Curbside Classic: 1986 Chrysler New Yorker Turbo – Have My Feelings Changed In Twelve Years?

Almost twelve years ago, I wrote up a black New Yorker Turbo just like this, back at the old site. I brought it over here in 2012, but for some reason it’s never been rerun. I was all set to do so, when I ran into this fine blue one in Port Orford recently. It would be a lot easier to just rerun the old one, but then I decided to test myself, as to how differently I feel about it a dozen years later.

My take then was largely about what a come-down the K-based New Yorker was compared to its predecessor:  Let’s hold our nose and consider the decline and fall of the Chrysler New Yorker. Twenty years earlier, that name typified the grace, comfort, style and performance that New Yorkers had been know for since the first one ran off the lines in 1939.

That’s a pretty easy and cheap shot. A lot happened in 20 years, and those barges from the 60s were dinosaurs, one step from the grave. For someone who was always extolling smaller and lighter cars, these FWD ones should be seen as a positive step forward, no?

It’s the way that transpired that is the problem. Add three inches to that infinitely malleable K-car platform, slap on a healthy dollop of all the usual faux-luxury car trappings of the time, and presto: a mini-me New Yorker. But don’t think just because you were getting a four-cylinder Reliant K-car with a couple of hundred dollars worth of plasticky body add-ons bought in bulk from J C Whitney and a turbo conversion with all the subtlety and refinement of a home-brew job, that the new New Yorker was going to be a bargain. Inflation adjusted, both of these cars cost about the same: about $35k in 2020 dollars. Is that deflation, inflation, or stagflation?

It’s hard to argue that there was a ticky-tacky quality to the broughamification process, but then that was pretty common at the time. As to its pricing; well, Iaccoca was just playing by the same playbook that had been around for a while. Not exactly anything new. And who cares, now? It’s a survivor of a very different time, a rolling time capsule.

To each their own, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t have been caught dead in one of these at the time. I was caught alive in a 300E back then, and the difference in their approach to design and styling details couldn’t have been more different. But it was precisely that difference that allowed me to feel vastly superior. And doesn’t every guy in his thirties want to feel vastly superior?

Now? I couldn’t care less. And I’d gladly drive this around Port Orford. Although the VW pickup in the back might be a tad more practical. A whole lot more, actually.

Who cares what the outside looks like when you’re sitting in this. The more I think about it…

Once the turbo is spooled up, the 146 hp 2.2 L four would get me up the steep hill on Coast Guard Hill Road.

Fake side and hood vents on a mini-me brougham luxury sedan is a contradiction that slayed me back in 2010. Bow I can only chuckle. What were they thinking?

Sealed beam headlights; now that’s something to celebrate.

I loathed these in 1986. I mocked them in 2010/2012. Now I’m genuinely happy to still see one on the road. Time is the great healer.