Archive for Classic Cars

The Elite 1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

Posted in Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Editorials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

The formidable Eldorado legend continues…

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…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Once upon a time in America there was a thing called the luxury automobile. These fabulous cars are a city block long and half a city block wide. They float along the road like a big ‘ole rollin’ Barco lounger. The elegance and prestige lineages evolved through impeccable craftsmanship, America was renowned for such. The Cadillac motorcar became the most enviable of all automotive legacies. The Cadillac name was a byword for superlative in any field of endeavor…

The Fleetwood division meticulously handcrafted the finest automobiles to motor out of Detroit, Michigan. The most eminent and revered models were Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs. They are the last of the hand-built motorcars. The Brougham augmented the Fleetwood model hierarchy as the epitome of elegance. They were the most luxurious owner-driven sedans from the brand. The 1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham is the last of this distinguished coachbuilt series. NotoriousLuxury presents an encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Eldorado Broughams are among the rarest of all Cadillac motorcars. They were coachbuilt by Fleetwood for the 1957 through the 1958 model years in Detroit. These luxury sedans required countless hours of manpower while in theatre, because of the extensive handcrafting that was involved in order to build them. They slowed the Fleetwood assembly line tremendously. These magnificent Broughams sold for an ostentatious $13,074. Due to the nature of their build, Cadillac didn’t make a profit.

A decision was made to farm out their production to Pininfarina of Italy who are prominent coachbuilders specializing in the world of bespoke craftsmanship. This decision by GM freed the Fleetwood assembly hall to build more of the top-selling Fleetwood models such as the Series Sixty-Special. It was more cost efficient for Cadillac. Pininfarina handbuilt the Brougham for the 1959 and 1960 model years.

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Very little has ever been written about the 1960 Eldorado Brougham. Many automotive enthusiasts have never even seen one. They are elegantly exotic in appearance. It takes the eagle eye to discern them from the standard Cadillac models for 1960. These were the most opulent custom crafted models in the Cadillac model range. The Eldorado Brougham was so swank, it was only briefly mentioned in the sales brochure. Interested clients were advised to contact a Cadillac dealer for details because the car was so highly bespoke –

It’s the Cadillac of Cadillacs and the finest expression of the new era in automotive design. The 1957-1958 Detroit-built Series 70 Eldorado Broughams were totally exclusive from other Cadillac models sharing no sheet metal or trim. The 1959-1960 Series 6900 Eldorado Broughams shared mechanical components, floor platforms, dash panels, wheels, bumpers, fender skirts, and headlamp bezels with other Fleetwood models.

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1957-1958 Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham

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1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

Pininfarina hand-built the custom bodyshells. This added a romantic aura to this ultra-exclusive model…what could be more alluring than an Italian hand-built Cadillac? None of the standard Cadillac sheet metal was integrated into the Brougham. The roofline and glass are totally unique to the glamorous Italian-built Broughams.

The 1960 Brougham is the styling-lead to the 1961 Cadillac model design. This is apparent in the windshield, roof design, and lower overall silhouette. The Brougham’s sleek pillarless design is highlighted by smaller power rear quarter windows that automatically open when the coordinating rear door opens for ease of entry and exit. The Broughams are crafted a tad bit lower than standard Cadillac models. 

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1960 Cadillac Series 6400 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé

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1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

There’s very little to distinguish the Brougham from a head-on view. Many dispute the fact the 1960 Eldorado Brougham isn’t totally unique from the rest of the standard Cadillac and Eldorado models. Due to the fact that the Broughams were not top-selling models, it wasn’t feasible to make them as exclusive as the 1957-1958 Detroit-built models. They had their own separate set of production tooling and dies than the standard 1957-1958 Cadillac models. The proof is in the photos, YOU be the judge.

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The custom crafted 1960 Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham has an intriguing rear end design. It has tail lamps that are modified slightly and built into the bumper nacelles elegantly. The upper slim recessed taillamps from the standard models are eliminated. The Brougham’s tail fins are trimmed lower. It introduced lower body fins called “Skegs” which would be featured on all Cadillac models for 1961 and 1962. The Eldorado has always featured styling that would eventually be found on other Cadillac motorcars.

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Cadillac featured a gracious styling continuity when it reigned as the “Standard of the World.” The 1961 Cadillac Series 6300 Sedan deVille shown displays the 1960 Eldorado Brougham inspired roofline and glass.

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The lower fins aka “kegs” balanced the styling theme gracefully

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The Brougham’s expanse of glass influenced the 1961 Cadillacs

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The tail fin design of the 1960 Eldorado Brougham isn’t as radical as the standard Cadillac models. The iconic tail fins were starting to disappear. The Eldorado Brougham has an overall lower profile.

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The Eldorado Brougham is almost verbatim up front

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The Eldorado Brougham has a customized appearance

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1960 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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The 1960 Eldorado Brougham is built as body on frame construction. Cadillac’s rugged tubular-center X-frame permits a lower body design for improved appearance, and enhanced stability with a lower center of gravity. The majestic Eldorado Brougham has the same dimensions as the Eldorado Biarritz and Eldorado Seville except for its height. It has the luxury length of 225” with a low 55” height and is 79.9” wide. It rides upon a long 130” wheelbase. Model #60-69 body style #6929P 1960 Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham four-door hardtop sedan had a base price of $13,075 and only 101 were built.

The 1960 Eldorado Brougham was the most expensive American automobile for the day. There was no better symbol of one’s success than to view the world from behind the wheel of an Eldorado Brougham. This was a supreme achievement in motoring. Bigger is better was the premise behind these luxury land yachts. It was all about those “Car wars” – every American automobile manufacturer stretched the limits in design. Luxury was the theme. No one really cared about fuel economy because the cost of a gallon of petrol was insignificant.

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Cadillac was the undisputed luxury leader. Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell, chief designers for GM, created automotive masterpieces for the 1950s – 1960s. The Eldorado Brougham epitomized the Cadillac brand with an eloquence no other motorcar could replicate. These handcrafted beauties command top dollar, many of which fetch at least six figures today. They will never be forgotten. Cadillac at the time, was considered as prolific opulence…the envy of the driveway…the “Standard of the World” was the most desired luxury automobile in the entire world.

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These magnificent motorcars were decadently luxurious. The custom tailored interiors were completely in character with Cadillac. This is eloquence in the grand Cadillac tradition. There were two sumptuous broadcloth styles and all leather trim available. Deep plush nylon or mouton carpets were available to lavishly complete the experience tastefully. As far as appointments and amenities – it was a luxury car complete.

Virtually every comfort and luxury feature was provided in the grand Cadillac manner. Standard equipment includes: a heating and air conditioning system, electric door locks, power trunk release, signal-seeking radio with power antenna, two electric clocks (one for front seat passengers and another for the rear compartment), remote control outside rearview mirror, power windows, power vent windows, cruise control, power 6-way front seat, automatic parking brake release, Guidematic headlamp dimmer, power steering & brakes, and air suspension.

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The Eldorado Brougham epitomized the Cadillac brand…

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The Brougham was the most luxurious owner-driven model 

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The 1960 Eldorado Brougham is powered by the Cadillac 6.4 litre 16-valve 390 CID V8 engine. This naturally aspirated powerplant is equipped with three Rochester 2-bbl carburetors in the formidable Eldorado tradition with equalized manifolding, mechanical fuel pump, dry-pack type air cleaner, overhead valves, hydraulic lifters, intake silencer and automatic choke. The engine is mounted at three points in rubber.

This superb Cadillac V8 cranked 345 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 590 Nm of peak torque @ 3,400 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 10.7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 29.7 seconds with a top speed in the 124 mph ungoverned range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 82 mph in just 17.9 seconds. Remember, this is a 5,420 pound all-iron land yacht with NO aerodynamics. Eldorado models were always tuned to be the most spirited performers of all Cadillacs. 

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The engine is mated to GM’s Jetaway/Flashaway Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission without torque converter. Hydra-Matic Drive is the step-gear type with controlled fluid coupling on the forward gear-set which delivers nearly imperceptible shifting. These transmissions provided two drive ranges – the left hand position reduces engine speed to increase economy.

For more efficient hill climbing and descending, the right hand position is used to improve acceleration with the first, second, and third gears available. This selection is used to increase the engine braking effort when descending grades. Lo-range is available for driving in deep sand, mud, or snow. This range is also useful for very steep inclines where only first and second gears are required. The famous Hydra-Matic Drive is a highly efficient and reliable transmission…in fact, this was so reliable and efficient that Rolls Royce adapted it into their automobiles back in the day –

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The famous Cadillac Red-Carpet ride was also the envy of the industry. The front suspension uses the traditional upper and lower control arms with spherical joints and helical coil springs. The rear suspension is the Cadillac 4-link drive with helical coil springs. The Eldorado Brougham came standard with air suspension. It is set up with individual air springs in rubber bags at each wheel that would automatically maintain the correct ride height for optimum performance and perfect poise regardless of load or road conditions.

The rubber bags were pressurized by an electric motor regulated by leveling valves. It also had manual height control to adjust for steep sloping driveways and inclines. Sadly, this idealistic system was unreliable and prone to fail at embarrassing times forcing the driver to “limp” into the dealership for repairs that did not last. The 1960 model year was the last time Cadillac used air suspensions.

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The Eldorado Broughams were more of an “image car” for General Motors. They are among the few Cadillac models that did not make a profit for the division. They are also the rarest of the rare Cadillac models with 400 built for the 1957 model year, 304 for 1958, 99 built for 1959, and 101 built for 1960. The 1957-1958 Detroit-built Eldorado Broughams are certified milestone vehicles by the Milestone Car Society which is dedicated to distinctive domestic and foreign motorcars built during the first two post-war decades.

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1957-1958 Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham

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1959 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

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Special thanks to Jim Hailey & Daniel Schmitt & Bob Adams

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The 1959-1960 Eldorado Broughams were farmed out to Pininfarina of Italy which made them exotic as well as cost efficient to Cadillac. This move freed the Fleetwood assembly hall to build more of the Series Sixty-Special, Eldorado Biarritz, and Eldorado Seville models which outsold the Broughams. The 1959-1960 Italian-built models did not have the superior build quality of the Detroit-built models. They required a lot of extra hand finishing and electrical work by the Fleetwood division once the cars were returned to the USA.

They were more of a liability than an asset at the time. These cars have a charisma among collectors despite the issues they had. Ultra-luxury cars such as these are examples of American extravagance for the day. They epitomized the Cadillac brand with their coachbuilt enigma. The 1960 Eldorado Brougham leaves its indelible impression…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Welcome to Greg’s World of NotoriousLuxury © 2017

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Retrospect: 1976 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL

Posted in Editorials, Mercedes Benz, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

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Luxury saloons come…and luxury saloons go. Some leave an indelible impression. The iconic and unforgettable Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL is one such automobile. This elegant machine is highly versatile. Some are still in service and used throughout Europe as limousines. These high performance saloons are also at home on the Autobahn or on a nice leafy run in the countryside. Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer with monocoque construction, automobile aerodynamics, active and passive safety features, as well as ergonomic cabin design.

Form and function combined with notorious reliability is how the Mercedes-Benz brand retains world-class status.  Their engineering prowess keeps the automotive industry at the drawing board. The Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL remains at the top of the list for popularity. It was built as W116 450 SE and 450 SEL from 1973 until 1980. The formidable S-Class is simply one of the world’s finest crafted creations…it is part limousine and part performance saloon. They’re the perfect marriage of luxury and logic. From the iconic pentastar that adorns the classic radiator grille to the sleek aerodynamic silhouette, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of the most technically advanced saloons on the planet.  Mercedes-Benz presence in the industry has always been central, never peripheral.

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The Mercedes-Benz dynasty began with the collaboration of two master minds. In 1886 Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz presented an idea that changed the way transportation was destined. The automobile…or “horseless carriage” was born. Gottlieb Daimler’s credo was “The best or nothing.” This premise remains as a most enduring legend. Decade after decade the Mercedes-Benz motorcar has achieved success through innovation and advanced engineering prowess. It’s a standard of excellence that serves as a measure by which all automobiles are measured.

From supercharger to fuel injection through bi-turbocharging…no automaker in history has accomplished or contributed more. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloons are the flagships of the brand…they are considered a supreme achievement in motoring. The incomparable 450 SEL is the pioneer that laid the foundation for today’s version. The long wheelbase S-Class introduced an entirely new concept of aerodynamically efficient luxury saloons. The idea of precision automobiles first introduced by Mercedes-Benz is now an industry standard. Abundant power, ample cabin space, and myriad creature comforts makes the 450 SEL a favorite among collectors of fine automobiles.

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The world was introduced to a new premium luxury saloon September of 1972 as the next generation of high-end precision vehicles. Project W116 S-Class began in 1966 and was finalized in 1969. “S” denotes Sonderklasse, this translates to ‘special class’ which all senior Mercedes-Benz flagship models are tagged.  It began a prolific existence as the W116 280 series offered in two versions equipped with an M110 straight-six engine; the 280S uses a Solex carburetor and series 280 SE is equipped with a Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection system. “E” denotes fuel injection. W116 is also available as series 350 SE equipped with an M116 3.5 litre V8 engine. 

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The big news for the 1973 model year was the introduction of the 450 series. It includes the 450 SE and the 450 SEL. “L” denotes long wheelbase. These posh saloons are powered by the venerable M117 V8 engine. The epochal W116 S-Class escalated the brand to limousine status, refined, yet elegant. The sleek architecture is ahead of its time. While other luxury cars were bulking it up at the time, Mercedes-Benz was working on weight reduction and aerodynamics.

The W116 S-Class embodied the best in advanced German engineering for the genre. Its architecture is designed to battle crosswinds and overall wind turbulence. W116 S-Class has a mere 0.4 drag coefficient. The exact rake of the windscreen is part of the aerodynamics. Mercedes-Benz discretely incorporated aerodynamics into the body shell’s silhouette to manage airflow around the vehicle. Even the head and taillamps are built into the architecture to be exposed to a constant stream of air to keep them free from slush and debris while driving in inclement weather. Rain water is aerodynamically routed away from side windows. No other make had even considered such advanced thinking at the time.

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The 450 SEL is the epitome of European grandeur with architecture designed to slip through the airstream like a fuselage. This car moves in a manner the oversized dinosaurs we drove here in the USA… dared not try to replicate. The car is designed to ferry its passengers in a most luxurious style…but if you’re like me, slip it off the main roads to the back roads for a long leafy run – you may then use it as a sporting machine.

The 450 SEL is versatile and is equally at home on any road. You will discover, it floats over the worst boulevard pavement taking it all in stride. The flagship Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL saloon is a workhorse. At the time, it was the most aerodynamic luxury saloon sold in America. But we didn’t really care about such…we were driving our Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham, Lincoln Continental with the TownCar option, and lest we forget…our Imperial LeBaron – all of which were a city block long and half a city block wide!!!

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While other auto manufacturers concentrated on aesthetics, bells, and whistles…Mercedes-Benz designed not only safety into cabin specifications, but ergonomics as well. Padding anyplace that comes in contact with the body is integrated. This includes the dash, door impact cushioning, head restraints, and seat backs. Deformable switches and controls further occupant protection.

The heavily padded steering wheel absorbs severe impact with a collapsible steering column to protect the driver. The seats are designed in an upright fashion that is contoured to the body for comfort and safety. Americans at the time considered this configuration “stiff’ and uncomfortable because we were spoiled by our Fleetwood Broughams, Lincoln Continentals, and Imperial LeBarons which rode like big ‘ole rollin Barco loungers. The notorious 450 SEL is more than “just a car”…it’s a Mercedes-Benz.

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The long wheelbase in the 450 SEL adds extra legroom for rear seat passengers. Take note of the ergonomic design of the seats and head restraints. There are no dangerous protuberances in the cabin, everything is designed with occupant safety in mind. In the event of a serious collision, the entire cabin is designed to wrap around the occupants to shield them from injury without air cushion restraint systems…Mercedes-Benz leads the industry with safety innovation.

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Safety is paramount in a Mercedes-Benz, it is built-in and never added on and includes both active and passive systems. The brand adopted monocoque construction in 1951 because of its inherent rigidity and structural integrity. The fact that it isn’t held together by nuts and bolts means there are no squeaks and rattles. The collapsible crumple zone safety principal was pioneered by Mercedes-Benz. In addition to the steel safety cage constructed to surround the passenger cell, unique energy absorbing front and rear sections are designed to accordion at a controlled rate upon impact. This feature cancels negative energy before it reaches the passenger compartment.

The passenger cell is several thousand welding points strong. All doors are designed to neither burst-open nor jam-shut in an accident. Its skeleton of pillars, crossmembers, and panels is not only stronger, but far more resistant to torsional stresses than conventional body on frame construction. The steel passenger cell has a stiffened roof structure with high-strength roof and door pillars to further enhance occupant protection. Mercedes-Benz factory deployed robotic welding machines ensure each welding point is precise. Other auto makers were doing the process by hand. All body tolerances are routinely audited for quality control. Perfection is a driving force for Mercedes-Benz engineers.

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Under the hood resides the Daimler-Benz SOHC 4.5 litre, naturally aspirated 275.8 CID 16-valve V8 engine. It’s equipped with Bosch Jetronic indirect fuel injection. The 3,990+ pound behemoth moves with aplomb. This highly spirited luxury saloon cranks 180 hp @ 4,750 rpm with 248 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm.

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 34.8 seconds with a top speed in the 122 mph range. This is mighty-fast for a vehicle this heavy. It can do the ¼ mile @ 79 mph in just 18.2 seconds. The 450 SEL sports a front traditionally mounted engine with rear-wheel drive for excellent weight distribution to further refine its excellent handling and stability attributes.

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A high degree of suspension engineering is the basis for these stately saloons. Mercedes-Benz set benchmarks in the auto industry. The eminent W116 models come standard with 4-wheel independent suspension systems. Double wishbones with a stabilizing bar is fitted to the front. A diagonal swing axle, trailing arms and stabilizer bar is fitted to the rear. Coil springs are fitted at all four wheels. Power assisted rack and pinion steering is coordinated to suspension dynamics.

Mercedes-Benz and safety are synonymous. The W116 saloons are the first in the auto industry to offer electronic multi-channel anti-lock braking systems as an option for the 1978 model year. Four wheel power disc brakes teamed with ABS enhances stability and steering control during panic braking to provide shortened braking distances.

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The beauty of a Mercedes-Benz is the fact there is never a dramatic styling change overnight. According to the brand, “there has never been a violent change.” The overall appearance changes through gradual evolution. This is why every Mercedes-Benz S-Class looks as good today as it did when it drove off the assembly line, it is designed to challenge the years gracefully. “Evolution instead of revolution.”

The 450 SEL has dimensions close to those of contemporary luxury saloons. It’s 209.4” in length, 43.6” wide and 56.3” high. It rides upon a 116.5” wheelbase. As far as its appearance…it resembles today’s cars minus the chrome and if it were a tad bit boxier. The 450 SEL blends right in with what’s on the road now. The sophisticated styling will always remain prominent. The only issue with the 450 SEL…is the 4.5 litre V8 engine and its gas-thirsty attributes…but then no pain, no gain – right? Besides…spend it all while you are “above ground.” How many U-Haul trailers do you see attached to hearses?

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The completely new generation of Mercedes-Benz automobiles was developed as W116 luxury saloons and debuted in the fall of 1972. This is the birth of the S-Class series which became the flagship models for the brand. The S-Class represents a milestone in workmanship, handling characteristics, safety, and engineering that no other automobile manufacturer could match for the day. The formidable 450 SEL offers a level of performance, comfort, spaciousness, reliability, and perfection that satisfies the most discerning clientele. It is one of the first cars in the world to provide monocoque construction and a body structure designed to absorb and deflect impact from collisions.

Outstanding active and passive safety features combined with 4-wheel independent suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes catapulted the brand to world-class status. The Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL is part limousine and part performance saloon; an intriguing combination which enticed the auto industry to follow. This elite example of automotive technology earned its place in automotive history as the prelude of innovations the entire industry would replicate – NotoriousLuxury salutes the formidable Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL. Special thanks to Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum…he is one of the hardest working caretakers of fine automobiles in the entire industry! God Bless you Rodd!!

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1969 Cadillac DeVille Convertible: A Masterpiece From The Master Craftsmen

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Editorials with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

Rock steady…

1969 DeVille

“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The 1969 Cadillacs are masterpieces from the master craftsmen. Cadillac had an all-new design that made them longer, lower, and wider…they hugged the road. The DeVille was the only luxury convertible built in the land at the time. There is no finer way to view the world than from behind the wheel of a 1969 Cadillac. It is open air motoring at its finest. Powered by a 375 hp V8 engine, makes it a rare combination of luxury and high-performance few automobiles would ever achieve. The dramatic elegance and majesty of its new design is eloquently portrayed with the classic DeVille convertible. The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible makes a stunning encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.“

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This is a unique era in motoring. An automobile of such stature had never before been endowed with this type of spirited high-performance. Cadillac had surpassed its own great reputation with the introduction of the 1969 Cadillacs. In luxury…in performance…and in craftsmanship, these new Cadillac creations by far, surpassed the famous cars they supersede. For 1969, there’s a new spirit of vitality and youth in the dramatic DeVille convertible. Luxury is your constant companion.

It is the most eloquent expression of glamour. Among all the manufactured products available, few can claim the excellence of design, dedication of assembly, and the universal acceptance that was at the time…accorded the Cadillac automobile – Cadillac was without conjecture the finest expression of the new era of automobile elegance and exclusivity…will the brand ever return to such regal stature?

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The all-new 1969 Cadillacs are a design based upon the highly successful 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado. It is the chiseled front and rear fenders that makes it so distinguished in appearance. The all-new wrap-around parking/turn signal and cornering lamp modular unit and its integrated appearance would soon be copied throughout the industry. Cadillac was a style leader…never a follower. The long hood and short rear deck are designed to make the car appear even longer than it is. The front and rear bumpers are sculptured artfully into the architecture.

Dual horizontal headlamps and a wider grille gives it a more refined look. The 1969 model distinction is a winner; it is one of the most popular Cadillacs in the history of the brand. For the 1969 production run, 163,048 Cadillac DeVille models were built. The aggregate total for the DeVille model alone exceeded the entire total production run for the competition combined for the 1969 model year. The calendar year production for 1969 is 223,237 total units built. The 1968 production totals are 230,003. The reason the sales for the 1969 models are lower is because of the strikes that interrupted the 1969 production run.

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The 1969 Cadillacs were completely redesigned from the ground up. The rear ensemble for the DeVille, Calais, and Fleetwood models are totally in character for a Cadillac. The tapered tail fins and Cadillac-style taillamps make it exceptionally beautiful. The beveled rear deck lid is in proportion with the elegant styling. There isn’t a single line on the 1969 Cadillac that isn’t out sync.

The silhouette looks as though it spans for miles. With the top folded the car looks even longer, lower, and wider than the other Cadillac models. The neatly chiseled lines and shadows create a luxury car of distinction. It also is adorned with fancy fender skirts – these are my favorite feature on luxury automobiles from this genre. It gives the car a finished look. The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible is a masterpiece from the master craftsmen – 

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Model #69-683 Style code #68367F two-door DeVille convertible for 1969 was base priced at $5,905 and only 16,445 were built. The base shipping weight is 4,590 pounds. Here are some interesting production milestones: Cadillac built its four millionth car as a 1969 Coupe deVille on June 19, 1969.

Cadillac was so successful that it took 47 years to build the first million cars…nine more years to build the second millionth vehicle…the three millionth vehicle came just six years later, and only five years more to build the four millionth Cadillac – now that’s an impressive production history…Cadillac used to be the world’s most desired luxury automobile.

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Less than four percent of all 1969 Cadillacs were built without air conditioning. It was all about luxury back then. Cadillac had all the glitz and glamour of a true thoroughbred automobile. There were 11 distinctive models available in three series: Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood.

The best-selling model for the 1969 model year is the hardtop Sedan deVille with a total production of 72,958 units which is the best ever for a single Cadillac model. This was the most popular luxury automobile in America. The Sedan deVille held this title until the 1973 model year when it was outsold by the Coupe deVille. This is why the Cadillac DeVille Series was and always will be America’s favorite luxury cars…

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Among new innovation for the 1969 Cadillacs are a theft-deterrent steering wheel, ignition, and transmission lock which is so important for convertible lovers. Once the key is removed from the ignition, the car is disabled. Power front disc brakes are standard equipment on all 1969 Cadillacs. It has noticeably reduced pedal effort. A new Flow-through ventilation system eliminates the need for front vent windows. This not only contributes to the long, sleek look of the roofline but also increases visibility.

For the 1969 model year, Cadillac introduced a closed cooling system which is the first of this type in the entire industry at the time. A translucent plastic reservoir connected to the radiator’s overflow line captures coolant as it expands and contracts according to engine temperature.

This prevents an overflow when a hot engine is shut down, and captures excess coolant that is returned to the radiator by vacuum as the car’s engine cools. This new system allowed 1969 Cadillacs to idle for prolonged periods of time with the air conditioning system operating without over heating the engine. This closed cooling system soon spread throughout the industry. Cadillac has always been an eminent trend setter introducing firsts to the automotive industry – 

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1949 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe deVille

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DeVille exclusivity dates back to 1949 when it was a prestige trim level for the Series 62 luxury coupe. It is among the first pillarless hardtops in the entire industry. The Series 62 Coupe deVille was opulently trimmed. Inside, there are stainless-steel roof bows to give it the appearance of a convertible hood lining. The Coupe deVille was introduced at the 1949 GM Autorama. It was built on the long wheelbase Series 60 Special platform.

The production version was released late in the 1949 model year. The Cadillac DeVille was an immediate success. It became available as a full production model. In 1956, Cadillac introduced the four-door hardtop Sedan deVille, and in 1964 the elegant DeVille convertible was introduced to the world of luxury. DeVille production ran from 1949 until 2005 when DeVille nomenclature was retired. It was renamed “DTS” until its demise. The last one rolled off the assembly line at GM’s Hamtrack plant in 2011 – 

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The 1969 DeVille convertible is not only beautiful but powerful as well. The 472 CID was introduced the previous year and further refined for 1969. This was the largest production passenger car engine in the industry at the time. Cadillac introduced an engine with even larger displacement for the 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado which was 8.2 litres and 500 cubic inches. Cadillac powered their luxury cars with engines rockin’ the largest displacement in the industry to satisfy their customers – the “Standard of the World” gave the world luxury automobiles of distinction.

The 1969 Cadillacs are powered by the Cadillac 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID naturally aspirated V8 engine. The engine has a cast iron block and cylinder heads. It is equipped with overhead valves, a #7028230 Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor, hydraulic lifters, and equalized manifold. It has an intake silencer, improved automatic choke, mechanical fuel pump, and dry-type air filter. The engine runs in five main bearings. An Air-injection Reactor system was added to reduce hydrocarbons in the exhaust for cleaner air. The engine is mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission. It has a torque converter with fixed stator. The converter multiplies engine torque for increased driving thrust to the rear drive wheels during acceleration in any gear.

The aggressive 472 CID V8 engine produces an astounding 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm packing a prolific punch with 678 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds, 0-100 mph in 25 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 34.9 seconds. It does the ¼ mile @ 86 mph in just 16.3 seconds. It has a top speed in the 126 mph range. 

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The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible’s interior elegantly compliments its exterior styling. A new instrument panel groups the controls in front of the driver and allows more front seat passenger room. The biggest styling refinement is the deep-seated high-back lounge seating. The front seats have adjustable head restraints and a center folding arm rest. This type of six passenger spaciousness was usually found in four-door sedans. The DeVille came standard with a power, fully automatic folding fabric roof.

A Cadillac DeVille convertible has a youthful zest. Cadillac had no peer among open luxury automobiles. Handsome new Ostrich grain leather upholsters the interior lavishly…Cadillac-style. The 1969 DeVille convertible provided power windows, power two-way adjustable front seat, Variable Ratio Power Steering, power brakes, and automatic transmission as standard equipment. Power 60/40 individually adjustable front seats were a popular option along with power door locks, power trunk release, cruise control, and Automatic Climate Control air conditioning. The 1969 Cadillacs are more luxurious than the models they supersede – 

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The 1969 DeVille convertible is built as body on frame construction. It uses a new, longer perimeter frame that is boxed in its entirety. The frame has hidden bulkheads for additional rigidity. The 1969 DeVille has the luxury length of 225”; it rides upon a long 129.5” wheelbase and is 79.8” in width. It is a very large, front engine rear-wheel drive vehicle. It is built in the solid Cadillac tradition.

The front suspension uses Cadillac’s traditional upper and lower control arm configuration with spherical ball joints and independent helical coil springs. Rubber-mounted strut rods and rubber bushings absorb road impact and isolate road noise. The rear suspension is Cadillac’s four-link drive, along with helical coil springs. Rubber bushings are used to quiet and soften the suspension. The rear hypoid type rear axle has an offset differential housing to facilitate Cadillac’s Straight-line Drive. It has a stronger axle and differential that is designed to accept the unusually high engine torque of the ferocious 472 CID V8. These fine automobiles are among the last of a dying breed…

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Cadillac used a triple braking system. The brakes are self-adjusting each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied. The braking system used front discs and rear drums. A split hydraulic master cylinder provides independent operation of front and rear braking systems. The vacuum release parking brake is a true auxiliary brake and could be used as an emergency brake since it would not lock with the engine running and the car in a drive gear.

Also standard is Cadillac’s Variable Ratio Power Steering. It provides fast response and a shorter turning diameter. An energy-absorbing steering column and heavily padded steering wheel hub has been incorporated for safety. This type of steering is effortless; it makes the 1969 Cadillac DeVille drive like a much smaller vehicle. The variable ratio is precise and is constantly changing to suit the driving situation.

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With its many power assists and personal conveniences, color combinations, and its wide selection of options and accessories, the 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible is an outstanding classic automobile for investment purposes. It has a youthful zest. Open air motoring is no more magnificently stated than in the only luxury convertible built in the land. It’s long, low, and sleeker than previous models.  An automobile of such elegant stature had never before been endowed with such high-performance that would shame a sports car, as the DeVille convertible.

Cadillac was completely redesigned for the 1969 model year. The design is based upon the highly successful 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado. The 1969 Cadillacs are among the most popular models in the history of the brand. Power, performance, and presence are yours with the Cadillac DeVille convertible. It is one of the world’s most exciting motorcars. There is no automobile more glamorous than a classic Cadillac convertible. NotoriousLuxury gives a round of applause and a standing ovation to this luxury barouche…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The 1969 and 1970 Cadillacs are truly the end of a spirited era of motoring…one of which we will never enjoy again – 

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Special thanks to Liberty Old Timers, Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars, and Bob Adams Classic Cars for the photos of these extremely rare automobiles – 

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NotoriousLuxury presents three decades of the Cadillac DeVille

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1949 Cadillac Series 62 with Coupe deVille option

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1959 Cadillac Series 6200 Coupe deVille

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1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible

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…those fabulous fins

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The flamboyant 1959 Cadillac is still a favorite

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The fins of change…

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1969

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NotoriousLuxury salutes America’s favorite luxury car…

Greg's World

…”As the Standard of the World Turns”

Aston Martin DB5 – The Ultimate Icon

Posted in Aston Martin, Classic Exotic Luxury, Editorials, Exotic Exotics, Exotic Sports Cars, Grande Marque with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

…This is the most famous Aston Martin

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…It’s also one of the most beautiful Aston Martin creations

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The Aston Martin DB5 is probably the single most identifiable model in the brand’s history. The iconic DB5 was built from 1963 until 1965. These luxury grand tourers have a sensuous Italian design and are powered by fast In-line 6-cylinder engines. The DB5 is another Aston Martin classic success story.

Its Superleggera formed architecture makes this series unique. Lightweight, powerful, and beautiful – the Aston Martin DB5 remains a highly collectible pedigree.  Robust beauty and high performance are Aston Martin signatures, the DB5 is the most famous of all Aston Martin automobiles – it was James Bond’s gadget-laden rolling arsenal in the 1964 movie “Gold Finger.” To drive any Aston Martin is to drive an automotive legend…

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Beautiful and fast like all Aston Martin automobiles, the DB5 defined British motoring luxury for the day. Thrilling performance was standard and not an afterthought. The DB5 is powered by a 4.0 litre In-line 6-cylinder 16-valve 243.7 CID alloy engine. Its fuel delivery system uses 2 SU HD8 carburetors. The engine cranked 282 hp @ 5,500 rpm delivering 391 Nm of peak torque @ 3,850 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, 0-100 mph in 15 seconds, and 0-120 mph in 24.5 seconds. Its top speed is 146-148 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 97 mph in 14.6 seconds.

Vantage

Adequately geared for fierce ‘take no prisoners’ European road rallies, the Aston Martin DB5 Vantage was introduced in 1964. It is a more powerful version substituting 3 Weber 2-bbl carburetors as a ‘full-throttle’ set-up increasing energy to 325 hp @ 5,750 rpm delivering 393 Nm of peak torque @ 4,500 rpm. The Vantage increased the top speed to 155 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 101 mph in 14.3 seconds. Longitudinal acceleration for the Vantage is rated as 0-60 mph in 6 seconds, 0-100 mph in 13.9 seconds, and 0-120 mph in 21.6 seconds. Only 65 DB5 Vantage coupes were built.

The engine used a 4-speed manual gear box for the 1963 model year. Model years 1964 and 1965 mate the engine to the ZF 5-speed all synchromesh manual. For those who required automatic shifting a 3-speed Borg-Warner DG (Detroit Gear) was available. It was refined into the Borg-Warner Model 8 shortly before introduction of the new replacement model.

Upgrading the DB4 to DB5 includes a Girling 4-wheel solid disc braking system with twin hydraulic brake servos, 15” wheels, and power windows.

Aston Martin DB5

The Aston Martin DB5 has distinctive hand-crafting. Its body and chassis are made by Superleggera Coachwork. This super light-weight construction is technology developed by Italian designer Felice Bianchi Anderloni of Carrozzeria Touring of Milan.  The Superleggera construction system is relatively simple in theory.

It consists of a structural framework of small diameter tubing conforming to the shape of the bodyshell. The tubing is covered with lightweight aluminium body panels. The bodyshell strengthens the framework. This design offers greater flexibility while in theatre allowing innovative body designs in less time than conventional die casting. Aston Martin was licensed by Carrozzeria Touring for the DB4 and DB5 models built using this patented process.

There are issues to the Superleggera process. First and foremost, it simply cannot meet important impact resistance standards. This type of build cannot accommodate suspension components, therefore a chassis is required. Due to the nature of this build type, galvanic corrosion occurs between the aluminium body panels and the steel of the tubular frame.

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The Aston Martin DB5 was built based upon 2+2 configurations as a two-door coupe, convertible, and Harold Radford Shooting Brake body styles. The most famous Aston Martin DB5 configuration is the lethal Silver Birch rolling arsenal driven by James Bond in the 1964 film “Gold Finger.” A different DB5 was used for “Thunderball” a year later, and then again in the 1995 filming of “Golden Eye.”

There is always more than one Bond car in any single film depending on the stunts involved. Another DB5 version appeared in 2006 in the James Bond film “Casino Royale.” One version of the DB5 was stolen and never recovered. Still another version of the Silver Birch DB5 appeared in Skyfall. These iconic Aston Martin collectibles fetch millions of dollars on the auction block. An Aston Martin is portrayed as invincible as the 007 character that drives it –

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DB5 Shooting Brake

Shooting Brake coachwork by Harold Radford

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The Aston Martin DB5 sports the minimalist approach to cabin appointments. All pertinent information is displayed directly in front of the driver. The heady aroma of impeccably tailored leather is as important as the grip of its hand-crafted steering wheel. Aston Martin is among the purveyors of grand tourers of the world.

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Aston Martin DB5 is a genuine sports car with no frills…

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Extraordinary automobiles for extraordinary people. Aston Martin has been creating excitement for over 100 years. The DB5 is the most famous of all models. This elegant grand tourer was built from 1963 through 1965 as convertible, hardtop, and Shooting Brake body styles. Exemplary British hand-crafting, the ultimate in high-performance, and one of the world’s most beautiful automotive designs makes the Aston Martin DB5 the quintessential classic sports car for a true enthusiast.

And having James Bond on your resume can’t hurt either…The Superleggera construction makes it as unique as the vehicle itself. Performance is built into an Aston Martin, not just tacked on as a package option. These are raw-power experiences…not just a good power-to-weight ratio. The DB5 is a driver’s car that typifies classic British sports cars from the genre – but then…an Aston Martin is not just a car…now is it?

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Aston Martin DB9

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Ask the owner of the Aston Martin DB9…about what part of the legend excites them most. Could it be the 6.0 litre 48-valve naturally aspirated V12 engine that produces 510 hp @ 6,500 rpm with 620 Nm of peak torque @ 5,500 rpm? Or is it due to the fact its longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, 0-100 mph in 9.3 seconds, 0-120 mph in 13.6 seconds and has a top speed of 193 mph?

Or the fact that it does the ¼ mile @ 115 mph in 12.5 seconds? And lest we forget, the ZF 6HP 6-speed automatic with Touchtronic 2 manual shift mode?  The Aston Martin DB9 is the contemporary grand tourer. The only thing more exciting than an Aston Martin motorcar is another Aston Martin. Engineering, performance, and beauty rank top marks in its class. Aston Martin epitomizes British hand-craftsmanship continuing the proud tradition –

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…seize the moment

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Photos courtesy Aston Martin Media Club

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…a matter of choice

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Aston Martin is the ultimate icon

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Aston Martin DB5 is NotoriousLuxury…

The Incomparable 1970 Imperial by Chrysler

Posted in Chrysler, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Imperial, Luxury Sedans with tags , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

The “Fuselage Era” is the last of the breed…

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The “Fuselage Era” refined the luxurious Imperial into an even more glamorous automobile. It was the Flagship of the Chrysler Corporation. The Imperial Division built the most aristocratic automobiles in the world. The 1970 Imperial is the epitome of elegance and dignity. It once again raised the luxury car concept to an even higher degree of exclusivity and supremacy.

There is absolutely nothing like the traditional American luxury car…they were imitated but never replicated. The incomparable Imperial is a legend of automotive superiority. The 1970 edition continued the tradition offering the formidable LeBaron and the elite Crown series in two-door and four-door hardtop configurations.

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Imperial, the elusive luxury car, is one of quality, individuality, supreme comfort, and outstanding performance. These automobiles still demand respect and admiration wherever they are driven. The 1970 model year is the last – since the 1955 Imperial became a stand alone brand – not to wear “Chrysler” nomenclature. Beginning the 1971 model year the car is officially identified as a “Chrysler Imperial.” 

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John Muller's 1969 Imperial LeBaron 1

 John Muller’s 1969 Imperial LeBaron

The “Fuselage Era” for the Imperial is the last of the genuine luxury automobiles from the Chrysler Corporation. They were built from 1969 until 1973 under this design. The name is derived to mock the deep rounded sides of an airplane. These are the “C” bodied full-size Chryslers. Although it shared its bodyshell and platform with other siblings; the Imperial is the most elegant of all Mopar products. Bumper to bumper they are embellished tastefully with restrained ornamentation.

The front end ensemble is augmented by quad hide-away headlamps, typical of this genre. The massive grille spans the entire width of the car making a bold fashion statement, all tastefully set within the chrome housing of the wrap-around bumper. The body sweeps from nose to tail in one constant flow. Its low-slung roof line makes the car appear even larger than it is. The rear end design is tasteful, with taillamps set into the canted bumper creating a sculptured appearance. The bumper end caps flow intricately into the beveled trunk lid.

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John Muller's 1969 Imperial LeBaron 3

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John Muller's 1969 Imperial LeBaron 4

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1970 Imperial LeBaron

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The view from behind the wheel reveals a hood that resembles a billiards table. The 1970 Imperial is one of the most beautiful automotive designs of its day. Its Chrysler engineered ride is so smooth, boulevard travel intrusion is negligible. It is definitely king of the road. These cars are gas-thirsty but who cared…back in the good old days when this car was new the price of a gallon of petrol was less than $.50! 

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“Size” is one of the main considerations when the 1970 Imperial was designed. It is one of the largest passenger production automobiles ever built. An Imperial’s hallmark is spaciousness with the emphasis on comfort. It is a big robust luxury sedan, the kind that was popular in the USA. The 1970 Imperial has the luxury length of 229.7”, and rides upon a long 127” wheelbase. It has a 79.1” width which is one of the widest stances in the industry…it is simply gorgeous… 

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For the 1970 model year, the Imperial was available as a two-door hardtop coupe and four-door hardtop sedan. The most luxurious trim level is the LeBaron, one of the most distinguished automobiles made in America. This elegant series has always been built at a highly restricted pace in order to maintain its exclusivity and supremacy. The LeBaron offers an extraordinary degree of personal comfort. This supreme achievement in motoring garners respect and admiration anywhere it appears. Luxury and individuality of this kind has vanished without a trace from automobile showrooms… 

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6Curt Young's 1969 Imperial LeBaron Coupe

Curt Young’s 1969 Imperial Crown coupe

The Imperial Crown continues the same legendary spacious comfort that made the model famous. The interior is sumptuous and elegant. The two-door coupe and four-door hardtop sedan provides six passenger convenience. The two-door has a standard notchback bench seat with folding center armrest. The four-door hardtop sedan has a standard bench seat with folding center arm rest. Front seat head restraints were standard for the 1970 model year. The Crown’s rich cloth with vinyl interior is treated with a fluorinated hydrocarbon finish to resist stains. A convenient storage bin is located in each door with cigarette lighters in each rear door on four-door models. Luxurious cut pile carpet adds to the Imperial Crown experience. 

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John Griffith's 1970 Imperial Crown Coupe

John Griffith’s 1970 Imperial Crown coupe

The Imperial Crown shared the same concept of what a luxury car should be. From the ground up, it is a carefully integrated premium automobile. Nothing is sacrificed, its luxury and elegance are surpassed only by its beauty. The comfort within the Imperial Crown for 1970 is the result of tough and unyielding insistence on quality. The Imperial Crown continues the tradition being designed and engineered as one of the finest luxury cars built in America. It is the quietest, smoothest riding Imperial Crown for its day.

The Imperial Crown, and the Imperial LeBaron, stood alone as America’s most distinguished motorcars. An Imperial is luxury without compromise. The Imperial Crown is the perennial favorite among all Imperial models. In fact, the only difference between the Crown and the LeBaron is the interior trim level and exterior badging. The Imperial Crown for 1970 is built with the same attention to detail. It garners the same respect and admiration as all Imperials. Best of all, the Imperial Crown has the poised dignity that is the hallmark of every Imperial. 

Elijah Scott's 1970 Imperial LeBaron 2

Elijah Scott’s 1970 Imperial LeBaron

An Imperial is a “driver’s” luxury car. It is the unexpected performance car. The 1970 Imperial has a unique head-turning beauty… that is luxurious in its performance with a kind of balance, poise, and response that obeys its driver’s every command. It is powered by Chrysler’s largest V8 engine ever built. The ferocious Chrysler RB-Series 7.2 litre 16-valve 440 CID V8 engine provides its prodigious power. This overhead valve 90 degree V8 has a 9.7 to 1 compression ratio. It’s equipped with a Holley 4-bbl carburetor and Chrysler’s TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission.  

The 1970 Imperial has astonishing power to be a luxury car. The engine produces 350 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 27.3 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 40.2 seconds. It has a top speed of 122 mph ungoverned. It does the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in just 16.9 seconds. It is a genuine Mopar in every respect. The Imperial provides awesome jaw-dropping power – which makes it the high performance limo… 

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Elijah Scott's 1970 Imperial LeBaron 1

Elijah Scott's 1970 Imperial LeBaron 3

The hydraulic power braking system reduces braking effort by up to 50 percent. It is equipped with front discs and rear drums that are both self-adjusting each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied. The system dissipates heat faster for excellent fade-free braking every time. An automobile of this magnitude needs to come to a halt without compromise. 

The 1970 Imperial didn’t use a dedicated platform and body shell. It shared many components with its Chrysler stablemates. Its unibody construction is stronger however; it is extremely pricey for repair and restoration. Examine these thoroughly if you are in the market for one from this genre to park in your garage. Improper collision damage repair and corrosion are nightmares to the body shop… 

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An Imperial cossets its passengers in first-class luxury. This big beautiful automobile has one of the smoothest rides in the industry. How does it manage the road so effectively? This is due in no small part to Chrysler’s patented “Torsion-Quiet Ride.” The suspension uses torsion bars in the front and leaf-type springs in the rear. It uses rubber bushings to separate this system from the body. The bushings absorb and cancels road shock and vibration before it reaches the interior. It also isolates road noise for that famous Imperial “quietness.” 

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…So what makes the 1970 Imperial so quiet inside? Twelve important areas of the bodyshell receive special attention. The cowl and dash liner are made from fiberglass. Its rear package shelf has 3-ply craft paper, Mastic (water-proof putty-like paste used as a sealer and filler), and Amberlite (ion-exchanging resins). The headliner is made of acoustical vinyl to aid sound absorption. A fiberglass under hood liner helps to control and contain engine noise. The complete underbody is under coated to add further insulation and protection. 

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It’s befitting for a luxury car to come equipped with an interior as elegant as its exterior. The 1970 Imperial offers an unusual amount of interior space to travel effortlessly and comfortably. The formidable Imperial LeBaron, either coupe or hardtop sedan configuration is one of the most lavishly equipped luxury automobiles built in America. The upholstery is exquisite and rivals that of fine home furnishings.

The luxurious 50/50 twin comfort split front bench seat is equipped with head restraints and individual folding center armrests. It could be ordered with dual 6-way power operation for extra comfort and convenience. For the 1970 model year, upholstery was available in eight cloth with vinyl selections or natural grain leather with vinyl bolsters. The luxury doesn’t stop here –  

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Each door of the LeBaron has its own storage compartment and power window control. Richly textured deep walnut tone vinyl inserts compliment Imperial’s distinguished demeanor. On the four-door LeBaron models, each rear door has its own cigarette lighter and ash receptacle. The rear compartment of four-door LeBarons features opulent vinyl covered pillar pillows and self-storing lavaliere straps. Extra luxurious cut pile carpet not only lines the floor but up the seat backs, door kick panels, and inside the luggage compartment. The exterior features a richly grained vinyl roof treatment with a closed-in limousine-style rear window which affords greater privacy to rear seat passengers. 

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Bob Martin's 1973 Imperial LeBaron Four Door Hardtop 3

1973 Imperial LeBaron leather trimmed rear compartment

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1970 Imperial LeBaron luxury features

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Kenyon Wills' 1970 Imperial LeBaron 1

Kenyon Wills’ 1970 Imperial LeBaron

Kenyon Wills' 1970 Imperial LeBaron 2

Kenyon Wills' 1970 Imperial LeBaron 3

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The 1970 Imperial has the poised dignity of a true American luxury automobile. It is one of the largest non-limousine passenger production automobiles in the world. The Chrysler 440 CID V8 engine moves this luxury barouche with aplomb. The Fuselage Era is the last of the genuine Imperials. Aside from all the pomp and splendor, the Imperial LeBaron and Imperial Crown are deep-seated luxury cars with the attributes of a true Mopar. Spirited performance such as this, is astonishing for a luxury automobile of this caliber.

This type of eloquence has vanished from automobile showrooms forever. The Imperial two-door hardtops rivaled the spaciousness of many four-door luxury sedans. The formidable LeBaron stood alone as America’s most distinguished motorcar. The Imperial Crown shared the same concept of what a luxury car should be. There will never be another automobile such as the incomparable 1970 Imperial. Power, presence, and performance are all attributes of this classic American luxury automobile. After all…the Imperial is a luxury car without compromise… 

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1971 Imperial

Tony Fortner's 1971 Imperial LeBaron 1

Tony Fortner’s 1971 Imperial LeBaron with 1969 grille

Tony Fortner's 1971 Imperial LeBaron 2

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1973 Imperial LeBaron

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Bob Martin's 1973 Imperial LeBaron Four Door Hardtop 4

Bob Martin’s 1973 Imperial LeBaron

Bob Martin's 1973 Imperial LeBaron Four Door Hardtop 1

Scott Smith's 1973 Imperial LeBaron Two Door Hardtop 1

Scott Smith’s 1973 Imperial LeBaron two-door hardtop 

Scott Smith's 1973 Imperial LeBaron Coupe

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The big 3 for 1973

The BIG three for 1973

Scott Smith's 1973 Imperial LeBaron Two Door Hardtop 3

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Photos courtesy of the On-line Imperial Club

Gregs World

Greg’s World is NotoriousLuxury…

The Iconic And Unforgettable 1960 Imperial

Posted in Chrysler, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Grande Marque, Imperial, Luxury Sedans with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

…suddenly it’s 1960

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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.

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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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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

The Continental Life: 1961 Continental Convertible

Posted in Classic American Marques, Editorials, Lincoln, Luxury Sedans, The Bold and the Beautiful Lincolns, The Continental Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

America’s only four-door convertible

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A legend was born for the 1961 model year. The eloquent Lincoln Continental was completely re-designed. Its new silhouette is completely in character with tradition. It is long, low, and wide. This all-new Continental is designed to shed the excesses of the 1950s with style. The formidable Lincoln Continental four-door convertible is the world’s only production model of this type.

The award-winning 1961 Lincoln Continental had a major influence on the American luxury car market. It is designed by Elwood Engel, a talented designer with vision. This new design was shocking at a time when bigger was supposed to be better…the 1961 Lincoln is smaller, unlike the gargantuan model it replaced. The fourth generation Lincoln Continental was built from 1961 until 1969. Corporate management at Ford set a goal to build the finest mass-produced domestic automobile of its time. As a convertible, the Continental is an elegant open grand tourer.

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The 1961 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible was unique in the entire world. The convertible had the same interior roominess as the sedan. This model showcased the all-new design with youthful vitality. The beautiful new architecture is augmented by elegant forward-opening rear coach doors. The knife blade fenders and slab-sided design dominated the full-size Continental becoming Lincoln hallmarks.

To lower the roof, a “T-handle” control is used while in the driver’s seat. The rear deck lid is hinged at the rear; it unlocks itself opening an extension panel folded under the deck lid that takes the place of a standard convertible boot. It rotates upward to extend the length of the rear deck. The top unlatched itself from the windscreen and stows away neatly in the luggage compartment. The roof is deployed in about a minute from start to finish.

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No top…no boot

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Lincoln Continental for 1961 came standard with unique luxury features…like its power operated door lock system. A master switch on the dash locks all four doors automatically. Door lock buttons are also located on each door for convenience. A warning light monitors the doors. The beautiful coach doors are counter-balanced making entry and exit even easier gliding at the slightest touch. The full foam cushioned seats are constructed of laminated foam layers of different resiliencies to provide deep-seated comfort.

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The 1961 Continental is one of Elwood Engel’s greatest works. He was a talented designer with his career beginning at General Motors as an assistant to Harley Earl in 1939. By 1947 he went to work for the Ford Motor Company concentrating on the Lincoln and Mercury brands. He is one of the key designers that created the 1955 Thunderbird. The 1961 Continental earned a design award for excellence by the Industrial Designer’s Institute.

Engel’s 1961 Continental redesign actually saved the brand, at the time management was considering terminating the Lincoln and the Edsel brands from the company. The popularity with the 1961 Continental kept the division going strong. Elwood Engel’s expertise can be seen in Continental designs from 1961 on. He gave the Continental a new demeanor for the 1961s because the 1958-1960 Lincolns left a bad taste in customer’s mouths due to their unreliability and enormous girth.

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The “Kennedy” Lincoln was purchased by the Secret Service for the White House. It is a 1961 Lincoln four-door convertible parade limousine custom-built by Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio. This special vehicle is code-named SS-100-X and is the car JFK was assassinated in 1963. It had its front end cosmetics changed out to mirror the 1962 version. After the assassination, the car was returned to Hess & Eisenhardt to be re-done with not only new paint and interior work but also retro-fitted with full armor and a fixed roof. It continued service to the White House for many years and is now retired to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

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The 1961 Lincoln Continentals were designed and built to a new set of standards that were intended to improve reliability and durability far superior to the competition. Ford was so confident of the 1961 Continental; that they were the first auto manufacturer to offer a two-year 24,000 mile warranty…this is twice that of any other automobile.

Even the car’s maintenance had been refined. The 1,000 mile new car oil change was no longer necessary. Under normal operating conditions, twice a year or 6,000 mile service is all that is required. Ford’s careful attention to mechanical tolerances resulted in improved overall performance with improved fuel economy…it is 10% better than the 1960 models. Owners of the 1961 Continentals were so happy with their cars, they kept them longer.

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Ford’s idea … the best way to guarantee a trouble-free car was to test all components thoroughly before installing them into the cars. Actually, the quality control began with the design of the components. Ford Motor Company introduced aircraft tolerances to the luxury car segment.

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Ford’s diligence to quality required every engine to be bench tested to the equivalence of 90 mph and then broken down for inspection. The 430 CID V8 engine was America’s largest automobile engine for the day. It was also America’s most precisely built engine. These were built the way Rolls Royce builds their engines. Critical parts were hand-matched in sets for perfect fit. The standards were so exacting that Ford designed new equipment to build the parts alone.

Chrome plating and stainless-steel were used for critical components to ensure longevity and reliability. To make sure parts fit the engine block precisely, cylinder bores were honed twice providing better lubrication to cylinder walls. After the engines were built, each was tested for three hours. It was then torn down and tolerances checked. After they were reassembled, each engine was tested again.

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Every electrical component was individually tested and then tested again after assembly. Inspections were performed all along the assembly line. As an additional quality control measure, one car was pulled per day away from the assembly line to be checked for tolerances against the master specifications to ensure all body panel clearances and dimensions were within factory specifications. Each week one completed car was completely disassembled by the inspectors to check for flaws related to the assembly process.

One out of every 10 cars on the assembly line was spot checked for door and glass clearances as well as other critical alignment and assembly procedures. Once the car was built, a factory trained inspector drove it over a 12-mile course on actual roads in the Wixom, Michigan area. During the 12-mile test drive, the inspectors checked everything inside and out. The paint finish was also inspected. The alignment of trim was scrutinized. The upholstery was inspected for soil or loose threads. Everything in general was checked for proper fit & finish.

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The engine was cranked while using a stop watch to determine how long it took. If it wasn’t within specs, the car was promptly rejected and returned to the factory. Steering and braking was evaluated. The engine and transmission were evaluated for smoothness and overall performance. These inspectors were so picky, they even tested the amount of pressure it took to turn on headlamps, wipers, even the cigar lighters – they had to heat and pop-out within a specified length of time.

Each 1961 Continental was built and tested as though they were the ultimate consumer. The “intolerant” inspectors were adamant…if they ‘felt’ an unusual vibration, strange noise, or if they simply felt something wasn’t right the car was returned to the factory. Each car was also subjected to a three-minute high-pressure water spray checking for leaks.

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The surprising fact was that there weren’t many 1961 Continentals returned to the factory because there was a lot of pride in building them. No one wanted to be pointed out for poor workmanship. At the time, Lincoln Continentals and Ford Thunderbirds built at Wixom were among the best built automobiles in the world. The Continental for the 1961 model year included only two models, the four-door convertible and the four-door sedan which exemplified quality control.

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The 1961 Lincoln Continentals are powered by Ford’s MEL-Series 7.0 litre 16-valve OHV 430 CID V8 engine equipped with a Carter ABD 2-bbl carburetor. This engine produced 300 hp @ 4,100 rpm with 631 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11.2 seconds, 0-100 mph in 36 seconds with a top speed of 115 mph (ungoverned). It can do the ¼ mile @ 79 mph in 18.2 seconds. The engine is mated to Lincoln’s 3-speed automatic Turbo-Drive by Borg Warner.

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The 1961 Continentals were built using Unibody construction, a technique introduced for the 1958 model year. This type of build is a lot like European Monocoque Construction where the body and chassis are welded together to create a stronger single entity. The “Silent-strut” front suspension includes: pre-lubricated ball joints with helical coil springs, and double-acting shock absorbers with hydraulic rebound control. The Iso-clamp rear suspension is the Hotchkiss Drive-type. It uses 60” parallel mounted leaf-type rear springs, rubber-insulated axle mounts, angle-mounted rear shock absorbers with hydraulic rebound control, and a floating hypoid-type rear axle.

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Lincoln’s new marketing strategy included a higher level of standard equipment at the base model level. They cut costs by including many features and accessories as standard for the 1961 model year.  Standard equipment for the 1961 Continental four-door convertible includes: Magic-Finish leather interior, a power, fully automatic folding fabric roof, power steering and brakes, dual exhaust system, hydraulic windscreen wipers with electric washers, power windows, power door locks, heater/defroster, electric clock, AM radio, front and rear folding center armrests, automatic retracting rear door windows, and whitewall tires.

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Popular options for the 1961 Continental includes: Air Conditioning ($504.60), 6-way power seats ($118), tinted glass ($53.60), Automatic Speed Control ($96.80), Directed Power Differential ($57.50), Heavy-Duty Suspension ($28.60), front seat belts ($16.80), and outside rearview mirror ($5.10). Once could almost purchase an entire car today for the cost of the options alone for today’s over-priced puddle-jumpers.

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Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt & Co

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Special thanks to Bob Adams Classic Cars

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It was all-new…classic beauty in a completely new size. Lincoln Continental for 1961 was a bold and dramatically different design. The shocking transformation is the birth of a legend. Its award-winning design is one of Elwood Engel’s finest. The Continental had a major influence on the American luxury car market. The slab-sided design became an established Hallmark for the Lincoln Continental. Its sweeping lines and restrained use of ornamentation added further distinction.

Lincoln Continental is the only domestic brand to offer a four-door convertible. The elegant forward-opening rear coach doors became the signature feature for the Lincoln Continental. It is the most spacious convertible in the world. The 1961 Continental introduced new dignity to the automotive industry. In Ford’s relentless pursuit of quality control, each Lincoln Continental went through a rigorous gauntlet of testing. No Continental left the factory without 100% inspector satisfaction. The all-new Lincoln Continental presented a unique fashion statement that no other car could replicate…which follows their marketing slogan: Lincoln Continental – what a luxury car should be –

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The Continental Life…what a luxury car should be