1931 CHRYSLER CL CUSTOM IMPERIAL ROADSTER
COACHWORK BY LeBARON
Chassis No. TBA
Engine No. TBA
Two tone blue with red leather interior
Engine: in-line, eight cylinder L-head, 384.84ci., 125bhp at 3,200rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: semi-elliptic front and rear leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic brakes all around. Left hand drive.
In 1910 Walter Percy Chrysler held a modest job working as the Plant Manager for the American Locomotive Company in Pittsburgh. In less than a year his talent had been recognized and the former farm hand and grocery boy was managing the Buick plant in Flint, Michigan. Within the next nine years Walter P. Chrysler would move all the way to the top, leaving his post as Buick's President in 1919. Following his departure, Chrysler briefly worked for Willys and then Maxwell, leaving both jobs feeling unsatisfied and even more driven. In 1923 Chrysler teamed up with former Studebaker engineers Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton and Carl Breer and by January of 1924, the first Chrysler was introduced in New York. By December of the same year, Chrysler stunned the industry with record sales totaling an outstanding 32,000 units sold. The in-line, six cylinder engine of Walter P. Chrysler was a smashing success and he was swiftly moving toward making his name a permanent fixture in the automobile industry.
By 1927 the Chrysler Company had gone from an industry standing of 32nd place to an unbelievable 4th place overall. Walter P. Chrysler had managed the impossible - he had gone from the bottom of the barrel all the way to the top by producing a quality automobile that possessed sexy and creative syling in addition to being practically engineered and strikingly individual.
With the arrival of the Chrysler Straight Eight came the powerful performance many buyers looked for in the coachbuilt cars of the time. Chrysler kept up with his competition by continually introducing competitive automobiles that always utilized the innovations of the industry.
For the CL, LeBaron designer Herb Weissinger was strongly influenced by Alan Leamy's gorgeous L-29 Cord. The '31 Chrysler Imperial however managed to look even better. Weissinger stretched the wheelbase 9 inches to 145 inches, put a slight tilt on the radiator and fitted a tilted low V-windshield that gave the '31 CL's an overall low appearance when compared to other designs of the era. The unusual pleated leather that continued up over the cowl and door edges gave a sporty cockpit feel to the cars.
The new CL Series was truly one of the most spectacular models the company ever produced and served as a testament to the efforts of Walter P. Chrysler. They were lavish and racy, with a potent increase in overall performance compared to all other Chrysler models produced. Total production of the CL Series reached 220 cars, most of which were fitted with sedan and limousine bodies.
The Chrysler Imperial presented here was owned for many years by the collector, the late Mr. Lloyd Harriman from Detroit. We are told that Mr. Harriman discovered the CL in New York in need of a complete restoration. Various attempts at completing the work were made until it was entrusted to specialist restorer, Mr. Brian Joseph from Troy, Michigan. After completing the exterior restoration, Mr. Joseph carefully inspected the mechanical components and replaced any items that showed wear. The optional high performance red-head engine was fitted with new main bearings, connecting rods and pistons.
Upon completion of all of the work in about 1994, the Chrysler was shown at a Michigan Region of the Grand Classic, where it scored 100 points. Most recently it scored a second place at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance against stiff competition. This beautifully restored Chrysler is a wonderful example from the Great Classic era.