In 1967 a new Imperial was released and Car Life magazine was there to test it. This time the Imperial carried unibody construction, in keeping with the way all other Chrysler Corp. vehicles were built. It was a much-needed update, as the new body finally allowed to drop some outdated bits like the long-running wraparound windshield.
So, was the new Imperial a good contender in the luxury leagues? Chrysler was certainly putting all its best, but the question remained: Would the new Imperial have that indefinable quality of prestige to take sales away from Cadillac and Lincoln?
The review basically confirms what Imperial fans have known all this time; when it came to cold stats, the Imperial was as good a product as anything from Cadillac or Lincoln. Chrysler had spared no expenses in making the Imperial a quality product, and in ride, noise levels, seating comfort, acceleration, and cornering, the vehicle clicked all the right boxes. If anything could be questioned, it would be the Imperial’s styling, which didn’t offend nor excite and had a bit too much corporate identity.
Dynamically speaking, the Imperial 4-door performed as well as a large 5230 lb. vehicle could. The ride was deemed soft and pleasant, without being mushy, and its handling was excellent. For its size, that is. In the engine department, Chrysler’s 440 in. provided 350 hp at 4400 rpm, delivering 480 lb. ft. of torque at 2800 rpm. Only braking came under criticism; for a model possessing power discs up front, the results were somewhat unsatisfying.
The Imperial came with all the luxury appointments Detroit could imagine then, and then some more. The Cruiser Lounge option offered a revolving front passenger seat, folding table, and reading lamps, also known as the Mobile Director. Rarely ordered, it’s a collectible item nowadays. Also, the Imperial couldn’t do without Chrysler’s Auto Pilot, better known today as Cruise Control. As for the Auto Pilot, reviewers were rather pleased and seemed to be new to the experience. Well, how could they not enjoy it? When something good arrives, people know it.
Some specific items date the review to early 1967. I’m referring to upcoming safety regulations, and Car Life refers to it as a ‘safety package.’ What the ‘safety package’ meant at the time was a revised dash and controls, with new padding and an energy-absorbing steering column; all aimed to diminish bodily injuries in case of an accident.
We know the Imperial didn’t set the sales world on fire, and that the ‘indefinable quality of prestige’ remained elusive to the brand. Yet, for 1967 the model did have an uptick in sales, with 17,614 units sold, against the 13,742 built in 1966.
The Imperial would remain at the bottom of the US luxury brands for the remainder of its production life, but Imperial devotees know that in spite of sales numbers, the vehicle was a true contender in the luxury class.