(first posted 9/9/2013) It’s always sad to see a CC reach the end of the line, but that is the nature of a Curbside Classic: As much as we love them, they are consumer products designed to transport people to their grocery store, work, school and vacations. I think it’s safe to say most of us here cherish old cars, but to some folks an old car is just an old car. And when they reach their sell-by date? Well, as Porky Pig used to say, “That’s all, folks!”
I spotted this 1992-93 NY a week or so ago, and immediately guessed it was a “turn-in” at the local pick-your-part. Its really rough and rusty condition and lack of license plates told the story. So, the next morning, on the way to work, I decided to stop and get some pictures before the inevitable happened, much like documenting an old building the day before the bulldozers come.
We’ve written up the Salon during Mopar Week (thanks, Jason!), but his example was the earlier version. Later Salons gained the hidden-headlamp schnoz and vertical tail lamps of their flossier Fifth Avenue sibling, resulting in a less Dynastic appearance. They more or less replaced the NY Landau, as the new-for-1990 Imperial reduced the Fifth Avenue to second-fiddle status–but of course, Lido’s favorite Landau top was still available on the Salon!
But even if you got a fully-equipped Salon–one with the Landau roof, wire wheel covers, and every other ’70s luxury-car styling cue on the option sheet–it still was not a Fifth Avenue! Got Brougham? Yes, indeedy! If you’re in a more Germanic state of mind, think of the Salon as the New Yorker SE, and the Fifth as the New Yorker SEL.
Yes, the Fifth Avenue was even more plush, with a longer wheelbase, more chrome and more available options. Button-tufted seating and door panels held sway inside.
I captured this identically-hued Fifth Avenue back in April. Obviously, this pristine-looking Chrysler has enjoyed far better care; could it still be in the hands of the original owner? The difference in the respective condition of the two cars may be as simple as this one being a one-owner car versus four or five owners (and the attendant neglect and misuse) for the other.
Not a stitch had let go on this Fifth Avenue’s vinyl roof. The color (Champagne, if memory serves) is not my favorite on these; they look far better in maroon, navy blue or black. But Champagne was quite popular with this car’s owner base when new, and it was seen around here quite often. So for those of you on the West Coast, finding two NYers in this color is no amazing coincidence.
For the most part, these were essentially the same car as the Dodge Dynasty, NY Salon, Fifth, and Imperial, but somehow seemed more popular here in the heartland, where Broughaminess ruled for about twenty years longer than on the coasts. The limo-like legroom in the LWB model might have been one reason–or maybe it was that more elaborate landau roof with a vinyl-padded opera window…such excess!
Actually, the inside is still pretty solid on our featured Salon, though the plasti-wood door trims have fallen off, leaving their shiny chrome surrounds–as well as exposed backing. And, for some reason, someone had tried to peel back the dash pad from the base of the windshield. As I recall, the clock showed 146,000 miles and change. Chrysler was one of the first car makers to install air bags on their regular production models (GM offered them as an option in 1974-76, and both MB and Volvo included them starting in the ’80s), and starting in 1990, all New Yorkers (and other assorted EEKs and Ks) were so equipped.
Despite the button-tufted Mark Cross goodness of the Fifth Avenue, I always liked the simple, pleated interior of the Salon. The door handles on these Mopars are rather different too, set into the topside of the power window control panel rather than on the vertical surface of the door card–or down low, below the armrest, like Cadillac and Lincoln had done for years.
Seeing the end of the line for a CC always makes me a bit sad. This was once a brand-new, comfortable American luxury car. Maybe the owner worked at the nearby Arsenal, drove Plymouths for years and, upon retirement, decided to get that NY he’d always wanted. It is a local car, originally coming from Kimberly Chrysler-Plymouth, and bearing the same dealer tag my Dad’s ’95 Jeep Grand Cherokee Orvis had when he brought it home.
What finally did this one in? The Ultramatic is a likely suspect, but the car was quite rusty, even for around here. Or perhaps the car’s owner’s fortunes improved so that he or she was able to get a brand-new car and was more than happy to ditch the Chrysler. Another old car traded in, and a new car to make more memories in. That’s kind of nice.