Chrysler Imperial CG Duel Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

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Imperial CG Duel Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron





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. 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.

By 1931, 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. 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 coachbuilt 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.

In total, Chrysler ordered 50 sport phaeton bodies from LeBaron in 1932. Fourteen were initially shipped, although a few are believed to have been returned to the factory for an update with 1933 sheet metal and trim. Other than these updates, 36 of the 50 cars were originally built as 1933 models, and today, it is estimated that just 17 remain, including a handful of restored examples. In fact, LeBaron’s own Ralph Roberts was so enamored with the design of the 1933 dual-windshield phaeton variant that he ordered one for use as his personal car.

The LeBaron-bodied Imperial was alone in the elegance of its low and rakish design, which in the roadster and phaeton models featured a belt line that sloped gently downward in the rear, which with the top down exposed the upper portion of the seatbacks in a way that defied period convention.

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