Subsequent to the acquisition of land from France known as the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned an exploration of this new territory. The group, known as the Corps of Discovery, was under the command of Army Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark. This group embarked from Camp Dubois in what is now Illinois on May 14, 1804.
In this company of intrepid explorers was twenty-one year old Sergeant Charles Floyd. On August 20, 1804, Floyd died of what is now suspected to be a ruptured appendix. Floyd is buried in what is now Sioux City, Iowa, and was the only member of the expedition to pass away during their journeys.
So what exactly does the Lewis & Clark Expedition, along with Sergeant Floyd, have to do with finding a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker?
Everything. And, like Lewis and Clark, it took some exploring to catch it, having found it in two different states.
We were making a family trip to Sioux City, Iowa. While my excitement level for the trip could most charitably be described as tepid, due to the reason for our going, I had been focussing on the brighter points of it. One of the brighter points was our making an extended pitstop in St. Joseph, Missouri, the town in which we had lived for five years and the first town our teenaged daughter called home.
A brief excursion while downtown was the Missouri Theatre, the place where our daughter had had her first dance recital at age three. As we were standing by the front door reminiscing, I threw out an age old bone to my wife about Miss Chrissy, our daughter’s ditzy dance teacher at the time. As my wife ran with it, providing some variation of her standard statement about that poor woman being so dumb due to her body being overwhelmed supporting her ponderously sized and prematurely saggy mammory glands and how this had terminally compromised the oxygen supply to her brain, I heard a burble that was obviously vintage and nothing any four or six-cylinder engine could ever mimic.
Looking up, I see our featured New Yorker. What a sight it was! Thankfully my daughter had her camera at the ready and she started peeling off shots in rapid succession.
Upon first seeing it, all I could tell was it was a Chrysler and it looked fabulous against the buildings of downtown St. Joseph.
In a quick moment I could tell it was a two-door. A black two-door Chrysler! This was a catch! And it’s 413 V8 sounded phenomenal.
Soon I could read the New Yorker badge on the front fender. This was no Saratoga or Windsor; the New Yorker was trumped only by the 300 in the Chrysler hierarchy. Given the meager production of the 300F in 1960, this was as close to the top dog Chrysler as one is likely to find.
At the time I wasn’t certain this was a 1960, but my hunch was correct. This was the first year for the redesigned follow-up from the 1957 to 1959 series; after touting “Suddenly It’s 1960” three years earlier, Chrysler had inadvertently committed itself to doing something different when it actually was 1960. Production of the 1960 New Yorker two-door hardtop was quite modest at 2,835.
It was obvious the smiling owner of our Chrysler was happy to be stretching the New Yorker’s legs. While I wouldn’t discover it until later, this New Yorker had Wisconsin plates.
My daughter deserves a lot of credit. She peeled off twenty-eight pictures of this Chrysler in the time it took to drive a city block. Picking the best ones to use has been difficult, but it’s a good problem to have.
By this point my yammering on about this Chrysler had hijacked all talk about Miss Chrissy and her compromised oxygen supply. We also realized it was getting late, we still needed to eat, and our goal was to drive for a few more hours before stopping for the night.
As we crossed the street to plan our next move, I simply bid our Chrysler adieu, thinking this encounter had been great while it lasted. It had also provided me some much needed writing fodder; my stash of car pictures has been depleted for quite a while.
Upon our getting in the car and discussing what to eat I got quite a startle as a green 1957 to 1959 DeSoto drove right down the same street used by our black Chrysler. I was able to clearly see the “Firesweep” nameplate better than the rest of the car. What the ….?
You win some, you lose some. Or do you?
I say that as on our way out of town, at a restaurant where a vet’s office used to be and where we had the wife’s cat euthanized in 2006, there sat a 1969 Buick Sport Wagon. This was early May, on a Tuesday, and it was cold and rainy. My only thought was wondering what sort of person attended a car show in those crappy times and conditions.
With Interstate 29 having been closed due to flood damage, we were rerouted up US 71 to Interstate 80. This isn’t the most stimulating drive, particularly when it’s dark and rainy. We stopped for the night 120-0dd miles later in Atlantic, Iowa, (population 7,112) and I had lots of fabulous memories of our Chrysler to keep me perked up for that tedious drive.
Perhaps some of you have made this drive. This is a desolate area, with the only town of any consequence along the way being Maryville (population 11,972). A person needs to have something to keep their brain stimulated, especially at night.
For some of us a black Chrysler is as good a stimulant as caffeine.
We arrived in Sioux City (population 82,684 and the fourth largest city in Iowa) early Wednesday afternoon then early Thursday morning I dropped the wife and daughter off to do their thing. I visited a few museums in town so stay tuned for that. There were some great surprises to be found.
After picking up the females that afternoon, we were heading south on Business 75 in Sioux City. Some distance in front of us I saw a northbound fifties model Ford that had been customized with what appeared to be some Oldsmobile pieces. I then saw a 1955 Packard followed by a 1961 Cadillac and then a Chrysler Airflow.
A Chrysler Airflow? Yes, it was a 1935 two-door Airflow (1936 shown). What in the wide world of sports was going on?
At this point we were nearing the Sergeant Floyd Monument, the burial place of Sergeant Floyd. A Washington Monument style structure was built around 1900 to accompany, and encapsulate, the grave. Poor Sergeant Floyd has had to be moved a few times due to erosion.
This is what I saw. If you look closely our black Chrysler is parked there. This was nearly 48 hours later and 250 miles away from where we had last seen it.
Plus, let’s be honest…what was the likelihood of this being a second, black 1960 New Yorker? I turned around and stuck the spurs to the 1.8T in our Passat. This was simply too good an opportunity.
Sure enough, this was it. Parked next to a 1969 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, my mind momentarily flashed back to my neighbor Orville building a house when in his eighties.
Also parked there was the same Buick Sport Wagon I had seen in St. Joseph. I struck up a conversation with the Buick’s owner and introduced myself. He has been a periodic reader of CC for several years. While I learned enough for a separate post, I’ll divulge just enough at this point to say all the cars were together on purpose. He said the group was taking an automotive tour of the Lewis & Clark Trail and it will be a seven year endeavor. This was Year Three, with this leg having started in Independence, Missouri, and ending in Sioux City.
He had driven his Buick from Texas.
Also there was a second Chrysler Airflow, the second one I had ever seen move under it’s own power. Both instances were within ten minutes of each other.
The Airflow made for the second black, awesome Chrysler found there. It’s amazing to think how much automotive design changed in only twenty-five years.
Sadly I was never able to talk to the owner of the New Yorker. Hopefully she sees this article and speaks up in the comments.
Thank you Captain Lewis, Lieutenant Clark, and Sergeant Floyd. Your contributions to this country were enormous and these contributions are still paying off today. How else would I have ever encountered this New Yorker otherwise?
Keep touring the country, beautiful black Chrysler.
Found May 7, 2019, in St. Joseph, Missouri, and May 9 in Sioux City, Iowa
Pictures by ECS