The 1957 Chrysler Imperial: A Symbol of Luxury and Innovation


The 1957 Chrysler Imperial, a classic icon of American automotive excellence, holds a special place in the hearts of car enthusiasts and collectors. Known for its luxurious design, cutting-edge technology, and impressive performance, the Imperial represented Chrysler's commitment to producing top-of-the-line vehicles. In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the history, design, engineering, marketing, and lasting legacy of the 1957 Chrysler Imperial.


Historical Context: The 1950s Automotive Landscape


To fully appreciate the significance of the 1957 Chrysler Imperial, one must first understand the broader context of the American automotive industry during the 1950s. This was a period of tremendous growth and innovation, as car manufacturers sought to cater to the burgeoning post-war middle-class market. Consumers were hungry for bigger, more powerful, and more luxurious cars, and automakers were more than willing to oblige.

The mid-1950s marked the height of the chrome and fin era, characterized by cars with flamboyant designs, copious amounts of chrome trim, and tailfins that seemed to reach for the skies. The industry was locked in a fierce competition to outdo one another in terms of style and prestige, and Chrysler, through its Imperial brand, was a key player in this race for automotive supremacy.

Design Excellence: Sculpted Elegance


The styling of the 1957 Chrysler Imperial is often described as a masterpiece of automotive design, and for good reason. At a time when many cars were becoming increasingly ostentatious, the Imperial stood out for its tasteful and understated elegance. The car's clean lines, subtle curves, and restrained use of chrome trim conveyed an air of sophistication and refinement.

One of the most distinctive features of the 1957 Imperial was its "Forward Look" design, which was the brainchild of Chrysler's chief designer, Virgil Exner. Exner's vision was to create cars that appeared to be in motion even when standing still, and this was achieved through a combination of sleek, aerodynamic shapes and carefully placed details. The result was a car that looked like it was cutting through the air, even when parked.


The front end of the 1957 Imperial featured a bold and imposing grille, flanked by quad headlights that were integrated into the fenders. The front fenders themselves were adorned with subtle, tasteful chrome accents, and a long, low hood added to the car's sense of presence. As the eye moved toward the rear, it was met with gracefully sculpted fins that tapered off into bullet-like taillights. These fins, while not as exaggerated as those on some of its competitors, added a touch of drama and dynamism to the car's profile.

The Imperial was available in several body styles, including a four-door sedan, a two-door hardtop, and a convertible. Each of these variations showcased the car's design excellence in its own unique way. The convertible, for example, featured a power-operated fabric top that could be lowered with the touch of a button, allowing occupants to enjoy open-air motoring in style and comfort.

Under the Hood: Power and Performance


While the 1957 Chrysler Imperial was certainly known for its beauty, it was no slouch in the performance department either. Under the hood, the Imperial was powered by a formidable 392-cubic-inch V8 engine, which produced an impressive 325 horsepower. This engine was paired with Chrysler's TorqueFlite automatic transmission, which provided smooth and effortless shifts.

The combination of a powerful engine and advanced transmission made the Imperial a strong performer on the road. It could accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around 10 seconds, a respectable figure for a car of its size and era. The Imperial's suspension was tuned for a smooth, comfortable ride, and power steering and power brakes were standard features, further enhancing the driving experience.

One of the noteworthy innovations in the 1957 Imperial was the introduction of the Torsion-Aire suspension system. This system utilized torsion bars instead of traditional coil springs, providing a smoother and more controlled ride. It was a testament to Chrysler's commitment to engineering excellence and its desire to deliver the utmost in comfort and performance to its customers.

Luxury and Comfort: The Imperial Experience


Step inside the 1957 Chrysler Imperial, and you were immediately enveloped in an atmosphere of luxury and comfort. The interior of the car was a masterpiece of craftsmanship, with high-quality materials and attention to detail evident throughout. Plush upholstery, rich wood trim, and chrome accents created an inviting and sumptuous environment for both driver and passengers.

The Imperial was available with a wide range of options and accessories, allowing buyers to customize their cars to their exact specifications. Air conditioning, a relatively rare feature in the 1950s, was offered as an option, providing a welcome respite from the sweltering summer heat. Power windows and seats were also available, adding to the car's convenience and ease of use.


One of the standout features of the 1957 Imperial was its push-button transmission control, which was mounted on the dashboard. This innovative design element not only added a touch of futuristic flair to the interior but also made shifting gears a breeze. With a simple push of a button, drivers could select their desired gear, a feature that was not yet commonplace in the automotive industry.

In terms of seating, the Imperial offered plenty of room for passengers to stretch out and relax. The front bench seat was wide and comfortable, and the rear seat provided ample legroom. The two-door hardtop and convertible models, in particular, had a spacious and airy feel, thanks to their pillarless design and large windows.

Technological Advancements: Pushing the Envelope


The 1957 Chrysler Imperial was not just a triumph of style and comfort; it also showcased several technological advancements that set it apart from the competition. One of these innovations was Chrysler's use of torsion bar suspension, as previously mentioned, which contributed to a smoother ride and improved handling.

Additionally, the Imperial featured a dual-circuit master cylinder for its braking system, enhancing safety by providing redundancy in case of a brake system failure. This was a forward-thinking safety feature that foreshadowed the industry's increasing focus on occupant protection.


Another noteworthy technological feature of the 1957 Imperial was its electronic push-button transmission control. While it may seem commonplace today, this was a novel and futuristic feature at the time. The push-button controls were not only user-friendly but also eliminated the need for a traditional gearshift lever, freeing up valuable space on the car's floor and contributing to its clean and uncluttered interior design.

Legacy and Influence


The 1957 Chrysler Imperial left an indelible mark on the automotive industry and remains an enduring symbol of American luxury and style. Its design, with its forward-looking lines and tasteful use of chrome, continues to inspire car enthusiasts and collectors to this day. The car's elegant yet understated presence has stood the test of time, making it a sought-after classic among collectors.

Furthermore, the 1957 Imperial's technological innovations, such as the push-button transmission control and torsion bar suspension, laid the groundwork for future advancements in automotive engineering. These innovations would go on to influence the development of later Chrysler vehicles and, in some cases, become industry standards.


In the world of luxury automobiles, the 1957 Chrysler Imperial holds a special place. It exemplifies an era when American car manufacturers were at the peak of their creativity and ambition, pushing the boundaries of design and technology to create vehicles that were not only practical but also objects of desire. The Imperial was a statement of opulence and sophistication, a car that signaled success and prestige to those fortunate enough to own one.



The 1957 Chrysler Imperial stands as a testament to the artistry and ingenuity of American automotive design during the mid-20th century. Its graceful lines, powerful engine, and innovative features made it a standout in a crowded field of luxury automobiles. Today, it continues to capture the imaginations of car enthusiasts and collectors, serving as a timeless symbol of an era when cars were more than just modes of transportation; they were expressions of style and status.

Whether appreciated for its iconic design, technological advancements, or its place in the history of American luxury automobiles, the 1957 Chrysler Imperial remains an enduring classic that will forever hold a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts and collectors alike.