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The Iconic And Unforgettable 1960 Imperial

…suddenly it’s 1960


The incomparable Imperial 

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The iconic and unforgettable 1960 Imperial is another luxurious edition of America’s most distinguished motorcar. Its avant-garde styling is courtesy of Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” from his “ahead of the competition” marketing campaigns…then, suddenly it’s 1960.

Stunning and completely in character with its illustrious predecessors, the 1960 Imperial was available in three distinctive trim levels. It is truly the most glamorous Imperial from the 1960s. Exclusivity and supremacy are hallmarks of this elite Flagship which is one of the most dramatic and beautiful automotive designs of the 20th century –

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This is the all-new look for 1960. It is dignified and unpretentious. Following tradition, it is beautifully proportioned with classic simplicity. It’s a timeless design that will always be in extremely good taste. Each Imperial endured over 600 tests and inspections before being shipped to dealers. Quality had greatly improved for the 1960 model year. The Imperial is a luxury automobile whose elegance is exceeded only by that of its beauty.

This is the most dramatic redesign since the 1957 model year. The architecture is the result of complete and total refinement. Every square inch of the 1960 Imperial is all-new yet it retains signature design features making it recognizable with the poised dignity which is the hallmark of the brand. This is one of Virgil Exner’s finest designs.

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In my opinion, the 1960 design should have been the “look” to be followed instead of the redesign for 1961 which made the Imperial look ‘dated’ as soon as it left the assembly line. It was the weighty-looking floating head and tail lamp thing Exner had a fancy for that made the 1961 car appear old-fashioned. When the rest of the industry had abstained from even mentioning a tail fin, Exner added towering fins to the 1961 body style. These are the last of his designs. Elwood Engel would give the Imperial an all-new modern look for the 1964 model year.

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Decisions…decisions…decisions…coupé or convertible coupé…sedan, also two and four-door Southampton body styles were all adventures in excellent taste. Whatever one sought in a luxury motorcar was available with the Imperial. One might say, the Imperial was the “luxury factotum.” A total of 17,719 were built for the 1960 model year.

They were introduced September 1959 as 1960 models and in the dealer showrooms by October of that year. Each of the Imperial’s four models has unique character distinction. A custom tailored interior appropriate to the model’s demeanor was offered in a wide array of color combinations to make the Imperial Custom, Imperial Crown, Imperial LeBaron, and Crown Imperial Limousine even more distinctive.


The entry-level Imperial Custom was the most modestly priced of the four models. Body style code # PY1-L 912 two-door Southampton had a base price of $4,923 and 1,498 were built. Body style code # PY1-L 913 four-door sedan had a base price of $5,029 with 2,335 built. Body style code # PY1-L 914 four-door Southampton had a base price of $5,029 with 3,953 built.

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The luxurious mid-range Imperial Crown is the most popular of the four models. Body style code # PY1-M 922 two-door Southampton had a base price of $5,403 with 1,504 built. Body style code # PY1-M 923 four-door sedan had a base price of $5,647 and 1,594 were built. Body style code # PY1-M 924 four-door Southampton had a base price of $5,647 and 4,510 were built. The grandest of open tourers, the Imperial Crown convertible body style code # PY1-M 925 had a base price of $5,774 and only 618 were built.

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The eminent LeBaron is the most formidable of all luxury sedans. Body style code # PY1-H 933 four-door sedan had a base price at $6,318 and 692 were built. Body style code # PY1-H 934 four-door Southampton had a base price at $6,318 and 999 were built.

There were also 16 hand-crafted Crown Imperial Limousines by Ghia of Turin, Italy and were base priced at $16,000. These elegant, highly bespoke limousines were also built at a highly restricted pace not to exceed 25 vehicles and were hand-built to exacting standards for excellence.

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1960 Imperial LeBaron

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The most exclusive enigma for the 1960 model year is the Imperial LeBaron, produced in limited quantity as a spacious four-door luxury sedan and four-door Southampton. It lends an extraordinary degree of personal comfort and distinction. The Imperial LeBaron features the Silvercrest Landau Roof treatment standard.

The front sections of this elegant style uses brushed stainless-steel inserts. The LeBaron offers town car appeal with its exclusive closed-in limousine-style rear window treatment. This feature affords greater privacy for rear seat passengers. Luxurious combinations of wool broad cloth and pearlescent leather were available to further enhance the formidable LeBaron experience…

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The perennial favorite among Imperial models is the Crown series. Luxury combined with prodigious power and presence made these elegant automobiles most attractive. The 1960 Imperial Crowns were designed, engineered, and built to be not only the finest but most distinguished luxury automobiles in America. The model versatility made them the luxury cars of choice.

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Take the Crown two-door Southampton for example, this spacious coupé has the interior room that rivals that of many four-door luxury sedans. The Imperial as a coupé presents America’s most exclusive automobile in a spirited youthful elegance. The coupés feature the intimacy to seat four however; six may ride equally as comfortable. Or consider the elegance of the grandest of all open grand tourers; the Crown convertible has full-width rear seating which makes it a comfortable six passenger luxury cruiser. What convertible lover couldn’t sneak a peek at the 1960 Imperial Crown without a dramatic sigh?

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Hello to my friends at Conceptcarz

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And lest we forget…the Imperial Crown four-door Southampton with its pillarless beauty – it’s such a high-class luxury car – it is seen at all of the “right places” such as country clubs, resorts, and golf courses…yes, it is snobwagon supreme in every aspect as witnessed by those high-class sightings. It’s considered superlative in every respect.

Pity…you see, the Imperial Crown four-door Southampton has this teensy-weensy little ‘extra-high performance problem under the hood’ that everybody knows about but would never speak of in public – however; they would drop those opera glasses and mink stoles to chomp that accelerator pedal every chance they had in private for secret thrills…going fast with class so to speak. You didn’t hear that from me…

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The Imperial Custom was available for the 1960 model year as the most modestly priced of the four models. It doesn’t stint on luxury. It has the same six passenger comfort, a luxurious interior, and is powered by the 413 CID Wedge-head V8 engine as the higher end Imperials. They were extraordinary value any way you look at them.

The Custom has everything that makes an Imperial…an Imperial. Of course, there’s the Imperial’s aesthetic appeal, dozens of standard features & accessories, and the infinite care in manufacture that makes the Imperial Custom unique in the world of luxury automobiles. The 1960 Imperial Custom is the easiest step up to the pride and pleasure of owning America’s most distinguished luxury car –

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Innovation for the 1960 model year includes a complete redesign of the interior. An aircraft-inspired high-tower driver seat was added to provide additional comfort rising to the driver’s neck for greater back and shoulder protection. The deep-seated luxury is due in no small part for up to six inches of foam rubber padding. The instrument panel is double padded, improved seat belt design, and emergency warning flashers using the parking lights/turn signals are just a few of the myriad safety features and accessories.

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1961 LeBaron exhibits driver’s high-back seat

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Chrysler was ahead of the competition. It’s evident with the 1960 introduction of electroluminescent controls. “Panelescent Lighting” back lit the instrument cluster to create a dramatic floating appearance. This type of display reduces glare by 500 percent over traditional incandescent-type lighting. The principle is simple. Electroluminescence is merely sending electricity through phosphor.

Electroluminescent panels last ten times longer than the bulbs they replace. This was a joint venture between Sylvania Electric Products and the Chrysler Corporation. Sylvania is the pioneer in the industry developing this technique and in 1950 was the first company to manufacture lamps using this process for commercial applications.

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The 1960 Imperials move effortlessly, silently…and swiftly. One rarely thinks of it as a performance car. It may be driven in this manner with impressive results…remember, it’s all Mopar underneath the luxurious architecture. The Chrysler RB-Series naturally aspirated 6.8 litre 16-valve 413 CID Wedge-head V8 turned the Imperial into an “Executive Hot Rod.”

The engine features wedge-type combustion chambers, overhead in-line valve arrangement, and a dual exhaust system with two mufflers and two resonators. The fuel system uses a Carter (AFB-2927S) 4-bbl carburetor with mechanically controlled secondary draft system, and automatic fuel-saver choke which provides 40 percent better fuel economy than previous models. The engine is mated to Chrysler’s TorqueFlite fully automatic torque converter with 3-speed planetary gearset, and neutral safety switch.

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The most exciting quality of the all-new 1960 Imperial is that the performance is as distinguished as its appearance. The 413 CID V8 engine produces 350 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 637 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 9.2 seconds, 0-100 mph in 26.7 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 41.3 seconds. It has a top speed of 120 mph ungoverned. It does the ¼ mile @ 83 mph in just 16.9 seconds.

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The 1960 Imperial is a thoroughly luxurious automobile. Aside from the pomp and splendor, it is a driver’s car. It steers accurately as well as it holds the road ahead. It is a large front engine rear drive vehicle. These massive vehicles ride upon long 127” wheelbases, has the luxury length of 226.3” and are a hefty 80.1” wide. The body-on-frame design bolted the body to the frame at 22 points. There is more structural support through the use of extra reinforcing metal, strengthened floor pan, and roof rails. Imperials were always built to be as rugged as they are rewarding to own –

Independent front and wheel suspension with torsion bar springs managed the road effectively. Chrysler’s torsion ride system is the first of its type for a major American auto manufacturer. The rear used tapered-leaf outboard springs with interliners and rear axle strut. This type of front and rear suspension system is less obtrusive which provides more interior room. Oriflow shock absorbers were fitted to the front and rear.

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RM Auctions 1

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Swivel-out front seats

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Photos courtesy RM Auctions

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The patient hand assembly made the Imperial one of America’s most carefully built automobiles. The 1960 Imperials were equally at home at the country club or in snarling boulevard traffic. They remain poised, smooth, and responsive under any driving situation. And what is most assuring…the 1960 Imperials are performance cars that never forget that they are luxury automobiles. They cosset their passengers with legendary comfort and convenience.

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The 1960 Imperials were available in four distinctive trim levels. Automobiles such as the Imperial LeBaron Southampton complimented the American lifestyle with grace and elegance. Power, presence, and unusually high-spirited performance are all packaged elegantly. The Imperial LeBaron was marketed as the most exclusive car made in America.

It is the Imperial Crown series that was the most popular because of their distinctive choices available. Imperial was fit to take the competition in stride. Even the entry-level Imperial Custom models are well equipped automobiles that do not compromise luxury. The iconic and unforgettable 1960 Imperial is the luxury factotum –

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Special thanks to the On-line Imperial Club

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Special thanks to Richard Rowlands & Charles Rex

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The End

The iconic and unforgettable 1960 Imperial by Chrysler

10 thoughts on “The Iconic And Unforgettable 1960 Imperial Leave a comment

  1. Nice coverage of what I consider the most handsome of all postwar Imperials. Further note regarding the Imperial Ghia limousines. During 1960, 25 partial LeBaron sedans were shipped to Ghia to be built into limos. 16 were completed during ’60 and so-titled. The additional 9 were finished during 1961 and titled thus. The Ghia limo Jacqueline Kennedy leased from Chrysler was a 1961 and she still had it under contract at JFK’s funeral. All the ’60 and ’61 versions employ 1960 sheet metal and trim. I am a former owner of the Nelson Rockefeller ’60 Impl Ghia one-off formal (5 window body) limousine which was car number eleven.

  2. Hello Wayne! Glad you like the story. They don’t make real cars anymore and it’s a real treat to see them. Compared to the nondescript puddle-jumpers we drive today is a world of difference. I grew up driving real cars and let me tell you, I had the hardest time getting used to fake cars. It was a learning experience when I traded a full-size 1996 Fleetwood for a 1999 DeVille in 1999….I was lost at first. I hated that car with a passion! I am going to write more about the illustrious Imperials. Many people who never had the chance to see one are really incensed by their sheer stature! I still love my 1979 Lincoln Town Car! It’s like a big ‘ole rollin Barco lounger! I never owned an Imperial, maybe I’ll buy one if I see a really nice one.

  3. Great piece on an awesome vehicle. Thanks so much for making this. I spent 17 years restoring my 1960 Le Baron here in New Zealand. Worth a mention also is the front and rear air conditioning units that keep this frosty cold inside on the hottest days. The machinery is equally over the top. I’ve restored mine, re-built many of the parts to original specs and it works amazingly well. Luke

  4. Hello Luke! This is why I like to write stories about the old school cars, someone always appreciates them! I am glad I can help bring the old cars back into the spotlight. Make sure to come back, there will be more on the oldies. I have been so busy the last two months I haven’t had the time to upload my latest stories. Have a super week!

  5. I do not understand why some of the 4 door Lebarons have the trunk with the rear hood that is plain and others with the outline of the spare tire?

    • Hello Mark! The ersatz spare tire design on the rear deck lid was an option. Virgil Exner had a thing for fins and other decorative motifs. His spare tire design was quite popular. But for me, I like the plain trunk lid better. This is why you see photos with some cars adorned with it and others do not. Plymouth and Dodge also used this design of the times. The Continental MK II started this for their 1956-1957 model years.

      • If you have Netflix, there is a movie on there called “The Outsider”, made in 2018. It’s about an American in post-war Japan who joins the Yakuza. If you go to the 16 minute point, The American rides around in a 1960 black Le Baron with the plain trunk. It is funny, because it also says that it is “1954 Osaka”, so I went to Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and some other people noticed that error too. Some people thought it was a Cadillac, some thought it was a 1959 Imperial. You should check it out. Mark

  6. Additional comment. It would be my contention that the ’60 Imperial front bumper was the deepest stamping “draw” ever done on bumper-gauge ONE piece. Only the center crossbar above the license is bolted in. Everything else is one stamping. When I brought mine into the chrome plating shop, it drew multiple “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” from the crew. The owner of course saw nothing but dollar signs.

    • Hello Wayne! I miss the beauty on a sunny day! Sun glinting on chrome bright work now has changed to dull painted plastic. The beloved automobile has gone away in exchange for a truck-like, butts-up, nondescript look. The automobile is vastly disappearing from theatre.

      Lincoln no longer even makes a car, everything they offer now resembles a truck. That design doesn’t cut it with me. I always tease Lincoln dealers and their clientele. If I want to stir them up…I wait until a busy Saturday morning and I will drive one of my Lincolns out of my collection prominently parking them right smack-dab in front of the showroom to get all sorts of attention. My 1979 Collector’s Series Continental sedan always is the star of the show at any event. Next, my 1993 Lincoln MARK VIII also steals the show in high style. My 2004 Lincoln Town Car Ultimate (with only 21,000 original miles) also gains a “name your price” from not only the dealers themselves but their clientele. But it is the 1961 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible that reigns supreme at any event.

      It’s a showdown between EVs and the traditional automobile, aka internal combustion meets electricity. So far, batteries are exploding right and left, or, the EVs long wait for recharging – and lest we forget, the ‘OMG it’ll burn your house down’ Chevy Bolt (you know, the EV that the manufacturer suggests that you NOT place in your garage nor recharge it over 90%) – are the new nemesis for the motoring world!

      How about the rolling disaster called Tesla while in auto pilot mode has created some very interesting crashes. I was shocked at the Tesla which burst into flames while the owner was driving it – and to add insult to injury – the electric powered doors wouldn’t open! He had purchased the car only 3 days prior his close call to death! Yes, this is our handy-dandy replacement for old faithful, our beloved internal combustion engine-powered automobiles!

      Keep your ICE vehicles, we will be the only ones motoring along as we watch the dinky EVs parked along side the road in flames or, has it run out all of its electric range – or some other technological OOPS they haven’t discovered yet!

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