Thus begins the strangest tale in my entire vehicle ownership experience. Which is saying something. This was a car that never should have come into my life, but that was (at the time) everything I had ever wanted in a car. Isn’t that how all tragic relationships start?
In the spring of 1980 I successfully converted my mother’s driveway into one that was 100% Mopar, something I had never before thought possible. That was when she decided to replace the 6 year old Luxury LeMans – a gas hog that she had never really loved. I innocently suggested that she check out a Plymouth Horizon or Dodge Omni. I had tried selling my mother on a Chrysler product before, in 1974. I at least got her to drive into the lot of the local Chry-Ply dealer before she saw what the Satellite sedans looked like and drove right back out again without stopping the car. But this time the little L body made a case for itself.
Mom wanted a small car, but wanted one that was “plush”. She was approaching fifty years old and was not ready to settle for an econobox. We had gotten a touch of Honda experience by driving occasional loaners when the Pontiac had been in for service at our local dealership that handled both lines. Hondas of the 1970’s were a lot of things, but plush was not one of them. The GM X body had just come out, but Mom didn’t like the looks of them and they were larger and more expensive. The little Omni just seemed right, and once she got over the games Glenbrook Dodge was playing (three separate times when the special order car was to be delivered but, oddly, was reported as not on the truck), she drove a couple of blocks to Tomkinson Chrysler-Plymouth and ended up with a two tone navy and silver blue Horizon sedan. And it was actually plush, with comfy velour upholstery, air, power steering and brakes, automatic, and the best stereo either of us had ever had in a car.
Early one summer evening two years later I happened to be out somewhere with Mom and my Aunt Norma, who was curious about a Horizon for one of her kids. It was after business hours (the best time) and we stopped in at “our” Chry-Ply dealer to see what they had on hand. Suddenly, I no longer cared. Because there, in the front row of the used cars, was the most gorgeous 1977 New Yorker Brougham 4 door hardtop ever built. The “Russet Sunfire” paint was an unusual cross between copper and burgundy, and it was stunning when paired with the light beige vinyl roof and beige velour interior. My car-influence Howard had bought a 77 Newport 4 door hardtop brand new, and I was
quite really extremely fond of that car. But this New Yorker took everything good about the Newport and turned it to eleven. You know that oft parodied movie scene where the man and the woman see each other across the green meadow full of daisies, then run in slow motion until they end in a passionate embrace? My reaction upon seeing the New Yorker was a lot like that.
A back door had been left unlocked and I called Mom over to check it out. I only intended to invite her to join me in drooling over the unobtainable, but something inexplicable happened. She fell in love with it as hard as I did.
This was absolutely not my mother – she was of German stock and as practical as they came. But she had harbored a little thing for big, expensive cars since she had gotten the occasional use of her Uncle Carl’s Cadillacs when she was in nursing school. Gasoline and interest rates were both sky-high in 1982 so a 5 year old New Yorker was not in demand. First, it was an unapologetic product of the old pre-Iacocca Chrysler Corporation. I loved that about the car, but I was in a very small fan club. Second, anything powered by a 440 V8 would struggle to get double digit gas mileage under the best of circumstances and was therefore as popular as a rat in a fancy restaurant. The five-year-old car had only 34k on the odo and was pristine in every way.
It was an unusual summer in other ways too. I had just graduated college and the country was in the middle of a nasty recession. I had taken the LSAT exam and had been admitted to the IU law school at Indianapolis. That seemed like the best plan because the job market for college graduates for any kind of business degree (mine was economics and finance) was horrible. So, I continued the life of a student, and managed to piece together three part time jobs so make some money. My barber’s wife ran a card and gift store in the mall and needed someone she could trust to be in charge during a summer trip they had planned, so that took care of my evenings. She, by the way, had traded a big Buick on a 76 New Yorker Brougham, which she loved. I also got hired to work mornings at an industrial warehouse where my father had some contacts, and I was also able to pick up shifts when I was able at the funeral home where I had started for the summer four years prior. These all worked out to maybe 125% of a full time job. I was nothing if not versatile.
And my job situation meant that I had many afternoons free, which gave me time to call the salesman who sold Mom the Horizon and ask about my new object of desire. The story was that an elderly farmer had traded it in on a new Fifth Avenue. The salesman was a good guy and got me the prior owner’s number so I could call – mileage confirmed. I think the car cost about $3400 when the dealing was done (on a car that had stickered at over $10k five years earlier) and it was undoubtedly the nicest car available for that kind of money.
Thus began a weird time with my mother owning two cars. I had the Scamper, she had her Horizon, and then there was the New Yorker. She sort of justified it by my younger sister still being at home and occasionally needing a car, but Jackie could not have cared less about that big Chrysler. The car (which was never called anything other than The Chrysler or The New Yorker) was highly optioned, with Auto-Temp, power windows, telescoping wheel, “Premiere Wheel Covers”, power locks, and even an in-dash 8-track. Which was a selling point for Mom, given her extensive 8-Track collection.
The first task was to sort out the issues – it wasn’t running quite right and a trip to the dealer resulted in a warranty-covered repair involving a transducer replacement associated with the Lean Burn system. Spoiler alert: this will not be the last time that the Lean Burn system figures into this story.
Cars in dealer used car lots are always quite clean, but it was not JPC clean. The vinyl roof got a deep scrubbing to get all of the dirt out of the grain. There was waxing, and cleaning of chrome. Lots and lots of cleaning of chrome. Most people do not consider 1977 as the golden age of chrome plated diecastings but two years earlier this had been the final Imperial, so there. Much time was spent on those Premier wheelcovers. I’m sure that nobody ever noticed that there were 40 little chrome plated rectangles around the outer edge of the plastic insert that bolted to the stainless rim, topped off by the plated diecast cap that bolted to it all. Each of those 40 little rectangles got scrubbed with chrome polish and wax until those wheelcovers glimmered in the sun.
I learned about how there was a lot less underhood room around a 440 in one of these cars than I had expected, and that spark plugs were best accessed from the top (on 5) and from the bottom (on 3). How could there be so little room around the engine in such a big car? I also learned about the odd shudder that the V-twin a/c compressor gave off at idle as it forced icy blasts from the dash vents.
But for all of my efforts, the car just wasn’t really running quite right. I decided that maybe a plugged catalytic converter was the reason for the sluggish performance, which is why I bought and inserted in its place one of those “test pipes”. To test the system, of course. And while I was testing, it seemed silly to pay extra for unleaded gas so I pried open the hole in the filler pipe to accept the larger nozzle.
I started law school that fall and was a bit anxious about it. When I went off to college my best friend Dan and I went together. Law school would be different – I was going to a new city where I knew nobody. Mom suggested that I take the New Yorker down to move in and then come home and swap cars after a couple of weeks. Making the trip with the then-love of my life helped, as I reveled in the solid luxury that the car provided. For anyone who never experienced big Chryslers of the 60s and 70s, each generation had a distinct feel to it. The Fuselage cars of 1969-73 generally drove great but had bodies and interiors that came off as cheap when compared to their competition. The 74-78 cars’ bodies felt more substantial (at least in some ways) and the interiors were far nicer than previously.
The two-car system was a curiosity for my mother after I went off to school, as my sister had headed to college that fall. But two cars were better than one, with the practical Horizon for daily duty and the big Chrysler for occasional luxuriating. Of course, I never missed a chance to take it out when I was home. After a couple of years in the driveway and as my law school graduation was coming into view, Mom let me know that she intended to make the New Yorker my graduation present. An 8 year old Chrysler might not be everyone’s idea of the perfect gift, but it certainly was mine and it kind of slowly morphed into being my car as winter gave way to spring in 1985.
I loved so much about that car. The seats were supremely comfortable and it was one of the rare times when a used car presented itself in a color combination that I probably would have special-ordered had I been buying new. I also loved the conservative stripe pattern of the beige velour over the poofy pillow look of the leather that everyone else seemed so crazy about. An unexpected (and massive) plus was the factory HD suspension, made better with the set of 70 series Goodrich T/A s (with a cool little “T/A” logo made by a diagonal break in the white sidewall) which I bought upon taking full control. That Chrysler was the best handling big car I have ever driven. Highway entrance and exit ramps were a total blast, with the car taking a hard set in the curve and sticking like glue as the curve was carved. Lots of cars could run away from it in the esses, but nothing anywhere close to its size. And on one flat-out run on a smooth, new highway I spent a few miles north of 100 mph, a speed at which that big car pushed itself down onto the road and tracked like a freight train.
Life was perfect. There I was, a newly minted lawyer with a big Chrysler of the kind I had always wanted. Well, except for one thing – the damn thing just never ran or drove right. My friend Howard had owned a 77 Newport 4 door hardtop brand new with a Lean Burn 400. His car always ran great – it had been one of the reasons I was so keen on the New Yorker. But ours was not so fortunate. Two or three trips into the Chry-Ply dealer had always resulted in one of those states where you pick the car up and try to convince yourself that the problem had been solved, knowing that it really had not been. It never started easily, it was sluggish and never ran as smoothly as the Scamper. There was also one problem that affected Howard’s Newport and affected our car too – a highway vibration in the front end that only happened randomly – though more often in ours than in his. Neither of us ever solved that one.
One day I had finally had enough. There was an independent shop that claimed to specialize in “Lean Burn Conversions”. I was still in school and had neither the time nor the space (or tools) to do any significant wrenching. And in those pre-internet days, I lacked the resources to research things the way we have all become used to in the ensuing years. This shop diagnosed three burned valves and proposed to do a full valve job and convert the ignition system to a 1972-spec Chrysler distributor. It seemed like a good idea, though an expensive one. Except that the car never ran right afterwards either. What a colossal mistake that was. Upon getting the bad news I should have said “Thank you, now give me my keys” and then waited for a chance to trade it. I also should have put more effort into trying to figure out for myself why it wasn’t running better afterwards. But this car had always manipulated my emotions and discouraged rational thought.
Then there were the little things, like the ungodly stiff throttle return spring. I tried unhooking one of the two springs and got a great relaxed gas pedal, but one that would not return to idle without a goose to the pedal due to a sticky throttle shaft. Maybe a rebuild of the Carter Thermo Quad would solve all of my problems, right? Uh, no – one more failed but costly attempt to prove myself worthy of this increasingly petulant automotive diva. The other nagging problem was a power steering pump that could never keep up with fast inputs at low speed, as in parking. So I couldn’t even park the car without it irritating me. And oh yes, the more than occasional rpm flair between shifts of the transmission. In the several months when the New Yorker and the Scamper coexisted under my ownership, I found myself heading for the Scamper when I needed to go somewhere. It wasn’t that I was trying to save on gas, it was just that the old car was so much more satisfying to drive. When you prefer the car you have been driving for five years (the one with the K-Mart seat covers, has a shitty radio and no a/c) to the gorgeous lust-object that is finally in your possession, something is very wrong. By this time I had driven enough big Mopars to know how they were supposed to drive. This one was just off in so many small but grating ways.
The memories I associate with this car are not all bad. During my law school years some friends and I assembled a mix tape of classic Motown songs that really seemed to fit with this car after I bought the cassette adapter for the 8 track. And in my last summer and early fall with it stalwarts like James Brown and Aretha Franklin were back on the radio with the kinds of songs that really seemed to fit with an old in-your-face Detroit-built sled in a time when Toyotas and Hondas were becoming the norm. Whatever its faults (and there were many) the Chrysler had a fabulous stereo and every time “Living In America” or “Freeway Of Love” came on the radio, the volume went up and those big speakers belted out some Motown revival that made me forget about my increasingly strained relationship with the car, if only for a short time.
Those diversions, however, were not enough to stop stuff from happening. A radiator was replaced, and later the hoses – after one of them let go on the drive home from downtown one night at 10 pm after a bar exam review course. With the real life stage of real life approaching, I had been smitten with new cars for a year or so by this time, and had driven several. But I got the Chrysler fixed and kept on looking.
I liked the New Yorker’s full instruments, and other than the fuel gauge their readouts had always pretty uneventful. Then one day I noticed the ammeter displaying heavy charging almost all the time. That. Was. It. A little electrical problem should not have caused me to slam the door on this deteriorating relationship, but this car had never run or driven completely right despite all of the love, attention and money I had thrown at it. I kept seeing the car for what it could have been and should have been, but it kept disappointing me. The stuff I expected would be Chrysler weaknesses – body hardware and power accessories – had been just fine. It was the stuff that was supposed to be Chrysler’s strength (like the engine, transmission and chassis) that had me pulling my hair out.
I am sure the situation got worse when I drove it every day instead of only occasionally, when all of the little failings flung themselves into my consciousness with each drive. When I traded my Mustang for the 59 Fury, I had said “it’s not you, it’s me.” This time, it was more like “I’ve tried, God how I’ve tried. But it’s you, it’s all you!” My current new-car infatuation was sitting in a dealer lot waiting for me to get serious, and I was there. I think the Chrysler had accumulated about 55k miles since 1977 – 20k of that by our family over three years. I think I only made a bit over 6 or 7 months after it was all mine.
On the Monday after a 6 pm Friday trade transaction for my first new car, I got a call from my salesman. He reminded me of something I had completely forgotten – that I was in my third year of, um, testing the operation of the catalytic converter. By this time I had no idea where the cat had gone. The salesman had been told to call me and demand a replacement converter so that they could legally sell the car. Being a new lawyer, I did what lawyers do – I staked out a position and waited for a response. “OK” I said, “Maybe I have some kind of obligation under Federal law to replace the cat, I have no idea and am not going to spend my time researching it.” I continued: “So have the dealership’s lawyer call me and explain why this is my problem. If it’s my problem I will pay for it. But if (as I suspect) it is not my problem, then each of us owns a car and yours needs a catalytic converter.” I never heard another word, and thus the New Yorker was no longer a part of my life.
I saw the New Yorker for sale three or four years later, sitting in a supermarket parking lot looking the worse for wear and priced around $1500. I fell in love with it all over again – for about 90 seconds. That was how long it took me to remember the life of co-dependency and heartbreak it had caused. The little 71 Scamper had been like the title character of the movie Rudy, the under-sized, under-skilled over-achiever who made up for all of his shortcomings with the heart of a lion. The New Yorker was more like Hunter Biden – the great looking, athletic guy who grew up with every advantage but who could never manage to convert it all into a successful, productive life. So the New Yorker taught me a(nother) valuable lesson in car ownership – sometimes you actually get everything you want. And it can still suck.
That’s a great story, JPC! A beautiful car, too. I’ve always been very fond of the styling on those New Yorkers, and can see why you fell for the color combo on that one.
Thank you. I never saw another in those colors, and was amazed it wasn’t more popular. It was only offered in 1977 and you rarely saw it even then.
If you put a brown button tufted leather interior in it, you’d have a twin to my first car. Same options, same outside color combo.
In my family, you got to pick the car of your choice, (within reason) as your 16th birthday present. One brother chose a Trans Am. Another chose a Datsun Z. When it came to be my turn, my parents balked at my choice saying it was too expensive. My grandmother was a huge fan of Imperials, having owned them exclusively once Packard went out of business, and she ponied up the extra cash so I could have my “Mostly Imperial”.
Yes, my brothers made fun of me. That is until they had dates to a formal dance or some such. Then they were all, “If I wax your car, can I borrow it?”
I kept it for two years, trading it on a 1979 Electra Park Avenue, so I didn’t have any of the problems you had with yours. I still look today for a 76-78 triple green New Yorker Brougham to grace my garage.
Thanks for the memories.
Out of the 50+ cars I’ve owned these were my favorites. I had a 74,75 and 76 Newport. The 76 was the closest to your New Yorker, an ex funeral home car, black and red with everything including the 440.
All these years later I still think they were the last of their kind. As you said JP, you really had to drive one to experience it.
But as you also said, even back in 1988 you had the less than thrilling experience of trying to keep gas in it. I struggled for a while but when I had a temporary job transfer that came with a 175 mile a day commute that was it.
One definite on my lottery win dream car garage would be a couple of big Chrysler’s from this generation , with no limit gas cards in the glove box!
Thanks for the wonderful drive down memory lane JP. It was a great way to start a lazy Sunday morning.
When this one was having a good chassis day it was fabulous. The factory window sticker was still in the glovebox and when I saw the line that listed the HD suspension option I felt like I had won the lottery.
My problem with these ever since is that I was a bit scarred by this one, the only big Mopar I ever owned that had persistent running gear problems. Also, I have never seen another in a color combo/equipment level that measures up to what this one had, so I have just never gotten my enthusiasm up again.
Wow, what a car. And how huge it looks next to the Crown Vic.
Although my mother occasionally sighed at luxury cars she never was besotted enough to buy one. And at that age I would have been trying to figure out how to get the 440 into the Scamper. Which would have been a dumb idea.
Too bad it didn’t turn out more like Howard’s Newport, the overall lesson I’m getting here is that you can be a big, brash luxurious New Yorker, but if you’re not up to the task at hand people will notice and choose something else.
I wish I had owned this when I was older and internet resources were available so that I could have taken a more rational and hands-on approach to trying to sort it out. I never quit believing that it was possible, but I went about it in all the wrong ways.
And yes, it was surely big.
This is a very sad story. Unrequited love, bad behavior, trying to make the relationship work – this is kind of a downer.
But damn that Chrysler does look great. The colors on it are the definitive colors for this era C-body.
My parents had a similar tale of woe with a car. I mention it only due to this problem came down the same assembly line the same year as your mom’s Ford seen in the last picture. Their CV was a lot like your Chrysler.
Maybe this car was the one lurking in the back of my mind every time I got ideas about an M body or a Dodge pickup or van from the 70s or 80s, because I never pulled the trigger the few times I had a chance. As I think about it, I have only owned one Chrysler product built later than this one, and it was built over two decades later.
I am not sure I ever had a car I went into loving as hard as this one.
I wanted to comment on the Omni’s ride quality: I commuted with a guy back in the mid-80’s who had an earlier (1.7L or 1.8L) Omni. I don’t remember what trim level it was, but he was also of German stock and as practical as they came, too. That said, I don’t remember the car being highly optioned (no A/C for example). The car had a plush ride, which I had not expected. The seats were American-sized and the car was pretty quiet for a FWD car. My other FWD comparisons at the time were ratty Hondas and GM X-cars, they always seemed noisy to me.
My other experience with Omni-rizons to that point was back in the late ’70’s when one of my brothers was shopping for his first new car. He considered a Horizon TC3, but at that time, Chrysler was on the ropes and he went scampering to the relative safety (or so he thought) the Ford Motor Company. Too bad that Zephyr was a turd.
The last of the Townsend-era big Chryslers are special in so many ways. Back in the day, I was not interested in anything like that, but now I would love to have one in my garage. Maybe I can convince my wife to relent and let me get us a nice 300…
You are right about those Omnis/Horizons, they really presented nicely, were comfortable and were great drivers. I remember at the time being a little down on the 4 cyl/3 speed automatic combo, but it was not as bad as I had expected and Mom wasn’t about to go back to shifting gears. With the high trim interior and some decent optioning, it surprised a lot of people with how nice it was.
I vividly remember going with her while she was in the market and if not for those cars, the dealers would have been almost deserted.
A solid WIN for good styling and fine use of COLOR in lieu of today’s WGB (WhiteGrayBlack) and bizarre over wrought origami “styling”! To bad it would not run properly, besides needing your own Marathon station to keep the gas tank up…. 🙁
In a way it slightly reminds me of my ’85 Dodge Turbo Lancer: it hit all of my buttons, but never quite hung together when in motion. DFO
I think I am on solid ground when I call these the only truly beautiful big cars after maybe 1973.
So your mother took a pass on the GM X cars because she didn’t care for the styling. A textbook case of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. I’d say she dodged a bullet.
That really kind of amazed me, as she had been driving GM cars most of her adult life. I was sure she would switch to an Olds Omega once she saw one, but she did not. And yes, big bullet dodged. (Or Plymouth’d, in her case. 🙂 )
I just recently took a part time job at one of the chain auto parts stores to see how they work from the bowels up. This past Friday I sold a guy a alternator for a ’77 New Yorker, 440, 60K original miles and has been in the family since new. The shocking part (pun intended) is we had it in stock.
Great story JP, long tome listener first time caller here. This reminds me of going to the State of NJ Actions many moons ago for cars and everything else. They actioned off the State Police marked and unmarked take home cars from every station. The first one I bought was a Forest Green 75 Grand Fury 440 A38/E86 Police package. That was the best 1200 ever spent, they take great care of the cars only had 80 k at the time. You learn all about the 440 issues and what not, valve cover gasket’s and leaving the car over night to work on it in the morning. One start and the exhaust manifold will get too hot to do anything for hours. Had an accident then bought a 77 Royal Monoco with the 440 Lean Burn mess. What a #(Q#$ that was. Ended up same as yours valve job and pre-lean distributor and that solved that issue. Sold it at 160000 miles still running strong with the Hang Meat AC still the best I ever had in a car. Good fellas could have used those for Tont Two Times if the freezer was full. Take care and thanks.
Haha, thanks! I have to say that the heat and a/c never caused me a lick of trouble, even with the Auto Temp setup – which is the only automatic temp-equipped car I have ever had where it ever worked right.
I heard somewhere that Chrysler big blocks were also known for warping intake manifolds that caused vacuum leaks. I really thought the valve job and de-Lean Burning would make things right, but it was not to be. I have learned so much more about these in the years since, without even really trying to dig into the subject.
Yes that is true. As a matter of fact if you went down the road at 120+ for a bit they would eventually glow cherry red what site. There was a guy in E. Orange NJ, Arch Carburator that used to rebuild those bologna sandwich thermoquads for us. Those were the days.
I expect the problems you had with this very attractive car had a profound effect on the type of cars you bought later, away from the types of vehicles that a midwestern lawyer might have been expected to drive. I wonder in the fuller course of time if you are glad of the switch and the money you perhaps saved or regret missing out on the accoutrements of your station. The answer of course will lie in future COALs that I look forward to.
Back in 1955, Mr. Henningsen bought a new Plymouth Plaza 6 for his wife. After 10 days and 468 miles, the steering failed causing a crash that totaled the car and in doing so, destroyed any evidence of whatever defect led to the crash..
This led to a court case that was to become somewhat famous among manufacturers. As an attorney, you’re no doubt familiar. Among other things, the court that decided the case observed:
“. . . .where the purchaser does not know the precise cause of inoperability, calling a car a “vibrator” would be sufficient to state a claim for relief. It said that such a car is not an uncommon one in the industry. The general cause of the vibration is not known. Some part or parts have been either defectively manufactured or improperly assembled in the construction and manufacture of the automobile. In the operation of the car, these parts give rise to vibrations. The difficulty lies in locating the precise spot and cause.”
I’m not a lawyer, but as a mechanic we’d occasionally run across a car that simply could never be made to run right. Something was internally out of kilter that was impossible to pinpoint.
Sounds like your beautiful Chrysler was one of those cars – perhaps cursed with the same defect as the unfortunate Mr. Henningsen’s Plymouth.
There are few things in a car that irritate me more than a shimmy at highway speeds. That stupid Chrysler had good days and bad days and after eliminating tires, wheel balance and alignments as the cause I was left scratching my head.
I ran into an old guy with one of these at a gas station years ago and struck up a conversation. I remarked on the shimmy mine had and the guy claimed that he fixed one on his by tightening one of the steering parts (idler arm? I can’t recall) beyond spec, which eliminated some play. True or not, I don’t know.
At last, the full, sad story of this ill-fated romance. Wow; what a car. The last of a long line of big Chryslers; the end of an era, in more ways than one. And yes, what a color combo, and yes, no soft Corinthian Leather.
My MIL picked up a used ’71 (or ’72) Plymouth Fury with a 440 for her move to Iowa in 1985, as I strongly suggested that her rather maintenance-needy BMW 2002 might be hard to service in a little town she was moving to there. I drove “La Bomba” a few times in LA before she moved, and it did pull hard. She had that Fury for quite a few years there, and found a local mechanic who kept it in good nick for her. It was a pre-Lean Burn, and had no real issues as I remember.
I had driven enough of these to know how they should run and harbored ideas of swapping out fuel and ignition system parts with a pre-1972 version until I hit the solution, but of course I never did. This one was during a period when I had no garage for messing with it and too many other things happening to devote the time.
I always suspected that the carb was part of the problem, because that was the source of the lean fuel mixture that the ignition system adjusted around. I have always regretted that my only 4bbl big block Chrysler was such a slug – that Fury sounds like it would have been a blast.
I almost went back to this well once more when I ran across a really nice 74 Imperial for sale. It had about 120k miles on it and drove really right, but I had too many other cars going on at the time. I probably should have bought it. But then there are so many others I can say that about too. 🙂
It’s encouraging to see I’m not the only one that got a defective camera where the viewfinder is lined up perfectly but then the picture has the image lopped off on one side…
I’ve come across a couple of these in the last few years and what always stood out was the interior. It was huge, looked extremely comfortable, and held up very well, while not being festooned in weird and garish heraldic crests or bizarre upholstery. As unsubtle as the cars may be in the grand context, they were subtler than some of their brethren.
I did not realize that Chrysler made a decision to have the New Yorker trade on affordability, that’s interesting and seems a bit of a contradiction in what the whole purpose of the car is, as if the only one that would see the ad is you (not actually you, but you whoever bought it new), the eventual buyer, and not those that chose a Lincoln or Cadillac instead. Maybe the fine print goes on “You can afford to buy it, but can you afford to feed it?”.
That interior was first-rate, at least for its era. I spent time in Lincolns and Cadillacs built around that time and the New Yorker came off at least as well as those more expensive cars. Maybe that was the source of the value pitch, because it was really an Imperial for the price of a New Yorker.
It is a little-known fact that the velour in 77 was the only interior of the whole run that did not use the poofy loose-pillow look that most people think of in these. The 78 (below) went back to the 76-style loose pillow velour, and I never liked that version as well. And lemme tellya, those seats were as good as any I ever had, with a firmness that gave good support without being hard.
I found this 77 cloth version so much more dignified. But I must have been in the minority because Chrysler used the poofy version in cars for years afterwards.
I did not realize that Chrysler made a decision to have the New Yorker trade on affordability,
That’s because the New Yorker had always been a step below the Imperial, which had been their Cadillac and Lincoln competitor, but was by then discontinued.
Lean Burn never seemed “right.” Probably it was released too soon and into a population of mechanics who were known as ” wrenches” and not “EEs” which is what were really needed.
The fuselage Chryslers really did feel loose with body flex. I noticed it on civilian cars and even on a police package Dodge Polara that was supposed to have extra body welds. That feeling was indeed gone with the new C-body in 1974.
Every Torqueflite I owned shifted firmer and more to my liking with an adjustment to the throttle lever using the “by guess and by golly” method, not the factory’s “set to the throttle stop” procedure. I drove them that way for between 59,000 and 135,000 miles and they were still shifting fine when the cars were sold, so there was no durability issue.
I think untrained mechanics were part of the problem – it took folks (me included) awhile to shake off the mystery that surrounded electronics in cars. But the other problem was that it was a great design that was almost, but not quite there in its development (something that seemed a Chrysler specialty). Stuff that works great in the lab or on test tracks when its brand new is not always up to the task out in the real world after a few years in all kinds of conditions.
I still kind of marvel at putting the main electronic processor in a box subjected to both maximum heat and maximum vibration.
Great story; sharp car! Too bad it didn’t run well, but that was so emblematic of Chrysler in the 70s.
I have never owned a Mopar, or a Honda, Subaru, Mazda, Audi… (long list).
You mentioned your mother turned 50 in 1980 — is she still living today? I ask because my mom was born 2 years earlier and had a long, healthy life.
Mom had a long and healthy life too, though the last several years were marred by dementia that became a problem about five years before she died in 2019 at 86. I think each of her last three cars will be subjects for future COALs.
Unfortunately, my mother also had dementia for the last 3+ years of her life. She died just before Thanksgiving in 2020 at age 92.
Another excellent article. I love these cars, a friend’s dad had one, he drove us around in Quebec one summer. Beautiful, and it ran perfectly. I foolishly turned down the offer of a well preserved example in the 1990s for 500 dollars.
Recently New Yorkers feature regularly on my Kijiji wish list searches.
I’m intrigued by the problems you experienced. In my experience I cannot rely on professional mechanics to fix problems, sometimes they are just as stumped as I am..
I wonder if your car had a vacuum leak from a defective component, like a brake booster, or a warped casting or carburetor. That would explain the poor running and burned valves. Typical of some technicians, they repair one symptom of a problem but miss looking for the root cause. Typically valves don’t just burn on their own, especially on a lower mileage engine like yours, something else, like a lean fuel mixture causes it.
Frustrations with ineffective and expensive auto service attempts is what drew me into learning and performing my own auto repairs. Most notably a poor running Jeep in my teenage years. A recommended dealership carburetor rebuild actually made the engine run worse. I bought the excellent AMC factory manual, studied carburetor theory and discovered the carb had never been properly set up, since day one. Some adjustments had the car running properly.
I personally feel most new cars of that era would have benefitted with a proper setting up. Fine tuning the systems, including fuel, ignition and alignment would have made the ownership experience more pleasant.
You are right that I would have been ahead digging in and getting a handle on the problem first. One problem was that I was 100 miles away from the city where I knew people who could give me a good recommendation for a mechanic for the car’s issues and I instead picked one because the guy said what sounded like the right things. Hindsight tells me that there were certainly shops that would have done better work. Had I had the time to research and mess with it and the place to work on it I might well have come up with a solution. But unfortunately I was in a “here, just fix it” mindset. Which is dumb.
These cars were known for burning valves because lean combustion was their mission. The carbs were set up to burn really lean and the ignition was designed to sense knock and retard timing. The theory was a win in both emissions and fuel economy. The reality was burned valves if everything wasn’t working just right.
“Lean Burn Conversion” shops must have been doing good business then. I recall many of my car-nut friends de-smogging their late model cars around that time, only to not find the performance or drivability improvements they were hoping for. The whole car seemed to be built expecting the anti-pollution controls to be in place; simply removing them didn’t usually help.
My first car, a Pontiac J2000 LE i bought used, would never have broken down whilst driving back from a law school exam. No, it would break down and leave me stranded *on the way to* the exam, or on the way to my date for the night (who never did go out with me after “I” snubbed her that first time; this was before mobile phones), or to a concert I waited all year to see. It seemed to have a sixth sense of how important any given drive was, and knew to break down in a spectacular way when one was eminent.
My uncle in Montreal had a dark blue ’76 New Yorker parked out front (his wife’s Scamp was in the driveway). That was my favorite of his cars (all top-line Mopars). My second favorite was the green R-Body ’79 NYer that replaced it. Those cars (all bought new) also coincide with some of the best times of my life, and the cars were a part of it. The cars are long gone now, and sadly so are most of the people who drove them, and even some of their kids.
I was fortunate that the Chrysler was not unreliable like your J2000 was. It was like the joke I have heard about GM cars, and how they run badly longer than most cars run at all. The Chrysler certainly had the “run badly” part under control.
Even now there seem to be many opinions on the best way to de-Lean Burn one of these. Some say swap out the carb, others say you can fix that part by fiddling with jets or metering rods. The ignition choices are older ChryCo electronic ignition distributors or GM HEI systems grafted in. Even then you still have a low compression smog engine that is never going to have the grunt of the older versions.
Beautiful car. My college roommates parents had a 74 Newport 4 door hardtop in same color scheme or close to it. Thought it was beautiful. It had the 440 and remember riding in it once at triple digit speed. They traded it for a 77 model which was a sedan and was yellow. Just not the same. I always wanted a 74 to 78 nyb or imperial but none came up at right time so settled for a 77 Newport sedan which had the old New Yorker interior and grill and rear. Mine was fairly highly optioned with tilt and telescoping wheel and the premium wheel covers like yours with fender skirts. Mine had the 400 which when running good was great and got around 18 mpg on the highway which was I thought pretty good for a big car. Don’t remember any shimmying issues in mine. But oh the lean burn issues were awful. Any way traded mine for an dodge Omni when I was having to drive a 50 plus mile daily commute. The Omni was trimmed very nicely for an econobox.
You make me think about how my car could boast of really good assembly quality and paint, something that was often a crapshoot with Mopars of the 70s. I feel better that I was not the only one plagued with Lean Burn-related problems.
Those Newports you speak of (that carried the older NY grille and horizontal taillights) were good looking cars too. Howard’s 77 was a 4 door hardtop with skirts, no vinyl roof, and painted in another color I loved, the rich reddish-brown they called “Coffee Sunfire”.
I think it’s less so today, but I think there used to be a huge difference in examples of identical cars relative to performance, idle, fuel economy, and so on. If you had one that all the stacked errors ended up cooperative, you had a car with an easy running engine that might lay rubber on a 1-2 shift, but all of them stack in the wrong direction and you have your car. Nothing terribly out of spec, but something’s just wrong.
I like that particular combination of equipment and colors, too. I refer to there being cars that are nice to drive, and cars that are a nice place to sit. That one was still a nice place to sit even if it wasn’t strong with car attributes.
That’s a great point – when everything is at the edge of spec in the same direction it can be a problem.
This was an attractive car with great interior. Although I’d put the Mercury Marquis Brougham in the same category. Being a Mopar guy I assume you would never have driven a Marquis Brougham which would have been an interesting comparison. Not great on curves but I’d suspect even smoother on the highway than the New Yorker and no lean burn to boot. Lean burn as in lean burn your engine to death. What an idea.
As to the Fusies they ride quite well in my opinion. Now my 73 does have a rattle when you hit a bump but I can’t go looking for the location while driving but sounds like behind the rear seat. Other than that the car is quiet. Maybe because I covered everything with dynamat when I had the interior out. It is really enjoyable to drive and the 360 isn’t bad. I have never driven a New Yorker and if had one would prefer a 1966.
I have time in a couple of late 70s Lincolns which probably aren’t far from the Marquis – and my drivers ed car was a 75 Marquis, and I agree that they are quieter and better isolated. Also they are less finicky to make run right in my experience. But IMHO a well sorted big Mopar has a surefootedness that the Fords can’t match.
That Dynamat had to have made a huge difference in your Dodge. Sound deadening was never something Chrysler spent a lot of effort on. But I could be happy with a good fuselage C body.
The more I check the 1974-78 full-size Chrysler, the more I wonder how they would have fare had they was released in 1969 instead of the fuselage look? The roofline of the 1974-78 Newport/New Yorker 4-door hardtop and sedan seems to be an evolution of the 1965-68 models.
Beautiful car and very enjoyable read.
The inconsistent quality of Chrysler products in those years is well illustrated by your friend Howard’s Newport running fine while your New Yorker did not. My great aunt bought a new 1974 Newport that was a real lemon. The 1976 Cordoba that replaced it was a great car that she kept until she could no longer drive. And my cousins bought a new Cordoba that same year that was a total lemon.
The size of your New Yorker also reminds me of my great aunt’s reference to her new Cordoba as “my little car.” Although I did not think of her Cordoba as a small car, in relation to the New Yorker it certainly was!
I always chuckled at people who ogled at a car like a Crown Vic and called it massive. No, I have owned some genuinely massive cars. I always think of the scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee where he says to the guy with a switchblade “That’s not a knife – – – this is a knife”.
In the summer of 1977, two friends and I crammed ourselves into my Vega GT hatch and headed off on a camping road trip from California up to the Canadian Rockies. I have many great memories of that trip (and one not-so-great memory related to the Vega cooling system …) but one that sticks with me was an encounter with a very briskly driven Chrysler of this generation, on a central BC two lane with gentle grades and high speed sweepers. As I recall the Chrysler passed me, and I put the pedal to the metal. I was hitting 85-95 mph on the straights trying to keep up, and not much slower in the corners. The big Chrysler was steady and smooth even through the turns, completely destroying my perception of domestic full-size cars as wallowing boats. When we got to a town with urban speed limits and I finally caught up, I was amazed to see the Chrysler occupied by two or maybe even three gray haired couples.
I love that story! And after my time with the New Yorker, I believe it completely.
As others have said, great color for your New Yorker. And a great story. We’ve all been there…trying to love a car that just won’t quite love us back.
And yeah, JB does work well for Chryslers of this generation.
No longer having the raw energy of I Got You (I Feel Good) or Sex Machine but still on the good foot.
Also, good connection back to Omnirizons. I remember how back in the day you could get one of those with the same degree of plush and tufted upholstery that one might have considered well more “luxurious” than expected in a small car. I always thought that to be a bit ridiculous, but clearly it connected with some segment of buyers.
I have a long had a soft spot for James Brown. Among the 45 rpm records given to me as a tot by some older neighbor kids was one of his early ones, a 1962 version of Night Train.
His stuff from the 80s won’t go down in history as his best, but I loved listening to an old timer from my childhood who could still bring it.
I well remember the 440 C.I. 4V as the go to engine for Blue Collar Hot Rodders all through the 70’s when gad was affordable if not truly cheap .
This nice old barge was prolly a ‘Monday Car’ ~ they were always full of weird problems due to hung over assembly workers .
There’s always danger when buying with your eyes or heart ~ I’ve been stung may times over .
You may have included in your mix tape, a copy of “What you See is What you Get” by the Dramatics. Great MoTown song. However that didn’t really apply to your ownership of this car.
I liked the looks of these cars, and to me, that grille was equally at home on the New Yorker as it was on an Imperial.
I see they kept this model around for at least another year, in an attempt to gather in those who wanted big cars when the GM cars had been downsized. Perhaps all in vain I suppose.
I think this car stayed because they didn’t have anything else in the cupboard. By 1978 that company was losing money even in a year that had been a good one for the industry overall. The way the R body turned out in 1979 maybe they should have kept this one for another year yet.
Great song indeed, but on Stax, not Motown. Says the man whose screen name is a tip of the hat to Stax Records.
Ohboyohboy; I’ve been waiting for this one!
You are reminding me of my ’73 Dart, in Technicolor and Cinemascope.
Here’s what the once-in-a-never-seen export taillights looked like:
I went back and looked at your 73 again – you said it wasn’t irritating to drive, so I’ve got you there. Which is a pretty dubious prize.
Welllll…but…it kinda was. The 2-piece lap/shoulder belts which chafed the neck and allowed reach of the steering wheel, gear selector, and turn signal stalk (and nothing else), for example. And even when it was at its money-and-effort-bought best, it still wasn’t running as it should have. Maybe the muffler replacement fixed that, but I did it a couple of days before the buyers picked it up, so I’ll never know.
A great story here, and a very relatable one. The “real life stage of real life” has a way of reshuffling old dreams. This was a beautiful car, but even things we cherish are sometimes not worth the hassle.
I like the prominent Chronometer label under the clock. I’m pretty sure that most people would know that something that says 3:29 would be a clock, and not, for instance, an oil pressure gauge. I guess this attests to the target age for New Yorker buyers, since the term chronometer likely fell out of widespread usage after the 1940s.
Great to read about you handling the catalytic converter issue with the dealer. Successfully handling that issue must have been awfully satisfying, and an indication that your law school training had real value.
I recall that the “Chronometer” label supposedly carried with it some kind of accuracy certification. They must have been proud of it because that name was on their clocks for quite a few years.
Aha – that’s it!
This is from a 1973 Chrysler press release about their new Chronometer:
Ford, for their part, huffed and puffed about the “timepiece” in some or another Lincoln model. I could be misremembering, but I think the only difference between it and a regular ol’ boring ol’ normal ol’ break-prone ol’ clock was the name.
Lincoln made a big deal about a Cartier clock in Continental Marks in the early 70s.
Another great installment in your COAL series. This may have been the best styled big American car of the ’70s, and among the best of all time.
The interior in yours was indeed rare, and reminds of of the Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight LS trim after the Regency trim came to dominate the the senior Olds. It was still very luxurious without being overwrought. To modern eyes, the lower trim actually comes across as more attractive.
I had a near miss with ownership of one of these. My five years of daily driving a 1972 Pontiac Grandville in the late ’80s and early ’90s had wrought some severe entropy on it; a victim of a hit and run, a smash and grab stereo theft, and the assault of corrosive chemicals in winter driving.
It was time for some new wheels, but I was now a college graduate in a career job, dating my future wife, and thinking maybe it was time to drive a late model car for comfort, business and reliability.
But, a gorgeous ’76-78 era New Yorker appeared on a small car lot I drove past occasionally, and I dithered around about a purchase for a few days. The Auto Temp II was not working, and it wore some wheel covers that were not matched and would not do. Old car, problems already, and it would have been my first Mopar, decidedly foreign to me.
A last minute call to the dealer resulted in a response that I’d just missed it. Part of me is still sorry, part of me wondered then if I’d lucked out.
I went on to buy a modern car, and drove it around the country, so things probably worked out for the best.
Still, I occasionally see one of these in fantastic condition in in upscale environment, and an unscratched itch starts to develop.
You probably made a good choice in delaying until that Chrysler got sold. As I think about it, this was in a small category of cars that could be rewarding if you dealt with the Lean Burn system properly where the GM and Ford stuff of the era generally ran pretty decently out of the box.
Big seventies’ Chryslers, particularly the final ones of 1978, are virtually Dickensian in their place in Chrysler history. Still good-looking with their massive, last-of-the-dinosaurs approach, the shoddy quality and engineering was very nearly as bad as the worst 1957 ‘Forward Look’ cars two decades earlier. For that, alone, they’re worth saving. Well, in as much as one can keep one operational without it costing a fortune and being worth the headache.
And I’m still fascinated by the image of a new Plymouth Horizon parked next to a Chrysler New Yorker Brougham in a dealership showroom in 1978. The juxtaposition of those two vehicles would be nearly as striking as a Corvair next to an Impala in 1960.
I remember that same impression with a Horizon sharing showroom space with the last Volares in 1980 – the last of the old Plymouths and the first of the new ones. Technically the Gran Fury would have been the last of the old, but those were pretty much absent from dealer lots while Volares were still found in moderate numbers.
My partner and I saw a 1980 Volaré wagon on Saturday! Running and driving down the highway. It made my heart sing (this isn’t exactly Eugene, seeing anything older than 2000 m/y is a treat).
He remarked that it looks like an old Fairmont from the front, but it can’t be. I told him about Iacocca demanding that one-year-only refresh.
Excellent story, as Eric said, totally relatable. The two great shames of life: not getting what you want, and getting exactly what you want.
Your situation with the Chrysler is eerily similar to my relationship with my Chevy C10. Half of my ownership, it’s been a great hauler and daily driver. The other half, it’s been a thorn in my side and/or a lawn ornament. I love the truck, but I have been offered good money for it, however my partner has convinced me that I’d regret selling it too much.
Great series, JP.
I was so centered on the carburetor issues you had with the Chrysler that I forgot my own Chrysler large car disaster, 1996 Concorde LXi.
Unlike you, JP, the Concorde was never my dream. But, I was unimpressed with the decontented late 90s and 2000+ Tauruses, respectively, and let a mopar loving friend convince me to buy this one owner Concorde.
It was one repair after another. A run-ability issue that was solved with Motorcraft (not even joking) spark plugs to replace the ones the Chrysler dealer installed. Timing belt. Intake manifold gasket. Entire power steering system. Gremlins galore.
When it drove right (for about 6 months), I loved it. It was a beautiful green with grey leather. It handled well, the 3.5L had plenty of power (so long as you ran a quality mid-grade or higher fuel) and the ride was great.
Then, on the way home from work, it went into limp mode. I stopped by the MOPAR buddy’s shop and he hooked up his computer. Incorrect gear ratio, gear 3. Incorrect gear ratio, gear 4. Based on the available information and his attempts to clear the problem, it remained.
So, living only a few miles away, I decided to limp home at low speeds (all surface streets, mostly with a posted speed limit within the car’s current limits). I never let the RPMs hang up high or anything, I still had the thought of saving the car.
That ended when I turned on my signal to enter my driveway and the oil light came on, followed by a few thunks, and then silence. It was done. Engine and trans had failed in one day. Here’s a pic below. Aside from the mechanical ailments that sent it to the scrap yard early, the general build quality and engineering was sound. Leaps and bounds above the W body of the era, for example (I also had a ’98 Lumina for a couple years, very unimpressed with that experience but at least it left my possession in running/driving condition! lol).
I had also briefly owned a 1993 Intrepid, I bought it with some issue, had something replaced (some module under the dash as I recall) to fix whatever was bothering it, and re-sold it to a Boeing employee, running and driving fine. I think I changed the fluids and some other minor stuff, but as I said, I didn’t own it long, and never daily drove it. It had cloth seats, but I believe the 3.5L engine.
These were popular when new in our town. The family of a very good friend from high school owned a 1978 four-door hardtop in cream yellow with a light tan vinyl roof. (Their other car was a 1966 Chrysler New Yorker four-door hardtop in excellent condition that served as the family’s daily driver.)
The matriarch of the wealthy family that owned the local Dodge-Chrysler-Plymouth dealership had the exact same car. These New Yorkers had real presence.
The color combination of yours was very popular on Mopars of that era. I remember some Aspens and Volares sporting that combination.
Regarding the mysterious vibration – when Consumer Reports tested a 1970 Plymouth Belvedere, it discovered (among other things) that a part of the front end holding the suspension had been improperly welded at the factory. This affected how the car felt and drove. The magazine, of course, had the staff necessary to track down this defect and have it corrected. I’m guessing that an average buyer would not have been able to diagnose and correct the problem, and thus simply lived with it, or traded the car.
I never saw much popularity with this particular color combo, though there were burgundies and copper-ish colors that were not too far off from it. This was a 1-year-only color and I never saw many with it.
I routinely do internet searches using a car brand and a color name and get gobs of results. “1977 Russet Sunfire Plymouth Dodge Chrysler” on Google turns up photos of 5 cars and one of them was mine. 🙂
Has anyone ever seen one of these hardtops without the vinyl roof? I’m curious how that would change the appearance. I’ve never quite liked that thin strip of paint between vinyl and windows on any car, especially on GM cars when the halo goes over the windshield, too. Chrysler wisely avoided that, though the half-roofed coupes are hideous.
The only one I can ever recall seeing was the 77 Newport 4 door hardtop my friend’s dad Howard bought new, and it was really stunning that way in a dark color. I am pretty sure I never saw a New Yorker without the vinyl. I agree, that “halo” design that doesn’t go all the way to the drip rails is probably my least favorite styling feature on the car.
This body has always been one of my favorites. I have a similar story with my ’79 300. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It was 1982, it sat on the used car lot as an off lease one owner car. The red interior was gorgeous. We led a love hate relationship for the 3 years I used it for as a daily driver. Even thought the Lean Burn System was replaced soon after I bought the car, it always ran terribly. Anyway, everybody told me to “put that Thermo Quad in a bucket and melt it”, but I was hell bent on keeping it. I rebuilt it a million times and had it rebuilt professionally once. I finally decided to part with the car in 2016. The guy that bought it put on an Edlebrock an now the car runs like a champ.
JPC, liked your story until i hit the Hunter Biden ref. Why not a Jared Kushner ref, he’s the same sort of big time fuck up. Don’t need politicx here guys – darms
“Why didn’t you pick someone associated with Trump instead? Because we don’t need politics here!”
Relax guys. If I come across a car that is colorless and annoyingly self important, Jared might be a great metaphor. There is nothing political here, it was just a good example of someone who should have checked every one of life’s boxes but who (for whatever reason) just couldn’t get it together. HB was my first thought when I tried translating the personality of this particular car to a well-known individual. I tried thinking of another that summed up my experience so perfectly, but failed.
I’d like to add a positive postscript: probably the best car we’ve ever owned, and that’s out of some 200+ as a part-time vintage car “curbsider” dealer, was the ’77 Gran Fury Brougham we bought in 1985 and drove for 12 years. One reason for it’s great record while going from 42k miles to nearly 200k was that it had a non-Lean Burn 360. We’d had a ’76 GFB in the exact same Midnight Blue + white top with a 400 Lean Burn bought with 38k and when at 45k it began to have the typical issues we dumped it for a ’77 that had been owned by an elderly gentleman that I had to scour far-and-wide to find in York Pa.
We drove it daily to commute into Baltimore 50 miles each way, pulled a horse trailer (after adding air shocks) to shows, pulled an 18 ft boat 500 miles each summer on vacation, and in all that driving we never had to do more than the usual tires, oil, filter, exhaust and other to-be-expected work on it. It transported our 3 kids and us in safety for 160k miles. Some of the door panel plastics were cheap and we did have to redo the driver seat bottom eventually with cloth from SMS. With good radial tires it handled great and was, with split bench seat and arm rest, extremely comfortable and secure on long trips. Mid ’70s C-body Mopars were fantastic cruisers if the dreaded Lean Burn could be avoided. We truly loved that car and only rust finally took it from us. I’d dearly love another if one in that kind of condition could be found today.
I really truly enjoyed this story and it brought back so many similar memories. I never owned one of these but I have always wanted one or an Imperial preferably a coupe in triple white or blood red with white top.
Your experience reminded me of my experience with a 79 Lincoln Continental. This was a car with gorgeous styling that I loved since the day my friend George’s grandfather bought one when I was a kid. I remember my first and only ride in it. I remember it had all these controls and buttons that I could not resist trying. The grandfather said not to touch anything, but I could not resist and played with the power seat when I thought he was not looking. He was and he put me out 8 years old a 2 miles from home. All the way home I thought one day I will have one of those.
12 years later I was driving a top of the line 78 Ford LTD landau coupe which was a great running extremely reliable and surprisingly good on gas car with the nice landau luxury group faux leather vinyl seats. Still wanted that Lincoln though so I got it.
It was a 1979 Lincoln Continental towncar. Beautiful 4 door same as what governor King of Massachusetts rode in. The reality of it was it never ran right and had lots of annoying problems. Never anything big or very expensive but annoying and often. The LTD Landau was a much better car.
The Lincoln like your Chrysler and Ford was like the Scamp or the Newport. The Ford seats were more comfortable and being less pouffy gave more legroom. Also there Ford seats didn’t crack and the Ford had seat controls on the seat where they seem to work longer since they are not slammed around like door mounted. The Lincoln had smoker windows that fell out and touchy hydro boost brakes and double cardan u joints and the Ford didn’t. The 400 in the LTD was way more powerful than the 400 in the heavier Lincoln and used only half the gas.
I had a friend John who had use of an omni. I didn’t like riding in such a tiny car but his mom had it for years and no real issues inspite of John driving it like a maniac.
Looking back the LTD was my favorite car ever so much so I bought another 78 LTD landau I drove for 14 years. The Lincoln was a first rate second rate car that I kept years too long. Never failing expensively but never right. Got replaced by 88 Lincoln. Was junked after bursting it’s radiator. By that point it got 8 mpg and 100 miles a quart of oil.
77 New Yorkers inherited All that was IMPERIAL. The ad shown with Jack Jones had an accompanying song 🎵 in TV ads🎵 What a beautiful 🎶New Yorker 🎵 it’s the car 🎶of your life 🎵. WHEN Chrysler revised New Yorker for 82, it was one of the best efforts using an existing vehicle to create an impressive formal, plush luxury sedan. Had 83 and 85 (New Yorker) Fifth Avenues. Great cars! Believe these sold well until 🤔 89? Then replaced😔 by FWD K cars. 👎. 😎