MOPAR’s 318 Part III

You may only have ever heard the name Imperial with the name Chrysler in front of it, but there was a brief period when it was its own company…sort of.  In 1955 Chrysler spun off the Imperial as its own separate marquis in an attempt to compete directly with the Cadillac and Lincoln luxury marquees offered by General Motors and Ford.  It was to be a luxury branding.

Beautiful ’55 Imperial (not a Chrysler…well not one on paper)

Imperial continued as its “own” company until 1975. Even though it was always sold in Chryslers dealerships, it was, on paper, a separate its own company. From 1976 to 1978 no Imperials were made, at least by name the Chrysler New Yorker Brougham was the name plate used at the time.

However, in 1981-1982 Chrysler was looking for a luxury model to add to its line up and decided it would try it again. The new luxury car would be named the “Imperial”.  This was in fact a K car but let’s not dwell on that.  What was really important was the latest Aerospace technology that was being used under the hood for the first time in a car.

1983 K Car Chrysler Imperial EFI


The Imperial was the first car fully fitted with a continuous-flow injection system.  Oh and the workhorse engine they choose to make this historical leap…yup the one, the only 5.2L, V8….318, thereby, making this a historic event in the auto industry and for the 318.  This new fuel delivery system was monitored by a combustion computer and adjusted the fuel/air mixture to the driving conditions.  The idea was to improve gas mileage.  The 318 was able to produce 140 hp and 240 ft lbs asphalt gripe and go from 0 to 50 mph under 10 seconds.

EFI Set Up from a 1982 318

Unfortunately the design was flawed.  There were issues with the fuel, octane content and vacuum connections (not unlike issue with GM’s Crossfire engine used in the 82 GM models and including my 1984 Corvette).  It was so unfriendly that customers began trading the Imperials in 1981. It reached a tipping point and Chrysler recalled the 318s and most were fitted with a two barrel carb instead.  It is difficult to tell but according to some sources the 318 Imperial may have been fitted with 2v or 4v carb, producing 130 and 165 horsepower, respectively, in 1982 and 1983.

Either way the 318 had been the center piece for a leap forward in design…ok…ok…there was a leap and then a fall and then a backwards somersault.  Nonetheless it was historical.

Thanks for reading.  Next up with the how Dodge used the 318


Dodge Super Bee

The Super Bee was only available with the V8 318 engine (270 horsepower (hp) and the buyer could choose from either a four-speed or
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2 Responses to MOPAR’s 318 Part III

  1. Bill says:

    When I lived in Cincinnati in the early 1980s, my neighbor was a MOPAR tech at a dealership by day, and converted EFI Imperials to carb on the side by night. Chrysler made the conversion kits. I would help him out from time to time which consisted of changing the gas tank, intake manifold, fuel pump, and either rigging up a MOPAR electronic ignition module with distributor, or adding a ‘Lean Burn’ set up from a junk yard car. The ‘rigged’ electronic ignition with distributor set up made that 318 Imperial a tire buring sleeper (I know, because I volunteered to road test the cars myslef after conversion).

    According to my MOPAR tech neighbor, the biggest fault with the Imperial’s EFI was lack of Premium fuel and the sensor’s electrical harness. He claimed that if owners would use Premium gas, and have the sensor’s connections cleaned frequently (like at every oil change), the EFI set up was fine. It was just the attitude at the time against Fuel Injection; both customer’s and mechanics felt is was just too far ahead of it’s time to be reliable and functional.

    I like the 318 coverage; I myself am an admirer of that motor and have many stories to share sometime.

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