William Rubano found an increasingly rare car on the streets, the R-Body 1979-1981 Chrysler New Yorker. It’s a car that was never a common sight, even when new, which of course was its downfall: it was a sales dud. Arriving right at the beginning of the second energy crisis and the subsequent brutal recession was the kiss of death. About 74,000 of these were built in its three years, which is a pittance for such a big market.
I was not a fan when they were new; the clumsy rear opera window within a window instantly turned me off. But as I look at it now, and try to get past that detail, it’s a pretty handsome—if highly derivative—interpretation of the big American car. And for a downsized-era car, it is pretty big: 221.5″ long, or the same as the Buick Electra.
The GM C-Bodies had rather different proportions. Their front doors were a bit short, given that they were shared with the B-Bodies. And their rear doors were of course longer. The R-Body’s doors are more evenly proportioned. And it looks a bit more…substantial, and a bit less “downsized” than the GM cars.
The New Yorker’s basic shape reminds me more of the Ford and Mercury, but it’s decidedly better, as it’s considerably longer and its proportions are more attractive. And the Chrysler’s wheels and tires are nice and chunky.
The lower-trim Newport is obviously more to my liking, with its unadulterated rear door. But then that makes it look a bit generic too.
It reminds me a bit too much of this. I have a touch of PTSD about them, even if they were all-too easy to outrun. For 1980, the 360 V8 was replaced by a 155 hp 318 V8 4-bbl with California emissions to comply with state emissions regulations. CHP officers found out the hard way that the top speed of the Dodge was now reduced to below 100 mph (some say little or no more than 85) when fitted with a lightbar, or some 65 mph on a grade. No wonder the CHP bought Mustang HO coupes the next year.
But I’m veering off the highway and onto the shoulder…
With its hidden headlights open, the front end of the New Yorker is not showing its best face. Makes it look a bit mean. In a sort of good way, actually.
Reminds more than a bit of this, the 2006 Chrysler Imperial concept.
Its rear end is not its best end. A bit plain yet still a bit fussy. As if they were trying too hard to add some visual interest.
This is where I get off. No can do.
I’m not a big fan of these brougham interiors, but that’s just me. I was obviously too deprived of them as a child, thus it’s not been imprinted on me.
More of these two.
Speaking of more recent Chryslers, this is a fine pairing. The last of the old school RWD Chryslers, and the first of the new school RWD Chryslers. And how much longer will the 300 be with us?
CC 1979 Chrysler Newport T. Klockau
CC 1981 Chrysler Newport J. Shafer