1961 Imperial Spotter's Guide

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The '61 Imperials are distinctive from every angle, as evidenced below.


"Space-Age" Dash
New dash design for '61 featured symmetric banks of pushbuttons, with gear shifts on the left, and climate controls on the right. Also note unusual oblong steering wheel designed for better leg-room in the straight-ahead position, and the extra foot switch next to the headlight dimmer; that's the second "seek" switch for the Town & Country radio.
413 Engine
The mighty wedge-head engine, now in its 3rd year, continued pretty much unchanged for 1961.
Fabulous Fins!
The 60's had their "humpback" fins, the 62's had their fender-topping "bullet" taillights, but no Imperial ever matched the soaring splendor of the 61's.
Freestanding Headlights
Virgil Exner revived elements of the classic era, using a bold grille flanked by freestanding headlight "pods".
Front Seat
Interior featured a "high-back" 60/40 front seat for greater driver comfort.
Rear Seat
Roomy back seat with fold-down armrest.
Crown 4-Door Hardtop
An example of hardtop styling in the middle-line Crown series.
A shot of the trunk; also shows stylish roofline of this Crown hardtop.

Wheelcover Eagle  

Taillight Ring





Standard wheelcover, for Crown and Custom series. This is the first automobile wheelcover to have this unusual design. The deep dish effect has two advantages - It looks really DEEP (because it is), with the cone in the middle exaggerating the 3-D effect, and there is a 1/2-inch gap between the actual wheel and the wheelcover, allowing cooling air to reach the brakes.

This is a pleasant advantage, UNLESS you don't understand the concept and need to remove the wheelcover. Most folks jam a tire-iron through the gap, denting the heck out of the wheelcover and not removing it at all.

The eagle design used in the center of this wheelcover and on the Flitesweep Eagle was used here for the the very first time on any Imperials, and continued on all Imperials up to 1975, and all of the way through to the 1980 Chrysler LeBaron taillights.

For the ultimate in space-age design, the 1961 LeBaron Wheelcover is hard to beat. It's identical to the standard wheelcover, but has a special, unique chromed pot-metal center cone with three arms that support a massive, heavy ring that orbits the center cone. This ring matches the ring around the taillights (only much larger), and continues the "ring" theme of the Flitesweep decklid and headlights.  Here is another examples of the LeBaron Wheelcover.


Underhood 1

Bellows Booster


Here is a closeup of the 1961 Imperial taillight - When an Imperial taillight is separated from the fender and surrounded by a ring, (as in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962), it's referred to as a "Sparrow-Strainer" taillight, named after the device used to keep birds out of jet-engines. I'm sure that if a sparrow ever hit one of these (when traveling at Imperial Velocities), it would get VERY strained!

The taillight-style was a visual signature of Virgil Exner design.


LeBaron Swivel

Convertible Interior Rear

Dash And Steering Wheel

Passenger-side dashboard

Crown Rear Seat

Crown front bench seat

Trunk Cardboard

LeBaron Rear Doorpanel

The one-piece 1961-63 Imperial front clip is made from the thickest-gauge sheetmetal ever used on a production car. The front clip was welded together at the factory, with melted and sanded lead to make the seams smooth.


LeBaron Sail Panel

Cloissonne Crest

Coupe Roof Coves

Coupe Rear Window

Coupe Rear Pillar


Rear View With FliteSweep decklid. If the rear of a car looks like this, it's DEFINITELY a 1961 Imperial. Notice the tailfins and taillights - They are unique to this kind of car. The trunklid may differ, based on whether extra-cost options were ordered. Here's a shot of a "Jet Airplane" trunklid.

Another view, slightly closer. ALL of the hardware you are seeing here (except for the trunklid) is unique for this year only. You will see plenty of 1962 Imperials with it installed, since the Flitesweep decklid was no officially offered for 1962, so owners tend to grab it for their cars off of junked 1961 Imperials during restoration.

A REALLY close view of the Flitesweep Eagle, which shows something very interesting - Notice that the eagle is facing to the RIGHT. I believe that all subsequent eagles like this design faced to the left.. Here's another look at the same eagle - Don't you thing it would make a GREAT belt-buckle?

Here's a rear-fender eagle design that was never seen before or since - It's a VERY streamlined, stylized eagle found on the rear fender of 1961 Imperials. The angle of the wing and body accentuate the shape of the car's talifin and rear-bumper silhouette.

Fender Script

This page was last updated on Saturday, July 28, 2001.. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club