Chrysler Imperial 8 CH 4-door Convertible

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Imperial 8 CH 4-door Convertible





Like the Cord L-29, which was also designed by Al Leamy, the CG Imperial was dramatically long and low, featuring gracefully swept fenders and a striking vee-shaped radiator. All Chryslers had a well-deserved reputation for performance, and the CG Imperial’s “straight eight” did not disappoint, with 125 horsepower on tap and a four-speed transmission to move it along. The four-speed transmission, four-point engine mounts, hydraulic brakes, and well-tuned suspension ensured that they were also quite refined to drive, in addition to being considered the most-beautiful classic era Imperial ever built. Introduced in July 1930, the CG Imperial was only produced through December 1931.

The Chrysler Imperial was redesigned in 1931. The car received a new engine, a 384.84-cubic inch (6308.85 cc) I8. Marketing materials for this generation of Imperial referred to the car as the "Imperial 8", in reference to the new in-line 8-cylinder engine. The engine would be found in many other Chrysler vehicles. Chrysler’s Imperial had grown from simply an upmarket version of lesser models into something truly unique and special. It had been graced with classically beautiful styling, which was inspired by the Cord L-29, and was noteworthy for its massive 145-inch wheelbase chassis and smooth 125-horsepower straight eight. Beneath the Imperial’s long hood was Chrysler’s first – and in fact largest – straight-8 flathead engine in two versions, dubbed the “Silver Dome” and “Red Head.” The more powerful Red Head Straight Eight produced 135 HP at 3,200 RPM, enough to haul the Imperial up to almost 90 MPH, and would quietly cruise at 75 MPH. Not only was this car big and powerful, it was also a superb driver, with advanced steering geometry that made it shockingly easy to swing through wide corners at speed. The term “driver’s car” is seldom applied to American Classics of this era, but it is apt for the Imperial.

The Custom Imperial had rust-proof fenders, automatic heater control and safety glass. The limo even came with a Dictaphone. The redesign also saw the introduction of new wire wheels that became a standard wheel treatment until the 1940s. Stock car driver Harry Hartz set numerous speed records with an Imperial sedan at Daytona Beach, Florida.

In January 1932, Chrysler introduced what were called “second series” models for the year. There were now two Imperial series, the 135-inch wheelbase CH and the Custom Imperial CL, which was 10 inches longer than the CH. Features included Floating Power engine mounts and a vee-configuration split windshield which panes opened individually. Although the Briggs-built CHs lacked the prestige of LeBaron’s CLs, they had excellent proportions that set them apart and an elan that was absent in their upscale siblings. Standard equipment included hand-buffed leather seats with matching kick panels and a leather door, matching carpets in the front and rear, and storage pouches in the rear doors. A top boot, a painted dash with a damascened instrument binnacle, dual side-mounts, and a trunk were standard.

Innovations for Chrysler this year included freewheeling, automatic vacuum clutch, silent gear transmission, vacuum powered brakes, new frame construction and "Floating Power" which consisted of flexible engine mounts. The Chrysler powered "George Howie Special" qualified for the Indianapolis 500, but was bumped from the race before it began. Two "Trifon Special" prototypes for the Chrysler Airflow are produced, based on Carl Breer's

The Imperial CL (referred to as the Custom) was the carry over production from 1932, but the CQ was an all-new, smaller car which was downsized about 9 inches from '32.  It shared the annual styling theme of sweeping fenders, sloping V-type radiator, a cowl-less hood with door type ventilators, single bumpers and slanting V-type windshields.  Rear hinged "suicide" doors were, however, found only on the Imperial CQ convertible sedan.  In a new twist, Imperial buyers were offered a lower horsepower engine option.

The Custom was the richest of all Chrysler series and it also had sweeping fenders, sloping V-type radiators, sloping dual windshields (on open and closed cars), a cowl-less hood with door type ventilators, single bar bumpers and chrome external trumpet horns. Rear hinged "suicide" doors were used on all Customs except the the Limousines.  As usual, the factory catalogued semi-custom bodies were by LeBaron.  Only six chassis and cowls were supplies to custom coachbuilders and at least two of them were bodies in Switzerland by the shops of Lagenthawl and Jean Oygaz.

A new 3-speed silent helical gear transmission was on all new Chryslers.  Improved steel alloy exhaust valve seats was also an improvement on the '33 engines.  There were also innovations with a new type of oil filter and a better working automatic choke.  1933 was the last year the Imperial was available in a roadster body style.

With a bevy of talented designers and individuals, LeBaron Carrossiers Inc. was a successful firm and already well into a successful partnership with Chrysler under the ownership of its parent company, Briggs. Together with their design staff, John Tjaarda and Ralph Roberts were responsible for LeBaron's designs for the next several years, as the company was now ideally positioned to take full advantage of the burgeoning demand for coach built bodies that developed throughout the 1920s. Design work flowed in from Duesenberg, for which LeBaron bodies were among the most prolific, as well as Marmon and, of course, the stunning CG and CL Chrysler Imperials.

Waterhouse was founded in 1928 by two former employees of Judkins, Charles Waterhouse and his son Moses. The firm’s initial goal was to supply bodies for the DuPont motor car, a significant milestone which was achieved when Waterhouse purchased the assets of the Woonsocket Mfg. Co. and fortunately acquired the talent of George Weaver. With this notoriety, the firm gained enough traction to clothe some of the most prestigious chassis like Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Stutz and Marmon. In a short but distinguished run, the firm produced approximately 296 bodies; the vast majority of the firm’s production, approximately 251 bodies, were placed on the Lincoln, DuPont and Packard chassis. Of 31 Waterhouse bodies built on various chassis, only six or less are believed to have been mated to the CG Imperial.

The eye-catching Convertible Victoria was Waterhouse’s trademark and is notable as one of the earliest American-built bodies to incorporate European styling. The striking body lines captured attention in the industry, particularly from competitors. Imitation of the Weaver-penned designs soon took its toll on the firm, and custom body production ended a mere six years after it began

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