(first posted 2/24/2014) A few weeks ago, I discussed my love affair with a full-size Pontiac that eluded me years ago, and how it haunts my consciousness. On a related note, I let one of the above land barges get away a couple Aprils ago, and although it doesn’t exactly get under my skin the way the ’65 Catalina does, I still suffer from pangs of non-buyer’s remorse over the ’65 New Yorker 2-door hardtop.
The brochure for the 1965 Chrysler line asks a simple question, which may or may not be rhetorical. I’ll answer and not answer, respectively. No, I couldn’t agree to buy the double-white New Yorker for sale on the side of the road in Traverse City, MI, for the simple reason that it wouldn’t fit in my garage with my other old cars in it. At 218.2 inches long, it’s over a foot longer than my ’65 Skylark and ’53 Special Riviera, which are both really big. This thing gives the phrase “road hugging weight” some, well, weight.
Rhetorically, there’s nothing more to say but that I love the new-for-’65 modern look of this New Yorker. Chrysler had a banner year (as did almost everybody else) in ’65, and its clean new three-boxmobiles looked contemporary and fresh. On the other hand, I can’t imagine my choosing this car over a GM B-Body in ’65. Today, it’s common for car-crazy dorks like me to have several old cars, but if I had one choice in a full-sizer, I would have been all over the Pontiac.
My intention is not to damn with faint praise, however. If I lived on an ample plot of land with a sizable pole barn, I could have gleefully lived out my days with that white New Yorker. This nice 4-door hardtop version exhibits a few reasons why. The taillights are unique and awesome, a combination of clear lenses and colored bulbs. It’s an uncommon look that should have caught on. Additionally, I think the rear panel is among the most stylish of the big cars in ’65, with those gorgeous taillights bookending concave polished trim. Cool.
I always thought I preferred the Newport/300’s faster sloping c-pillar, but the New Yorker roofline almost seems more “expensive,” more in tune with the theme of the car. The two creases running along the beltline and through the rear fender skirts are in harmony with each other and the gently convex bodyside. Not too much not to like back here.
I don’t, however, think I’d play glamorous race car driver in it. Even with torsion-bar suspension and a 413 disgorging up to 340 rated horsepower, I’d think I’d be happier highway cruising (or floating), at least until I had to fill up the gas tank. I am very familiar with the old Carter AFB, however, so maybe with a little tweaking and prodding…oh, never mind. I’d be happy with 12 MPG.
As I researched the New Yorker, mulling over its purchase, I asked around the C-Body Forum, looking for pitfalls with this model. From all their answers, one very familiar caveat became evident: parts availability. Chrysler Corporation only produced 9,357 New Yorker 2-door hardtops in ’65, and even some of the mechanical parts like shifter cables were different from later model years.
Since I don’t want to be a spoil-sport, let’s avoid discussing the negatives and return to one of the reasons I should have bought this Mopar. I like its dashboard. My favorite dashboards of ’65 have always been Chrysler’s and Mercury’s. Chrysler abandoned pushbutton drive for ’65, which gave them room to completely redesign the instrument cluster, and the half-circle speedometer and dashpad look almost architectural, like an arch in some gothic building. With this dashboard, Chrysler shed the last of the Exner idiom, and as much as I appreciate Exner’s designs, this dashboard seems more in keeping with the time period.
Looking at this picture now, as it’s 0 degrees outside, I just want to climb behind that three-spoke wheel and go somewhere, anywhere (well, somewhere warmer). There’s something magical about peaked fenders, especially when there are directional indicators involved: technology!
In front, the New Yorker had one of the coolest features in the industry: glass-covered headlights! I’m not angling for an ironic tone here, I love those simple panes of glass, and I also love that Chrysler didn’t jump on the stacked-headlight bandwagon. On the other hand, the vinyl-covered C-pillar on the New Yorker takes some getting used to, and the white colored fabric on the one I contemplated purchasing was not in good shape, but that’s no big deal. I could have locked both doors with the key on the driver’s side like the gentleman in the brochure, and that would have more than made up for weak vinyl inserts.
I guess I’ve done enough beating around the bush. I didn’t buy the car and that’s that. The owner emailed me that it ran and drove well (not that that means anything), and I didn’t find any rust on the car as I looked it over (admittedly in the rain). He was only asking $3500 for it, but parts availability and size were the main factors in my “nay” decision.
After I made the decision not to pursue the car, my wife bought me the above advertisement so I’d have something to remember it by. I know she was secretly happy I decided the way I did; she didn’t seem to like the “docking instead of parking” aspect of it. I did get my Big Three fix by purchasing my more reasonably-sized ’65 Dart, so instead of buying the top-of-the-line model, I went with the bottom of the barrel, but that’s a story for another time.