(first posted 10/27/2016) For 1972, Chrysler served up a sheetmetal freshening for the flagship Imperial. The Fuselage design theme continued, but lines were smoothed-out while vertical lamps were added front and rear. If anything, the car appeared more massive than ever. Road Test Magazine offered up an extended drive report–did they find the refreshed Imperial worthy?
Sadly, the Imperial’s styling did not stand the “acid test of time.” The Arab Oil Embargo assured that all cars this massive would look ridiculously oversized within a few years. One future trend that the Imperial did offer first in its class was the 4-wheel anti-skid system from Bendix called “Sure Brake.” Highly praised, but rarely bought, the system cost $344 ($2,051 adjusted).
As was typical for Chrysler’s big cars of the era, the Imperial handled well for its ponderous size. The huge 440 4V V8 also ensured that the big beast was pretty quick–and quite thirsty.
Road Test tried to stress the superiority of Chrysler’s 4-wheel anti-skid brakes compared to the 2-wheel systems concurrently offered by Ford and GM. But to no avail: the majority of buyers in 1972 did not seem to understand the benefit of the early ABS system from any maker. They were apparently still getting used to seatbelts and front disc brakes…
The biggest issue with the Imperial (aside from its size) was the relative lack of prestige compared with Cadillac and Lincoln. The fact that the Imperial handled better than its domestic rivals, and was packed with some very nice comfort and convenience features not found on the top Ford or GM products, did not seem to matter. By 1972, the Imperial was seen as nothing more than a fancy Chrysler, and therefore not worthy of being ranked in the top echelon of domestic luxury cars. Product benefits didn’t matter when the owner was so disadvantaged in the snob appeal derby in the country club parking lot.
Just 13,472 Imperial LeBaron 4-door hardtops were produced for 1972, beating only the lowly “Farmer’s Cadillac” (aka the Calais), which sold 3,875. But the Hardtop Sedan DeVille trounced the Imperial, with 99,531 produced, and even the top-line Fleetwood Sixty-Special handily beat Chrysler’s flagship, with 20,750 sold. Over at Lincoln, the Continental 4-door sedan sold at almost three times the volume of the Imperial, with 35,561 finding homes.
Nor did the 2-door hardtop body style help the Imperial: a paltry 2,322 were sold, compared with 3,900 Cadillac Calais 2-door hardtops, 95,280 Coupe DeVilles and 10,408 Continental 2-door hardtops. But that wasn’t the worst of it for Imperial in 1972, as the company had no entry in the booming Personal Luxury segment. Ford and GM moved 229,107 high-end Personal Luxury coupes (Buick Riviera, Cadillac Eldorado, Ford Thunderbird, Lincoln Continental Mark V, Oldsmobile Toronado). The Imperial had absolutely nothing to offer to those style-conscious buyers. Nor would buyers interested in the luxury imports be tempted either–the Imperial’s mammoth dimensions were way too much for anyone seeking functional luxury.
So the facelifted Fuselage Imperial wound up being mainly a footnote in the status wars of the early Seventies, but as Road Test pointed out, offered interesting benefits for lovers of automotive oddballs.
In Motion Classic: 1972 Imperial LeBaron – Rolling Manhattan, Extra Dry by Joseph Dennis
This is perhaps the best looking “fuselage” Imperial I’ve seen.
Amen, Seattle. One of my favorite Imperials: 57, 60, 64 and this 72.
Thanks again GN. Road Test was one of my favorites until something went horribly awry.
With the headlights hidden, the front parking lights give off a nostalgic echo of “Woodlights” that were all the rage in the early 30’s. Very fine cars that not many noticed.
I wondered if I was the only person to notice that!
I actually think the front end makes a decent looking rear end… 😉
Taken on their own terms, these were excellent cars. But there were too many headwinds. In addition to what the testers mentioned, I can think of two more problems. First, years of bad quality control had given anything built by Chrysler a bad reputation, and there were many, many people who simply would not give them a try. Second, (and probably related) was that these suffered from poor resale value, making them much more expensive than a Cadillac or Lincoln for the typical owner who traded ever 2 or 3 years.
At the time, I preferred the Lincoln hands down. The Imperial’s fuselage styling was getting a little old and I thought the car lacked the kind of presence that Lincoln and Cadillac had. But as time has gone on, I appreciate the modernist vibe that these cars exhibited. Not exactly right for the time, but a car I would not hesitate to own today.
Pity about the poor build quality as Mopars were the American BMWs of the day with torsion bar suspension instead of cart springs, hemi engines in stead of boring old OHV ones and so on. But none of these amount to any thing when things full off and premature rust sets in.
For 1972 the Imperial got a new body and. in the process substantially changed styling
What have these clowns been smoking? And no, it’s not a typo. They specifically said that since all the other big luxury cars were essentially carry-overs from 1971 except the big Chryslers, that’s why they chose to test the Imperial. Seriously? It just boggles the mind. And this is from the opening paragraph. The only thing new in ’72 was a somewhat revised grille and tail lights.
The ’72 Mopar full-size refresh was more than that. The roof stampings on the coupes in particular were all new. All of the body side stampings were revised with new character lines, the hoods were new, and likely most of the trunk lids as well.
The differences are subtle, and obviously carry over the ’69 fuselage theme, but there was a lot of revised sheet metal for ’72.
I don’t know if they used the term refresh in ’72, but that might have been more appropriate than “new.”
OK, I forgot about the coupe roof. But this is a classic “facelift” or “refresh” and not a “new body”. At least in my parlance.
Also remember: In the early ’70s bodies didn’t change
every few minutes – like they have since after 2000.
I think the market reacted the same way. To me, that was the problem with this facelift. The sheetmetal changes actually were very comprehensive: new hood, front and rear fenders, revamped door skins, new greenhouse on 2-doors. From what I can tell, about the only exterior part that carried over unchanged was the deck lid. So the Imperial really was far more changed than Cadillac or Lincoln for 1972. But it still looked like a big Fuselage, so most people wouldn’t have given it a second glance as an “updated” product.
Here’s a ’71 LeBaron for Comparison. The same, but different. Not money well spent…
I think the ’71 looks better. I prefer the grill and the turn signals look more stylish. Plus you’d have an unsmogged 440.
Though the changes on the fullsize Mopars were many between 1971 and 1972, they were far less noticeable on the Imperial than on the Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge. In fact the Plymouth and Dodge were strange (the Dodge Polara looked particularly odd with its headlights both inside and out of the grill), in the same way as the same marques were strange ten years earlier, but minus the downsizing. The 1973 Plymouth and Dodge went back to being more “conventional” in styling.
But the Imperial was altered so little, it made no impression. I even had to search for images of the 1971 (before GN posted the catalogue image, above) to remember what it looked like and how the 1972 changed.
Very nice. Great drivetrain with the 440 and Torque-Flight. Always liked the fuselage cars and this was the cream of that crop. However, this was not much nicer, nor different, than a New Yorker. Just didn’t have the cachet and prestige of Cadillac or Lincoln. And, as JP stated above, other issues made Imperial a non-starter for luxury car buyers.
If an upscale Cordoba had been available at this time and marketed as the Imperial personal luxury coupe to go against Mark !V and Eldo it might have made a difference. But, I really doubt it. Chrysler products were just too radioactive at this time.
The ’71 Imp looks pretty much the same to me, same body style so I don’t know what they were on about the new body. Also, for all the hoopla about the anti-lock brakes they were still using drums at the back, not a proper 4-wheel disc setup. And a right hand side outside mirror cost extra on a car this expensive????
Despite those criticisms I do still like this car a lot. But it’s main problem was that by now it was really nothing more than a “deluxe” Chrysler. Pity.
The irony is that the Imperial got four-wheel discs the year after the ABS was dropped from lack of interest. The anti-lock system was a worthwhile advance, though, particularly since early disc/drum Chryslers had lots of issues with abrupt rear-wheel lockup from poor front-rear proportioning.
As for the options, that was pretty typical for domestic luxury cars — never miss an opportunity to build in a little more profit margin, I guess. A right-side mirror was still optional even on the Eldorado and Mark IV in ’72. The imports generally didn’t play that game in the U.S., but they also didn’t do as well on the sorts of extras American buyers preferred, like decent air conditioning.
I like the ’72 Mopar refresh. The ’72-’73 Imperial may be the best of the fuselage look Imperials, and were certainly the best since the original ’69.
The front is certainly a little odd, but if I’m a champion of the equally unique ’72 Plymouth Fury Gran Sedan and the ’72 Dodge Monaco, I suppose I better be on board with Team Mopar on the Imperial.
The rear 3/4 view is where this car really shines, and a lot of that theme was carried over to the all new ’74 Imperials and the look lived on through the ’78 New Yorker.
One point about these Imperials that I’m not sure I’m on board with was the wheelbase stretch ahead of the firewall over the Chryslers. It was a silly technicality of the fuselage era Imperial and created weight gain and manufacturing complexity with no real benefit. At one point, Imperial advertising promoted that the stretch allowed room under the hood for various options. Funny thing was, you could get all the same options on the standard Chryslers and somehow they managed to fit in.
An oddity for all the ’72 refreshed cars was the complex front ends – they were styled as if the ’73 energy absorbing bumper requirement was not coming. These may be the last car fronts styled without thought to the upcoming standards.
The Imperial’s low sales helped it in one way in ’73. Chrysler was allowed to carry over the Imperial front end through ’73 as a low volume make. All the other Mopar full-size cars got new squared off front ends for ’73 along with energy absorbing bumpers.
All I can say on the wheelbase stretch is that it was probably seen as necessary in order for the car to play in that class. By 1972, they were really fighting the “just a big New Yorker” mindset among the public (a losing battle) and trying to sell an Imp with the same wheelbase as the Newport would have been a failure. Of course, who is to say they would not have sold just as well, because only Chrysler loyalists were buying them by this point.
“Everybody knew” that luxury cars had wheelbases of 127 inches or more. They certainly could not afford to stretch a 124 inch Chrysler platform anywhere else but in front of the firewall, such was the integrated shape of the entire body, beltline and roof on these fuselages.
All of your comments are quite correct, and there was some tendency in times past to bring up wheelbase in advertising.
I tend to agree the Chrysler loyalist may not have cared.
Chrysler may have missed a small opportunity with the ’69 and up Imperial to just concede that it was a top trim Chrysler, and work to make it the best luxury Chrysler they could. The Imperial had a well known history as a Chrysler branded product to the older clientele likely to consider it, and I’m not sure how much they cared if they were willing to pony up for one. If anything, it may have upped the cache of the Chrysler brand a little. That, and back off a bit on the near stripper level Newports.
While Imperial was ostensibly a separate make through ’75, they weren’t consistent in their marketing, and it appears by ’72 they had basically conceded that it was a Chrysler.
Other than increasing the number, what good does stretching the wheelbase in front of the firewall do? It can’t possible contribute to any interior space (which is where people typically expect to realize the benefit of an increased wheelbase.
In principle, stretching the wheelbase in that way may still benefit ride quality a bit — potentially lowering the frequency of ride motions — and if a car has crumple zones, it’s more room to crunch. Realistically, I don’t think Chrysler was yet thinking much about the latter when these were designed and the former is sort of a moot point with this much mass and spring rates like these. So, mostly a higher number.
Dave B: Apparently an exception was also granted for the 1973 Dodge Monaco. The Polara front end was completely altered for 1973 in a manner similar to the Chrysler and full-size Plymouth front ends, but the Monaco got to keep its headlamp doors and grille-within-bumper from 1972, simply adding the same two rubber blocks that the Imperial did.
Interesting point. A quick bit of looking also shows the ’73 Dodge Charger still wearing loop bumpers. Yet, you only have to look at the cover of the ’73 Brochure to see that the Dart got the full 5 MPH bumper treatment.
This blurb is from NHTSA’s web site:
5) When did the bumper standard first come into effect and how has it changed over the years?
“On April 9, 1971, the agency issued its first passenger car bumper standard — Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 215, “Exterior Protection,” which became effective on September 1, 1972. This standard called for passenger cars, beginning with model year (MY) 1973, to withstand 5 mph front and 2 � mph rear impacts against a perpendicular barrier without damage to certain safety-related components such as headlamps and fuel systems.”
I can’t imagine that some of those Mopar bumpers were compliant. The Monaco and Charger, like the Imperial, were not exactly big sellers, and were cars scheduled for major revisions within a year or two.
What’s even more interesting, both the Charger and Challenger seemed to go through the ’74 model year with non-compliant bumpers.
I’d long understood the Imperial rode some sort of low volume make exemption, but it appears several Mopar models enjoyed exemptions.
Cue the music; One of these things is not like the others………
I think there was some kind of exemption for vehicles with some combination of low volume and a short life yet to live before a restyle. In addition to those you mention, the AMC Javelin also went through 1974 with an older style bumper.
’74 Challengers and ’74 AMC Javelins were not exempt from the 5mph bumper requirements and had substantial rubber/metal guards to pass the barrier test.
Many of them that are out there today have had those big ugly guards removed…which could lead people to believe they never had them!
I always wondered about that exemption, IMO, the guards, as ugly as they were, were still a damn sight more attractive than some of the battering rams most other 73 & 74s got refreshed with. I can’t help but think if the E bodies, Charger and AMC Javelin, were “exempt”, was there a required band aid solution in adding the guards and extensions to the existing bumper stamping? They clearly didn’t make those changes for looks, but I’m doubtful they perform as well as every other 74 car with them, otherwise why didn’t everyone else just do that?
That would be similar to some automaker’s novel solutions with seatbelts, like the door mounts and auto belts, when the passive restraint law went into effect, rather than the wholesale adoption of airbags
The NHTSA summary doesn’t mention that FMVSS 215 ended up being amended to add a couple of explicit extensions, including one that allowed compacts and sports cars (as which the Challenger and Javelin definitely qualified) to stay with the 2.5-mph rear standard until MY1975. The NHTSA may have provided some other specific waivers in the kinds of cases Jim mentions.
As to Matt’s musing about the rubber bumper blocks, the reason they were only an interim solution and weren’t more widely adopted was not that they couldn’t meet the barrier/pendulum requirement (if inelegantly) — it was that they were going to be no help at all with the corner impact requirement, which took effect for the 1976–77 model years. So, the rubber blocks were only for models where the manufacturer was either still working on that part or that were going to be gone by then anyway.
The 1967 and 1968 Imperials also used the 127″ wheelbase. They may have been heavy, but moving the wheels forward (to me at least) seemed to give a bit better front to rear balance. I owned a ’68 for 21 years, so I have plenty of experience with them.
One downside to the extended wheelbase is that it was considerably more difficult to get the oil filter on and off.
The first time I saw a 69 Imperial was on the streets around the University of Pittsburgh and I thought it was a new Cadillac. In 1969 and through the early 70s I thought that the fuselage styling made the large Chrysler sedans look much better than most of their GM and Ford counterparts. My high school had a 69 Fury III as one of it’s Driver’s Ed cars, and I so wanted to get some time behind the wheel of that beauty, but I somehow always wound up in the 67 Galaxie that was the oldest of the 3 cars at our disposal.
Like others here, find it hard to believe this is more than a “re-fresh”, as it looks waaaay to much like a 69-71 Imperial.
My biggest gripe about this car is the turn signal units: it looks like the stylists were stuck on how to change the look of the front end and decided to make the turn signal housings as big as possible. To me, this gave the car the look of a car going backwards.
Love watching old re-runs of Mannix and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and seeing all the baddies driving the huge black Imperials.
A 1972 Imperial was also a major element in Martin Scorsese’s 1973 movie Mean Streets; lots of images are at http://www.imperialclub.com/~imperialclub/Movies/Mean/index.htm.
Nice car. Typical of the era, but a more tasteful design (to my eyes) inside and out than its direct competitors.
Big huge typo in the magazine article’s title also makes this yet another classic GN post.
Are you suggesting they’re simpletons? 🙂
“Simplifed” does make a great name for a nutritional supplement.
No question Road Test could have used better proofreading…
Some days, couldn’t we all.
This is true. 🙂
Always feel like a dumbass commenting on a Chrysler product beyond I like it or hate it. Is this the generation of Chrysler that they banned from demolition derbies? Isn’t one reason that the radiator is so far back from the front bumper, like in the pic of the engine compartment? Or was there an even tougher Chrysler than this Imperial?
Those “lanterns” at the ends of the bumpers are way beyond cool. They remind me of the Munster’s family car.
I always made the same association between the Imp’s park/signal lights and the Munsters’ car.
Haha, that is funny–the Imperial “lanterns” do resemble that feature on the Munster’s car. But that George Barris Kustoms inspiration, whether intentional or not, posed two problems for Chrysler:
1) The Munsters was from the mid-1960s, and that “mod-custom” look was out of style by the early 1970s, right when the Imperial adopted the “lanterns.”
2) The entire shtick of the Munsters was that they were considered very odd/unwelcome by the people around them–probably a bit like the way an Imperial driver would be regarded by a Cadillac or Lincoln owner in 1972.
Yes it was great shtick. The best was how “poor Marilyn” was the unattractive one.
I am a little surprised that Chrysler let so much credit for the anti lock system go to Bendix. For 74, the Imperial became the second American car with 4 wheel disc brakes. They were never able to combine the two advances.
Mercedes combined the two and offered them in Europe for several years before bring them to the USA. I think the English Jenson FF was the world’s first in 1968.
The FF’s system — based on the Dunlop Maxaret aircraft system — was first, although the FF’s antilock system was very, very different than the Bendix four-wheel system or the two-wheel variety used on some Ford and GM cars. The FF Maxaret system was only suitable for 4WD vehicles (part of the Formula Ferguson system), so it wasn’t broadly applicable.
It was a single channel system, whereas the Chrysler was a true 4 Channel ABS, functionally the same as what we have now.
Am I the only one suffering from sticker shock over the price of the radios? But hey, at least you get a power antenna at no extra charge! 🙂
Yeah, definitely. It’s pretty clear that the high-end audio systems were designed to be profit-boosters. I’m sure dealers loved that.
I always liked the original 1971 style best. While these cars seem gargantuan today, you have to remember that the Impala and LTDs were almost as big, and those were everywhere. This was really the last hurrah for the traditional full sized American car. As stated in the article, these cars were best for extended over the road trips. Plenty of room for passengers, luggage, and they were quiet and comfortable for a summer trip out West. Was it wasteful? Fuel economy was low, but honestly even compacts like a V8 Nova or Maverick only got a few more mpgs. Do people like big comfortable cars? Look around at all the big SUVs. These are the replacements for these cars and the SUVs are even more useful and versatile. Imperials just didn’t ring the status bell for most folks, myself included. I had a ’70 Coupe de Ville (used, in 1976,of course)and besides being an impressive looking rig it was just fantastic on road trips with four passengers. Several years later I tried the economy route with a two year old stripper Pontiac Astre, (Vega clone).I took my two brothers on a thousand mile trip down to Tijuana over the weekend. Apples to Oranges, sure, but what a difference!
Believe it or not, the fuselage Imperial was the first I had ever heard of the marque. I stumbled upon it one day in a random internet search, so I was interested in what Imperial was (Even though I called it, and still call it even though I should know better, a Chrysler Imperial.) Out of all the Imperials I’ve seen, I still think these fuselage ones are my favorite. Something simple, clean, and elegant in its design, even though I sort of prefer the earlier ones to the later ones. I think the larger grille helps, it just made them seem a bit more complete.
For a frame of reference, the 2016 Suburban get 16 and 22. Price adjusted, the Imperial would cost you 43,964 now. The Suburban starts at 50,000.
How much would one of these cost me in good condition?
tfw when the front end of your car looks like the rear end of an older better looking one.
The fuselage Mopars cant tell if they are coming or going. The proportions are just off to me
+1. In the first two photos, I thought I was looking at the rear end and tail lights until I looked closer and noted the side mirrors and the steering wheel on the left side.
I can’t place it but that front styling resembles the rear styling of another car.
I had this issue of Road Test when it came out and remember reading this article (that was just a few years ago, right, lol?). My dad was the local Chevy-Olds dealer and the Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealer lived at the end of our block. At the same time in ’72 that my dad had an Impala coupe demo, the C-P-D guy had a brand new Le Baron 4-dr HT as his demo, chocolate brown with tan leather interior. Gorgeous car. It prompted me to go to the Chrysler dealer and get the brochure which in Canada was for both the Chrysler and Imperial lines that year. I still have it tucked away somewhere. No idea what happened to the actual Le Baron.
This is probably my favorite Imperial, I really liked the hat tip to the wood lights as someone already referenced.
I guess since I was a kid, I wasn’t affected by snob appeal. To me the 1955-1975 Imperial ranked slightly higher than Lincoln. Being a GM guy Cadillac was the “top”. But even as a 10 year old, I could see that the DeVille was a high zoot 98 or Electra (especially when viewed from the side.). For some reason it was OK for GMs but not MoPars. Well that’s the market for ya.
In ’72 I was 12 and a friends Mom got a new Cadillac Sedan DeVille. I remember being underwhelmed as a 12 year old. My Dad’s new ’72 LeSabre was just as nice on the interior and seemed to ride as “smooth and quiet”…as was the order of the day.
Interesting to learn the Imp got electronic ignition in ’72 when GM, behind the curve, got it across the board in ’75.
Seems every Chrysler product gained electronic ignition at that time Australian Valiants gained it near the end of the VH production run the 73 VJs all had it.
I have a question for GN. What method do you use to scan all these articles? The quality is excellent and there is no distortion near the spine. I have numerous old magazines I’d like to make digital copies of but I don’t want to damage the actual print versions.
I use a regular HP printer/scanner, but you are right that you need to be careful not to damage the issue. In many cases, I hold the magazine in place manually (versus shutting the top of the printer/scanner) so I can better control the scan area and make sure nothing gets torn or dislodged. I also put the magazines in place in either direction so that I can get a good scan, then “flip” images in JPEG form as needed so they are right-side up, rather than trying to scan every page in the same direction.
The hardest ones to scan are the “perfect bound” magazines, since they don’t fold open as easily–I do those very carefully to see how far I can open them and where I can safely press down. Whatever method you try, go slowly and make sure you take your time to protect the originals.
Also, I set the resolution at 300 dpi for the scans, so that they are crisp but the digital file size is still manageable.
Still using 300dpi?
I’m surprised by the negative comments regarding the ’72 Imperial as I think it is much better looking and has more distinction from contemporary Chryslers than the ’69-’71’s. Unfortunately, the front window vents in the RT test car don’t help make it seem ‘new’ but the ’72 is much cleaner and sophisticated looking, IMO, than the previous gen. The parking lights and tail lamps are particularly unique touches.
Without knowing actual numbers, I would suspect that most 1972-73 four-door Imperials didn’t have the optional powered vent windows. Most such cars I’ve actually seen didn’t have them.
Starting in 1971 – the same year that (cranked) vent windows were dropped as standard equipment on all Chrysler, Imperial, Plymouth, and Dodge two- and four-door hardtops – powered vent windows were the only kind that could be ordered, and those only on Imperial and New Yorker four-door hardtops. However, with the 1972-1973 restyle, you could get optional manual vent windows on other four-door Chryslers including sedans and wagons; these were manual of the old sort, without even cranks.
Didn’t they also offer vent windows as an option with the all new fullsize ’74’s?
Yes, l believe so, on the same basis: flip-open on the lesser four-door cars and powered on the Imperial and 1974-75 New Yorker. But I do seem to recall that our ’77 New Yorker Brougham had the flip-open type.
Funny how vent windows made a comeback on numerous American cars after GM made a big to-do about ventless side windows and Astro-Ventilation. Are there any 2016-17 models with functional vent windows?
The ’72-’73 Imperial’s turn signal ‘lanterns’ were a polarizing styling feature that, while not falling into the ‘what were they thinking?’ category, are close. They’re one of those love-it-or-hate-it things. I fall into the latter.
With that said, it’s no surprise that the ‘all-new’ 1972 Imperial didn’t look all that much different from the previous year. That was the problem with the fuselage styling; it was hard to change it. Consider that the airplane fuselage upon which it was based doesn’t change, either, it’s not surprising.
But what’s really fascinating is that a radio was, apparently, an option. Imagine someone ordering a stripped Imperial without a radio! Did it have a blank, block-off plate where the radio should have went? If any left the factory like that (and stayed that way with no aftermarket radio being installed), that would be one rare car.
A lot of luxury cars of the ’70s didn’t (technically) come with a radio as standard equipment. Ostensibly, the idea was that well-heeled buyers should be able to choose what sort of audio equipment they wanted — read, so that the salesman could talk them into one of the $300+ options.
By this point, manufacturers simply installed certain equipment on all models, even though it was technically an option. If the customer didn’t want it, the dealer would have to specifically order the car that way.
Air conditioning, for example, was optional on Cadillacs into the 1970s, but I’m guessing that GM installed it in all Cadillacs unless the customer ordered the car without it.
Many dealers were reluctant to do this, because, if the customer backed out of the deal, the dealer would be stuck with a car that was hard to sell.
I’m not sure if audio equipment would have fallen into the “default installation” category just because there were several different systems at different price points. The danger, from the salesman’s standpoint, of making a radio standard was that some buyers might say, “I don’t care, I’ll just take whichever one it’s got,” reducing the chances of upselling one of the more expensive units.
After further reflection, I can actually see at least one circumstance where a no radio car, even a top-line luxury model, would be desired, and that’s parking on the street in a heavily urbanized (i.e., high crime) area like, say, NYC. Tooling around NYC in a huge-ass car like a seventies Imperial must have been a challenge in and of itself.
Still would be really cool to see an OEM, no radio Imperial (or Lincoln or Caddy, for that matter). OTOH, I’d imagine that the radio block-off plate for any of those cars probably came from a much lower-line car since those radios were invariably standarized across entire model lines.
But, otherwise, anyone specifying a no-radio luxury car would surely have to plunk down a big, non-refundable deposit to get a dealer to order one.
Radios were easy enough to install at the dealer, in fact they were regular offerings in dealer accessory catalogs.
I like it, but I like the Aussie bloated fuselage style Valiants too so this is just more of the same, anti lock brakes in 72 who knew, discs were still optional on some Aussie cars though not in NZ we got em whether we wanted them or not, but yeah I’d have one throw a LPG conversion in and it would be fine.
the sad thing is despite that car’s mass and size, the lack of pillars meant you were in serious trouble if you got T-boned by anything.
Also, not good if you rolled the car. Those center pillars in conventional sedans provided a bit of extra support in those circumstances.
I always like the styling of the ’72 and ’73 Imperial and thought it had a bit more presence than the ’69 through ’71 models. They were a great facelift and I think they have a timeless look about them.
Not mentioned in the article or comments is that the 1973 version (which looks pretty much the same as the 1972 model) had a front bumper that stuck out even further in order to meet the 1973 energy absorbing front bumper regulation.
At 235.3 inches long, the 1973 Imperial was the longest standard production automobile (not an extended-wheelbase version and not a limousine) ever produced. (Longer than the 1975 and ’76 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham at 233.7 inches long.)
According to the article, there would be 40.4% depreciation of the base price at the end of the second year (Ouch!!!).
Back then, I don’t think many cars were leased. Today, a different story, especially luxury cars.
I am partial to any of the fuselage Imperials and own this Burnished Red 1973 LeBaron coupe with black vinyl top and black leather bucket seat interior.
The 72/73 Imperials are bolder designs than the more conservative 69-71 models. I think that crazy front end, those vertical tail lights, the rear bumper, and that roofline on the coupes are really striking! These are very nice cars!
The fuselage cars.
It’s like Brutalist architecture. Sometimes it can be beautiful, and it’s definitely different, and it deserves to be lauded, but hard to live with day-to-day.
The Lamborghini Countach is the same way.
The 1972-75 Imperial seemed like a last, desperate attempt by Chrysler to separate the Imperial from the rest of the Chrysler line. No one was fooled, and by 1976, the standard Imperial sedan was history (at least until the ill-fated 1981 coupe showed up).
Of course, everyone knows how the 1976 New Yorker Brougham, which was just a decontented Imperial, sold much better. The irony is that, in order to get a NYB to the same level of equipment as the final year Imperial, it would cost more to add-on all the options. In effect, you paid more for the same car; it just didn’t have any Imperial emblems on it.
If only Mopar had the much more direct road feel and quick response of Cadillac’s variable ratio Saginaw power steering set up!
The Imp’s novocaine-numb, overboosted Chrysler power steering certainly did it no favors. The irony is that the corporate-wide, torsion-bar front suspension, while harsher than Lincoln or Cadillac’s traditional coils, otherwise handled better.
The Imperial’s ride/handling dichotomy for a premium luxury vehicle was just another nail in its coffin. The market was clearly skewed towards a nice, soft, floaty, isolated (and ill-handling) ride, all areas in which the Imperial came up short.
Combined with the polarizing styling, is it any wonder that the Imperial was handily outsold by the competition?
Driving one , maybe. Yet, in the end the front end of the car looks a lot like the rear end of other cars. Never warmed up to them.
Am I the only one who sees a resemblance between the Imperial’s front parking lights and the (very cool) Woodlite headlights from the 1930’s?
That is very interesting. The stylists of the early ’70s may well have been aware of these and inspired by the same.
Good call on the Woodites. Might have been more recognizable back in 1972 than today.
Seems like, back in the PLC infancy, the manufacturers were always reaching for some neo-classic connection. It seems to have started with the Cord-like front end of the 1966 Toronado. Then, the 1969 Grand Prix and Lincoln Mk III came along with similar touches (especially the 1972 Mk IV’s opera windows).
So, yeah, the Woodite-looking turn signals of the Imperial certainly fit the trend of the time. Never been a fan of them, but they make much more sense when it’s known where the Chrysler stylists got their inspiration.
Just saw one of these today out on the Danforth in Toronto. Was in great shape as far as I could tell as we drove in the opposite direction.