The Chrysler New Yorker was first debuted for model-year 1939; Chrysler’s leader, K. T. Keller, saw it as a way to move past the AirFlow debacle.
After the war, the Chrysler New Yorker was one of four Chrysler models, riding on similar bodies with different trim. Sitting on the longest-wheelbase (127”, or 3238 mm) body, it took the Saratoga and added features such as two-tone wool broadcoth upholstery, a carpeted front compartment, and, on convertibles, a "goose neck" style mirror. The New Yorker was powered by a 323½ cid (5.3 liter) valve-in-head straight-8 cylinder engine pushing out 135 hp — 40% more power than the Plymouth, countered by a 25% weight gain, giving the Chrysler a comfortable edge. That engine had been around since the 1931 Series CD-8.
The 1947 and 1948 models were similar; in 1948, the New Yorker moved to larger, lower-pressure tires and a new rear fender.
For 1949-1950, the New Yorker kept the old Chrysler inline eight and all-wool carpeting; and gained Chrysler's pioneering leather-covered sponge rubber safety pad over the instrument panel, to reduce injuries in accidents. The hardtop body style was brought back, this time with great success. Optional electric window lifts, a Chrysler "first," were introduced.
For 1951-52, the New Yorker gained full-time power steering (a Chrysler first) and a hefty power boost via the new 331 cid (5.4 liter) Hemi V8. In these years, only the New Yorker and Imperial used the 3340 mm (131 inch) wheelbase. The New Yorker used Saratoga’s mechanical features, with better interior appointments, and Windsor trim for club coupe, sedan and convertible body styles. The two years had different tail-lights but were otherwise similar.
The New Yorker and New Yorker Deluxe models, along with the Chrysler Windsor and Windsor Deluxe, were carried over into 1953 but updated with a 3188 mm (125 inch) wheelbase. The New Yorker had trim similar to the Windsor Deluxe, but came with the V8; the New Yorker Deluxe was a step above in trim. For 1953, Chrysler gained the PowerFlite two-speed fully automatic transmission (coming in late, in June 1953); a one-piece curved glass windshield was now used for a more modern look.
For 1954 the New Yorker Deluxe’s engine was equipped with a 4 barrel carburetor, boosting power to 235 hp. The engine was prominently advertised, and added to the company's luxury-and-performance image. Brewster Shaw, owner of San Juan Motors, a local Chrysler-Plymouth dealer, set the Daytona Two-Way Flying Mile record of 117.1 mph in a Chrysler New Yorker.
A 1954 Chrysler New Yorker, driven by Tony Bettenhausen alternating with four Chrysler test drivers, completed a record 24-hour endurance run with an average speed of 118.18 mph for 2836.42 miles as certified by the AAA (a feature in the dedication of Chrysler Corporation's Proving Grounds at
Buyers of this class of car presumably did not buy Chryslers to race Cadillacs and Buicks in the streets, but the reserve of power, though it might never be called upon, was reassuring. The two-speed Powerflite automatic which first became available at the end of the 1953 model year would have restrained enthusiastic driving, as would the drum brakes.
For 1954, the New Yorker used more trim than the other series. The gri;le center bar was bow shaped and dipped at both ends to parallel the upper grille design. The front fender stone shield was unique to the New Yorker Deluxe. The rear fender stone shield had a horizontal trim piece in the midle, matching the trim on the front fender shield. Hubcap design was unique to the New Yorker Deluxe and consisted of a flat spinner-like design in gold color that matched the exterior insignia. The New Yorker Deluxe outsold its 1953 counterpart by nearly 25%.
The big news for 1955 was the first 300 “letter car,” the C-300, named after its unique 300 horsepower (the only stock car of its time with that level of power). It was adorned with an Imperial grille and wire wheels, and one C-300 won NASCAR’s 1955 Grand National race at an average speed of 92 miles per hour — over 160 miles. The C-300 was based on the New Yorker, with additional luxury and performance features, and later Chrysler 300 models would likewise have their roots in the New Yorker.
The New Yorker was restyled in 1956 to have a finer detailed grille and different bumpers to set it apart from the Windsor. The Hemi engine size was increased to 354 cid, raising power by over 10%. The eight chromed teeth on the rear fender, which would become a New York hallmark, were added in 1956.
The Hemi engine's bore and stroke were increased in 1957, and the famed TorqueFlite three-speed automatic was added; the car featured a torsion-bar front suspension (Torsion-Aire), and compound curved windshields. A new air conditioner had the “reheat principle.” Chrysler models were now Windsor, Saratoga, New Yorker, and 300C, in that order. The front torsion bar suspension had comfort similar to competitors, with substantially better handling. The rear suspension, like most competitors, used leaf springs.
For 1958, dual head lamps became standard equipment on all Chrysler cars, and the Sure-Grip limited slip differential could be purchased.
In 1959, the B-series engine was used for the first time in a New Yorker, and the Hemi engine was no longer available; the size, weight, and cost of the early Hemis could no longer be justified, despite their efficiency. Horsepower went up slightly, along with displacement. The instrument panel and dashboard were relatively unchanged from the two previous years. Back-up lights were made standard equipment. A new optional first was an electronically controlled rearview mirror which automatically adjusted to a dim or nonglaring attitude when a head lamp beam crossed its surface.
For 1960, the New Yorker body was completely re-engineered, moving like most Chrysler vehicles to unit-body construction. Swivel seats front seats that swung outward when the front doors were opened became a popular option along with vacuum door locks. Hardtop station wagons were a new body style. The masculine 300-type grille was "trenched." A fine horizontal bar motif inset appeared within the grille outline. New Yorkers continued to use rear fender trim bars for the fifth consecutive year. The number of bars was increased to nine. Exterior brightwork was kept to a minimum with stone shields and sill moldings standard. The front bumper dipped in the center to match the lower contour of the grille opening.
In 1961, the New Yorker had more body styles, none reaching 10,000 sales, and three falling well under a thousand. These were the four door sedan and hardtop sedan, two door hardtop coupe and convertible, and two station wagons (with two and three rows of seats).
The New Yorker was priced at $4,175 for the coupe, $4,592 for the hardtop convertible, and $4,871 for the nine-passenger wagon.
For 1962, the New Yorker had a 126 inch wheelbase and 219 inch length; all other Chryslers had a 122 inch wheelbase and 215 inch length. Around 19,000 were sold, mostly four door sedans. It was similar to the prior year except for a new, 300-like grille. These long vehicles weighed in at nearly 4,000 pounds, with the wagon topping 4,325 lb; only 728 six-passenger wagons and 793 nine-passenger wagons were sold. A Chrysler New Yorker, averaging 18.11 miles per gallon, took top position in the Luxury Car Class of the 1962 Mobilgas Economy Run.
For 1963, all Chryslers were built on the Windsor’s shorter 122-inch wheelbase and painted in a buffable acrylic enamel which permitted a wider range of metallic colors. Positive crankcase ventilation was standard.
February 14, 1963, a new limited production Chrysler, the New Yorker Salon, was announced. It had a vinyl-clad roof, and all major power equipment and accessories were standard.
For 1965, the Chrysler line received all new bodies with a longer wheelbase of 124.0 inches. Galvanized sills and full front wheelhouses gave important corrosion protection, and the luxury ride of the New Yorker was enhanced by a constant-velocity joint added to the drive line.
In 1966, the New Yorker featured a standard 440 engine, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, and choise of two or four door hardtops or four-door sedan, with the same engines. A new option available only to the Chrysler was the first independent rear heater to combine heating, defrosting, and defogging operations in one unit.
The 1971 Chrysler New Yorker was similar to the Imperial, with fewer features and a shorter wheelbase: gone were the covered headlights, two-spoke horn-on-rim steering wheel, and some of the other frills, but it was still clearly a luxury vehicle, with standard 440 and automatic, and vinyl replacing the leather. The wheelbase was 124 inches rather than 129, the length 225 inches (the overhang was the same), and the width still 79 inches.
At the top of the line in 1974 and 1975 stood the New Yorker Brougham, “a totally new expression of an idea that has never changed ... well-styled cars with engineering differences that set them apart from the crowd.” Newly restyled for 1974 (and remaining virtually identical for 1975), the New Yorker Brougham was sold as a two-door or four-door hardtop, and as a four-door sedan.
New for 1974 were additional, strategically placed sound deadeners, foam seals, silencer pads, and vibration absorbers. Also new were 50/50 bench seats (with individual adjustments for driver and passenger) as a standard feature. The standard was cloth and vinyl, with all-vinyl optional. Standard features included power disc brakes, windows, and steering, and a regular-gas-drinking 440 cubic inch V8 engine coupled to a smooth, reliable TorqueFlite automatic. As in the past, a torsion-bar suspension was used to provide remarkably good cornering for a fairly immense vehicle. The base New Yorker also came with a standard 440 V8 and steel-belted radial whitewalls. Options included a power retracting antenna, power sunroof, and vinyl-covered roofs in six colors. The base model was not available as a two-door.
Inside, a new interior included dual armrests (Brougham), passenger-side recliner (four-doors), and rear center armrest; colors were blue, green, black, gold, and parchment. A new modular instrument panel included temperature, alternator, and gas gauges, with a digital clock and optional LED warning lamps for overheating, discharging, and low fuel. A thermostatic temperature control was optional, along with FM stereo and eight-track.
The New Yorker didn't sell especially well, with just over 6,100 base models and about 26,000 Broughams sold in 1975; the most popular was the four-door hardtop. In 1975, the plain New Yorker was dropped, and Brougham sales remained at around 26,000, again mostly four-door hardtops. Generally, it just wasn’t a good time for full-sized cars.
The 1975 Chrysler New Yorker was essentially the same car, with a new grille insert, a no-extra-cost 400 V8 option (for gas mileage), and a "St. Regis" option package.
For 1976, the Imperial would depart, and Chrysler New Yorker Brougham would take its place. But that’s the story of the 1976-1978 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham.
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