Crown Imperial limousines
During 1955 and 1956, a Crown Imperial limousine model was also offered. With an extra 19.5 in (500 mm) and 16.5 in (420 mm) of wheelbase in 1955 and 1956 respectively, and seating eight (three in the front including the driver, three in the rear, and two on rearward-facing fold-down jump seats), these replaced the long-wheelbase offerings in all Chrysler marques. Only 172 were built in 1955 and 226 in 1956. They were the last Chrysler-branded limousines built entirely in Detroit.
From 1957 until 1965, long-wheelbase Crown Imperial cars would be finished by Ghia in Italy. The earlier models used two-door hardtop bodies mounted on the more rigid convertible chassis; these would be shipped across the Atlantic, cut apart, lengthened by 20.5 inches (521 mm) and reworked. Later models were built from four-door models to the same specification. Each took a month to build and carried a high price for the time ($18,500 in 1963-64). They sold poorly against the Cadillac Series 75 that was less expensive ($9724–$9960 in 1963-64), and had an established reputation among limousine buyers, as well as against competing coachbuilders building on the Cadillac commercial chassis. A total of 132 Crown Imperials were manufactured for Chrysler by Ghia over 1957-65. An interesting oddity is that all 10 Ghia built Crown Imperials sold during the 1965 model year were 1964s with 1965 exterior styling, and consequently had pushbutton gearshifts. At about 6,200–6,300 lb (2,800–2,900 kg) curb weight the 1957-65 Ghia built Crown Imperials are the heaviest standard production cars sold by an American firm since the 1930s.
Throughout her husband's term as U.S. President, Jacqueline Kennedy's personal car was a Ghia built 1961 Crown Imperial with 1960 styling. The car figured prominently in her various duties as First Lady. In President John F. Kennedy's funeral procession on November 25, 1963, at the front of the motorcade, carrying Jackie and her children, was a brand new 1964 Crown Imperial, a car she would then use for some time thereafter. Additional photos of the car are found at this page.
Nelson Rockefeller, Vice President of the U.S. during the term of President Gerald Ford, also owned a 1960 Crown Imperial. It is one of 17 limousines made by Ghia in 1960, and the only one that year with blind rear quarter treatment. Photos of the car are found here.
In the 1974 movie "The Godfather II", a black Ghia built 1958 Crown Imperial was used by Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) while at the family compound near Reno, Nevada.
Post Ghia Imperial limousines (1966–1983)
While the "Crown Imperial" limousines ended in 1965, Imperial limousines continued to be made by other coach builders. After the last ten Ghia built Crown Imperials were completed, Ghia sold its tooling to Barreiros Coachbuilders of Spain. Barreiros built ten limousines, much like those built by Ghia and, similar to the last ten built by Ghia, built 1965s with 1966 exterior styling, but with two inches longer wheelbase. Build quality was poor by comparison, with the cars famous for having a wiring harness made from wires of the same color.
Between 1967 and 1971 a total of 27 Imperial limousines were produced by Stageway Coachbuilders (ASC) of Fort Smith, Arkansas on a 163.0 in (4,140 mm) wheelbase, and were justifiably advertised as the largest luxury automobiles in the world. Two 1972 models with 1973 grills were built by the Hess and Eisenhardt Company of Fairfield, Indiana for the United States Secret Service and were used by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan on his swearing-in day. One 1974 model Imperial was produced into a limo also by ASC. The final Imperial limousines were 1981-83 bodied cars, two of which were stretched 24-inch (610 mm) and five were lengthened 36-inch (910 mm).