We espied a truly amazing sight in a Palm Springs supermarket parking lot: a dusty ’61 Imperial bearing British Columbia plates, at least 1300 miles from home. A very elderly couple, perhaps the original owners, had apparently driven the beast down for the winter and we were duly IMPressed. When all other car makers, even Cadillac which started the trend back in 1948, had abandoned or diminished their rear fender appurtenances, Chrysler equipped its luxury marque with the tallest, most extreme pair of tail fins the car biz had ever seen. Would you look at the size of those things? What a pair! Note the shadow they cast — seems like some kind of Bat signal projected on the blacktop. These are bigger than even those on the ’59 Cadillac which usually serves as the definitive hallmark of 50s-era “jukebox” styling excess. Imperial’s fantastic aft quarters were downsized the next year so this is something of a last hurrah for this kind of design think — the literal “end” of the line.
It’s kind of telling that the voice over of this ’61 Imperial commercial makes no reference to the fins. The emphasis is on the free-standing lantern style headlights up front as well as the usual luxury trappings of a “fine car.” The fin party was pretty much over and Imperial seemed to stay too long.
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