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1958 Chrysler Imperial D`Elegance Concept

The Imperial was designed by Virgil Exner and hailed by Chrysler as 'The Finest Car America Has Yet Produced.' A very bold statement considering some of the masterpieces produced by Packard, Cadillac, and countless others. This was Chrysler's first vehicle to have a wraparound windshield. This was Chrysler's interpretation of an actual luxury automobile. Produced in limited numbers, only 11,430 examples were created in 1955.


The Chrysler Imperial D'Elegance was a styling exercise designed by Virgil Exner, and its existence remained a concept car. Many of the styling cues would eventually be used on other lines, such as the Valiant and Imperials. The sloping trunk profile was incorporated into the 1960 Valiant, and the sweep-spear on the side of the car would later be used by the Valiant but positioned in the other direction. The fins, suspended lighting, and dashboard were (with alterations) used on the 1961 to 1963 Imperials. The taillight pods were part of the 1962 Dodge model lineup. Other design elements were used by the Lebaron, Custom, and crowned Imperial by Ghia.


The Imperial d'Elegance Concept was a combination of forward-thinking and the inclusion of popular design elements. It had a wraparound windshield, covered rear wheels, and rear tail fins that were popular during the late 1950s. The flush door handles, squared-off steering wheel, and hidden headlights were new design ideas introduced to the automotive community.


Supposedly Exner was never pleased with this car, but it is just chock full of embryonic design themes that he used in modified form on production cars within a few years.


- The greenhouse and sloping trunk profile went to the '60 Valiant

- The sweep spear on the side of the car appeared on the Valiant, but going in the other direction

- The fin treatment with suspended lighting appeared on the '61 Imperial

- The dashboard appears to be virtually identical to the 61-63 Imperial

- The taillight pods (minus the fins above!) appeared on the '62 Dodge

- The eyebrows and hood shape appeared on the '60 Imperial


It is difficult to see in these photos, but the door handles are most unusual - the buttons are positioned right in the middle of the cut lines of the door openings. How did they work, how were they attached so they wouldn't bind the unopened door, and what was the point esthetically?


Source: Chris Hawkins via www.imperialclub.com; conceptcarz

Images: Mario Buonocunto Concept Cars Page; www.petersen.org