CCOTY Nomination: 1966 Chrysler

Elwood Engel left Ford in 1961 to succeed Virgil Exner as head of styling at Chrysler.  The 1965 Chrysler–which essentially evolved the Engel’s design language for the 1961 Lincoln Continental–was his first “clean sheet” production car design for Chrysler.  The 1966 refresh was, in my opinion, an improvement on the ’65s that provided greater differentiation between the base Newport (Windsor, in Canada), sporty 300 and high-end New Yorker models, all of which shared most of their sheet metal.

 The letter-model 300 was gone, but 1966 marked the debut of the 350-hp, 440 cu in Mopar big-block that came standard in the New Yorker. The Newport and 300 had 383 cu in big-blocks with two- and four-barrel carbs, respectively. All ’66 Chrysler series offered the 365-hp, 440 ‘TNT’ engine upgrade.

Front disc brakes were newly optional for ’66; from my personal experience, however, under most circumstances the power drum brakes are sufficiently large to stop the car without drama.  Even the base-level, non-power drums are fairly adequate, thanks to their use of a unique pedal assembly that provides more leverage.

TV ads touted the 1966 Chrysler as a car “For when you’re young… or when you want to be.” This car definitely lives up to the tagline.

When I drive to the mall, it’s not unusual for me to find an old guy hanging around my car even when I park it near the back of the lot.  The story is always familiar: He drove one “back in the day”, and it was the best car he ever owned.

Once, I even found a business card, stuck under the wiper blade by someone who’d once had a car just like mine. On it was a written offer for my car. As every current or former owner I know will tell you,  these cars never fail to evoke fond memories.