The Feeblest Car Of The Malaise Era: 1981 Chrysler Newport Six – 42.6 Lbs/Hp

Chrysler 1981 Newport Full Size-05

(it turns out that we’ve maligned this car; the feeblest car of the era was actually the 1975 Ford Granada six, with 48.46 lbs/hp, and it was duly given its dunce cap here)

I ran today’s question because I have long rather assumed the ’76 Buick V6 had the worst power-to-weight ratio But I’ve increasingly learned that more CC heads are better than mine. And thanks to orangechallenger, we have a new winner/loser: the 1981 Chrysler Newport takes the dunce hat crown, with a whopping 42.6 lbs/hp. Its listed weight is 3635 lbs, and the poor 225 (3.7 L) slant six, once one of America’s strongest sixes, was down to a mere 85 net hp that year. Suddenly it’s 1930!

Chrysler 1981 full size specs

Here’s the proof.

I was tempted to disqualify the diesels, since they were just naturally low on power due to lack of turbocharging. But that’s not a matter of a loss of performance due to emission controls; non-turbocharged diesels are just intrinsically feeble.  But the gas engines lost huge amount of power during this ere, before three-way feedback catalysts and fuel injection allowed engines to be tuned for power again. But as it turns out, even the 4250 lb 1981 Cadillac Brougham with the 105 hp Olds 5/7 L diesel was no worse (40.48 lbs/hp).

The slant six’ loss of power is quite dramatic. I can’t find any net hp ratings for it before emission controls kicked in but the similarly sized 240 inch six in my ’66 F100 is rated at 129 net hp. It was rated at 150 gross hp, and the 225 six at 145 gross hp. So it’s safe to assume that the slant six used to make right about 125 net hp (or more) before getting desmogged. That’s 47% more!

What a come down, from just ten or so years earlier when the 1970 Newport came standard with a husky 290 (gross) hp 383 V8.