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This Gorgeous 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton Used To Be a Presidential Limo

U.S. Presidents have been riding in cars since the early days of the automobile. The story goes that William McKinley was the first to do it in 1901 when he briefly rode in a steam car built by the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. Since then, Lincoln and Cadillac have taken turns providing the Presidential state car. There were a few exceptions, though, including this drop-dead gorgeous Chrysler Imperial.
1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton 10 photos
1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton1952/1956 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton
The Parade Phaeton was created in 1952, and, as the name suggests, it was based on the regular-production Chrysler Imperial. But even though it shared its chassis with the Imperial Crown and the grille and bumpers with the 1951 Imperial, the Parade Phaeton featured custom bodywork.

Unlike other ceremonial vehicles from the era, the front and rear compartments were completely separated. In addition, the car had two windshields, one for each compartment. This dual-cowl phaeton layout was quite popular in the 1920s, but it was replaced by the convertible in the 1930s. Chrysler obviously took every opportunity to show off. And it also designed the limousine without door handles and dropped a coach-like bench seat in the rear passenger area.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about this 20-feet-long (six-meter-long) behemoth is that it's downright gorgeous. Okay, perhaps the design is not as well-balanced as the regular Imperial, but hey, it's one of those limos that doesn't look like a massive brick on wheels.

And that low windshield makes me wish Chrysler would have made a speedster version of the Imperial. Oh well...

Was the Parade Phaeton more powerful than its shorter siblings? No. It came with the same 331-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) Hemi V8 rated at 180 horsepower under the hood. But this car wasn't supposed to be fast. Its purpose was to transport the President and other high-ranking officials. And it did just that. For decades.

One of three cars built in 1952, this Imperial was used by Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon. But unlike other Presidential cars, it wasn't parked at the White House. Due to the Federal government's policy not to accept gifts, the Phaeton resided with Chrysler and was loaned to the White House whenever it was needed.

After almost two decades of service, Chrysler decided to sell it in 1970. It found its way into the Imperial Palace collection in Las Vegas, Nevada, until 2001, when it was purchased by the Petersen Automotive Museum. Where it's still on display as of 2022.

The car went through a few changes since new. Originally finished in metallic green with a natural pigskin interior, it was repainted in Desert Sand when Chrysler upgraded it to 1956 specifications. It has since been refinished in white and sports a classy brown interior.

The other two cars were gifted to the cities of New York and Los Angeles. And they've also been upgraded and repainted by Chrysler in 1955. The "New York car" is most famous for carrying the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969, while the "Los Angeles car" was featured in several Hollywood films during the 1950s and 1960s.

Check out the "Detroit car" in the video below, as featured by the Petersen Automotive Museum, and tell me it's not the most beautiful Presidential car you've seen?

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