Marketplace Find: 1966 Chrysler Newport – “Alive With Pleasure”

Antique car shopping is so much more fun (and often more fruitful) when the potential buyer isn’t looking for anything in particular, and I’d say that most of my purchases fundamentally found me, because I’m always shopping for interesting cars.  Unfortunately, I’m presently in a bit of a slump because everything in the world seems expensive and I’m focusing my pursuit on two specific vehicles: a first-generation Riviera or a first-generation Toronado, whichever comes first.  Regardless, this semi-local 1966 Newport is exactly the car I’d be looking for if I weren’t looking for anything.

Here is the ad: 1966 Chrysler Newport. Motor is healthy, previous owner had said it was recently rebuilt. Drove around for summer of 2019 and then started to trace down some wiring issues, car has been sitting since spring 2020. Will need brake work, ignition wiring, and some suspension work to be safely driveable. NOT RUNNING CURRENTLY. Has some rust but not much, floor is solid all the way around. Interior is an 8/10. Odometer reads 34,000, not certain if it’s rolled over or not. Very nice and fun car, I just don’t have the time for it and it breaks my heart to see it sit. Asking $6000 OBO or trade for cars, trucks, motorcycle, machinist tools, etc. Should be trailered.

Traditional Aaron would be forced to drive an hour to take a look (it’s in Harrison, MI, by the way) because I’ve always liked ’65 and ’66 full-size Chrysler Corporation hardtops.  Seventeen years ago, a few weeks before I got married, my dad and I made a six-hour round trip to the Lake Michigan coast to look at a ’65 Newport ($2000 back then) that the owner claimed would make the trip back home easily: The leaking carburetor and 40-year-old snow tires did nothing to corroborate his claim.  ***Side note: Internet shopping has made those long, unsuccessful journeys less frequent, as most websites allow more and better pictures.  From my recollection, the Newport’s ad showed only one, and it was small.***

I also fell in love with a ’65 New Yorker awhile back, but it just didn’t tug at my heart strings quite enough to write the check.  Either way, the big Chryslers are simply a little too long to fit in the garage with the others, which is why I don’t have a fleet of full-sized cars from the 1960s.

Therefore, this Newport is simply one of my myriad daydreams.  On the other hand, even with some work to do, this one is tempting, although I don’t like when a supposedly rebuilt engine isn’t running; my imagination runs wild.  It doesn’t take a herculean effort to wipe a camshaft if it’s improperly broken in, and honestly, I’d take a slightly worn original engine over a claimed rebuild any day.  I’d use the car’s status as a non-runner as a bargaining chip if I were wheeling and dealing and simply assume that I’d be learning the intricacies of a big-block Chrysler in the near future.

***Another side note: I once changed a water pump on a 383, and it was by far the easiest water pump I’ve ever replaced.  I was only about 21 years old at the time and more accustomed to small-block Ford water pumps, which apparently were designed by an engineer who hated auto mechanics.  The Chrysler uses four bolts instead of 4 million, and those four are not only the same length, but they also thread into the timing cover itself, not the block, so there’s no possibility of disturbing the timing cover seal.***

Back to the Newport: There’s also a bit of rust to deal with, although I could knock out a patch for that long, flat panel in a few hours.  A quick trip to the paint store for a pint of single-stage urethane for the touch up gun would have the repair looking good enough for me, especially with that big piece of stainless trim to cheat the eye with the paint match.

I’ll never understand why some sellers don’t vacuum the floor of the car.  The seller claims that the interior is an eight out of ten, and this picture shows no obvious blemishes.  Imagine long rides on a country highway with your right arm leaning on that big, comfy armrest and your left hand atop that big, dangerous steering wheel, with that big 383 burbling away the miles up in the boiler room…nope, wake up!

The back seat also looks nice, and that makes me wonder if the headliner constitutes the remaining two out of ten of the seller’s interior rating.

Finally, one of the best reasons to buy a ’65 or ’66 Chrysler is the dashboard with its spectacular hemispherical speedometer; the seller was firmly in the right by taking and including this picture in the ad.  One can also see the ignition switch on the dashboard, as God intended.

These days, I don’t know if $6000 is in the ballpark for this car; I’ve lost my bearings in this nuclear market and I’m currently settling in for a patient wait for a Riviera or Toronado that aligns with my personality and budget (It’s annoying how nit-picky I get when I’ve limited my scope).  But there’s no way I’m not tossing this Newport around in my mind and trying to figure out how much cash I’d take on the trip, and how I’d get it home.  Sometimes, daydream shopping is almost as fun, and I don’t have to pay for more rented storage.