CC Cohort Outtakes: Three Decades Of Chrysler Rooflines

How much does car styling change over the course of 20 years through three different decades? Quite a bit actually. Avid Cohort contributor Canadiancatgreen recently posted a number of interesting junkyard photos, among them these four full-size Chryslers, three of which served the brand’s flagship during its respective decade. The rear-quarter view from which each is taken especially highlights the dramatic change in styling trends from the 1970s to the 1980s to the 1990s.

First up is this 1975 Chrysler New Yorker. Debuting one year prior in 1974, the redesigned C-bodies followed the Fuselage Chryslers, replacing swoopy, curved sheetmetal with straighter body lines and more chiseled styling throughout, while still maintaining an ever-so slight resemblance to the Fuselages. These cars were still massive, with acres of overhang, and a girth allowing for true three-abreast seating in each row. Among their most distinctive styling traits were their sweeping rooflines, which I can only describe as being canopy-like in nature.

Less than a decade later, Chrysler’s largish M-body LeBaron was given a facelift in 1980, highlighted by more regal styling and the near-vertical “formal” roofline then in vogue. Following the discontinuation of the larger R-body, the M-body became Chrysler’s “new” New Yorker flagship, a name that soon became New Yorker Fifth Avenue, and then simply just Fifth Avenue. The Fifth Avenue’s roofline was achieved through a fiberglass cap, resulting in its standard landau roof. Aided by the fact that it was a smaller vehicle, simpler sheetmetal with straighter body lines and sharper angles gave the Fifth Avenue a more businesslike look in the true 1980s way.

The M-body lasted until 1989, upon which all full-size Chryslers would be front-wheel drive until 2005. A slightly longer front-wheel drive C-body, dubbed the Y-body, debuted for 1990 with the Chrysler Fifth Avenue and Chrysler Imperial. Styling, especially for the Fifth Avenue, was near-identical to this shorter, rather tiny “full-size” C-body New Yorker that was released two years prior, itself a very evolutionary continuation of the M-body Fifth Avenue.

Revolutionary would be the term that described this 1994 Chrysler LHS, a dramatic departure from all recent flagship Chryslers. Highlighted by its “Cab-Forward” proportions and styling, length was stretched while overhangs were minimized, front and rear windshields stretched towards the corners of the car, and organically-shaped sheetmetal throughout. Once again, it was the roofline of the LHS that was among this fullsize Chrysler’s most distinctive feature. Rooflines truly can set the overall impression and tone of a car’s design, as evidenced by these excellent comparison shots. They can genuinely can make or break a design.

Photos by Canadiancatgreen