Monday, January 14, 2013

The Exquisite Chrysler Imperial CL

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

One of the most elegant cars in our collection is this 1932 Chrysler Custom Imperial Series CL convertible sedan (#CL7803489). The CL model is regarded by many collectors as the best-styled of all Chryslers, and it’s hard to argue that once you take a good look at this luxurious car.

The CL’s stylish design, set off by the vee radiator, long hood and low, sweeping fenders, was no doubt inspired by the Cord L-29. The hood stretches in an unbroken line all the way to the windshield, covering the traditional cowl and intimating the impressive power beneath. The CL’s 385-cubic-inch straight-eight engine developed 135 hp at 3,200 rpm with the optional, high-compression “Red Head” over the cylinders. This was enough to launch the big car from 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds, and to a top speed of over 90 mph.

The 1932 Chrysler Imperials also introduced “Floating Power”—an innovative system that balanced the engine on just two rubber mountings, permitting the power plant to rock on its axis without transmitting the torque to the passenger compartment. Not surprisingly, the ride is exceptionally smooth and quiet.
Each Chrysler Imperial CL was carefully crafted to the buyer’s specifications. The LeBaron coachwork on this award-winning car includes hand-buffed leather seats, a leather dashboard with a machine-tooled instrument cluster and twin glove boxes, a “ribbon” type radiator shell, dual side-mounted spare tires, a curvy luggage trunk and a winged radiator cap graced with a bounding gazelle. The two exterior sides of the car are mirror images of each other--there is even a dummy fuel filler on the rear to balance the real one!

Only 49 CL convertible sedans were produced in 1932, and approximately 12 are known to survive. We acquired this one from Doug and Gail Shinstine; other owners include publishing magnate and collector Otis Chandler, Phil Renick, Ed Perkins, Frank Klepz and Robert Burchill. After Renick had the car restored by Tony Anton, it earned its Senior and 100-point Premier Crown ratings with the Classic Car Club of America.

Automotive art and high performance rolled into one amazing car. Come see it!

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