1955 Imperial Spotter's Guide


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The 1955 Imperial was designed by Virgil Exner and was based on his landmark 1952-55 Parade Phaeton.  The slogan "Forward Look" was applied to all Chrysler cars this year and most of the advertisements for the Imperial use this phrase.  Another common theme in advertising this year was the famed, "Hundred Million Dollar Look".   Virgil Exner knew he had to design a remarkable car for this year because 1955 saw Imperial become its own make, no longer a top of the line model.  This restyling is one of the freshest and most remarkable Chrysler had ever offered!!!  

There were 3 body styles offered this year:

 

THE NEWPORT (2-door hardtop)

Look here for more examples of the Newport.

                      

THE CUSTOM SEDAN (4-doors)

Look here for more examples of the sedan.

 

THE CROWN (limousine)

Look here for more examples of the Crown.


Click on the specific area of the 1955 Imperial that you would like to read more about OR scroll down for our complete listing.

 

 

 

 

EXTERIOR CHROME

 

The front chrome on the 1955 was very distinctive and elegant.  The new "eggcrate" grill, the full chromed headlight bezels, the wide and impressive bumper and the wonderful eagle hood emblem were all new for 1955.  Notice how the turn signals are cleanly integrated into the bumper.
 

 

The rear chrome was comprised of the taillights, the rear script, the bumper, and the decorative eagle emblem.  Notice the exhaust holes in the bumper...there was no unsightly pipe hanging off the back of this majestic vehicle.  This is unique for '55 only. 
 

 

Another distinctive piece of chrome on the 1955's is the chrome that extends from the rear bumper to the rear wheel well.  This piece is ribbed and unique to the 1955.
 

 

The side chrome is also unique to the '55.  This side picture of a Salmon Newport demonstrates how the side chrome almost runs the full length of the car.  This chrome piece is commonly called a "spear".
 

 

Here is a detailed picture of the hood and C-pillar emblems after they have been repaired and re-chromed.  These badges were 24-karat gold plated.

 

A nice close-up of the front two emblems and their relative distance from the grille.  This design was carried over into the 1956 Imperial.  The interior of the eagle badge was painted black, gold and red while the Imperial emblem was gold and chrome plated.
 

The exterior mirrors on the 1955 sit on the left side, driver's door.  They are made to be adjusted once and left alone...there is no remote mirror control for this model.

 

TAILLIGHT

 

The new taillights for 1955 were available only on the Imperial.  They are commonly referred to as "Gunsight" taillights and sit on a strip of chrome that covers the rear corner of the car. 

 


 

DRIVE-TRAIN

 

All Imperials sported the 331 Hemi engine which had 250 HP.  This engine was all NEW for 1955.  This picture clearly shows the name of the engine, Firepower, which appeared on the exhaust manifolds.
 

 

A full shot of this massive engine.  
 

 

The all new two-speed "Powerflite" transmission was used in the Imperial this year.  Another first for Chrysler and its new top of the line make...nothing was too good for the Imperial!!

 


 

INTERIOR

 

This perfectly restored '55 interior shows how comfortable and spacious this car is.  Notice the shift lever on the dash by the steering wheel and the clock on the dash above the glove box.  
 

 

The grille-like speaker opening (to the right of the glove box) is wonderfully incorporated into the flow of the dash.  It is also a logical design because there is nothing to crack or deteriorate.
 

 

            The clock option this year came in four packages: no clock, a clock in the dash (previous picture),  in the steering wheel (see picture at the left) and finally you could combine the options and get a clock in the steering wheel AND on the dash (a clock for the driver and the passenger).
 

 

Another interested, 1955-only detail is the shift lever.  Shown at the left, this lever sits on the dash and is moved up and down as the driver selects the desired gear.  Also notice the radio below the 5 control knobs (see detail below).  .
 

 

Here is a close-up detailed shot of the dash switches.  There are five of these that run across the center section of the dash, above the radio.  They are, starting from left, "Lights" (meaning headlights), "Wipers", "Lighter", "Panel" (meaning dash lighting), and "Mapdome" (which means dome light).  A wonderful design feature of these knobs is that they are molded into the dash and are incredibly solid and easy to operate.  They sound a deep "clunk" when they are actuated by the driver or passenger.
 

 

The back seat of the Newport has plenty of leg and body room.  Both armrests stylishly hide away when not is use.  This picture also demonstrates the seat design: the main part of the seat is covered  standard in Imperial Eagle broadcloth with a cloth insert or, the more deluxe, leather with cloth inserts.  The cloth insert for the leather was the same as the cloth insert for the standard interior.
 

 


 

WINDSHIELDS AND GLASS

 

This was the first year for wrap-around windshields at Chrysler corporation and it was a beautiful adaptation.  The rear wrap-around was free of all unsightly bars or pillars and created a wonderful look at the rear of the Imperial

 


 

TIRES AND WHEELS

 

The 1955 Imperial had optional Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels.  The original-looking biased ply Firestone tires are reproductions which can be purchased at Coker Tires.  
 

 

The Imperial came standard with a set of these hubcaps.

 


 

BODY SCRIPT

 

 

 


This page was last updated November 17, 2003.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club