Imperial Home Page -> Literature -> Articles -> 1952 - 1956 Parade
Old Car Weekly readers saw a full-page auction ad in our March 29
issue advertising the '52 Chrysler Imperial Presidential Parade Car
shown below as one of the vehicles that will cross the block at The
Auction in Las Vegas on April 21-22, 2001.
decision for the postwar phaetons was executed by
with its wheelbase extended two inches to 147.5 in. In total, they were over 20 ft. long. The car's body panels were handcrafted and completely unique. About the only stock items used were the '51 Imperial grille and Imperial front and rear bumpers. The clean, un-chromed lines and side sculpturing would greatly influence Exner"s "100 Million Dollar Look" used on the '55 Chryslers and De Sotos.
|The Imperial parade car as it looked when displayed at the Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. It is among the cars being offered for sale at The Auction, which will be held in Building B at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino April 21-22, 2001.|
If the huge Imperial phaeton
formerly displayed in the Imperial
Palace Auto Collection in Las Vegas, could talk — oh, what tales it could tell. The 1952 Imperial parade car, along with its two almost identical siblings, carried many of the great world leaders as well as many movie stars, astronauts, military leaders, senators, governors, mayors and beauty queens. Four United States Presidents — Eisenhower, Kennedy Johnson and Nixon -waved at crowds from the spacious rear cockpit. The phaetons have also carried the likes of Winston Churchill, Nikita Khrushchev, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and astronaut John Glenn.
The parade phaetons were originated by Chrysler chairman, K.T. Keller, in 1951. These were not the first cars Chrysler ever built strictly for parade duties. The first was a massive, six-wheel, '39 Derham-bodied, custom Imperial touring car. The Imperial was followed by another Derham Imperial phaeton in 1940 and later the famous '41 Newport dual-cowl show cars appeared. Serving as New York City's official parade car, among other duties, the '40 Chrysler Imperial phaeton carried General Eisenhower during a traditional ticker-tape parade in June 1945, to celebrate Ike's contribution to the World War II victory. The handcrafted car, made by Derham, was used by New York City for more than 20 years and was finally stored away in 1960.
parade cars were completely open cars, a feature that was only
acceptable because of the gentler, less violent times. In true phaeton
tradition, there were separate cowls and windshields for the front and
rear compartments. Like phaetons of old, there was an abbreviated
instrument panel for the rear seat occupants.
The eight-passenger vehicle had two
leather-upholstered bench seats and two fold-out jump seats stored in
the second cowl. The rear doors were of the "suicide" type and
all doors lacked exterior door handles since there were no side windows.
In the weight Dacron top, stored under the rear-hinged deck lid, could
be erected over the rear compartment. However, the driver was left to
the elements. This was strictly a "fair weather" car.
Reportedly, it cost Chrysler a mere $100,000 to develop the three
mechanical revamping came with the mid-'50s facelift. The cars' anemic
performance was greatly enhanced by changes such as a four-barrel
carburetor and a compression ratio increase. Depending on the
information source, the output was now 235- or 285-hp. A Powerflite
two-speed fully-automatic transmission was also added, but without the
push-button controls used on the '56 Chrysler products.
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