Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1968 Chrysler New Yorker – The End Of Rectilinearity, For Now

shot and posted by Jerome Solberg

Has the expression “to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat” ever applied more to Elwood Engel?  His rejected proposal for the 1961 Thunderbird was supposedly found by Ford President Robert MacNamara and resurrected as the basis for the paradigm-shifting 1961 Continental. That car utterly destroyed all the fins, chrome, jet intakes and rocket engine protrusions in one drop of its sharp-edged styling guillotine.

Engel parlayed that into a big promotion, as head of Chrysler’s design, replacing the exuberant Virgil Exner. And of course Engel brought along his box of straight edges and angles, remaking the Chrysler look from “fuselage” (yes, that term was already used by Exner) to rectangular. It had its moment in the sun, most fully expressed in the 1964 Imperial and 1965 Chryslers, but by 1968, it was looking more than a bit dated.

Here’s the two book ends of that era. The changes to the Chrysler’s flanks in 1967, with that new lower character line dropping down to the rear wheel skirt as well as the lower upper line already changed the look, acknowledging that the flared hips that graced GM ’65 line could not be (totally) ignored. Engel also acknowledged the reality of the limitations of the pontoon look cars like the 1947 Kaiser-Frazer, that an uninterrupted  flat plane only holds the attention for so long.


As to the front end, it’s not exactly inspired, but undoubtedly is meant to preview the loop bumpers coming in 1969.

The 350 hp 440 V8 was standard on the New Yorker, and a 375 hp “TNT” version optional. That one had a more aggressive camshaft, dual exhausts and a dual snorkel intake, among other differences.

The 300 Series had a much more dramatic unique front end. That’s a pretty hefty investment given the modest number sold, especially so since it was less expensive than the New Yorker. One might well assume the opposite.

Much has been said and written about the loss of the glorious architecture and gleaming metal of the dashboards of the early sixties. But it was not only inevitable, but mandated by the new Federal Safety regulations. The Chryslers still had quite a bit of class, especially compared to the 1969 cars to come, but the glory days were over.


Here’s a somewhat different view into the rear compartment. One thing is for certain: these big C-Body cars had an ample rear compartment.

And all three lines (Newport, 300, New Yorker) had unique rear end treatments too, although that mostly involved the taillights and center section.

The standard 350 hp 440 came with a single exhaust system. This might well have been upgraded to duals, or it possibly came with the optional TNT 440.

1969 ushered in the fuselage era. And clean, largely unbroken sides, again. It’s an update of the pontoon era, which was defined by those characteristics. The lesson of the pontoon era was that…it got old quickly. Chrysler failed to learn that.

So in the next restyle (1974), much of the 1967-1968’s rectilinear elements were back, including that dropping lower character line and rear fender skirts. New ideas were hard to come by, at this stage of the game.


Jim Cavanaugh’s COAL on a ’68 Chrysler:

COAL: 1968 Chrysler Newport Custom – Chapter 19, One More Drink From The Well