Imperial was the Chrysler Corporation’s luxury automobile brand from 1955 to 1975, and again from 1981 to 1983.
The Imperial name had been used since 1926, as a Chrysler luxury model, the Chrysler Imperial. However, in 1955, the company spun off Imperial into its own make and division to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac.
Imperial would see new or modified body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as technologies that would filter down to Chrysler Corporation’s other models.
First generation (1955–1956, C70)
For the 1955 model year, the Imperial was launched and registered as a separate marque, apart from the Chrysler brand. It was a product of the new Imperial Division of Chrysler Corporation, meaning that the Imperial would be a make and division unto itself, and not bear the Chrysler name.
Chrysler Corporation sent notices to all state licensing agencies in the then-48 states, informing them, that the Imperial, beginning in 1955, would no longer be registered as a Chrysler, but as a separate make .
Chrysler introduced the “100 Million Look” Styling by Virgil Exner, who would define Imperial’s look (and the look of cars from the other four Chrysler divisions) from 1955 to 1963.
Even as early as in 1954, Chrysler Corporation ads at the time began to visibly and consciously separate The Imperial from the Chrysler Division car line in the eyes of the public, to prepare for the big change coming in 1955.
Once the “Imperial” brand was introduced, Cadillac no longer used the “Imperial” name for its top-level limousines starting in 1955.