For quite some time I’ve been on the lookout for a Dodge Dynasty to use in an article about a long ago road trip plus espousing the virtues of these most formidable and under appreciated Mopars. So it was with great glee I found this one as I pulled into the parking lot of a fast food joint outside of St. Louis.
Then I realized it; this was a Chrysler New Yorker Salon, that one year wonder of badge engineering. As we needed the food to go, I sweet-talked the wife and child to go in so I could stay behind and revel in this oddity of Chrysler history. But then I started to imagine how it might have all began (cue harp music and waving picture)….
One day at a Chrysler executive board meeting in late 1988, the various executives were discussing current market needs. Gathered around a huge board room table, all the various vice-presidents were eagerly listening to their Leader with Intensity (L.I. for short). There was the collective realization of an upcoming gap in product with the imminent – and heart-breaking, since it was cash cow – cancellation of the M-body. The executives realized the need for something between the mid-priced Dodge Dynasty and the higher end Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue Landau – or whatever they were calling it that year. In a collective head (and butt) scratching session, L.I. had taken the lead on soliciting ideas.
L.I. called upon the Junior Vice-President of Marketing, asking him what he thought should be done. The young VP responded: “I believe we should use our synergies to leverage further retail acquisitions in the market segments that are the most vulnerable to our overtures and openly conducive to our projected areas of market penetration and growth via our current product line. I believe that targeting our strongest performers will enable us to fully utilize our most valuable leverage to an unparalleled and crucial advantage.”
Behind his glasses, L.I.’s eyes first glassed over and then narrowed as he furled his brow. “Young man, what you just said is the biggest load of shuck-and-jive, mumbo-jumbo, cockamamie, and mealy mouthed marketing bullshit I’ve ever heard. We are all dumber for having heard that. Boy, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, so filter out the horse-hockey; what do you suggest?”
“Uh, we could strive to sell more of our current line?” the intimidated young Jr. VP asked.
L.I. sighed. “We aim to do that everyday. It’s like breathing, it must be done. Think of this as like growing a goatee, where you are trying to make something out of your predicament.” L.I. looked around the room and asked, “Which of you geniuses promoted this jackass?”
At that point, the Sr. Vice President of Engineering spoke up. “L.I., I do have an idea. Based upon previous product structures throughout the history of the Chrysler Corporation, I see where we have one of two options. Both are viable, but one has worked better than the other historically.”
Everyone could see L.I. perking up. “Tell me more!”
“Option One is to have a de-contented Chrysler; Option Two would be to have a higher content Dodge. Either way, it should be badged as a Chrysler to prevent confusion with the Dynasty.”
L.I. was jubilant. “Hot damn! Leave it to an engineer to save everyone’s ass! I love this idea. Now, the rest of you sad sacks need to pay attention – this man is an engineer and he has a better grasp of your job than what any of you jokers do.
“What should it look like? Do we strip out a New Yorker or puff up a Dynasty?” L.I. asked his new favorite engineering vice president.
After some discussion, it was agreed to reconfigure a Dynasty to fill the need.
Turning his head, L.I. looked at the Intermediate V.P. of Customer Satisfaction and Marketing Analysis. “What do you propose we call this thing?”
The Intermediate V.P. started to look alive. “Well, sir, I believe we want to give it something with name recognition; we should avoid an entirely new name, as customers generate no mental image from non-tangible names like Civic, Camry, and anything alphanumeric. We should also avoid names that conjure up violent images, such as Beretta – any reference to firearms should be avoided. Place names usually work well, except you want to be careful. You wouldn’t want to call a car a ‘Detroiter.'”
L.I. laughed; he knew the Intermediate V.P. was the only one of his underlings with a sense of humor. “No joke; after everyone in the country has seen Robo-Cop, people will expect there to be a .357 in the glove compartment – and we want to avoid reference to firearms; although if it’s a .357 Magnum, we could make a tie-in. But we just introduced a car with a new name – does ‘Dynasty’ ring a bell?”
“Sir, we named that car after your favorite television show,” said the Sr. Vice President of Engineering. As a group, engineers don’t shy away from saying what needs to be said. Sadly, few appreciate this talent.
“Yes, that’s right you did,” said L.I. “I just didn’t anticipate all the derogatory names for it – the ‘Ming’; ‘Blake and Crystal’s Rumpus Room’; the ‘Die-Nasty’. How about we just use the ‘New Yorker’ name? Seems to work pretty well.”
As all were in agreement, the timeline for implementation was established. Everyone was ecstatic (cue harp music and wavy picture again).
Or, maybe it didn’t happen that way. This is just speculation on my part, after all.
I have to admit – I do like this car. Maybe because it’s a (tarted up) Dynasty, a car which I truly think is one of the best cars to evolve from the K-car platform – although this is official a C-body. Yes, I am familiar with them, as my parents had a ’91, my grandparents an ’88, and when I started in my professional life in 1996, the motor pool was full of them and I drove countless examples in every color available.
It should also be noted I realize these cars were not infallible; I have experienced the whimsical behavior of Ultradrive transmissions.
Dynasty New Yorker Salon is the automotive equivalent to comfort food for me; you are attracted to that with which you are familiar. Yet like when eating your favorite food, there are times when something is amiss. And something is amiss with this Dynasty New Yorker Salon, like when the flavor of your food is just not quite up to par, as if it has too much salt.
This Chrysler does have a grille that blends in like a bad set of dentures. That doesn’t bother me. This isn’t the source of the out of tune taste. Excuse me, while I stop for a smoke break – a little nicotine always help me think better.
By gummy, that’s it! The name is simply all wrong.
The name of “New Yorker Salon” conjures up images of some snooty, high dollar joint with women getting $400 pedicures and men getting their torsos waxed. The stereotypical “Chrysler New Yorker” was a darn sight more substantial, something this
Dynasty New Yorker Salon just hasn’t quite achieved.
No, there is a much better name that could have been used. But what? Think, think, think.
I believe I know. Dare I say it?
It should have been called NEWPORT!!! Why didn’t they call this a Newport? What a squandered opportunity. What do you call a stripped down Chrysler? A Newport. What would the market have recognized as an economy minded Chrysler, a car that would have fit between the Dynasty and the New Yorker? A Newport.
Chrysler had enthusiasm for this car and it was a good product. It just needed a name that was a better fit.