Imperial Sixth Generation
|Assembly||Windsor, Ontario, Canada|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupé|
|Related||Chrysler Cordoba Dodge Mirada|
|Engine||318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8|
|Transmission||3-speed A904 automatic|
|Wheelbase||112.7 in (2,863 mm)|
|Length||213.3 in (5,418 mm)|
|Width||72.7 in (1,847 mm)|
|Height||52.6 in (1,336 mm)|
|Curb weight||3,968 lb (1,800 kg)|
|Predecessor||Chrysler New Yorker Brougham|
The new Imperial was a smaller, two-door only package, sharing its wheelbase chassis with the second generation Chrysler Cordoba and Dodge Mirada. Neither a convertible nor a 4-door version was available, though conversions were made of both by 3rd party companies. The Cordoba and Mirada models were designated the J-bodies, while the Imperial was a Y-body.
The Imperial eagle logo was not used as it had been moved to the Chrysler LeBaron model in 1977. Instead it bore a Chrysler Pentastar hood ornament made of Cartier crystal.
Competing models such as the Cadillac Eldorado and the Lincoln Continental Mark VI had been downsized by 1981, so the Imperial was of comparable size to its competitors, and the Eldorado was at that time rising to the peak of its success. A marketing effort for the new model included commercials and magazine ads featuring singer Frank Sinatra, a personal friend of Iacocca. Sinatra even recorded special songs to promote the new Imperial. The Imperials carried a market-leading 24-month/30,000-mile limited warranty which covered all labor, maintenance, and parts (except tires).
The 1981 Imperial was equipped with standard power windows, Electronic VFD dash (including odometer, speedometer, gear selection, gasoline-use calculator, and clock), electronic door locks, garage opener, air conditioning, electric adjustable seats, automatic speed control, and other convenience features. Because of the rich standard equipment list there were virtually no options, other than a cost-free choice of wheels (color-coded 'snowflakes' could be deleted in favor of steel with 'wire wheel' wheelcovers), upholstery choice (standard leather could be changed for cloth), sound systems choice, 40-band CB radio, and a power moonroof.
Imperial's "floating cushion" velour seats were replaced with ones of velvet one-piece construction. Power moonroof was removed from the options list.
Following significant price increases during the 1981 and 1982 model years, due in part to high inflation at the time, the Imperial's base price was cut back close to its original introductory level. The hood ornament, while similar in appearance, was changed from Cartier crystal to plastic. The Frank Sinatra Edition package was no longer available. A suspension upgrade Touring Edition package was added.
Overall, the sixth generation Imperial did not fulfill Chrysler management's sales expectations. It had innovations such as the fuel injection system and electronic instrument cluster, and Chrysler tried to use it as a showcase for technology and quality. Unfortunately the fuel injection system proved troublesome and many cars were retrofitted under warranty (or later on owner initiative) with carburetors.
The Imperial name would reappear in 1990, but as the flagship Chrysler model.
A few race teams built NASCAR spec racecars with Imperial sheetmetal and raced them on the NASCAR circuit from 1981 through the 1985 season, though mostly only on the superspeedways. They were driven by Buddy Arrington, Rick Baldwin, Cecil Gordon, Phil Goode, and Maurice Randall. The cars did not distinguish themselves to any great degree, however a Buddy Arrington owned and driven Imperial finished in sixth place in the summer 1982 race at Brooklyn, Michigan. The Imperial-based cars were used in competition as it was determined to be far more aerodynamic (and capable of higher speeds) than the Dodge Mirada at the time. The car had a drag coefficient of 0.41, which was better than contemporary Corvette (0.45), and performed well on the big high speed tracks, with Morgan Shephard (driving Buddy Arrington's Imperial) qualifying for the 1985 Daytona 500 at a speed of 197 mph, despite the lack of suitable high-performance race engines. One of Arrington's Imperials resides in the Talladega, Alabama NASCAR museum.
The 318 cu in (5.2 L) V8, with a Chrysler-built throttle-body EFI system, was the only available engine. The automatic transmission was a wide-ratio TorqueFlite equipped with lock-up torque converter, with the final drive ratio 2.2:1 in 1981 and 1983; 2.4:1 in 1982.
|engine displacement, type, fuel system||max. motive power at rpm||max. torque at rpm||transmission|
|318 cu in (5,211 cc) LA V8 EFI||140 bhp (104 kW; 142 PS) @ 4,000||245 lb·ft (332 N·m) @ 2,000||3-speed TorqueFlite A904 automatic|
Frank Sinatra Edition
The Imperial had an unusual distinction for 1981 as it was offered with an optional special edition named after a celebrity. The Imperial fs was a rare example of automotive history, as it was one of only a handful of regular production cars bearing a celebrity's name. This limited edition Imperial was available only in Glacier Blue Crystal paint - Chrysler advertising claimed it matched the color of Sinatra's eyes - and had special fs (lowercase) external badging, with a large glovebox placard proclaiming "Frank Sinatra Signature Edition". Inside, 16 cassette tapes of Sinatra titles were presented in a specially made Mark Cross leather case. In the center console of the car there was also a special tray for 8 cassettes. 271 fs edition cars were manufactured.
Aside from the fs edition available for purchase by the public, Chrysler president Lee Iacocca commissioned a 1982 Imperial converted into a limousine with a 36 in (910 mm) stretch, and presented it to Frank Sinatra as a gift.