by Jon Denson. Courtesy of the WPC Club. See their excellent magazine for more photos.
See our features on the 1974-75 Chrysler New Yorkers and 1946-75 Chrysler New Yorkers
Always overshadowed by their Imperial predecessors, the 1976-1978 Chrysler New Yorker Broughams were still the epitome of 1970s luxury. Loaded to the hilt, a New Yorker Brougham could cost well over $10,000 new, while the base price was in the modest $7,000 range. The main difference between the 1974-1975 Imperial LeBarons, and the 1976-1978 New Yorker Broughams was not styling it was the standard equipment.
Imperial ended production in 1975 after a complete restyle had failed to spark sales. Chrysler then put the New Yorker Brougham model into “imperial skin” for 1976. That is, the New Yorker Brougham was an Imperial with most of the standard equipment optional. The New Yorker Brougham brought back the styling of an earlier time, instead of adopting opera windows and coach lights; and had a chrome-plated zinc grille while Cadillac had a chrome-plated plastic grille. Items such as lighted vanity mirrors, power antenna, power trunk release, etc., were now all options, to make the New Yorker Brougham's price less than the Imperial's of 1974-1975. Most of the New Yorker Broughams sold, however, were loaded with all the options. That is why most people consider the New Yorker Broughams of 1976 through 1978 to be "Imperials in all but name."
Although there were minor styling differences such as a larger rear window and square side lights, the luxuries remained. An interior with incredible tufted (buttoned) "Corinthian Leather" was available at extra cost, while tufted velour upholstery, with a beautiful "royal" appearance, was standard. Interiors with red velour were especially luxurious. A dashboard of handsome simulated "Brazilian Rosewood", with silver accents, was another highlight of the ritzy interior.
"Ritzy" is definitely the best way to describe the 1976-1978 New Yorker Broughams. Styled to extremes, it was clear that Chrysler wanted to sell something that would run the compact cars off the road, when more and more people were buying smaller economy cars. At a gigantic 232.7 inches long, the New Yorker Broughams were up there with the Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams and Lincoln Continental Town Cars.
It was also clear that, when fully loaded, A New Yorker Brougham was a strong competitor with Lincoln and Cadillac. Sales were better for this true Imperial, now that the fancy Imperial nametags had been replaced with "New Yorker Brougham" emblems. Also, with the magnificent "hardtop" styling (something Lincoln and Cadillac lacked) and a gorgeous formal roofline, New Yorker brougham was in a market of its own. It was bringing back the styling of an earlier time, instead of adopting opera windows and coach lights.
There will always be something truly special about these awesome, huge American luxury cars. It is quite easy to see that everything about these cars reflects the past, from the rear seat lavaliere straps, to the tufted leather and folding armrests.
In the details like individual interior reading lamps and glamour lights, door-mounted cigarette lighters and ashtrays (in all doors, except driver's), rear headrest pillows, and a full vinyl-covered roof, these cars should never be forgotten. In a time where Chrysler was losing business, money, and creativity, they still managed to make their top-of-the-line model a true Imperial. It was the last Imperial, but it was worthy of the name; it reflected all the great elements of the past in one final farewell. Someday, people will remember, and these cars will finally be collected and admired.
The 1976 Chrysler brochure stated, "You'd want this New Yorker Brougham for its looks alone. Regal. Resplendent. Dedicated to luxury in every aspect of fine motoring...considerate of your desire for total comfort. And, as never before, New Yorker brougham represents a concept of worth that demands comparison with others in its class. A close examination of fine features and equipment will reveal that there simply is no comparison. Step into the extraordinary richness of New Yorker brougham's interior. Experience the softness of velour, or the finely crafted opulence of Corinthian Leather that indulge your taste for textures and colors. Thickly woven shag carpeting covers layer on layer of sound insulation padding. But to begin with, your choice of a New Yorker Brougham says you have uncompromising taste."
New Yorker Broughams came with the 440 V8 as standard equipment, while the 400 V8 was optional. In high altitudes, the 360 V8 was standard, with the 440 V8 optional. In California, the 360 V8 was standard, and the 440 V8 optional. Most New Yorker Broughams came with the "Lean Burn" system standard.
The reason the New Yorker Brougham didn't sell as well as some other models could have been the lack of advertising. Chrysler needed to sell more cars, and compact cars were selling best. While competitors were advertising their flagship models with individual brochures and expensive commercials, the New Yorker brougham was restricted to four pages in the Chrysler brochure. The company was busy promoting the Chrysler Cordoba, introduced in 1975, with expensive commercials with Ricardo Montalban. Unfortunately, when most people hear of "Corinthian Leather", they think of the Chrysler Cordoba. In fact, the 1974 Imperial was the first to have rich "Corinthian Leather," something many Chrysler Cordoba owners aren't aware of.
The New Yorker Brougham had a huge list of luxury options, including power door locks, power antenna, power trunk release, 6-way power seats, rear window defroster, AM/FM stereo with 8-track player, tilt/telescope steering, window locks, automatic climate control, and many others. The stereo with the 8-track player came with a special Chrysler "Sound Of Stereo" tape. It featured many hit songs from the 1970s, featuring Henry Mancini and other orchestras.
Chrysler went to great lengths to make the New Yorker Broughams luxurious. Even the emblems on the side of the car were gold plated, and the Brougham emblems had ornate chrome designs. The hood ornament was a scene of two lions holding a shield, drawing on the lions used in the late 1950s and early 1960s Chryslers. Two different hubcap styles were offered. The standard was a flat-style, with a brushed stainless steel look and Brougham emblems. The Premier wheel covers were extra cost, and were chrome plated. Chrysler also offered "Road Wheels."
New Yorker Broughams were available in two body styles: a two-door hardtop and a four-door hardtop. An extra-cost St. Regis Edition was available on the two-door, and included opera windows and a padded vinyl top. The four-doors have more of a limousine style roofline than the two-doors, and are more formally styled. Lavaliere straps were not available on the two-door New Yorker Broughams.
These fine automobiles are probably most well known for their elegant chrome waterfall grilles. While Cadillac had a chrome-plated plastic grille, New Yorker Brougham's was chrome-plated zinc. Also, the New Yorker Brougham had one of the most beautiful chrome bumper styles of the decade, as its competitor's bumpers were styled like shelves. It had a unique design, with the chrome grille flowing into the bumper, and grille sections underneath it.
The concealed headlamps were another graceful addition to the New Yorker Brougham. Some people even claim that the car looks better with the headlight doors open, to show the almost evil looking, piercing round headlights. It almost reminds some of the freestanding headlights on Imperials of 1961-1963.
The rear-ends of the New Yorker Broughams were also highly styled, but with a mild elegance. The trunk-lid had a raised center, almost like a bustle-back, and the teardrop taillights were mounted vertically on both sides. The taillights were framed with thick chrome trim, which extended out at the top of the light. Silver accents lined the edges of the taillights.
Nothing could come close to the styling of these, fine automobiles, which were definitely way ahead of the competitors, in terms of luxury. It's unfortunate that the cars being made today can't go to the extent of richness that was achieved on the New Yorker Broughams of 1976-1978.
In 1977, New Yorkers were treated to the same improvements as all corporate cars. Chrysler adopted new wire terminals, a more reliable starter relay, six-pound-lighter, more durable batteries, a more efficient torque converter; numerous parts were redesigned to have higher strength with lower weight. A running change in 1976 brought in a new seven-stage autophretic coating system including baking and curing; more effective than the asphalt-based rustproofing of prior years, it used less energy and cut fire hazards and pollutants.
The Lean Burn system made its appearance on the 440 in 1977 “for better driveability and overall performance” (until, many would say, the system stopped working.) The engine was standard on New Yorker Brougham and Town & Country, and optional on Newport, Gran Fury, and Monaco.
By far, 1977 was the Chrysler New Yorker Brougham’s best year, bringing in hefty sales despite a hefty price — around $7,000 base, and, fully loaded (as many were), over $10,000. Visible changes were rubber-covered steel corner guards that allows the lower corners of bumpers to sustain a 3 mph collision without damage, and new rubber-covered steel front bumper guards.
For 1978 there were some modifications, a revised grille and side trim were offered, new paint schemes were also available. The 400 cubic inch engine became standard while the 440 was made the optional engine. Four-door Broughams could now get an optional Salon décor package consisting of a special high-gloss silver leather covered steering wheel and aluminum fascia road wheels. This package wound up on nearly six percent of the Broughams offered this year. It cost $631.
Like most cars in this era a dizzying array of options was offered and it would be impossible to properly list them all here, so for accuracy please check a sales brochure for the items for each year.
The Standard Catalog of Chrysler adds: standard wheels were JR78 x 15 radial whitewalls; wheelbase was the same as the Newport at 124 inches.
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