(first posted 12/10/2015) Some friends and I were on our way to the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place a few years ago when I spotted this classic Chrysler parked curbside while we were leaving the neighborhood. At that time, Chrysler’s very future seemed uncertain following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing the previous year. I was able to convince the driver to stop the car so I could get a few pictures. “Fuselage” Chryslers of this period play a small part in my family lore, in that my grandparents had owned what I remember to be a 1971 Dodge Polara. The only full-size car my parents ever owned was a blue, ’72 Plymouth Fury I. It was also a Newport like the featured car that almost ran Grandma’s silver, ’79 Ford Fiesta off the road into northwestern Ohio’s Maumee River while making a “country right” (swerving slightly left before swinging completely right), while my younger brother and I were also in the car.
This 1972 Chrysler Newport Royal is one of a total of 130,305 Newports produced for the model-year. Of this total, 85,244 were the Newport Royal subseries, and of that figure, 47,437 were four-door, pillared sedans like this one – the most popular individual model of all Newports produced that year. The base price for the Newport Royal sedan was $4,051 (about $23,000 adjusted for 2015). For the sake of comparison, a 1972 Buick LeSabre Custom four-door pillared sedan started at just $4 less, at $4,047. To further put this into perspective, the modern-day equivalents of these two cars start at just within $1,000 of each other (roughly 3%), with a 2016 Chrysler 300 starting at around $32,000 against the Buick LaCrosse at $31,000.
The rear styling of these Newports thoroughly confused me as a kid when I was learning about cars. I would often mistake them with Oldsmobile Delta 88s of the same era. I mean, look at the above collage I put together of two pictures found on the net, of a ’72 Olds Delta 88 (top) and a ’73 Chrysler Newport (with the ’73 Newport’s rear styling being only a slight revision of that of the featured ’72). How was this facsimile even legal? Or is this perceived similarity all just in my head? That Chrysler’s styling department started phoning it in around this time is a well-worn path familiar to many CC readers, but I felt it does bear a brief mention here.
If given the choice between a ’73 Buick LeSabre Custom and a ’73 Chrysler Newport Royal – with their $4 difference in starting price, that’s a tough one. The LeSabre and I originate from the same city (Flint, Michigan), so there’s the loyalty factor, and the Buick name arguably carried more cachet in the early 1970’s than today. But then again, Chryslers of the 70’s were also still positioned upmarket, and this one looks great in mint green metallic. Car-for-car and side-by-side, I probably prefer the LeSabre’s swoopy curves to the Newport’s more slab-sided contours (which may run contrary to more than a few opinions) – but in 2015, I think they’re both great-looking cars.
As far as the Certs breath mints reference, certain things like colors (in my mind’s eye, the two colors were more similar than is evident above) will always remind me of things discovered during childhood. And don’t think you wouldn’t look and feel cool as a cucumber while cruising in this beauty to catch a set at the local jazz club on Saturday night. As for Grandma’s silver Fiesta, it sadly went bye-bye shortly after the near-accident for a two-tone beige-and-burnt-orange ’82 Plymouth Horizon five-door hatchback – another trouble-free, well-engineered car. The right-turn mishap wasn’t the Fiesta’s fault (its brakes did their job very well), and this trade was more likely due to Grandpa’s preference to trade their cars in every three years or so. I did love watching Grandma row through the Fiesta’s four-speed manual gearbox.
As for you, Chrysler Newport, I forgive you for almost taking me out with my grandma and brother. We lived to tell about it, so you and I are good. I haven’t seen you around for a while, but I hope you’re still on the road, parked somewhere warm and dry, and hopefully also salt- and rust-free.
The subject car was as photographed by the author on Sunday, February 14, 2010 in Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
- From JPCavanaugh: Car Show Classic: 1974 Chrysler Newport – Sorry, Please Play Again;
- From Paul Niedermeyer: CC Outtake: 1973 Chrysler Newport – The Green Giant; and
- From Jason Shafer: Automotive History Follow-Up: President Harry S Truman And His 1972 Chrysler Newport.