Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1926 -> History
In 1926, Walter P. Chrysler made a bold move and decided to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln in the luxury car field. Though Imperial had been a body style name designation in 1924 and 1925, Walter P. decided to split off Imperial and create a daring new personal luxury automobile. Chrysler offered 5 Imperial body styles: a four-passenger roadster, a four-seat coupe on a 120 inch wheelbase, five-passenger sedan, and a seven-passenger top-of-the-line limousine. The new "80" had a longer and heavier frame, a bigger engine, a choice of three different wheelbases and sold for about twice as much as the traditional G-70 series. The Imperial's new engine was slightly larger than the standard inline 6 with improvements including pistons made from Lynite aluminum alloy. This engine was developed by J.B. Macauley. To deal with the extra weight, the Imperials had a 4.60:1 rear end, which created impressive top-end pulling power.
As with many early automotive designations, E-80 was named for its top speed of 80 mph. Over the road performance was quite remarkable and auto dealer/accessory inventor, Floyd Clymer, drove a stock Imperial from Denver to Kansas City in June 1926 in 13 hours and 56 minutes. This set a record for production cars for distances of 500 miles or more. Remember, this accomplishment was performed on 702 unpaved, heavily rutted miles of roads and not a smooth track.
Another impressive accomplishment for the '26 Imperial was the setting of the transcontinental speed record by L. B. Miller and J. E. Weiler. They drove a five passenger sedan a total of 6,721 miles in only a week!! Mobile Economy Run...here we come!!!
And finally, among its most notable achievements for 1926, an E-80 Imperial roadster was chosen to pace the first-ever Indianapolis 500. This wonderful switch of fate helped illustrate the car's sportiness combined with luxury... a combination that would be a mainstay of the Imperial marque in the 50 illustrious years to come.
1926 Chrysler Imperial E-80 Indianapolis 500 pace car driven by Louis Chevrolet.
Information on this page was obtained from The Standard Catalog of Chrysler 1924-1990 by John Lee and Chrysler Chronicles by James Flammang.