I had not looked through the Cohort in awhile, but am I glad I did. There to greet me was this gorgeous 1964 Chrysler New Yorker.
I am on record as being a fan of the 1963-64 Chrysler. The ’63 Chrysler (along with the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart that were also new that year) marked the final stage of Virgil Exner’s vision for how a car should look. The 64 is not quite as pure as the 63 – who doubts that Elwood Engel saw a need to square-up the smooth Italian-inspired behind with some little fins.
What grabbed me though is not just a 64 Chrysler, but the 64 Chrysler in its very best body style – a four door hardtop.
Let’s compare. The Chrysler buyers who survived the customer-cull undertaken (if inadvertently) by the company in 1957-61 tended to be conservative folks who preferred the four door sedan by a wide margin. In my eye, though, the thick, clunky window-surrounds were as bad as those on Studebakers. Oh wait – Studebaker got rid of those after 1962. Virrrr-gellllllll!?!?!?!
And unlike most other cars of the era, the two door versions of these Chryslers looked like four door models with longer front doors fitted. Which they were, as they shared a roof. Gone were the sleek two door hardtops that had been a bright spot through a challenging era of Chrysler styling.
My first relationship with a Chrysler of this generation came via some high school friends who drove the family ’63 Newport four door hardtop. That hardtop roof cured every problem I had ever noticed on these cars, making the design light and airy instead of something for Lutheran dairy farmers like my mother’s Aunt Clara who chose a Newport sedan. But either way you got the fabulous dashboard I fell in love with.
The styling of this car both inside and out demanded the kind of lightness that the hardtop provided. Just look how happy this driver of one was? Or was that smile just put on by an artist. (“What’s the matter Jane? You look drawn.”)
I noticed one other little detail – that bit of chrome going over the back of the roof. Which means that this is a New Yorker Salon, the model at the very top of the Chrysler-brand hierarchy. Or could maybe kind of possibly be but probably isn’t (thanks to the sharp eyes of our readership) and is just a regular New Yorker with the trim for the two tone paint or vinyl roof. This one seems to have lost its partial vinyl roof (or was ordered without that feature to begin with). This design may have been the only really successful way to add a vinyl roof to a car without a natural break between the C pillar and the lower body.
Anyway, thanks Mike Hayes for lobbing this softball my way so that I can look with satisfaction on one of the most uniquely attractive cars of its era. It reminds me of the sign-off of a radio DJ who hosted a Saturday morning big band jazz program on a local public radio station. “This music isn’t for everybody” he would say, before adding “it’s too good.” A four door hardtop ’63-’64 New Yorker is in the same category.