1961 Chrysler Imperial Coupe

1961 Chrysler Imperial Coupe

Despite the annual styling changes, all 1960-63 models featured a similar space age dashboard. The steering wheel was squared-off at top and bottom, designed for better leg room and view through the windshield in the straight ahead position. Dashboard lighting was electroluminescent, which used no incandescent lamps: electricity running through a five-layer laminate caused the phosphorescent paint to glow in the dark. Chrysler called it “Panelescent”, and it was shared on some Chrysler models. The effect was eerie and surprisingly modern, with its glowing green face and bright red needles. The 1960-63 models were also united by a distinctive side trim that started above the headlights and that ran at a slight downward angle almost to the end of the rear fender (except in 1963 when it would actually wrap all the way around the rear of the car) that was undercut by a slight indent in the sides from the front until just before the rear wheel housing.

The 1961 model year brought a wholly new front end with free-standing headlights on short stalks in cut-away front fenders (a classical throwback favored by Virgil Exner, used commonly in the 1930s Chryslers. He would continue his look with the modern Stutz), and the largest tailfins ever. Inside, the Imperial gained an improved dash layout with an upright rectangular bank of gauges. The pillared four-door sedan was cancelled and would not return until the 1967 model year. With the downsizing of Lincoln, at 227.1 inches (later increased to 227.8 inches in 1963), the Imperial would once again be the longest non-limousine car made in America though 1966. Sales fell to 12,258, the result of bizarre styling and continued poor quality control.

1961 Chrysler Imperial Coupe