and push button transmissions, there were some who did not. They often looked elsewhere for new cars, but Chrysler wanted them to consider a new Chrysler product, so the obvious solution was to address their objections. It was a delicate balance to not distance current customers in an attempt to attract new ones.

1964 became the second best selling year for the make, falling in line behind 1957.


1964 Imperial Navigation:
Production/Specifications | Paint | Trim | Standard Equipment | Optional Equipment

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