1960 Imperial LeBaron: Executive Suite

Jayson Coombes

What is luxury in 2023? Even a casual glance by the layperson suggests SUVs like Range Rovers, Navigators, Escalades, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and BMW X7s. Oh, sure, you can still get a 7-Series or S-Class sedan, but when it comes to the American manufacturers, for a traditional luxury SEDAN, you really don’t have much to choose from.

The Cadillac CT5 is nice, but it’s not really a flagship like the ’Slade—or the no-longer-available-in-the-US CT6. I loved the CT6, drove several at McLaughlin when they were new. No more Continental either; after 2020 it was SUVs and CUVs all the time over at Lincoln. A shame; the Continental was a great modern American luxury sedan.

Chrysler Imperial Le Baron
Jayson Coombes

At one time however, in both the distant and not-so-distant past, you could get a really sumptuous, slinky sedan with V-8 power and lots of chrome trim, chrome scripts, gold-toned crests—and all sorts of other trappings that I so dearly love. Today’s example: the Imperial Le Baron. P.S.: It’s not a Chrysler!

1960 Imperial LeBaron interior no pillar
Jayson Coombes

Yes, the Chrysler Imperial was the top offering for many years, but starting in 1955, Chrysler Corporation, seeing Lincoln and Cadillac and wanting more prestige, made the Imperial its own marque, rather than the top-of-the-line Chrysler model. And so it would stay until the mid-1970s. As for the 1960 model, it was totally restyled and about as flashy and fin-tastic as you could get that year, outside of a new Cadillac.

1960 Imperial LeBaron rear
Jayson Coombes

The top model was the Imperial LeBaron—unless you count the rare-as-hens’-teeth and uber-expensive Crown Imperial limousines, that is. Like the Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special, the Imperial LeBaron was Mopar’s top “owner driven” model.

1960 Imperial LeBaron interior dash
Jayson Coombes

As the ’60 Imperial brochure confided, “Meet excellence face to face. A car that gives automotive craftsmanship an entirely new direction for the 1960s … Aristocratic in every appointment. Impressive, totally assured. A fresh new kind of limousine loveliness you won’t find in any other car.”

1960 Imperial LeBaron taillight
Jayson Coombes

Yes, they ladled it on a little bit thick, but that was how the American luxury car market was in the early ’60s—offering swank, ostentatious vehicles to whisk you to supper clubs for gin and tonics. And exclusivity was assured when you bought a new 1960 Imperial, as only 17,707 were built for the model year. In the LeBaron series, only 692 four-door sedans and 999 four-door hardtops were built. Our featured car is one of those 999 four-door hardtops. Factory price was $6318 (that’s about $65,533 today) and curb weight was 4835 pounds. The pillared LeBaron sedan had the same MSRP.

1960 Imperial LeBaron rear three quarter
Jayson Coombes

A V-8 was, of course, under the hood of every ’60 LeBaron—in this case a 413-cubic-inch version with 350 hp @ 4600 rpm, breathing through a four-barrel Carter carburetor. Push-button, three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission was standard. As you’d expect, these were big, with a 129-inch wheelbase and overall length of 226.3 inches.

1960 Imperial LeBaron interior steering wheel
Jayson Coombes

Along with the more sumptuous interior upholstery and door panels, the other big difference on LeBarons vs. lesser Imperials was the limousine-style smaller rear window—other models had a wraparound rear backlight. Another item seen during this time on upper-crust Chryslers and Imperials, and in evidence on this example, are the Swing-Away seats. And isn’t that instrument panel fantastic?

1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V convertible at the 2014 LCOC
1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V convertible at the 2014 LCOC meet in Rockford, Illinois. Thomas Klockau

Unfortunately, despite the car’s many fine qualities, Cadillac and Lincoln totally blew Imperial out of the water, sales wise, particularly Cadillac, which sold more than 140,000 cars. Even Lincoln, which had a terrible year—on the verge of being discontinued until FoMoCo management saw a proposal for a 1961 T-Bird and it was decreed that it would be stretched into a four-door and become the 1961 Lincoln—sold close to 25,000 cars.

1960 Imperial LeBaron rear three quarter
Jayson Coombes

This excellent Imperial was spotted by my friend Jayson Coombes at a show at Texas Motor Speedway in September 2021. I have seen a few ’60 Imperials at shows, but I have yet to see a ’60 LeBaron in person. It appears to be painted in Executive Gray, a factory-correct 1960 Imperial color. Jayson knew I’d love this one and was very patient waiting for the many people strolling the event to thin out enough for him to get a photo of the entire car. I absolutely love it!

Imperial LeBaron ad



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    The smaller rear window is interesting. Imagine the trunk smooth (without the fake tire relief) and the back roof to trunk shape is very 36 Ford coupe (between the fins).

    These are quite the car. The front design doesn’t do it for me, but I’m not sure what I would have changed either.

    FWIW, a smooth trunk was standard. This trunklid was an option. They tried to discontinue it for 1962, but customers/dealers were swapping the older lids on to newer models, so they brought it back for ’63, the final year for this bodyshell.

    Check out front end of 61 LeBaron with free mounted head lamps and more aggressive grille,👍 big improvement to me.

    Absolutely FINtastic LeBaron! This was the first year for the Limo looking roof that gave LeBaron the panache
    of privacy Cadillac didn’t have. But for me, the 61 LeBaron with FINS soaring 1 inch higher than fabled 59 Cadillac was The grand finale of Exners fabulous finned fantasies. Of course the optional trunk mounted faux tire kicked things up even more. What a MONUMENT to 60s OTT excessive chromed luxury Land YACHTS! You are so on target and the loss of the GREAT AMERICAN 🇺🇸 luxury sedans! Currently driving beautiful low mileage 2007 TOWN CAR SIGNATURE LIMITED which I will never let go. Last of TRADITIONAL American luxury. Even Lincoln and Cadillac are selling glorified trucks. Would love to have a 61 LeBaron, but few of them survive!

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