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The Imperial Division continued to emphasize quality control and superior engineering advances for 1965. Sales continued to trend behind Cadillac and Lincoln, in spite of continued favorable reviews by car magazines. In its May 1965 issue, Road Test Magazine compared the Big Three luxury cars. The article was critical of all three, siting Cadillac's lack of bumper protection front and rear, as well as lack of rocker panel moldings and generally poor workmanship, which Road Test said was no better than an Oldsmobile or Buick. Cadillac's new perimeter frame was also mentioned as being too flexible, causing rattles.
Lincoln was credited with being the worst handling of the three; and cowl shake was evident in the Convertible. Poor design left the taillights susceptible to breakage, and a built-in trough between the window sill and fender molding was said to collect rain water which ran off on the person opening the door. The roof rear quarter design created a blind spot, and it was pointed out that the rear-hinged rear doors could be dangerous if left slightly open.
The Imperial didn't completely escape the critical eye of the journalists either. Bumpers were mentioned as offering little protection to front fenders and taillamps. The taillamps were said to be too small, and the roof rear quarter was again mentioned as creating a blind spot on the Crown Coupe they tested. Road Test also stated that the Imperials were so cold in the marketplace that Chrysler was rumored to be guaranteeing leasing companies a resale value of at least the same as a Continental of the same vintage would bring. Reports such of this obviously did little to help Imperial's image.
And image was what it was all about. Despite an excellent drive-train, and the fact that virtually every comparison test indicated the Imperial superior in handling and performance, the public wasn't exactly flocking to Imperial dealers to buy Imperials. Discounts of $1,000 off sticker price were common on Imperials, making them an easy mark for people wanting a good deal.
Imperial traditionally sold better in years when Cadillac and Lincoln weren't heavily face-lifted. The 1965 Cadillacs were all-new, and the Lincoln, while still locked into its 1961 styling, received the heaviest facelift to date for that body style. The Imperial's clean lines and elegant styling, introduced in 1964, were little changed. The front end was restyled with a bold chrome grille and chrome plated header with "IMPERIAL" lettering etched into it. Headlamps sat behind new tempered-glass lenses, and the grille was divided into four sections by heavy chrome bars centrally located on the horizontal and vertical planes.
Inside, the instrument panel, door, and side trim panels were updated with 100-year old claro walnut wood inlays. Chrysler also made an interesting move in 1965: the Torqueflite transmission selector lever was positioned on the steering column, eliminating the push-button controls used previously. The reason behind this has been debated for years, but the general consensus is that no government regulations intervened to force the change, Chrysler just wanted the Imperial to be a bit more mainstream, hoping any past objection to the push-button controls would be resolved with this change. There are also reports of complaints by female drivers that the push-buttons were harsh on their manicured, painted nails. We may never know the real reason behind this move, but no doubt these are two valid points.
The Imperials of 1965 continued to use the same basic body introduced in 1957; and although the lines were quite contemporary, the wrap-around windshield was no longer in vogue. Due to its low production, Imperial would have to make do with this body for one more year. It was obvious that change was needed, and it would come for 1967.
Overall 1965 was a good year for the automobile manufacturers. Chrysler's sales were up over 55 percent compared to 1964. Fresh new styling and a base price of under $3,000 for the Newport models contributed to this. Almost half of all 1965 Chryslers built were in the Newport series, resulting in Chrysler building over 200,000 cars for the first time ever.
The Imperial has certainly seen worse sales years, but sales were down by 6,873 units from 1964. Sales would continue to slide in 1966, although not as badly as they did for 1965. Imperial's 1965 styling, which was becoming dated even when the cars were new in 1965, has generally held up well over the years. Today, when compared to its contemporaries, the Imperial somehow doesn't seem to be of the same vintage. Certainly a testimony to the timeless design, and truly an elegant classic.
Imperial's sales brochure for 1965 stated that there were those who considered Imperial a status symbol of the first rank. It also urged to judge its inherent practical worth as well. Together, the brochure said, it was those which make the Imperial the Incomparable car of the luxury field. There is no question that these cars were built to endure and perform for their owners. While we can't turn back the hands of time, we ask you to consider them now. The incomparable Imperial--vintage 1965.
1965 LUXURY CAR DEPRECIATION SCHEDULE IMPERIAL CADILLAC LINCOLN BASE PRICE $5,913 $5,765 $6,250 VALUE AT 1 YEAR 4,400 4,700 4,600 VALUE AT 2 YEARS 3,250 4,000 3,600 VALUE AT 3 YEARS 2,500 3,100 2,900 VALUE AT 4 YEARS 1,850 2,600 2,300 VALUE AT 8 YEARS 550 550 (No value) Based on information in Road Test Magazine, May 1965
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