Heirloom 1955 Chrysler Imperial Parked for 50 Years Is All-Original and Unrestored

1955 Chrysler Imperial 9 photos
Photo: ORTHMAN/YouTube
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As of 2024, Chrysler has discontinued no fewer than five automobile nameplates. Plymouth is arguably the most iconic, but the list also includes DeSoto, Imperial, Valiant, and Eagle. While Valiant and Eagle are pretty much forgotten, Imperial is one brand I'd like to see return. Because it built some of the greatest luxury cars ever produced in the US.
The name goes back to 1926 when the Chrysler Corporation was only one year old. It was the company's flagship model, competing with products from Cadillac, Lincoln, Duesenberg, and Packard. In 1954, Chrysler turned it into a separate make, which prompted Lincoln to establish the Continental Division two years later.

Imperial lived on through 1975 on numerous Chrysler platforms and spawned numerous limousines and presidential vehicles. The company revived the division from 1981 to 1983 with a J-platform coupe based on the Chrysler Cordoba.

Today, Imperial rigs aren't as desirable as their contemporary Chrysler counterparts. But fortunately enough, not all these range-topping vehicles were scrapped. Some are still being saved for restoration. The 1955 four-door sedan you see here is one of the lucky ones.

This first-year Imperial sports Virgil Exner's "100 Million Look" design language, which graced Chrysler Corporation vehicles through 1963. Sharing its front fascia with the more iconic Chrysler C-300, the 1955 Imperial is among the most elegant sedans produced that year. But this one will need a restoration to recapture its former glory.

In the same family since new, the Imperial has been sitting for quite a few decades. Documents suggest it was parked in 1974, so it spent 50 years in storage. Unfortunately, the sedan was parked in a wooden barn and emerged with all the issues related to this type of life.

The Imperial was covered in a thick layer of dirt, lost its rear window, and the V8 engine was stuck after so many years without a sip of gasoline. But even though things looked pretty bad at first glance, the four-door became a solid survivor once it was cleaned up. The Imperial is complete overall, and rust damage is minimal, given the time spent in the barn.

This rig is also a fully-fledged survivor. It has never been restored or messed around with, and the original V8 engine is still under the hood. The 1955 Imperial hit showrooms with Chrysler's 331-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) FirePower mill. Part of the company's first generation of HEMI units, the 331 also powered the Chrysler New Yorker, Saratoga, and C-300.

The latter got a unique beefed-up version rated at 300 horsepower, while the remaining Chryslers were equipped with more mundane versions. The two-barrel variant delivered 180 horsepower, while the four-barrel lump came with 250 horses on top. This Imperial was fitted with the latter.

As of this writing, the stuck engine is already out of the car, and it's safe to say it will be rebuilt to run again. Hopefully, the Imperial will be completely restored, but I could definitely see it back on the road as a survivor. Until that happens, see it coming out of storage in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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