For 1971, in addition to the five standard vinyl top options for Imperial, a "Burgundy" vinyl roof was made available (the other five colors were Green, Gold, Walnut, White, and Black). Over the years, several 1971 Imperial owners have noted that this burgundy top appears to have a paisley pattern to it. While this top pattern is quite interesting from an historical perspective, one must imagine it did not have a strong appeal for the average Imperial buyer in 1971. Chrysler Corporate Offices cancelled the option on November 27, 1970. With only two months or so of production, this vinyl top must be one of the rarest options in Imperial history!
The top was officially called "Burgundy," code V1M. V1M was recommended for exterior color GM8 (Sparkling Burgundy Metallic -- an Imperial-only color) with Burgundy interior, or also with Black or White & Black interiors. The "paisley" pattern was actually supposed to be hidden in the original dark burgundy fabric (see the full story below!), but over time, exposure to the sun and elements caused the burgundy to fade, bringing the "paisley" pattern to prominence, as you can see in the photos below.
In April 2004, Sandy Block, a former Chrysler and Imperial salesman, offered this insight on the paisley roof: The paisley mod roof on the Imperial never was!!! Here's what happened: In 1971, the Imperial vinyl roofs were in their usual grain. In the 11th hour (probably June or July of 1970), the powers that were made the decision to add a "Burgundy" colored roof to go with 1971 Imperial's exclusive (not shared with any other 1971 Mopar) "Sparkling Burgundy Metallic". However, for reasons unknown, they had tons of Mod-Top material left over. The decision had already been made to discontinue that choice, as it had not lived up to sales target projections. With all of this material left over, they had "AN IDEA!" That idea was to use the paisley Mod-Top material, and to PRINT the color (burgundy) onto it. Surely, being a dark color, there'd be no problems . . . or so they thought! If you have a 1971 showroom color & trim book, turn to the back and you'll see the actual material. Look at and rub the pad of a finger across all of the other color selections, and then do the same with the burgundy! See, the burgundy is smooooth, just like the paisley selections on the Dodges & Plymouths were. It should be noted that this paisley SMOOTH material was the sole domain of Barracudas (1969 only) and Dodge Darts and Coronets and Plymouth Satellites of 1969 and 1970. Such was never offered on the full-size Fury, Polara, Monaco, Newport, 300, New Yorker, or Imperial.
Well . . . the 1971s began rolling, and in short order (September 1970), the cars began arriving at their dealers. Immediately, the cars were parked outside, and by November '70, guess what? The "rich" burgundy began to fade, and guess what began to show through?? Right! Paisley! Immediately dealers screamed, and the factory send out some reps to eyeball the examples. When they reported back their findings, Chrysler immediately pulled the plug on the "Burgundy" vinyl roof. For examples that were really bad, the factory offered to replace the top for the buyer with either a black or a white vinyl roof. Others were sold with the burgundy roof still in place, which began to fade later on. After the roof color was pulled, the Sparking Burgundy paint option remained, but was offered with either the white or the black tops, depending upon the interior color selection. No, they never tried THAT cost cutting measure again!
Saavy observers will note the term "paisley" is indeed misleading regarding this particular fabric. The pattern of the top is NOT actually a true paisley. However, the the term "paisley" is commonly applied to the whole series of "Mod Tops" released by Chrysler in 1969 and 1970. Only a couple of them were actually paisley patterns, but the term "paisley" became sort of a generic term that stuck (even to the Dart Swinger top with the big yellow sunflowers). For more information on other Mod Tops, please see the Mod Top Registry.
If anyone ever spots an Imperial with this top, please let us know! We would love to have more pictures of this ultra rare option to add to our website!
|These images show how the fabric faded over time, with the burgundy darkening to near black, and the paisley pattern (not a true paisley, of course) coming to the fore.|
|The images to the left and right are of an original 1971 Imperial with the burgundy roof option. This car was garage-kept for most of its life, so the top has been well preserved, and the original colors still make a dramatic presentation. The car has the Sparkling Burgundy Metallic paint with the Burgundy cloth and leather interior.|