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Chrysler Revives Imperial Nameplate for Luxury Concept

Imperial Takes Style Cues from the Past
The Chrysler Group has a history of presenting stunning concepts, particularly at the North American International Auto Show. Some of these reach production, though the 2006 Imperial concept is still just a concept. The Imperial may have a weaker business case than the Dodge Challenger it was introduced next too, but with it Chrysler explores how far up the luxury chain they may be able to reach. Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents were on hand for the unveiling, complete with star of Desperate_Housewives Eva Longoria flubbing her line. Expected to say she was desperate to have one, she turned out to be not that desperate to have one. No matter, in the end, as the concept won best in show from a 100-person Detroit News readers’ panel.

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The Imperial is envisioned as a flagship sedan, and looks to a lengthened version of the Chrysler 300 (LX) platform, though it has an additional seventeen inches between the axles and another six inches in height. This allows for the long, narrow proportions the company was looking for as well as the room to pamper rear-seat passengers. While the Dodge Charger borrowed inspiration from the Charger of old and the Dodge Challenger concept was a modern replica of the 1970 Challenger, Imperial looked to the 1930s and 1950s sedans that also bore the name.
Frankly, the styling of the Imperial has been very controversial no matter what the Detroit News poll says. Pundits have been ripping it apart. One design chief we talked to wondered what has happened to Chrysler’s vaunted styling team? Another senior designer thought it had interesting cues from the side view but that the front and rear designs were abominable. We know Chrysler can do a tasteful, very upscale Imperial. We’ll wait to see the next one.


Striking Appearance, Outside and In
The face of the Imperial is dominated by a tall, upright grille in the style of Rolls-Royce, though the polished aluminum houses of the projector-beam headlights speak to the Imperials of the 1930s, at least by design intent. The independent circular taillights are reminiscent of the gun sight taillights of the old days. As this is not the old days, below the round taillights are slender LED units for park, turning, and reverse lights. Though both the hood and decklid are V-shaped, the decklid is also reminiscent of the latest 7-Series, a look that is becoming all too common.

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The Imperial’s doors were hinged at the A- and C-pillars, opening in the same manner as French doors. This arrangement allows easier ingress and egress, and also gives you doors large enough to fling passersby aside, should they get too close as you exit the vehicle. These doors opened to a two-tone interior full of sumptuous materials and unique approaches to ambient lighting. Seats for four were covered in leather and suede, while California burl wood and metallic-like accents were found on the dash and switches. Unlike other luxury concept and production vehicles, the Imperial did with fewer electronic gadgets rather than more, though rear seat passengers could still watch separate movies with the dual-view center console screen and wireless headphones. The gauge cluster was patterned after the Imperials of old.
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Chrysler endowed the Imperial with the proven 340HP 5.7L HEMI V8 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, which does not quite live up to the majesty found in Rolls-Royce Phantom or Bentley Azure V12 powertrains but Chrysler promised could move the Imperial to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Wheels were an impressive twenty-two inches, filling the wheelwells with authority.

3 Comments

  • andre egans| July 3, 2008 at 6:22 pm Reply

    I went to the L.A. auto show just to see the imperial, I was so let down that my dream car was not their.
    that car is going to sell like hot cakes and I’m first in line..

  • Chris Donaldson| September 16, 2006 at 3:58 pm Reply

    When can we expect the Chrysler Imperial Concept to be on the market and between what price range?
    Chris:
    Chrysler Imperial is still a concept, but Chrysler is studying whether it is viable. If approved, a 2009 or 2010 time frame would be indicated. Pricing would be above the 300C – so think mid-$forties to mid-$fifties.
    VehicleVoice

  • Xangman| January 28, 2006 at 10:53 pm Reply

    Imperial’s design team prefers to copy other vehicle designs rather than earn its salaries.
    Why the Rolls Royce wheels? BMW 7 series deck lid? Come on, you can do better than that.

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