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Imperial 1956

After the "Hundred-Million-Dollar Look" of 1955, a pause in styling was understandable. The Imperial, like other Chrysler cars, strove to keep the best of the ’55 models and remedy their few deficiencies. As such the 1956 models can be claimed as true classics, while the 1961 Imperial was to be the most extravagant of the line. For 1956 Exner did little to change the general body styling, but lengthened it somewhat (3 in. longer wheelbase, 6.7 in. overall, outdoing Cadillac and Lincoln), and raised the profile of the rear fenders - the beginning of the tailfin era, which was to draw Detroit into its worst excesses. Except for hooded headlights, the front of the car remained unchanged. The sides are accented with a strip running all the way back to a bumper integrated with the fenders. Under the hood, the FirePower grows to 354 cu. in., and gains 30 hp in doing so. There is a new gearshift control - four or five pushbuttons and a cable take the place of the peculiar 1955 shift lever. This device lasted until 1963. I write "4 or 5" not to designate an option but because in spring 1956 a new automatic transmission was introduced, the three-speed Torqueflite, which supplanted the Powerflite on all high-end Chrysler cars. Torqueflite is regarded as the best transmission available into the 1970s. It was simple and reliable, with exceptional performance; it and the Firepower engine made up a well-matched and formidable package. Ever-increasing demands on the car’s electrical system brought a transition to 12 volts in 1956.

berline (sedan) 56

1956 "Southampton" 2 dr/HT

The rather narrow range of body styles in 1955 was widened with the offering of a sedan without door posts (5 years later than GM) called the Southampton. The coupé without doorposts, generally called a hardtop, dropped its Newport name and became another Southampton. That name continued in succeeding years to designate an Imperial without doorposts.

The eight-passenger bodies, sedan and limousine, retained their C-70 or Crown Imperial designation and preserved their 1955 styling, except for the front-to-back strip along the flanks, now expressed by five small vertical bands on the back fenders. C70 production remained quite low (< 230) and price unchanged. After 1956 Chrysler stopped building these cars in its own factory and subcontracted the ’57 models to Ghia.

We can’t pass over in silence the new "Highway Hi-Fi" option built for Chrysler by Columbia - a 16 2/3 rpm turntable playing, through the car radio, special ultra-microgroove discs. Each 7-in. disc carried 40 minutes of music, the sound quality being at least debatable. From the "To Know More" link below you can find a list of the records that Columbia pressed for these Highway Hi-Fi’s in 1955. A few French performers, such as M. Legrand, were on the roster. Today a surviving Highway Hi-Fi will cost you about $1000, discs not included!

1956 Crown Imperial. Note that the rear is the same than 55



V8 Hemi "Firepower" 354 CI (5802 cc)
Bore x stroke: 3.94 x 3.63 inches.
Horsepower: 280 hp at 4600 rpm
Torque: 370 ft/lbs at 2800 rpm
Compression ratio: 9.0  / 1.
Carburator: 4 BBL Carter WCFB 2314 S
Electrical: 12 V. As in 55, the power steering pump is at rear of the generator.
0 to 60 mph: 12,8 s.  Max. speed: 104 mph


Automatic transmission "Powerflite" 2 speeds.or "Torqueflite" 3 speeds
Converter ratio: 2,6 /1 (2,7/1 with Torqueflite).
gear selection: 4 or 5 pushbuttons (left-hand side of inst. panel): N, D, L, R or N, D, 1, 2, R.
Ratios: "Powerflite": Low 1,72  ; Drive 1 : Reverse 2,39 / "Torqueflite": 1° : 2,45 ; 2°  : 1,45 ; Drive: 1 ;  Reverse : 2,2.
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: 133 in. (3,38 m) on C73 / 149,5 in. (3,79 m) on C70.
Length x width :  223 x 79.1 in. (C73).
Weight: 4575 lbs (C69 4dr sed), 5200 lbs (C70).
Height: 61.2 in loaded
Tires 8.20 x 15 (C69) / 8.90 x 15 (C70)

Production, prices

C73 sedan 4dr: 6821. at $4832
C73 Southampton 2 dr H/T: 2094 at $5094
C73 Southampton 4 dr H/T sedan: 1543 at $5225
C70 sedan 8 pass. : 51 at $7603
C70 limo 8 pass. : 175 at $7737
10684 cars

Options (some of them..)

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


Serial number (on right front door post):
C56 1001 to C56 11715
Engine number (on the block in a flat space behind the water pump):
CE 56 1001 to CE 56 11750
Serial and engine numbers are not the same.
1956 Imperials were introduced  21 October 1955


TO KNOW MORE : Paint color tables
The Columbia "Highway Hi Fi phonograph" List of 1956 and 1957 Columbia Highway Hi-Fi Records


1956 IMPERIAL photo gallery
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.

56   "convertible" sedan 56"taillight" Crown Imperial Rainier, Prince of Monaco
"convertible" 1956 (New Yorker body ? ). Imperial 1956 sedan Limousine Crown Imperial The prince Rainier de Monaco liked the "belles américaines" ..

Randy Still's Crown Imp

Norman W's. 2dr HT

2 dr HT (southampton)

French sedan

French sedan, rear view


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