Curbside Classic: 1961 Chrysler New Yorker- Neither First nor Fowl

I found this heavily patina’d 1961 Chrysler New Yorker on the north side of Denver in unincorporated Adams County. Despite Chrysler offering four distinct models that year, this appears to be the first 1961 Chrysler we’ve found “curbside.” (I should note there is a Car Show posting for a very nice New Yorker wagon).

It’s appropriate I found this Top Line Chrysler in the unincorporated area between Denver proper and the suburbs, as this model year lies between two notable Chrysler model years.

In 1961, the New Yorker nameplate represented the top Chrysler offering (Imperial remained a standalone product line), using the new Chrysler unibody platform introduced in 1960. This pillared four door represents the best selling 1961 New Yorker body style. To differentiate this year from the previous year, Chrysler added slanted headlights, while the rear fins carried over with little change. It’s also differentiated as the second year of the unibody, so no firsts here.

Here’s a better look at the rear. The bumpers and tail light assemblies were new for ’61, but mounted to carryover sheet metal. This body continued for one more year, but the 1962 model arrived with the fins shaved off. As most of us know, these 1962 models were lovingly referred to a “plucked chicken.” Our car? no poultry reference to be had.

Despite the patina, this appears to be a running and driving classic. While today’s gas prices make it an expensive proposition, the New Yorker offers roughly the same fuel economy as a modern 3/4 ton pickup with much lower acquisition costs, so why not?

The bright sunlight and dirty side glass conspired to reduce image clarity, but this New Yorker interior offered Chrysler’s famous push button transmission, along with the AstraDome gauge assembly with “electroluminescent” lighting. Daniel Stern recently posted an article on Chrysler Ergonomic design, with several excellent dashboard photos from this era, linked here: Daniel’s article

Since this is an early sixties car, there’s lots of visual elements designed to stand out and catch the eye. I didn’t realize Chrysler was using these paddle style door handles back in ’61. I imagine they were the first of the big three to try this approach. Popular in the seventies and eighties, recessed door handles have now mostly faded away.

This Lion emblem could represent another example of ’60’s styling excess, but it turns out Chrysler chose “Golden Lion,” to refer to some early big block V-8s, so the icon indicates the New Yorker is so equipped. I imagine it has the 413 cubic inch variety, although a 383 may be present.

Although not a three point Dodge Fratzog, these trim pieces use similar design elements. Chrysler built this car the same year I came off the production line and by the time I was paying attention, these repetitive chrome gee-gaws represented an earlier era of little interest.

The “toilet seat” trunk lids on many early sixties Chryslers did catch my attention, and I found them a bit laughable. This example lacks that styling affectation, going instead with the vertical strakes that later appeared on the hoods of the Crossfire, Sebring and Aspen SUV.

As a side note, the license plate reads “1960.” The state of Colorado allows classic car owners to mount “Year of Manufacturer” plates on cars over thirty years old. If I were to guess, I’d say this car was built in the Fall of ’60 and the State issued the title or plate based on the production date. Since a current collector’s plate was lying on the dashboard, it appears the car is registered and drivable.

I was pleased to find this solid example of 1961 technology, but these cars are not in my wheelhouse. I’m sure many folks will share their thoughts in the comments. What do you think of this neither first nor fowl offering?

Also for those interested I’ve includes a link to the ’61 New Yorker (wagon) Curbside Classic article:

Car Show Classic: 1961 New Yorker Town & Country