CC Outtake: 1973 Chrysler Newport – The Green Giant

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(first posted 6/4/2015)   It’s getting harder and harder to think that cars like this were once just another hum-drum big coupe, like so many other big cars up and down the street. Running across one of these now, especially next to a short and tall Subaru Forester, makes it seem so other wordly. Well, strictly speaking, 1973 Chrysler Newport coupes weren’t really ever all that common of a sight, given the decline in Chrysler’s big car fortunes at the time as well as the decline in big coupes, period. But this jolly big green giant is slumbering away here, dreaming of a time when it wasn’t such a freak.

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The Forester looks like it’s about one-third of the length of the Chrysler, but part of that is perspective. Still, in a world increasingly dominated by CUVs, this twin-landing strip aircraft carrier must be feeling a wee bit alienated.

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It’s also feeling a bit rusty under that bubbling vinyl top. Our healing rain can only do its job when it’s not being trapped. My long-held hate for vinyl roofs has become vindicated, as I see this over and over.

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Of course, this owner doesn’t seem to be very concerned about the rain, which was coming down as a drizzle as I shot this. The driver’s side window seems to not be working, or gone AWOL.

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And rain is never a good ingredient for interiors. If you think Chrysler’s brand image has been degraded of late, take a good look at this interior. It simply reeks Plymouth Fury, and a pretty modest trim level at that. Premium? Chrylser had been dragging itself into the low-priced battleground for some time with its Newport, but this is about as low as it got.

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Truth is, when I first saw this from a little distance, I thought it was a Fury. It just doesn’t have any cues to suggest a premium brand. For 1973, the fuselage Chryslers lost the distinctive loop bumpers, and ended up with a front end that was a blatant crib of a 1971 Chevrolet.

Times were already not good with Chrysler’s big car business, and they were about to fall off the cliff beginning in late 1973 when the energy crisis set in. 1973 was the last year for the fuselage cars, and it was not a stellar way to bow out.

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But in today’s CUV world, any fuselage is madly cool, especially the coupes which accentuates their endless trunks. Did people really buy these cars in 1973, or were they just peppered around to make us think so? Well, in forty years from you younger readers will stumble upon a a Forester or CRV and say the same thing: “People really bought these things?” What were they thinking?