That is probably the most Exner automobile on the Woodward Dream Cruise

1962 Imperial LeBaron hails from Virgil Exner’s final 12 months at Chrysler

The Woodward Dream Cruise is filled with examples of Virgil Exner’s designs, from the Studebakers of the the submit-battle period by means of the Chryslers, Plymouths and DeSotos of the Nineteen Fifties and the Sixties. However we expect we have discovered probably the most instantly recognizable Exner-designed automobile, and it comes from his final 12 months on the helm at Chrysler.

It’s the 1962 Imperial LeBaron and we discovered it, coincidentally, in Birmingham, Mich., which is the place Exner had his workplace after he retired from Chrysler and continued to work independently for industrial design purchasers.

Virgil Exner might have began his profession in automotive design at Pontiac, working below Harley Earl, however it’s his later designs at Chrysler for which he’s finest recognized. After leaving GM, the legendary designer went to work with one other influential automotive designer of the time, Raymond Loewy, although after six years Exner moved to Studebaker after a falling out with Loewy. By 1949, Exner was at Chrysler and would form the look of the automobiles for all of Chrysler’s manufacturers for greater than a decade.

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1962 Imperial LeBaron headlights

The design of the headlights had been shifting on this path for fairly a while, representing a departure from the remainder of Detroit’s designs. Photograph by Jay Ramey

 

We predict product cycles transfer at a reasonably good clip now, however again within the Fifties automotive design tended to alter wildly from yr to yr, regardless that the designs had been authorised years prior. The top of the last decade noticed the tailfin fad largely fizzle out, to get replaced by flat, straight strains and sharp angles. It would not be till the early Nineteen Sixties that Chrysler began to shun the wildly exagerrated tailfins, and the automaker’s styling path beneath Exner took on a heavy, gothic look, adorned with complicated particulars that concurrently featured area-age motifs, chiseled particulars and an eerie, nearly funereal really feel.

This 1962 Imperial LeBaron hails from a time when Imperial started to shift away from ornate grille designs in direction of starker squared-off design parts that might seem minimalist in locations — basically a toned-down model of late Nineteen Fifties Chrysler design language that DeSoto additionally employed. Chrysler would tweak the design particulars on the Imperial yearly, with the look migrating towards a extra reserved look, as if the design studio was turning down the drama by way of a big rotary dial.

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1962 Imperial LeBaron tailfin detail

The Imperial LeBaron mixed house-age motifs with loads of chrome. Photograph by Jay Ramey

 

Exner left Chrysler in 1962, changed by Elwood Engel after Exner’s designs had been blamed for Imperial and different manufacturers’ lackluster gross sales. Engel was accountable for the 1961 Lincoln Continental, a design which might show to be an instantaneous traditional, and by the 1964 mannequin yr the look of the Imperials, maybe unsurprisingly, shifted to emulate the design components of the Continental.

The 1962 Imperial would find yourself being one the final true Exner designs earlier than the corporate pivoted to much less dramatic styling, and in a method its the proper snapshot of that period for Chrysler.

 

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