Did you know? Couch potatoes celebrate 1950 as the year in which the first television remote control was introduced. The Zenith Corporation appropriately called the device, Lazybones.
Watching the last presidential inauguration, I was captivated by the beautiful, long, black Cadillac limousine, twisting and bending through turn after turn as it made its way through the streets of out capital. That daring Cadillac ‘ploughshare’ front end— a relatively recent styling theme which permeates the Cadillac lineup, made an elegant and powerful statement. It caused me to reflect back on presidential limos of days gone by, and the ‘factory’ limos which were the mainstay of the limo business during that period of our automotive history.
Tri-Power Trivia Questions: 1. What was the last model year in which the name ‘Imperial’ appeared on a Chrysler product? 2. Can you name the movie in which Lee Marvin drives and repeatedly smashes a 1967 Imperial convertible? 3. A pop song from the year 1950, and a wedding reception perennial favorite to this day… ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ was sung by, A. Perry Como; B. Dean Martin; C. The Mills Brothers or D. Nat King Cole? Answers at end of story.
Back in ‘the day’ we didn’t have the ‘chop shop’, stretch limo industry that cropped up in the early eighties and has been the rage for wedding parties and the ‘let’s go out and get loaded and stupid’ groups. Today’s limo builders have been ‘stretching’ everything from the traditional, Cadillac, Lincoln, etc., to the, bordering-on-ridiculous, VW bugs, Hummers, ‘57 Bel Airs, Mustangs, Camaros… and the list goes on and on.
In the ‘Golden Age of American Automobiles, however, if you needed a limo, you went to your local Cadillac, Lincoln or Chrysler Imperial dealership to plunk down your hard earned dollars. The 1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial sedan shown above seated eight, including the driver and chauffeur. It had an elegant, padded vinyl roof which enclosed the rear passenger compartment providing an enhanced level of privacy for the occupants. (Not shown on the sedan version on this page.) The Crown Imperial limousine sold for darn near a dollar per pound– $5,334.00 and 5,305 pounds– equivalent to $53,400 in 2014 dollars.
The Imperial Crown was Chrysler’s top-of-the-line land yacht—the ‘inaugural’ luxury liner, if you will, for the new decade. The Imperial moniker, first introduced in 1926, had always been an indicator of the ‘high line’ Chrysler automobiles for any given period. Beginning with the 1955 models, Imperial became a ‘marque’ in its own right, separate from the Chrysler line. This move on the part of Mopar marketing, was seen as a way to position the Imperial as a more direct competitor to Ford’s Lincoln and GM’s Cadillac.
Nearly anything one could want was standard equipment. Items on the options list, however, included wide whitewalls, a Mopar radio; Mopar heater; locking gas cap; weatherproof ignition; vent deflectors and exhaust deflectors. And although they weren’t offered from the factory, I’m sure your local Chrysler dealer could install a set of ‘curb feelers’ if you so desired, to keep those wide whites looking like new! These massive land yachts rode on a 145.5 inch wheelbase, had an overall length of 235 inches and were powered by 323 cubic inch, straight eight engines with, believe it or not, a single-barrel, Carter carburetor. Horsepower was a modest 135 while churning along at 3,200 rpm. Power to the rear wheels was handled by Chrysler’s ‘Presto-Matic’ transmission with Fluid Drive. Now I’ve never driven one of these automobiles, however, I can only imagine that coming off the line from a dead stop was much like shoving the throttle forward on a forty-two foot Chris-Craft Constellation.
Only 209 Crown Imperial sedans and 205 limousines were produced for model year 1950, so the likelihood of finding one on ebay or auto trader (if you really have to have one) is pretty slim.
UPCOMING DON’T MISS EVENTS: Nothing planned for this weekend, we’re going to take a break. But don’t forget the new date for this year’s Ranken Technical College Alumnae Car Show. This event is a big one and has been held in April in years past. Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 28th as it is presented at the Finney Street main campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The FIN MAN & company will definitely be at this one!
Tri-Power Trivia answers: 1. Aside from the 2006 Chrysler Imperial concept car, the last production Chrysler to bear the nameplate was the 1993 model. 2. The movie was ‘Point Blank’ and was released in the same year as the Imperial that Marvin destroys, 1967. 3. Many a father’s choice for the father/daughter dance at wedding receptions, ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ was a 1950 hit performed by (C), The Mills Brothers.