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Convertible 57

Since I have a 1957 Imperial convertible, albeit not (yet  * ) as lustrous as the one shown above, it would be easy for me to fill dozens of pages about the ’57s, driving away the reader with enthusiastic descriptions of their 392 engine and splendid dashboard. Don’t worry, I won’t do that. For more about my car, see "To Know More" below.

The story has been told before of how Chrysler in 1957 overthrew the design primacy of GM, which had brought to the world the wrap-around windshield, profuse chrome, and various enticements thought up by Harley Earl. "Suddenly it’s ’60" was not a slogan launched in vain. Since 1955 Virgil Exner had planned a major coup for 1957, based on styling ideas from Europe, especially Italy. Exner would sculpt a new, low, dashing series of cars, with commanding tailfins that were perfectly integrated with the body. Torsion-bar suspension let him bring down the overall height of a car nearly four inches, and allow for a hood no taller than the fenders. The new system would moreover improve the cars’ handling, even if 14-inch rims cut down the diameter of the brake drums and hence braking quality. The Imperial line too would be lowered, and its perched "sparrow-strainer" taillights brought down to the back surface of the tailfins. Legalization of the four-headlight arrangement helped reduce hood height. The "Flite Sweep Deck" trunk lid, with its false spare-wheel decoration, was a big hit. The Hemi engine was bored out to reach 392 The dashboard, dressed in anodized aluminum, was entirely redesigned, with two huge dials shielded by a hood against glare. Another novelty was convex side windows.

From three Imperial models the choice grew to around 10 with the appearance of three nameless series: The IM1-1. the Crown IM1 and 2, and the prestigious LeBaron IM1, 2, 3 and 4, the latter four introduced in January ’57. For the first time since 1952 a convertible was offered. As for the Crown Imperials (the limousine and 8-passenger sedan), they would be fitted with bodies by Ghia in Italy from factory-supplied chassis and re-shipped to America nearly complete. Chrysler had realized that subcontracting the coachwork, even on the other side of the Atlantic, would cost less than making special body dies in the U.S. Considering the few 8-passenger models sold, this option was the least undesirable. Bear in mind that in the 1950s, Italian skilled-labor wages were far below their American equivalents.

Sales reacted explosively to the new Imperial allure. Production of 1957 models reached 37,557, outstripping even Lincoln. It was the first and last time for such a thing to happen. Only once in the years that followed would Imperial outsell the competition,

* : wroten in 1999 ..



V8 Hemi "Firepower" 392 CI (6425 cc)
Bore x stroke: 4.00 x 3.9 inches.
Horsepower: 325 hp at 4600 rpm
Torque: 425 ft/lbs at 2800 rpm
Compression ratio: 9.25  / 1.
Carburator: 4 BBL Carter WCFB 2590 S
Electrical: 12 V.


Automatic transmission  "Torqueflite" 3 speeds
Converter ratio: 2,7 /1
gear selection: 5 pushbuttons (left-hand side of inst. panel): N, D, 1, 2, R.
Ratios:  1° : 2,45 ; 2°  : 1,45 ; Drive: 1 ;  Reverse : 2,2.
Rear axle: 3,18 / 1

Suspension, brakes

Front, type  independent, torsion-bar with ball joints, power steering : "Coaxial Power steering".
Rear, type semi elliptic leaves
Brakes: power, 4 drums ( 12 in.)
Parking brake (drum) at rear of transmission


Wheelbase: 129 in. (3,28 m)
Length x width :  224 x 81,2.
Weight: 4640 to 4940 lbs
Height: 57.5 in loaded
Tires 9.50 x 14

Production and prices

IM1-1 sedan 4dr: 5654  at  $4838
IM1-1 Southampton 4dr: 7527. at  $4838
IM1-1 Southampton 2dr: 4885. at  $4736
IM1-2 Crown sedan 4dr: 3642. at  $5406
IM1-2 Crown Southampton 4dr: 7843. at  $5406
IM1-2 Crown Southampton 2dr: 4199. at  $5269
IM1-2 Crown convertible 2dr: 1167. at  $5598
IM1-4 LeBaron sedan 4dr: 1729. at  $5743
IM1-4 LeBaron Southampton 4dr: 911. at  $5743
IM1- ? Crown Imperial limousine: 36 at  $12000

Options (some of them..)

- A/C  "model 900"
- Gazoline heater
- Pw. windows and seats on IM1-1 (std on IM1-2 and 4).
- Solex glass
- "Electro touch 920" Radio
- Highway Hi Fi phonograph Columbia.
- Flite sweep deck lid (simulated spare tire)
- "imperial eagle" hood ornament
-  "twin strut" mirrors


Serial number (on right front door post):
C57 1001 to C57 36890
Engine number
(on the block in a flat space behind the water pump):
CE 57 1001 to CE 57 .....
Serial and engine numbers are not the same.
1957 Imperials were introduced  30 October 1956 (except LeBaron and "Ghia")


TO KNOW MORE : Ghia Crown Imperial limousines
Body (data) plate codes "my Crown convertible" (see also " '57 Imp. conv. pics)
57 National & Hearse funeral cars How to tell apart the IM1-1, Crown and LeBaron
'57 Imperial convertible pics NAPA part numbers for 57/58
Rust and rustproofing 1957-’59 original ads


1957 IMPERIAL photo gallery
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.

My convertible 57 dashboard Sedan Crown Sedan 57 from GB IM1-1 2dr H/T
My convertible when I bought it (1994) in England: no rust , need resto .... Single headlight cars are scarce Imperial Crown 4 doors sedan English '57 Imperial Coupé "Southampton" IM1-1. Pic from the Prestige Catalog
owner manual My 392 B. Richmond sedan interior Dash illumination Funeral car
"57 owner manual" cover. B. Richmond and Imperial 57 (at Mirande festival 1998)
Crown 2 dr H/T Same, side view 2 dr/HT from Luxembourg 2 dr/HT from Luxembourg LeBaron with moon roof And 40 years later..
Crown from East France. Side view. 2 dr H/T from Luxembourg with non original wire wheels .. This car belonged to the Luxembourg royal family Same car but with the french president Cotty (1959)
57 + 61 '57 in Iran LeBaron with moon roof LeBaron with moon roof "Shell pink" 2dr-HT
Two french Imperials LeBaron "skyliner" !! This pic shows well the transparent roof ! 57shellpk1.jpg (37304 octets) 57shellpk2.jpg (27708 octets)

The '57 Imperial convertibles have a "special" page with lot of pics : go here

Elvis derrière son cabriolet 57, acheté après le tournage du film "loving you"

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