1932 Chrysler CL Imperial Convertible SedanSOLD

RM Auction - Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island - March 10, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $300,000 - $400,000


$396,000 Sold

135hp, 384 cu. in. nine main bearing inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed synchromesh transmission, vacuum clutch, freewheeling, solid axle and leaf spring front suspension, live axle and leaf spring rear suspension, four wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 146"

As Chrysler headed into the 1931 calendar year, its goal was simple – mount a serious assault on the fine car market by offering a more affordable luxury car with beautiful styling and performance to match. The result was the incomparable Imperial series.

With their long wheelbase chassis, flowing fenders, and smart LeBaron designed bodies, many consider the Imperials to be among the best looking classics of the era. Although their chassis and drivetrain technology was conventional, with more than 125 horsepower, they were certainly quick.

For 1932 and 1933, the CG chassis was further refined to become the CL Imperial. Styling was enhanced with a more imposing front view and a long de Sakhnoffsky false hood that extended to the base of the windshield, with hood doors instead of louvers, and slick new bodies that featured a recessed concave belt molding – a dramatic touch that created a design that many believe was the best-looking Imperial of all.

Unfortunately, by the time the improved CL Imperial was introduced in 1932, the fine car market had all but disappeared. 1933 would be the last year for the CL, and indeed, many 1933 Imperials were unsold 1932 cars, updated and sold as 1933s. The result was that these – the most desirable classic Chryslers – are also the rarest.

In many respects, the example offered here represents the ultimate CL Imperial; at $3,595, the convertible sedan was the most expensive of all.

LeBaron Carrossiers Inc. was founded in 1920 by two of the most respected names from the era of the great coachbuilders: Thomas L. Hibbard, and Raymond Dietrich. When they decided to set up shop together, they settled on a location and a name. The location – 2 Columbus Circle, New York City – was more than they could afford, but they decided it was essential to their image. Coincidentally, it was also home to Fleetwood ’ s design offices.

They chose the LeBaron name because it sounded French and would lend a sophisticated air to their firm. Most interesting was that they chose to have only a design office, without coachbuilding facilities. Not only was this practical – they had no coachbuilding skills – but it allowed them to work independently from (and with) both chassis manufacturers and coachbuilding firms.

Work began to flow, and soon the pair were approached by Ralph Roberts, who knew Dietrich from his time at Brewster. Roberts wanted to design cars, and when he applied for a job, Hibbard and Dietrich liked him enough that they offered him a full one third partnership – with the provision that he serve as the firm ’ s business manager. Later, both Hibbard and Dietrich would leave LeBaron for other opportunities, and it would be Roberts who would pilot the ship during its most exciting years.

In 1927, LeBaron was acquired by Briggs, one of Detroit ’ s largest body building firms. Briggs ’ clients included Chrysler, Ford, Overland, and Hudson. LeBaron continued to operate within Briggs, whose strong Detroit connections soon lead to prestigious custom work for Lincoln, Cadillac, and Pierce Arrow. In effect, LeBaron became Briggs ’ in house design label, as Dietrich had become Murray ’ s.

LeBaron was ideally positioned to take advantage of the burgeoning demand for coachbuilt bodies that developed in the late 1920s. Factory design work included the legendary Model J Duesenberg, for which LeBaron bodies were among the most prolific. In addition, LeBaron designs graced the top of the line CG and CL Imperials, adding both prestige and style to the line.

7803426 is not only one of the rarest surviving body styles, but it has benefited from a comprehensive professional two year restoration, completed in 2002. Following the restoration, the car was entered for judging at the AACA Hershey Fall Meet, where it was awarded its First Junior, followed by a First Senior and finally, in 2006, a Grand National award.

Although the restoration can no longer be considered fresh, the car remains in show quality condition. In addition, the vendor reports that the car starts and runs well from cold, and that the steering, brakes, clutch, and transmission all function smoothly. Driving the car is a rewarding experience, making the car ideal for participation in CCCA CARavans and other driving events.

Considered one of the great classics, the chance to purchase any CL Imperial is a notable event indeed. To find one with the exceptional quality and low production coachwork of this striking LeBaron convertible sedan is truly a rare opportunity.

Reference Number 6352

as of 1/21/2007

Car 1932 Chrysler CL Imperial Convertible Sedan
VIN 7803426 
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