Black Beauty: 1954 Imperial Sedan

Chairman K.T. Keller enforced a conservative design approach to Chrysler Corporation cars after World War II. This traditional and somewhat boxey post war design style had run its course by 1954, and with exciting new designs known to be forthcoming the next year, this last year of more old fashioned Chrysler car designs was not all that popular when new, and has remained so among collectors as well. In 1955, Chrysler introduced the “100 million dollar look” to all its car lines, and proving that Americans liked a modern look, sales took off after the fairly disappointing sales record of the previous year.

This 1954 Imperial four door sedan for sale on craigslist in Gilbert, Arizona, is an excellent representative of its model year. Imperial was Chrysler’s luxury car, and was quite a large car. This C64 Custom Sedan, with a dry weight of 4,355 pounds and a 133.5 inch wheelbase, was the lowest priced Imperial, with a base price of $4,260, and was also the best selling Imperial for the year, with 4,324 units sold.

This big, conservative luxury car is equipped with Chrysler’s famous 331 cubic inch hemi V-8, which came standard with a four barrel carburetor.

The seller says this car came from dry Montana and is said to be a one family owned car, but it has not run since being put away in 1989, so it will doubtless need a thorough going over before it will be a runner again. No photos of the engine are provided, and there is only one photo of the interior, which indicates it may need to be replaced as well.

With all original paint that looks very good, and well equipped with power steering, windows and seats, this should be a very restorable Imperial.

If this car’s body is as rust free as it appears, with an asking price of $3,400, though even a driver quality restoration will be a lot of work, it seems this Imperial is well worth saving. I’ve driven large Chryslers from this era, and can attest to the pleasure they afford their owners. These cars keep do very well in modern traffic and can easily fit your entire family on any trip you might wish to take. I hope this nice Imperial will find a new owner who will be able to get it back on the road. Bring a large trailer if you want to go get it!

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  1. Rod

    Very nice car. Looks like the ones are good on this one and the restoration project would be a good one. Really do wish people trying to sell things would put more pics and info into their adds.

  2. Howard A Member

    Something odd about this car. While it clearly is an Imperial Custom ( not the fancier Crown) it seems to have the cheaper Windsor or New Yorker dash. This is what comes up for Imperial. Anybody? Last year for this style. Sure was “stodgy” looking, compared to what came next. Total tank with “whale-like” handling. If it wasn’t painted black, it could look really nice again. Hemi was a slug, but if you are going to redo this, the hemi should stay. It was what this car was about, and at almost 5,000 lbs, you needed it. Cool find.

    • Don

      Hi with the 4 barrel it made 235 horse power 180 as a 2 barrel maybe a slug today but faster then any Ford our Chevy back then 👍

      • Howard A Member

        That’s true, Don, this baby ruled the road, at the time. Even the 2 barrel,,,once you got ‘er rolling, that is. I had friends and neighbors that had cars like this, and were pretty shot. Seemed everyone was an oily mess and ran poorly.

  3. David Wilk Member

    Howard- the photo in the CL ad is not very clear, but I think it’s the standard Imperial dash. Take a look at this one:
    Looks pretty much the same doesn’t it?

    • Howard A Member

      I think there were a lot of combinations one could choose from. It kind of looks like that gauge cluster could be interchanged. I do believe, both were a padded dash, an industry 1st. Pretty sure this car also had standard disc brakes. Aside from Crosley, another 1st.

      • David Wilk Member

        First padded dash was introduced by Tucker in 1948.

  4. Don

    That yellow cat looks kind of scary could do some damage

  5. Don

    You can see that yellow cat in most of the pitchers hiding 😈thank you Steven K

    • S Ryan

      I believe all those types of Cats are Yellow.

  6. Sam

    Brings back memories. My first car in 1977 was a 1952 4dr dark green Imperial. 331 hemi with “slush-o-matic” trans. Power windows, power steering, 3 cigarette lighters, fender skirts with tube radio and speaker that worked! I did all the “high school” things….wide white wall tires from Sears, JC Whitney accesories that overpromised/underperformed and a cheap 20 foot paint jobs that was really a 30 footer. I drove it for 5 years…was fun at the time and all I could afford.

    • Don

      But you could tell your buddy’s I have A HEMI 🙂

    • Don

      Only thing missing is the duel glass packs 😀

  7. Warren

    The wetness adds $100 to the value…..

  8. G 1

    I have a nice hood ornament from one.

    • G2

      I have some of the foam that is missing from the front seat – wanna trade..?

  9. Marshall

    Did anybody notice that the right front tire is flat?

  10. Ben T. Spanner

    Google the Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Chrysler. Chrysler provided a customized 1953 for the coronation. The Interior was beautiful. As I recall it had real gold trim way before the “gold packages” were available. I don’t know the purpose of sending a Chrysler to the Queen. I’m sure it saw little use. The Queen rode exclusively in Daimlers; before Jaguar bought them.

    My Father had Mopars with Gyromatics. A crappy power sucking transmission. Can any early Torqueflight be added behind an early Hemi? That would be nice.

    I car sat a 1953 Cadillac Hearse with Dynaflow. The Hydramatic factory had burned. It probably had similar acceleration to this Imperial.

  11. Brad C

    Like a DeSoto whose parents ponied up for braces.
    That’s a one-year, Imperial-only grille. Beautiful.

  12. Bryan

    Yes, a later 1956-and-a-half to 1961 cast iron Torqueflite should bolt up to the back of this 1954 331 Hemi (the aluminum bell-housings on the cast iron Torqueflites could be changed depending on the V8). I have no idea if the hump/tunnel of that 54 will accommodate the early 3-speed Torqueflite.

    This 54 would have the 2-speed Powerflite automatic anyway, which i believe was considered a good, reliable automatic (introduced in 1953).

    The 1951 and 1952 331 hemis will not bolt to a Powerflite or Torqueflite because they were cast with an extended block to accommodate the Fluid Drive semi-automatic (though I think it can be accomplished with an adaptor that is probably no longer available).

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