Curbside Classic: 1992 Chrysler Fifth Avenue – The End Of Mopar’s Broughamance

(first posted 5/24/2012)  The Chrysler New Yorker was a very long lived model for Chrysler. Between the late 1930s and the early 1980s, it was the biggest, fanciest model Chrysler offered, unless you count the years the Imperial was available. But starting in the Eighties, things began to change.

The New Yorker had been moved to a new “downsized” full size platform based on the mid-size B-bodies in 1979. Unlike the previous 1976-78 New Yorker Broughams, these new models were not very popular. It didn’t help that Chrysler was on the verge of disappearing that year thanks to near insolvency. Only last minute government-guaranteed private loans saved them. Naturally, there wasn’t much money for new models, so the NY limped along in much the same fashion through 1981.

In 1982 and for only that year, it moved to the M-body Diplomat/Gran Fury platform. In 1983, the car itself continued, but was no longer a New Yorker.

In 1983, this was the New Yorker. Quite a comedown from the large and in charge New Yorker Broughams of the late ’70s, eh? Like nearly everything else being made by Mopar at that time, it was based on the K-car, specifically the LeBaron, with a slightly longer wheelbase, extra luxury car gingerbread, and button-tufted velour or leather interiors. And did I mention that these were powered by a 2.2L four cylinder? No V6 and no V8 were in the offing.

In 1988, a redesigned New Yorker debuted, although the 1983-87 model continued for one more year as the New Yorker Turbo. While still riding the K platform, it was extensively updated and newly powered by a Mitsubishi-built 3.0L V6 with 136 horsepower.

The top of the line New Yorker in 1988 and 1989 was the Landau, which, appropriately, had a padded landau roof. Chrysler was also offering some interesting colors at this time. I always liked Dusty Rose Pearl Coat, though it was not frequently seen. It is shown above on a ’90 Landau.

As related in the 1991 New Yorker CC, the K chassis had its limits, however, and although the NY had all the requisite luxury car cues, it was rather narrow and short for a top of the line model.

That changed in 1990. The Fifth Avenue, still riding the M-body platform, was discontinued after 1989 and Chrysler took the opportunity to bring the model back into the New Yorker lineup. Now you could get your New Yorker in a choice of two wheelbase lengths.

If you compare this side shot of a ’92 Fifth Avenue and the ’91 standard wheelbase New Yorker in the photo above it, you can see that the wheelbase stretch had its intended effect. The longer car looks much more stately, and rear passengers got a lot more legroom. These cars look nicer in dark colors, too.

By 1992, New Yorkers came with a standard 147 horsepower 3.3L V6 with sequential multipoint fuel injection. An optional 3.8L V6, also with SMPI, added only three more hp, to 150 total. A driver’s side airbag was standard, and while the regular wheelbase New Yorker Salon made do with standard gauges, Fifth Avenues got digital instrumentation.

While the Fifth Avenue was a new model in 1990, the New Yorker line was little changed between 1988 and 1991. In 1992, however, more “aero” front and rear fascias were added, which smoothed out the lines a bit. It was a very traditional looking car though, with its wire wheel covers, landau top with opera windows, and multi-buttoned Mark Cross leather interior. And don’t forget the whitewalls!

Now, if you wanted a landau top but couldn’t afford the tonier Fifth Avenue, you could get your New Yorker Salon fitted out with a landau roof. The related Dodge Dynasty also featured this roof treatment, but added Brougham badging instead of the NY’s Salon emblems.

Lee Iacocca’s presence can be felt throughout these cars. The leather, acres of simulated woodgrain, bench seating, and vinyl roofs were all favored-and demanded by-Mr. Iacocca. So if the pristine black leather on our featured CC reminds you of a late ’70s FoMoCo luxocruiser, that’s why.

Lee loved all those chrome doodads and fake Rolls Royce grilles. It had started with the 1968 Continental Mark III, which Iacocca spearheaded, and all the way through to the 1993 New Yorkers, that neoclassical look remained. The 1992 freshening ironed out some of those razor-sharp creases, and if you look at the trunklid and tail lamps of this Fifth Avenue, you can see just a hint of the all-new, cab forward New Yorker and LHS that would finally end Mopar’s Brougham binge.

I have to admit I liked these cars. When I was in grade school, one of the other moms had an ’88-’91 New Yorker, sans vinyl roof. It looked rather classy, especially in dark red, and I remember Mom expressing her admiration for it. When the facelifted ’92s came out, I liked them even better, and preferred them over the Imperial.

I was drawn to this Beryl Green ’92 or ’93 Fifth as a high school friend’s mom had an identical version, right down to the color and lacy spoke alloys. She traded it in in 1998 for a brand new black Monte Carlo, which was nice, but I thought it was a step down from that spiffy green Chrysler, Ma Mopar’s last vestige of the Great Brougham Epoch.