1981 Chrysler Imperial

Using part of the money received from Congress’ passage of the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979, Lee Iacocca re-introduced the Imperial brand on the company’s traditional rear-wheel-drive, torsion bar front-, and leaf spring rear suspension J-body platform. Available only as a “premium personal luxury” two-door coupe, the Imperial featured a long hood capped with hidden headlights. At the rear, Chrysler designers incorporated a “bustle-back” style trunk similar, yet much cleaner, than what Cadillac’s Seville featured at the time.

1981 Chrysler Imperial Dashboard

Designed to provide the ultimate in luxury, Chrysler Imperial came standard with just about everything imaginable at the time: power everything, very deep pile carpeting, velvet upholstery, a futuristic-for-the-time fully electronic, vacuum florescent display dashboard, remote trunk release, cruise control, an integrated garage-door opener, air-conditioning, even a Mark Cross gift set complete with an umbrella was part of the package. Even the Chrysler Pentastars in the hood ornament, steering wheel, and B-Pillar were made of real Cartier crystal. The only two extra-cost options available were Mark Cross leather seats and a power moon roof.

1981 Chrysler Imperial Interior

The only engine available was an electronically fuel-injected, 140 hp version of Chrysler’s venerable 318-cu.in. V-8 mated to a three-speed, column-shifted Torqueflite automatic. The fuel injection system was originally developed by Chrysler’s Electronics Division following the conclusion of the Apollo Space Program. The space-age EFI design ended up being the car’s Achilles Heal, as many owners complained the cars were hard to start and would stall out. Rumor has it that even Frank Sinatra’s personal version embarrassed its namesake by stalling out in public so much that he had Chrysler remove his special edition version as well as his endorsement from all of the advertising. Consequently, Chrysler ended up reimbursing the cost to have owners convert their cars to a more reliable two-barrel carburetor setup.

Stock photo of 1981 Imperial EFI-Equipped 318 cu in V8 – courtesy Chrysler Corporation

The Daystar Blue Metallic over Dark Blue Velvet example presented here wears the same color scheme as the rare Frank Sinatra Edition. While not one of those, this Imperial is an original owner, garage kept 83K mile time capsule. Overall, the car presents well in very clean condition and still features the original fuel injection and the seller states “runs poor” as a result. Additionally, this Imperial comes complete with the original window sticker and the Mark Cross Umbrella.

Mark Cross Umbrella in Trunk of 1981 Imperial