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1955 imperial Newport (owner: H. André member of  the ACCF)

1955 is a symbolic date for Chrysler Corporation. To the four familiar brands - Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, Plymouth - was added a fifth: IMPERIAL. This would not be a sub-luxury car from shared body dies, but a rival to Cadillac and Lincoln. That was the thinking of Chrysler executives, at any rate: the company needed a prestige brand, not just a dressed-up New Yorker. The public didn’t see it that way and went on calling the new car the Chrysler Imperial.
One piece of good news doesn’t travel alone. Chrysler unveiled its first cars conceived by Virgil Exner. He had worked in the company’s design studio since 1950, and was named "Chief of Styling" in ’52. There was plenty of work for him to do, for the 1950-’54 models had quite conservative lines that drove away younger customers. Not even the new Hemi engine could atone for the stolid appearance of the New Yorker and other (Chrysler Imperial) Crowns.

Exner’s ideas, already glimpsed in the Ghia show cars, burst on the scene in 1955, taking GM and Ford by surprise. The Forward Look was born and would leave its mark on competitors, especially after its second development in 1957.
To return to the Imperial: The heavy bodies of 1954 are swept aside in favor of a superb car derived from the three much-admired "parade phaetons" that were Exner’s first product for Chrysler. One sees the characteristic arched wheel openings, the sculpted flanks, and little touches from the show cars, for example tail lights perched on the fenders (these were seen on the K310 and the d’Elegance), a mark that would stay with Chrysler for 10 years.

Crown Imperial C70

Imperial Parade phaëton.

There was no problem on the engineering side. The "Hemi" engine of 331 (same displacement that Cadillac used), driving a two-speed Powerflite automatic transmission, propelled the two-ton car with ease. The price was set at $141 more than a Cadillac 60 Special, to emphasize that this was not just a luxurious Chrysler…
In this first year of the new Imperial, only two C69 models rode a 130-inch wheelbase: A four-door sedan and a two-door hardtop called the Newport. Still, a prestigious name needed to offer a limousine, so one was drawn from the "Crown Imperial" lineage of earlier years. Two C70 models were presented on a 149.5 in. wheelbase: A Crown Imperial 8-passenger sedan and an 8-passenger limousine, the latter having a glass divider behind the chauffeur. The styling of these Crown Imperials was like that of the C69 except for a smaller rear window to shield distinguished occupants from envious inspection by people in cars that followed. On the other hand, the 1952 Crown Imperial’s disc brakes were not retained, a regrettable omission. A cabriolet prototype was built but it never went into production.


V8 Hemi "Firepower" 331,1 CI (5424 cc)
Bore x stroke: 3.81 x 3.63 inches.
Horsepower: 250 hp at 4600 rpm
Torque: 340 ft/lbs at 2800 rpm
Compression ratio: 8,5 / 1.
Carburetor: 4bbl Carter WCFB 2126 S
Electrical: 6 V


Automatic transmission "Powerflite" 2 speeds
Converter ratio: 2,6 /1.
Lever location on front instrument panel: 4 positions: Neutral, Low, Drive, Reverse.
Ratios: Low 1,72  ; Drive 1 : Reverse 2,39
Rear axle: 3,54 / 1

Suspension, brakes

Front, type  independent, with coil springs, power steering "full time Coaxial".
Rear, type semi elliptic leaves
Brakes: power, 4 drums ( 12 in.)
Parking brake (drum) at rear of transmission


Wheelbase. 130 in. (3,30 m) on C69 / 149,5 in. (3,79 m) on C70.
Length  x width : 223 x 79.1 in. (C69).
Weight: 4565 lbs (C69), 5200 lbs (C70).
Height: 61.2 in loaded
Tires 8.20 x 15 (C69) / 8.90 x 15 (C70)

Production, prices

C69 sedan 4dr: 7840 at $4483
C69 Newport 2 dr H/T: 3418  at $4720
C70 sedan 8 pass. : 45  at $7603
C70 limo 8 pass. : 127  at $7737
+ 1 convertible (special body) + 1 chassis
TOTAL 1955 IMPERIAL :   11432 cars

Options (some of them..)

A/C "Air temp" (in the trunk, air intakes on top of rear fenders)
Power windows
Power front seat "4 ways", standard on C70
Leather front seat, standard on C70
Motor-Wheel 52 spokes wire wheels (not Kelsey Hayes..)


Serial number (on right front door post):
C55 1001 à C55 12464

Engine number (on the block in a flat space behind the water pump): CE 1055 to CE ....
Serial and engine numbers are not the same.


Presentation to the public: November 17, 1954

serial number


TO KNOW MORE : Paint color tables
K.T. Keller's 55 convertible French Crown Imperial (limo)


1955 IMPERIAL photo gallery
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.


parade Phaéton Powerflite sedan 55 Newport 55 Newport 55
Phaéton de parade lors d'une manifestation des "Shriners" Coupe de la nouvelle boïte automatique "PowerFlite" à 2 vitesses. 1955 Sedan Intérieur du coupé Newport de H.André Newport 55 lors d'un meeting ACCF.
Firepower sedan 55 Newport 55 in  L.A Newport 55 "crown"
Le Firepower 331 CI (extrait du catalogue publicitaire, ce qui explique les vives couleurs qui ne sont pas celles des moteurs réels..) 1955 Sedan photographiée à Sonora (CA) le 1/5/97 lors d'un rassemblement Imperial Newport de Los Angeles Newport 55 Médaillon de montant de custode (Newport)


Hubert and his '55 Newport in Sweden (july 2001). A trip of more 4000 miles..


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