Do you find modern cars boring and would rather attend a classic car show than one of the many product launches? If you do, last weekend’s Concours d’Elegance of America at Meadow Brook showcased some great classic cars. We happened to be in attendance, snapped some photos of a few of the cars, and are bringing you Name That Elegant Car this week.
Did You Name Yesterday’s Elegant Car?
Many of you correctly latched upon the crown insignias to deduce that yesterday’s mystery car was a 1958 Imperial Crown Limousine — an unusual collaboration between Chrysler’s top division and a famous Italian coachbuilder.
Chrysler had built a small number of Imperial limousines after World War II, but in 1956, it was faced with the expensive task of engineering a new limousine for 1957, or outsourcing the work. Ironically, it was found that contracting the limos’ assembly to Ghia in Turin, Italy, would be cheaper than engineering and building them in Detroit.
Production of the Crown Imperial Limousine by Ghia began in late 1956, when an initial batch of 25 1957 Imperials were shipped off to Italy. These were unusual Imperials even before the conversion — all were two-door hardtop coupes, devoid of paint, doors, interiors, and window glass. Additionally, they were built atop the convertible’s chassis, which utilized an X-frame crossmember. That extra bracing would help when Ghia stretched the car by a whopping 20.5 inches to craft the limo.
Each was chock full of luxurious amenities, including a power rear partition window, separate heating, air conditioning, and audio systems for the passenger cabin. Seating was trimmed in fine broadcloth, while the carpet was crafted from fine wool. The poor chauffeur was relegated to black leather seating and vinyl flooring — nice, although even the trunk, which was fully upholstered and carpeted, looked snazzier.
Although Ghia took only a month to hand-build the Crown Limousines, it took nearly six months to deliver a finished car to a customer. 36 examples were built in 1957, each running roughly $12,000. For 1958, few changes were made, although the price grew to $15,075, and only 31 examples were built. The relationship would continue through 1965, although a few 1966 models were built for European consumption. In total, roughly 132 Ghia limousines were built.