Poor Man’s Phantom / Rich Man’s Chrysler

February 18th, 2007

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The 1993 model year was the last time a new Chrysler wearing the Imperial badge rolled off the production line. A defining model for Chrysler, the Imperial was produced nearly without interruption from 1926 to 1975, with production only being suspended during the height of WWII. Chrysler resurrected the long-running name for brief stints in 1981 and 1990. In 1994, it was replaced by the LHS.

Perhaps the return of the Imperial should have been expected when DaimlerChrysler introduced the aggressive retro-styled 300 for 2005. While the 300 revisited some of Chrysler’s past attributes, its overall presentation seemed most inspired by current Bentley and Rolls Royce models.

The upcoming Imperial will bare many similarities to the current 300 and will share the LX platform, which was once the foundation for the Mercedes E-Class. Hints of the Rolls Royce Phantom will be very apparent throughout. There are also many 1960s Imperial design cues found here, including the long hood, short rear deck, free-standing headlights and taillights, and suicide doors.

The Imperial can be easily differentiated from the 300 by its size and the orientation of the cabin. While the 300 has more of a balanced layout, the Imperial’s roofline has positioned further to the rear of the car. This brings more interior space and the noticeably stretched hood. The Imperial is also much larger. The wheelbase has been pulled out three inches, and the overall height has been increased by half a foot. The Imperial reaches 214 inches in length, which is just short of the Bentley Arnage RL ‘Limosine’, and over a foot longer than the 300.

A car this size needs a lot of power, so Chrysler will drop in its most potent engine. A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 will provide this 4,000+ pound car with 340 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. SRT-like acceleration is expected, but the Imperial will probably ride atop a softer suspension.

Front and rear French-style doors open to reveal a significantly higher quality interior. The Imperial is finished with leather seats, abundant California burl wood, and aluminum accents. Luxury elements will include a DVD entertainment system, reclining rear seats, and many soft LED lighting enhancements. The six-figure image which Chrysler hopes to establish will be further supported by the inclusion of many handcrafted items.

If the Imperial arrives as anticipated, along with the new Dodge Challenger in 2008, it will be slated as Chrysler’s new flagship sedan.

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