Chrysler New Yorker is First Produced
The Chrysler New Yorker was a premium automobile built by the Chrysler Corporation from 1939 to 1996, serving for several years as the brand's flagship model.
A model named the "New York Special" first appeared in the 1930s. Until its discontinuation in 1996, the New Yorker had made its mark as the longest running American car nameplate.
The New Yorker name helped define the Chrysler brand as a maker of upscale models priced and equipped above mainstream brands like Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge/Plymouth, but below full luxury brands like Cadillac and Packard. During the New Yorker's tenure, it competed against models from Buick, Oldsmobile, Lincoln, and Mercury.
The New Yorker Special model was originally introduced as a distinct sub-series of the 1938 Chrysler Imperial. The model's popularity caused the car to become its own series for 1939, based on the same platform as the Chrysler Imperial and that year's other new introduction, the Chrysler Saratoga. The New Yorker was available in 1938 as a 4-door sedan with a 323 CID Straight-8 and a generous amount of comfort and space to the passengers. For 1939 New Yorker was expanded with 2 more Coupe versions and a 2-door sedan. The first convertibles were introduced with the all-new body-design of the 1940 models.
1940 also saw the introduction of Fluid Drive, a fluid coupling between the engine and the clutch. The only transmission available was the basic three speed manual.
Completely new bodies were introduced for 1941, with the business coupe now being of the three window design. Another new model was the Town Sedan with the rear doors having the hinges at the forward edge of the doors. This year the Vacamatic was made available, although unlike the version sold on six cylinder models, the Saratoga/New Yorker version was a three speed transmission with overdrive.
With America entering World War II on 7 December, 1941, all automobile production came to an end at the beginning of February, 1942. Thus the 1942 model year was roughly half the normal length.
Chrysler would produce and experiment with engines for tanks and aircraft during World War II. One post-war application of this would lead to the creation of the first generation Hemi of the 1950s.
Unlike most car companies, Chrysler did not make changes with each model year from 1946 to the first series of 1949. Thus models for 1946 through 1949 Chryslers have the same basic appearance, noted for their 'harmonica' grille, based on the body introduced with the 1941 models. 1947 saw a minor redesign in tires, trim, and instrument panel, while the first 1949s were just 1948s with no visible changes.
Postwar Chryslers continued to offer Fluid Drive, with the New Yorker now offering the true four speed semi-automatic transmission.
The true 1949 New Yorker, or second series, used Chrysler Corporation's new postwar body also shared by Dodge and DeSoto. The engine continued to be the 323.5-cid straight eight coupled to Fluid Drive and the Prestomatic four speed semi-automatic. Body styles were reduced to club coupe, 4-door sedan and convertible. Wheelbase on the New Yorker was increased to 131.5 inches from the 127.5 inch frame introduced in 1941.
The 1950 New Yorker was the more deluxe of the regular eight-cylinder Chryslers (Saratoga being the eight with plainer trim) with cloth upholstery available in (unusual for 1950) several colors, 135 hp (101 kW) Spitfire straight-eight engine and roomy interior featuring "chair height" seats. The "Prestomatic" fluid drive transmission had two forward ranges, each with two speeds. In normal driving, high range was engaged using the clutch. The car could then be driven without using the clutch (unless reverse or low range was required); at any speed above 13 mph (21 km/h), the driver released the accelerator and the transmission shifted into the higher gear of the range with a slight "clunk". When the car came to a stop, the lower gear was again engaged.
The big news for 1950 was the two door hardtop, or special club coupe as Chrysler called it, in the New Yorker series. The model was called the Newport in sales literature.
Chrysler introduces the 180 horsepower (130 kW) FirePower Hemi engine. The engine becomes a popular choice among hot rodders and racers alike, a trend that continues to thrive today with its namesake second generation model. The FirePower Hemi equipped cars could accelerate 0 to 60 in 10 seconds, faster than the Oldsmobile 88 Rocket engine of that time.
The New Yorker also offered Fluid Torque Drive, a true torque converter, in place of Fluid Drive. Cars with Fluid Torque Drive came only with Fluid Matic semi-automatic transmission and had a gear selector quadrant on the steering column. Power steering, an industry first, appeared as an option on Chrysler cars with the Hemi engine. It was sold under the name, Hydraguide.
A station wagon was offered for 1951, with 251 built.
Small redesign on taillights with the backup lights in the lower section. Last year for the 131.5 inch wheelbase chassis for the New Yorker.
A less bulky look with the wheelbase reduced to 125.5 inches, a one-piece curved windshield and rear fenders integrated into the body. Wire wheels were now an option. The Saratoga of 1952 became the New Yorker for 1953 while the former New Yorker was now the New Yorker DeLuxe. The convertible and Newport hardtop were available only in the New Yorker DeLuxe while the base New Yorker offered a long wheelbase sedan and a Town & Country wagon. The convertible was New Yorker's costliest model on the 125.5 inch chassis for 1953 at $3,980 with only 950 built.
The 1954 was a premium version of a standard 1950s size body. Chrysler's interest in six cylinder vehicles began to wane in favor of the popular FirePower Hemi V8. The New Yorker was priced a little more affordable at $3,230 for the standard and $3,400 for the DeLuxe.
The standard model had a mild 195 hp (145 kW) output while the DeLuxe was used as a testbed of the engine's capabilities by outputting 235 hp (175 kW). (Such power was unheard of in 1954 from its competitors.)
Although introduced very late in the 1953 model year, all 1954 New Yorkers were available with the new two speed Powerflite automatic transmission. Fluid Torque Drive and Fluid Matic were dropped.
1954 was the last year the long wheelbase sedan was offered by Chrysler.
In 1955, Chrysler did away with the previous and generic "lead sled" design of the 1940s with a new sedan that borrowed styling cues from the custom 1952 Imperial parade phaeton. The hemi engine produces 250 horsepower (186 kW) this year. The result would become an ongoing trend for increasing engine output throughout the next two decades with Chrysler and its rival competitors. The Powerflite transmission was controlled by a lever on the instrument panel.
The series was called New Yorker DeLuxe with the base New Yorker dropped. The club coupe was dropped being replaced by the Newport two door hardtop. A new higher priced St.Regis two door hardtop filled the spot of the former Newport. The sedan, convertible and Town & Country wagon were still offered.
In 1956, Chrysler christened this model year "PowerStyle" and it was one of the design works of Virgil Exner. The New Yorker gained a new mesh grille, leather seats, pushbutton PowerFlite selector, and a V8 with 280 hp (209 kW).
The St. Regis two door hardtop gave a unique three tone paint job for a higher price and the Town and Country Wagon model was Chrysler's most expensive vehicle of 1956 at US$4,523. This was the first year for the New Yorker 4 door pillarless hardtop. Only 921 convertibles were made.
This year, Chrysler cars were redesigned with Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" at the cost of $300 million. The 1957 New Yorker had a powerful 392 cu in (6.4 L) Hemi V8 engine rated at 325 horsepower (242 kW). This stylish car was a good seller with 10,948 built, but only 1,049 convertible models. The 1957 models also came with the TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission and a Torsion bar suspension called Torsion-Aire that gave smoother handling and ride quality to the car. The New Yorker also sported fins that swept up from just behind the front doors.
Early model year production had single headlamps with quad headlamps optional where state regulations permitted them. The single headlamps were dropped later in the year.
Forward Look remains intact but with new body-side trim, shrunken taillights and 345 horsepower (257 kW). The convertible model was still available, with only 666 made and only 15 working convertibles are known to still exist in 2008. Sales were steady, but decreased from last year due to The Recession of 1958. The car's reputation was also tainted due to rust problems caused by rushed production and testing.
The New Yorkers this year had 350 horsepower (260 kW), new tailfins, new front end, and no Hemi. The FirePower Hemi ended production and was replaced by the cheaper wedge head 413-cid RB engine. The Hemi would never return to the New Yorker and slowly ended its image as a performance car and re-branded it as a luxury car. The Hemi engine itself would not return to Mopar cars until 1964 with the second generation 426.
This year had unibody construction, Ram Induction and the new RB engine had an output of 350 horsepower (260 kW). This was the last year for the New Yorker convertible, of which 556 were built.
The New Yorker entered 1961 with a new grille, slanted headlights, a "donut" tire rack on the trunk lid, and a 413 CID Golden Lion V-8. This is the last of the "Forward Look" models. Chrysler built 2,541 New Yorker two door hardtops this year, the last until 1964 in Canada and 1965 in the U.S.
The classic Chrysler fins that made the car unique no longer existed and now only 4-door models were offered in wagon, sedan, and hardtop models. The finless car was considered "bizarre" by many critics and sales were slow compared to its entry level sister car, the Newport which was identical in body style and offered a convertible model. The New Yorker was the last Chrysler to have a 126 in. wheelbase.
The 413 RB had a 4.1875 in (106 mm) bore and was used from 1959 to 1965 in cars. During that period, it powered all Chrysler New Yorker and Imperial models, and was also available on the lesser Chryslers, as well Dodge's Polara and Monaco, and the Plymouth Fury as an alternative to the 383-cubic-inch B series engine and/or the 318 Poly. With a compression ratio of 10:1 it developed 340 brake horsepower in 1X4-Bbl trim.
Chrysler got a boost in sales in 1963 with the introduction of a 5 year/50,000 mile warranty, a business practice that was unheard of by its competitors in the 1960s. The New Yorker used Chrysler's completely redesigned body with only the windshield showing traces of the previous Forward Look designs. A new, more luxurious Salon four door hardtop was added at midyear as an trim package. Engine output is 340 hp (250 kW) and the wheelbase is now 122 inches.
Changes for 1964 included a new grille, larger rear window and small tailfins giving the car a boxier look from the side. Canadians were given the choice of a new two door hardtop while Americans got the Salon option on the four door hardtop.
Elwood Engel redesigned the New Yorker with styling cues from his 1961 Lincoln Continental - square side view with chrome trim along the top edges of the fenders. The options were: a 413 CID V8, dual pipe exhaust and power options (A/C, windows, antenna and steering). The engine itself put out 375 horsepower (280 kW) and was phased out for the 440 Firepower next model year.
Factory options for 1965 included a 350 hp 440 Firepower engine, vinyl rear roof pillar insert, Tilt 'N Telescopic steering wheel and standard power options.
For 1965 the 4 door sedan used the six window Town Sedan style which also used by the 1965 Chrysler Newport and Dodge Custom 880. The two door hardtop was now sold in the U.S.A. Wheelbase of New Yorker models, except the wagon, was 124 inches. The Town & Country wagon was on the Dodge's 121 inch wheelbase as all C body wagons shared the same basic body.
For 1966 the Chrysler New Yorker adopted the new 440-cid V8 engine. Styling changes included a new grille, taillamps and revised side trim. The Town & Country wagon was dropped as the model was now marketed as a series on its own.
Overall, 1966 was a good sales year for Chrysler with a steady increase in production and sales.
1967 brought sheetmetal redesign below the belt line with wraparound parking lights at the front and taillights at the rear. A new fasttop design for the two door hardtop replaced the more formal look of 1965-1966. The four door sedan reverted to the four window style as used on the Newport sedan.
Sales slumped 20%, the company's lowest in 5 years due to an economic slump this year.
Changes included new front and rear treatments. Althought the Newport and 300 four door hardtops received a new, sportier roofline shared with Dodge and Plymouth, the New Yorker continued with the roofline first introduced for 1965.
Sales rebounded with the year setting a record at 263,266 cars built.
Chrysler big C bodies received a major reworking with curved sides and a higher belt line. Underneath the new look were the underpinnings of 1965. The new look was called "Fuselage Styling" and was not received as warmly as the 1968 models. The two door hardtop received a new look harking back to the club coupes of the 1940s.
Unlike Plymouth Fury and Dodge Polara/Monaco, Chryslers received minor styling changes to the grille, taillamps and trim. The small vent windows on the front doors were dropped on the two door hardtops.
Due to sales that were less than expected, the facelift scheduled for 1971 was put off until 1972. Thus the 1971 models received new grilles and revised taillamps, changes that took a sharp eye to note. Ventless front door windows on the four door sedan and hardtop were new this year.
The so called "fuselage" styling featured on all full size Chrysler products remained relatively unchanged until the introduction of the 1974 models which featured a far more massive slab sided effect. These 1974 models timed to coincide precisely with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, and were a significant part of Chrysler's economic woes in the late 70's. The 1974 models were the last full-size models Chrysler designed from the ground up, as the short lived 1979-81 R-bodies were stretched versions of the old mid-sized B-bodies. Chrysler, as the corporation's only division without a smaller "personal" size model, suffered worse than most, stimulating the introduction of the new Chrysler Cordoba, and later LeBaron models.
In 1976, the New Yorker inherited the front and rear end styling of the discontinued upscale Imperial, and its interiors as well. The styling cues formerly used on the 1974 and 1975 New Yorkers in turn were passed on to the base Chrysler Newport. It is interesting to note that Chrysler was the only "upscale" model to never recover its full size model sales to pre-energy crisis levels. Oldsmobile, Buick, & Cadillac eclipsed their old records in 1976, the last year before their downsizing, and continued to sell extremely well until the next gas crisis in 1979. Lincoln and Mercury benefited from any backlash from GM downsizing and set new records in 1977-78. Sales of the Newport and New Yorker continued to decline. The full size Chrysler line remained virtually unchanged until the advent of the downsized 1979 models.
After completely overhauling its cars for 1955, Chrysler Corporation did it again for '57 with the 1957 Chrysler New Yorker. From Plymouth to Imperial, every model had "The Forward Look," with dramatically lower bodies, crisp thin-section rooflines, acres more glass, and lean dart-shaped profiles with soaring tailfins. Suddenly, Chrysler was Detroit's new styling leader. In fact, its '57s so impressed General Motors designers that they immediately started over on their '59 models.
Classic Convertibles Image Gallery
The 1957 Chrysler New Yorker defined elegance and style for the late 1950s.
See more pictures of classic convertibles.
The Chrysler-branded '57s were perhaps the handsomest of the bunch, thanks to a simple grille and rear end, plus tastefully restrained ornamentation. The $4638 New Yorker convertible was particularly elegant with the top lowered.
Like sister divisions, Chrysler also set new standards for ride and handling by introducing torsion-bar front suspension for '57. Another benchmark was new three-speed Torque-Flite automatic transmission, a quick, smooth shifter that would prove exceptionally trouble-free, though not its gimmicky pushbutton controls. Further enhancing performance, Chrysler's efficient Hemi V-8 was enlarged for New Yorkers from 354 to 392 cubic inches, good for 325 standard horsepower.
The 1957 Chrysler New Yorker revealed the new Torque-Flite
Though Chrysler sales were strong in '57, the droptop New Yorker attracted just 1049 orders. Rarer still was a new high-performance 300 convertible with 375 or 390 bhp; it saw only 454 copies. Today, collectors wish there'd been a lot more of both.
The Chrysler New Yorker faced amazing success and popularity in the nearly six decades it remained in the auto industry. Introduced originally as the New Yorker Special in 1938, the name was eventually simplified to the New Yorker. America's longest continuously used nameplate, the New Yorker kept this title for the entirety of its 58 years of production.
While the flag ship Imperials were normally available with only the largest available production engine, the New Yorkers were often available with the largest engine as well as an optional smaller engine to reduce cost and often improve fuel economy.
In 1951, both the Imperial and New Yorker were available with the very first V8 engine Chrysler Corporation produced. This V8 was the 331 cid V8...later to be dubbed the "Hemi" due to the unique hemispherical combustion chambers in the heads. The "Hemi" continued to be available in 354 cid and 392 cid configurations over the years until it was replaced in 1959 by the new 413 cid wedge head big block engine.
In 1955, the New Yorker (along with the whole Chrysler lineup) was refreshed by Virgil Exner's successful Forward Look style. With these cars, Chrysler seized the industry's design leadership and produced several genuine classics.
In 1957, the second generation Forward Look cars appeared and Torsion-Aire was introduced. This was not air suspension, but an indirect-acting, torsion-spring suspension system which drastically reduced unsprung weight and shifted the car's center of gravity downward and rearward, resulting in both a smoother ride and significantly improved handling.
In 1960, Chrysler introduced unibody (unitized body) construction, thus making the company first of the Big Three to offer it. Unibody was standard in all Chrysler products except the Imperial. This gave the body more rigidity and less rattles, and would soon become an industry standard.
In 1961, the New Yorker's generator was replaced by an alternator. This was also an industry first.
In 1966, the 413 cid engine gave way to the new 440 cid engine in the Imperial and New Yorker. This engine would be available (standard or optional) until 1978.
The 1967 and 1968 the New Yorker (C body) employed concave sheet metal on the car's side. This gives the 1967 and 1968 C body a unique and distinctive look.
The 1969 New Yorker (C body) was essentially a re-skinned 1968 although the appearance was remarkably different. This "fuselage" style remained until 1973.
In 1974 the New Yorker (C body) was redesigned dramatically. This design carried on for five model years. The 1974 - 1978 New Yorker used the identical body as the 1974 - 1978 Newport, Newport Custom, 1974 - 1977 Town & Country, and 1974 - 1975 Imperial. The trim level New Yorker Brougham also appeared for the first time this year. The New Yorker's standard engine in 1974 was the 440 cid big block V8.
From 1976 to 1978 all New Yorkers were correctly referred to as New Yorker Broughams, there were no plain New Yorkers. The styling of this car was carried over from the discontinued 1975 Imperial. This change gave the New Yorker Brougham the beautiful waterfall grille and other styling cues that had been designed for the 1974 - 1975 Imperial. This made the New Yorker the flagship of Chrysler Corporation's lineup for the very first time, but not the last. The 440 cid V8 was the standard engine each year except 1978 when the 400 cid V8 was the standard engine. 1978 would be the last year Chrysler would offer a big block V8 in a passenger car. It is noteworthy that 1977 was the last year for New Yorker's station wagon version, the Town & Country, to be built on a big block powered C body platform. In 1978 the Town & Country was moved to the much smaller M body platform
In 1979, The New Yorker was scaled down to follow the trend away from the fuel hungry full sized cars. The largest engine available was now the small block LA 360 cid as the passenger car big block was a thing of the past. The new R body New Yorker was a slightly modified B body (1975 - 1979 Cordoba). There also appeared for the first time an upscale sub-model of the New Yorker called the Chrysler Fifth Avenue.
In 1982, the New Yorker was moved to the M body, the same rear wheel drive platform as the popular Diplomat and (Canadian) Caravelle. This car was powered by a standard 225 cid slant six or the more commonly found LA 318 cid V8. Only a 4 door sedan was available.
In 1983, the "New Yorker" name was moved to the E class (Extended K) body (a stretched wheelbase version of the new K platform that saved Chrysler Corp from bankruptcy). This new front wheel drive car was powered by a four cylinder engine and would therefore offer the smallest displacement and the highest fuel economy of any New Yorker ever made. The E-platform New Yorker came loaded with "state of the art" '80s technology, featuring a digital dashboard and the infamous Electronic Voice Alert.
At the same time, the 1982 M body based New Yorker was rebadged as the New Yorker Fifth Avenue Edition. These cars were also equiped with the standard 225 cid slant six or the more commonly found LA 318 cid V8.
In 1984, the Fifth Avenue became distinct from the New Yorker in name but remained the same M body car. This car simply no longer carried the New Yorker badge. The New Yorker name was now limited to the luxury E body front wheel drive car. The E body New Yorker was built until 1987.
In 1988, the New Yorker was moved once again. This time it was built on the new front wheel drive Chrysler C platform (a second generation K body). This New Yorker was also avalable with the first V6 engine ever offered in a New Yorker. This was a much maligned Mitsubishi 3.0 litre OHC V6.
At the same time, the New Yorker Turbo stayed on the older E-body platform with a turbocharged four cylinder engine. The New Yorker Turbo would be the last New Yorker equipped with a turbocharger and the last with a four cylinder engine.
In 1990, the New Yorker remained on the second generation K platform, now called a C body, although having nothing in common with the C bodies of the 60's and 70's.
The Fifth Avenue once again became a New Yorker Fifth Avenue Edition and was built on a new extended wheelbase version of the C body, dubbed a AC body. The newly resurrected Imperial was built on a nearly identical platform called a AY body.
This New Yorker was available with the very first domestically built V6 front wheel drive passenger car V6 engine, the venerable 3.3 litre V6. This new engine was coupled with a brand new electronically controlled four speed overdrive transmission, the A604. This transmission has become the butt of much critisism over the years but it is this author's opinion that this was caused by misinformation about the differences in service procedures for the new transmission. Other advanced technological features that also appeared for the first time in this year are such things as Integrated Security System, Driver's Side Air Bag and Four Wheel ABS Brakes (preceeded only in 1971 on some imperials equiped with "Sure-Brake ABS).
In 1994, the New Yorker was moved to the new LH platform. This was Chrysler's second-most well-known automobile platform after the Chrysler K platform of the 1980s. The platform was loosely based on the AMC-developed Eagle Premier. Like the Premier, the LH-cars featured a longitudinally-mounted engine with a front-wheel drive drivetrain, unusual in most American front-wheel drive cars. The engine actually uses a chain to couple it to the transmission. This layout allowed the engineers to easily adapt drive layouts from front drive to rear drive and even all wheel drive with relative ease.
In 1995 the New Yorker remained largly unchanged from the 1994 model. To the dismay of the New Yorker faithful, 1995 would be the last model year that they would see Chrysler Corporation place the name New Yorker on a passenger car. To date (2007), they have not resurrected this name plate.