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
I was mostly GM-crazy as a 12-year old in 1968; but I recall seeing the twin of the 300 Convertible once at the curb, as I walked out of a small grocery store. The owner was just getting in, and as I watched and heard it pull away, all I could think of was sheer power. Just gorgeous.
I enjoy this site and enjoy your posts.
I like the 1967-68 Chryslers and how the 300 had a completely distinctive front end from the Newport and New Yorker.
Of course Imperial was a separate marque with a completely different body from the Chryslers through 1968 – that distinction started to fade beginning in 1969 when it shared the fuselage body (save for front and rear ends) with the Chryslers and by 1971 wore “IMPERIAL by Chrysler” badges and was marketed as a “Chrysler Imperial”. The fuselage Imperials/Chrysler Imperials were still very elegant cars.
As a matter of fact I enjoy this site so much that I decided to join – but somehow messed up setting the login password and am not getting the E-Mails when I try to reset it. Can you help fix this? I am posting this under my username and my E-Mail is email@example.com.
Thank you for your assistance!
Our registration system needs a rebuild. 🙂
I just emailed you a new password.
Last Imperial with a unique (D?) body was in 1966. The ’67-’68 Imperials used on the same C body as other Mopars, stretched between the firewall and front wheels. The ’66 Imperial was also Chrysler’s last body-on-frame car.
I am like a dog with a squirrel every time I see one of these. This one has a really sweet interior – vinyl seats with no split seams tells me that this one has been very sparingly driven through the decades.
I always went back and forth a bit between whether I like these New Yorkers or the Newports better. Most don’t notice this, but the roof/C pillar areas are different between the Newport/300 and the New Yorker 4 door hardtops. These are a little more upright with a thicker pillar, where the others have a thinner pillar with a faster slope to the back window.
And this picture is the way I remember so many of these (only with a little more rust). And almost always painted one of the several colors of green offered.
As a long time Imperial lover (favorite was 61 LEBARON), the only fuselage that looked reasonably decent was the LEBARON. As Chrysler was trying to stay afloat, so many mistakes were made. However the evolution creating the 82 through 88 🤔 Fifth Avenues was for me pure genius. Formal roof, classic lines, plush interiors, and reliable 318 made my 83 and 85 Fifth Avenues a real pleasure to own. To my mind these were the LAST vehicles worthy of wearing the Chrysler name. Yes, I know the K cars gave a longer lease on life, but just the beginning of downward slide for Chrysler Corp. Now SUVS and crossovers rule. Had to laugh, seeing a recent commercial for new electric? Dodge HORNET, using name formerly worn on compact in the 70s and going way back to fabled Hudson Hornet!
Thanks, Paul, for posting these pictures.
I am somewhat biased, as my family had a 1968 Chrysler Town and Country (with Di-Noc!) wagon into the 1980’s, which was reliable and a blast to drive, and I agree the dashboards are pretty neat and the interiors are both tasteful and roomy.
Chrysler made some really great products in the 1960’s, these, and the Dart/Valiant.
I never noticed the comparison between the “pontoon-era” cars and the fuselage Chryslers, but the comparison is apt – it’s a look that is striking, but best taken in small doses.
These Chryslers, in fact, have survived at quite a high rate – I believe there is at least one, possibly two more in the general vicinity, and I seem to see them a lot more than the fuselage or Exner cars. Some of that may have to do with the design itself – since it doesn’t use very many “extra bits” that could fall off or otherwise get damaged, it is much more likely to survive largely in one-piece, in contrast to the Exner cars. Of course, this characteristic is also true of the fuselage cars, but, again, not a style that has aged well. Probably a lot of fuselage cars were used for demolition derby or taxi duty (or both!)
Love them all, the 300 Convertible most of all.
Not that practical in Europe I guess, but still tempting…..
Nice survivor of the big Chryslers of the era, and that green color was quite common at that time.
Being a geography nerd, I’m guessing the location is Berkeley, CA, clues being the brown street sign in the background, the E residential parking permit sign, and the hill in the background, towards the University of California.
Hi Paul! I’ve been reading yer blogs here for a long time, and I just noticed today that you really have some DYNAMIC writing skills! You are very descriptive, and it is a joy for me to read about one of my loves, CLASSIC 1950s-early 70s cars! (especially if they are from you!) I just realized that you are the reason I keep coming back for more! In an age where many peeps don’t even know their ‘theres’, or ‘toos’, it’s a pleasure to read someone with your talent!
Do you work as a writer? If not, maybe you should consider that as a profession? BTW, I’m not one who dispenses accolades freely! I’m more of a ‘CRITIC’! L0L
On THAT critical note Paul, I have to ask… “why does it take so long for comments to load on here?”
Because our commenting system is powered by a 70 hp 1975 Ford 250 six. Meaning, it’s slow.
Um. I think that’s a Mercedes you linked to, Paul.
On the bright side, the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Diesel is ambling the comments out with less noise and particulate than a 240D, so there’s that…
Since I’m already off topic, I just wanted to mention that my old MacBook is really straining here (trying to squeeze the last bit of life out of it before an upgrade), as many of the ads seem to be taxing the CPU and memory… and some of them block stuff like the “Recent Comments” bar. Maybe trying to “pay my way” through allowing ads is false economy, and I should just pony up the ten bucks a month to be rid of that dreck, eh? …And my next comment *will* be in regard to the 1968 Chrysler.
The fuselage cars look to be several sizes larger than these. Is it just the higher fender and belt lines?
I thought the concave sides of these C-bodies were an interesting feature.
I wonder what if the 1974 Chrysler was released in 1969 instead of the “Fuselage cars”? It would look like an evolution of the 1965-68 models?
Lovely cars, these large Chryslers from 65-68. A pity they lost that fantastic 65-66 dashboard.
If I ever would own a full size American car, not entirely impossible, chance would be high it would be big mid to late sixties Chrysler.
C bodies really needed an “in between” styling phase like the B bodies had with the 68-70 splitting the sharp boxy and fuselage years. These definitely weren’t bad looking cars but when I look at this it just screams 1965.
My second love is my cars.
In 1971, I was working in a plant om Maryland that built the gas pumps. One day, the plant superintendent drove into his parking spot with a 1967 Chrysler New Yorker. I was blown away. I told the Sup if he ever sold it to give me a call. I got transferred , moved away in1976 to Ohio. Later that year, he called and i flew back to Maryland and bought that car. So I am the 2nd owner and owned it almost 50 years. Several years later, I gave the car to my son who still has it and will never sell it. It has just over 80k miles and is still factory original in every sense except for a repair to the trunk lid. It still has the metal plate woth the vin # and the Sup’s name stored in a pocket near the radiator.
Just love it
I learned how to drive on my dad’s ’67 300 convertible. It was like asking Gilligan to take the helm of the USS Constitution.
I’ve grown much more fond of this blocky styling now that these cars aren’t often seen, and it really stands out in a land of football shaped conveyances with BIG grilles and angry/squinty headlights or XXtra-butch pickups. The concave sides really do something for the looks, too. I didn’t think so much about it when surrounded by efficiently boxy 1980’s cars, but now it’s a mid 60’s Chrysler styling signature that, along with the color, makes it look *right* parked in front of the building with breeze blocks (lead photo). There are a lot more subtle details that jump out when you look closely, and it’s anything but uninspired.
As an aside, 1968 Mopars were one of the first cars I could identify with 100% accuracy as a young kid, and especially at night. The small round side marker lights (they were squared on Chrysler and Imperial, but the effect was the same) always caught my attention. A few 1968 and ’69 GM cars (especially Pontiac) used small round or tiny rectangular side markers, but they used clear lenses with amber painted bulbs up front. The paint usually peeled off the bulb, so they lit up white or partially white, giving them their own distinctive lighting signature.
Yep, he’s been at it again…..
I learned to drive in a 67 Dark green Dodge Polara, the lower spec of these models. HOT black vinyl seats, no A/C, poverty hub caps and a 383 2bbl carb. So much room under the hood you could have a party in there. Loved that car despite the rust holes the size of Texas in the trunk (MN car). Ahh the memories.