Imperial Wheels, Hubcaps, and Wheel Covers

A Pictorial Review


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Wheels & Tires -> Wheel Covers -> Identification


Please click on the small image to see a more detailed picture.  Also make sure and click on the years at the top of each section to get a more in-depth discussion on specific Imperial wheel treatments.

1926, 1927, 1928, 1929 & 1930
The Imperial's first wheels were traditional wood spoke wheels.  Each division within Chrysler had different center caps, with Imperial donning an elegant "C" in the early models and an "I" later on. The spokes were normally painted a flat black, but the more expensive models had their spokes painted a coordinated body color.  The wire wheels, pictured below, were a very expensive option, available as early as 1929.
1931, 1932 & 1933
Wire wheels were the norm in early 30's Imperials.  They were usually painted body color (either main or coordinating body color).  Some of the lower line models, specifically the 1931 CJ and1932 CH, used the earlier wooden spokes.  The line drawing on the far right shows some interesting detail about the center cap on these tires, which shows 2 intertwined "C's." There was a thread in 2012 regarding 1931, 1932, and 1933 hubcaps, here is what some of our members discussed: If you have a CG then the hubcaps only have the gothic "C" in the center. The 1932 and the 1933 have the Chrysler Imperial script . Both the ones with the Gothic "C" and the ones with the script are identical in size, shape, and construction — only the center medallion is different. They are interchangeable. The hubcaps have a 7-5/8" diameter. According to a parts book copyright 1934, for 1924-1933 Chrysler parts the 77(W) and CG up thru serial number 7802200 used the same gothic "C" lettered hubcap. After this serial number, the Imperial used the same cap as the 1932-33 Imperial and Custom Imperial.
1934, 1935 & 1936
The famous Airflows of 1934 through 1936 sported steel spoke wheels.  They came with a very distinctive art-deco script on the center cap which reads "Chrysler" and was on all 1934 through 1936 Imperials, though sometimes it was painted and sometimes it was not.  As many may know, Chrysler created 2 Imperial body styles in 1935 and 1936, the Airflow and the Airstream.  The two cars carried different wheels.  The picture at the left shows the Airflow wheels and on the right, the Airstream option, which was usually painted coordinating body colors.
1937 
The hubcaps for the 1937 Imperial were very simple, with the "Chrysler" script written across the middle of the cover.  The wheel's rim was usually painted a coordinating body color, as pictured above, or flat black.
1938, 1939, 1940, 1941 & 1942

'41 Crown Imperial

There were three different wheel covers offered on Imperials for the years 1938-1942.  The cover on the left has the usual "Chrysler" script, painted red, with a small black circle in the background.  It also has elegant vertical trim lines around the exterior.   The second cover (not shown) has the plain red "Chrysler" script on an otherwise plain chrome cover.  The third cover, for the Crown Imperial, features a cloisonné rose on a black background in the center, with "spokes" around the outside.
1946, 1947, & 1948
The post-war era Chrysler Imperial came standard with the plain chrome wheel covers, shown on the left, but the more expensive models, notably the Crown limousines, carried the fancier cover, pictured on the right which has a cloisonné rose on the center cap. 
1949, Early 1950
These wheel covers featured a beautiful red center cloisonné ring with the Chrysler seal shown in it.  The part number is 1140690, and fits all 1949 Imperials, along with the 1950 C-49 imperial up to serial number 7125759, and from 7126217 to 7126424. Also fits C-50 models up to serial number 7813580.
Late 1950, 1951 & 1952
A new design element for the Imperial marque appeared in 1950 with the Imperial "crown", and the wheel covers this year show the new theme in rich splendor.  On a fairly plain chrome cover, the crown emblem is fixed in prominent flare.  All three years carried this same cover.
1953 & 1954
1956 Imperial Wire Wheel
The 1953 and 1954 Imperials wore a very elegant and decorative wheel cover.  Similar to the '50 through '52 covers, these years had a crown emblem in the middle of the cover but added a black background which enhances its dimensional feel.  More ribbing and details were also added.  Staring in 1953, wire wheels provided by the Motor Wheel company became an Imperial option.
1955 & 1956
1956 Imperial Wire Wheel
Pictured on the left is the wheel cover offered on both 1955 and 1956 Imperials.  Both years also offered the very expensive, highly desirable Motor Wheel wire wheels.
1957, 1958 & 1959
The '57 through '59 Imperials came with these very dimensional covers.  The three models all wore slightly different versions of the same cover and the LeBaron had a noticeably fancier wheel cover.  The picture on the top right shows the gold anodized center ring characteristic of the LeBaron wheel covers.  Though wheel diameter increased mid-59, the covers looked identical except the later is larger and has a ring of "cooling fins" around the perimeter.  Click on the years to read lots more discussion about these covers. (Many thanks to Philippe Courant for providing the detailed, bottom two pictures.)
1960
Just as in '59, all Imperial series sported the same covers, except for the LeBaron.  The LeBaron carried the fancier, more ornate wheel covers and the Custom and Crown wearing the plainer versions.  The 2 picture on the top show the Custom (and Crown) series and, on the bottom, the LeBaron.  The basic idea was the same with a fancy center ring on the LeBaron.
1961

Another new year, another new wheel cover for the Imperial.  The 1961 series again carried different covers depending on the model.  The Custom and Crown with the plainer version and the LeBaron with the BEAUTIFUL, memorable wheel cover (Custom and Crown hubcap is pictured at top left, 3 others are for the LeBaron, including a customized gold-plated version).
1962
All 1962 Imperials wore the same wheel covers.  Once again, they were very dimensional and distinctive with a new, decorative red center emblem.
1963
The '63 Imperial wheel covers are very similar to the '62, with the exception of the removal of the "IMPERIAL" script around the outer edge of the cover.  All models sported these covers.
1964
Because of the new body redesign in '64, Chrysler redesigned the wheel covers for the Imperial.  With the new emphasis on formality and understated elements,  the new covers were sleek and refined.  Once again, Imperial only offered one wheel cover option for this year.  A gold eagle embedment is displayed in the very center, and surrounded by a ring painted to match the car's body color.  (The cover shown above, left has this area painted silver to match the silver car on which it resides.)  Surrounding this is a ring of radial ribs which are seen reflected in the smooth surface of the cover's main body.
1965
The 1965 wheel covers had a more reminiscent feel, favoring a combination of the early '60's covers over its previous rendition.  Similar to the '61, the '65 has a recessed center with a protruding center cap.  The cap carries a gold concave inlay with "IMPERIAL" script around the outer edge.  A very interesting wheel cover which shows many dimensions, depending on the angle you are viewing it at.
1966

1966 wheel cover with triple stripe whitewalls

A newly designed wheel cover, which would see many years of use with only minor modifications, appeared in 1966. The center area has a gold eagle emblem, embedded in Lucite and sitting in a dished black background, all surrounded by a separate ring which reads "IMPERIAL" twice. Radiating out from the center ring is a cast piece with numerous radial fins. The area behind the fins is painted matte silver, as is the recessed area near the perimeter of the wheel cover. This cover, like most prior Imperial covers, will sit proud of the wheel by about 1/4-inch, with this area painted black to conceal cooling slots which run completely around the cover (invisible unless you look closely, as the diameter of the wheel cover face itself is larger). The valve stem pokes through the finned casting. All models carry this cover.
1967
The '67 cover appears very similar to the previous year but, upon closer examination, one finds that it no longer has the cooling slots running around the outside edge. The '67 cover therefore sits flush to the wheel. The paint scheme (black in the central well, matte silver behind the radial fins) is identical to 1966. The valve stem moves to the outer edge area. Once again, all models carry this cover.
1968
The '68 cover, again used on all models, is identical to 1967 except for its paint scheme. The dished well in the center, around the gold eagle, is now unpainted stainless steel. The area behind the finned casting is painted black. Some owners choose to detail their wheel covers with a coordinating body color, similar to the one shown at the right.
1969
The wheel cover for all '69 Imperials blends the '67 and '68 paint schemes on the same basic wheel cover. The central well again becomes black (as in '67), but the area behind the finned casting is also black (as in '68). The outermost painted area is again matte silver, as it had been since 1966, but it could also be ordered in a number of colors to match the car body.  The wheel covers in the above example were painted white to match the vinyl top on the car
1970, 1971, 1972 & 1973
Another new wheel cover design appeared in 1970.  The new design would again have a fairly long run with only minor alterations.  This cover has a large center cap which is raised off the wheel and has an eagle stamped in the middle.  Next to that is a strip which is painted flat black and finally a slim outer chrome ring.
1974 & 1975
The '74 and '75 covers look very similar to the '70 through '73s, but these wheel cover's center section is much more shallow.
1976 & 1977

Standard

Optional "Premier"

Optional "Road Wheel"

The '76-77 New Yorker Broughams offered 2 wheel covers, plus an additional exposed-lug treatment. The standard cover features a large, relatively flat center section with a chrome crest similar to the Brougham badges on the car but without the red detailing. An optional Premier wheel cover features a "floating" inner body and a Chrysler script in the center. And the optional "chrome-styled road wheel" includes a trim ring and a chrome central dome that surrounds exposed lugs.
1978

Standard

Optional "Premier"

The '78 New Yorker Brougham again offered two wheel covers plus two choices in road wheels. The standard cover is the same as in 1976-77. The optional Premier wheel cover is redesigned for 1978, with a prominent center that protrudes from the wheel cover on a round "tower" and is capped by a large hexagonal medallion featuring the Brougham crest. The chrome-styled road wheel was still offered and carried over from 1976-77. And four-door hardtops with the rare Salon package option include an exclusive "aluminum-fascia road wheel", which features a cast-aluminum finned dish bolted to a black-painted 7" wide steel wheel. A unique central dome surrounds exposed lugs and includes a plain center cap with a simple ring design. Around the perimeter, a flat trim ring features a reflective white appliqué.

Optional "Road Wheel"

1978 New Yorker Salon special factory wheel

NYB Salon

1981, 1982 & 1983
There were two options for the 1981 through 1983 Imperials.  The standard wheel, pictured on the left, was a cast aluminum wheel with a nice red "jewel" in the center.  The no-charge option was a wire spoke cover.  The center cap reads "IMPERIAL" and sits slightly above the wheel.
1990, 1991, 1992 & 1993

 

The last Imperials all carried the same wheel cover.  It is a very elegant cover that has spokes which are jointed in the center around a cap which is painted gloss black with "IMPERIAL" script written in gold across the center.

 


This page last updated December 5, 2003.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club