Jay Leno is not known as a quiet man. He’s a comic, after all. So how do you think it’ll go when he’s given an enormous, Chrysler Imperial parade car, complete with two meaty public-address speakers on the front bumper? Exactly.
In an amusing start to the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, we see the eponymous star of the web series addressing the citizens of Burbank, CA from the big, comfy seat of a 1952 Chrysler Imperial Dual-Cowl Phaeton. One of just three produced by Chrysler at a price of about $33,000 a pop – a whopping $296,000 in today’s dollars – this particular example is owned and still used by the city of Los Angeles. Its most famous passengers include President Dwight D. Eisenhower and then-Vice President Richard Nixon.
Underhood, there’s a 331-cubic-inch Hemi V8 that’s been mated to a two-speed PowerFlite automatic. As for the exterior, while it may look like a 1956 Imperial, it did originally roll out of the factory in 1952. According to the LA city officials that accompanied the car, Chrysler called the three sedans back in 1955 and refitted them to fit in with the latest Imperial models.
At 21.5 feet long, even in today’s world of big pickups and SUVs, this particular example occupies a big space on the road. Surprisingly, it’s still driven regularly, taking part in parades and celebrations across the City of Angels. You can check it out both in Jay’s garage and on the streets of Los Angeles in the video above.34