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1957 Imperial Crown Sedan, Winner of CEMA Best "Survivor" Award

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by Gene Yetter

In judging at the 2009 car show put on by the Chrysler Employee Motorsport Association (CEMA) in Auburn Hills, Michigan, June 13th, the prize for the "Best Unrestored Original Survivor (Non-Muscle)" went to the 1957 Imperial Crown sedan in these pictures. Owned by Diran and Joyce Yazejian of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the car has all original paint, motor and interior, and only 13,000 miles on the odometer.

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Sponsored by, the CEMA Best Unrestored Original Survivor (Non-Muscle) award was open to all vehicles of any year or manufacturer. The rules stipulated that the vehicle must have at least 50% original paint, appearance and original equipment; mostly original interior; and a factory appearance with "very minor period modifications" possibly allowed. The Yazejian Imperial easily met those qualifications!

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1957 Imperials are important examples of the influence of stylist Virgil Exner on automotive design. Among many outstanding features of the Imperial line, it has bragging rights in the industry to first use of curved side-window glass. The wheelbase was 129 inches; standard tires were 9.50 X 14.

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The original motor: a 6.4-liter Hemi (392 cubic inches); 4.0 X 3.9-inch bore and stroke; 9.25:1 compression; Carter 4-barrel carburetion.

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Original interior . . .

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. . . and roomy back seat.

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Popular at shows, the Yazejian's car was invited in 1998 to the prestigious Meadow Brook Hill Concours d'Elegance and it proudly wears a commemorative plate to that effect. The event takes place annually on the grounds of the mansion built by Matilda Dodge Wilson (1883-1967) in Rochester Hills, Michigan. She was the widow of John Dodge, who, with his brother, Horace, founded the company (Dodge Brothers) that eventually became part of Chrysler Corp.

Joyce Yazejian tells how she implored her husband to remove the original protective plastic from the back seat before they brought it to the Concours and he finally relented!

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Production of all Imperials in 1957 totaled about 37,000. Different from the Imperial series and the Crown Imperial series (4-door limousines), the Imperial Crown models are distinguished by the jaunty crown adjoining the cursive Imperial nameplate.

At times starting in 1955, Imperials were considered their own brand, rather than as Chrysler models (as the final 1990-92 models and original Imperials were). Production of the 4-door sedans totaled 3,642, according to The Standard Catalog of Chrysler.

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This Imperial had single headlights; because some states banned quad headlights, Chrysler sold single or quad options in 1957. The ban was lifted countrywide by 1958.

The Imperial nose is a riot of mesh grill, large and ornate headlight assembly, duplex bumper with built-in parking lights, medallion eagle, and mini-crowned fender trim. What fun!

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Supple body lines and modest fins.

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Spare-tire cover is not for real, but the gun-sight taillights are.

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A sleek "emperor" of the passing lane.

The CEMA show classes also included a "Best Restored Original (Non-Muscle)" class in which two awards sponsored by SPX Corp. were given to a 1936 Cadillac Lasalle 2-door coupe owned by J. Bertolone, and to a 1957 Plymouth Fury owned by F. Lamp.

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