Imperial Crown Southampton: When styling still mattered …
As a kid I, like many folks at the time, liked cars with jet-like fins. Plus I’ve always been a sucker for the cool fake spare tire molded into the trunk lid. So Imperials, Chrysler’s luxury brand, were, and are, a favorite.
Few Imperials were more impressive than the 1957 Crown Southampton, a monster of a car, but dripping with style. Its nose with twin dual headlights favored Cadillac styling, but its slightly outward leaning tail fins and aircraft-like pointed taillights set it apart from the more staid luxury models of the day.
BoS-Models now creates a beautiful 1957 Southampton in a stunning bronze paint scheme with a cream-colored roof and enough chrome to blind an army of car show onlookers on a sunny day. This is in 1/18 scale and the body is cast resin.
Imperial became its own brand, like Cadillac for GM and Lincoln for Ford, in 1955. The second generation Imperials debuted in 1957 and had their own distinct platforms, something that lasted until 1966.
These brutes were big and strong, so sturdy in fact that they were banned from most demolition derbies as being too tough to knock out of competition. Much of the reason was the Imperial’s full perimeter frame with box cross sections forming an “X” for strength. Meanwhile most cars were moving to lighter unibody construction.
The Imperials of 1957, which were part of Chrysler designer Virgil Exner’s “forward look” styling, also featured Torsion-Aire suspensions that used an indirect-acting torsion bar system up front. It lowered the car’s center of gravity and moved it rearward to improve handling.
While all the Imperials were lookers, the Crown Southampton was known for its pillar-less hardtop design. Imperials were also among the largest cars made at the time, close in dimensions to many limousines.
There is nothing timid about this Crown Southampton, from the perfectly executed bronze body paint job to the partial cream-colored roof with its gray arrow-inset trim that separates it from the bronze rear portion of the roof.
The windows feature the same gray trim and are beautifully sealed to keep the cream and bronzed gray interior spotless and dust-free.
Nose to tail this is a feast of chrome. The expansive, ornate, horizontal grille is beautifully crafted and melds into the two-level bumper with park lights built into the groove between the levels. The quad headlight lenses are sharply made to look real and there’s a photo-etch Imperial emblem on the hood’s wide nose.
Likewise there are PE script Imperial logos on the front quarterpanels and trunk lid. Door handles are flush and chrome, plus there’s a chrome mirror, antenna bud, wipers and ring inside that decorative trunk lid spare tire.
Chrome rings the fins’ jet-like taillight extensions and properly protruding are red taillight lenses. As futuristic as much of the Imperial’s styling is, the rear bumper is particularly stylish with thin clear tail lamps built into wide cylindrical metal stampings in the bumper.
The car features blue 1957 South Carolina license plates.
All panel lines and door, hood and trunk seams are perfectly executed and there are wide white sidewall tires and pretty chrome wheels and hubcaps.
Inside the ribbed bench seats look like they’d easily hold a family of 6 or more. I’m betting at least four small kids would fit in that giant rear seat, as there were no seatbelts at the time to limit occupancy there.
The huge wraparound windshield and rear window provide easy interior viewing and the dash is wide and well detailed with two huge round gauges in front of the driver, plus small buttons down the dash’s left edge that activated the noted Chrysler push-button automatic transmission. The Imperial’s steering wheel looks stylishly modern with a flat hub and spokes, plus thin horn ring.
This Imperial is a dramatic eye-catcher to feature in any 1950s and ‘60s car collection.
Vital Stats: Imperial Crown Southampton
Maker: BoS Models
Stock No.: 194377/BOS140