The Imperial content on CC has been a little light lately, so how about this 1955 sedan–the first year the Imperial was a separate make. It was spotted at the Sycamore Mall cruise-in a few months ago.
The ’55 Imperials came only as a four door sedan and two door hardtop. Why there was no convertible is beyond me, but that would be corrected with the fin-tastic 1957 Imperials. These early “100 Million Dollar Look” Imperials do have their charms, though…
There was at least, a custom 1955 convertible made for K.T Keller when he retired http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2009/10/01/hmn_feature5.html
Virgil Exner referred to them as “gunsight” taillights. I’ve heard of them described as “microphone” taillights, but “Lollipop” taillights is a first for me. They do look like a bit of a design afterthought, even if they weren’t, and surely easily damaged sitting exposed atop the fenders. The only iteration of the Imperial freestanding gunsight taillights that I really like is when they reappeared for 1961. They hung down into a notch in the trailing edges of the fins.
PS: Thanks to reading this site, I recognize the car beside the Imperial as a ’66 Chevy. 🙂
My faves are the 62 Imperial taillights.
You are absolutely right, the 62 tailights are perfect- they make up so much of the character what with the fins having been planed off in 62. The 63’s just look sad, no fins, no gunsights. Why bother with an Imperial? These 55 gunsights make a little sense when you consider the caddy fins were barely the size of the tailight in 55. Exner was trying to introduce motiffs from the classic era- like free standing lights and still dress up the rear flanks ala Cadillac.
The 62’s taillights – bullet-like tapered cylinders as I recall – looked very space age and I too like them a lot. I remember when Motor Trend featured the 62 Imperial rear fender and taillight on the cover of their “sneak preview” issue. As a 12 year old, I couldn’t wait to see the whole car. Huge improvement over those unwieldy fins with the separate lights dangling below on the 61. My recollection is when the separately mounted taillights disappeared in 63, sales went up. The cleaning of the separately mounted taillights on the 55-56 and 61-62 Imps and the separately mounted headlights on the 61-63 models had to have been a real chore.
Among all of the big-body Mopars of that time, I prefer the 1956 version to the 55 in almost every case. This Imperial is no different. I have always wondered if these cars would be better remembered if the 300s had not co-opted the Imperial grille. As much as I hate to admit it, this grille looked so much better on the more restrained 300 (and particularly on the 300B)
Also, the fully open rear wheels were really going against the grain at that time. Luxury cars were in full fender skirt mode at that time. I think that the full wheel cutouts worked on sportier luxury cars like the Packard Caribbean or the big Buick Roadmasters, but I like my 50s luxury cars more conservatively dressed.
Is the exhaust supposed to be routed to the two ports in the bumper?
Yes, other cars did that also 55 T-Bird comes to mind.
And many of THOSE were converted to conventional exhaust systems because of rust issues. Must have been a PITA to align them into the donut holes.
Now they seem to have all been restored, but in the 60s most had “replacements”.
I remember bumper discoloration being the big problem. Also, in the days before CATs, the bumpers became hot from the exhaust porting through them and folks would get burned from bumping against them. Hence, the re-routing of the exhaust to below the bumpers began not long after this styling “innovation” was introduced.
I wonder how many of those tail lights were stolen deliberately and accidentally broken off?
Still, some of the coolest tail lights EVER!
i remember the fad of kids stealing the hood ornaments off cars in the ’70s. there was an imperial with the gun sight tail lights in town. i remember staring at it and thinking that it would really impress the kids it school if i broke a tail light off and brought it in. i couldn’t bring myself to do it. i thought the imperial was ridiculously old fashioned but it was so beautifully made and maintained. i remember thinking that it looked as well built as a rolls royce.
I was watching an episode from Season 1 of the old Mission: Impossible television series on Netflix over the weekend and the car used by the bad guys was one of these in limo form. I, too, dig those tail lights! Que the music!
In my biased opinion when ” cool Imperial tail lights ” are mentioned you need look no further than the 1960, or 1967 Imperial.
As some one that loves all things Imperial ,I hate to say it , but I have always thought the 1955 Windsor/New Yorker tail lights looked much better than these sparrow strainers
Ah, a car fit for kings!