1952 Chrysler Custom Imperial

The Chrysler Imperial, the top of the line vehicle for this automaker, was a car built and engineered excellently but it’s design was considered a bit drab. This was a luxury automobile built for the owner/ driver, not as a limousine.

1952 Chrysler Custom Imperial
1952 Chrysler Custom Imperial

The 1952 Chrysler Custom Imperial featured in this article is a part of a Chrysler model that first arrived on the scene in 1926. The 1952 Imperial is among the sixth generation of the model.

When the Imperial debuted it was a Chrysler model as opposed to a separate make. The cars were produced by Chrysler from 1926 to 1954. In 1955 Chrysler decided to make Imperial a separate division. When this occurred the Imperial would not come with the Chrysler name. Very similar to what Ford Motor did with Lincoln.

As with so many of the American automakers, new post war designs came out in 1949. A few had new designs a year earlier in 1948.

The 1952 Chrysler Imperial is just about exactly the same as the 1951 models. To find the difference you’d have to refer to the car’s serial numbers. Another interesting fact is that the only rag top Imperials were produced in 1951. The 1952 models dropped the convertible styling. Another fact is that all of the early 1950’s Imperials were designed very similar to the Chrysler New Yorker. There were differences however in side trim, wheelbase and tail lights.

1952 Imperial
1952 Imperial

The Chrysler Imperial’s competitors are pretty much what you’d expect...Cadillac, Lincoln and Packard. When Walter Chrysler first decided to manufacture the Imperial in the 1920’s his aim at that time was to compete against Cadillac.

Chrysler’s 1952 Imperial was a car for the rich and famous of the time. Chrysler even advertised it’s 1952 Imperial as the car chosen by those who can afford any car in the world regardless of price. The automaker also touted the Imperial as being the finest car ever produced in America.

Chrysler Imperial Engineering

The Chrysler Imperial was known as an excellently engineered vehicle. The 1951 Imperial came out with the first 331 cubic inch Hemi-head V-8 engine. This new engine caught Cadillac off guard and was thought to have started the great horsepower race of the 1950’s. Mass producing this powerful engine was costly and after the 1958 model year Chrysler’s Imperial came with a 413 cubic inch wedge V-8.

Power steering was standard with the 1952 Imperial.

Chrysler Imperial Designing

As mentioned above, the Chrysler Imperials were thought drab in style although the engineering was top of the line all the way. Things changed in 1953 when Chrysler had designer Virgil Exner add some shapely changes to the Imperial’s look.

1952 Chrysler Imperial dashboard
1952 Chrysler Imperial dashboard

Exner was one of the top car designers of the 1950’s having been hired away from Studebaker by Chrysler in 1949. Virgil Exner would go on to add some fine designing touches to the Chrysler line of cars referred to as the Forward Look. In essence, Exner led the team that gave the entire Chrysler line of the mid to late 1950’s a more modern edge in styling. If you look at a Chrysler tail fin of the latter 1950’s you’ve seen the work of Virgil Exner. Some even credit him with starting the tail fin rage of that decade.

Prior to Exner’s years with Studebaker and Chrysler he worked for GM and was in charge of Pontiac styling before he was thirty years old. If you look for automobile designers who left a legacy, Virgil Exner will be near the top of your list.

1952 Chrysler Imperial
1952 Chrysler Imperial

1952 Chrysler Imperial Specifications

The engine as mentioned above was a 331 cubic inch Hemi-head V-8 engine delivering 180 horsepower.

Transmission was an automatic four speed.

The 1952 Chrysler Imperial was built with a long 131.5 inch wheelbase. The car’s overall length was 212.62 inches and it’s width was 75.75 inches. This was a big car.

The 1952 Imperial’s weight was a hefty 4,500 lbs.

A few cars you may want to compare the Chrysler Imperial with are on the links below…

1939 Chrysler Parade Phaeton

1949 Mercury

Those interested in Chrysler Imperial advertising from 1950 to 1975 might want to search for the CD Chrysler Imperial Ads 1950-1975 by Harry W. llaria. This is a nostalgic tour which tells you quite a lot about the features offered in the luxurious Chrysler Imperial.


Lots of chrome on the 1952 Imperial grille
Lots of chrome on the 1952 Imperial front end

Chrysler Imperials as Collector Cars

The 1952 Chrysler Custom Imperial is a popular collector’s car as is any Imperial from the 1950’s. If you happen to run across one of those rare convertibles from the 1951 model year then you may have hit the jackpot. it’s was reported that only 650 of those convertibles were sold.

You might be able to pick up an non restored early 1950’s Chrysler Imperial below $10,000. You may also find immaculately restored early 1950’s Imperials with asking prices around $60,000.

Some classic cars have a hard time being valued at what it costs to restore them. The 1952 Chrysler Imperial including all of the early 50’s Imperials might just garner what you’ve put in it and more. Mint condition early 50’s Imperials should sell well and at a good price.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)