Vintage MT Review: 1962 Chrysler Newport – Big Car Power and Luxury

As is quite known, 1962 was not one of Chrysler’s best years. Dodge and Plymouth were dealing with their controversial downsized entries, while DeSoto had ceased to be. Amidst all that, Chrysler’s own Newport was a bit of bright news in that difficult year, with sales increasing way above the 1961 numbers.

MT credited those favorable results to the Newport’s styling; “Since Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth are basically the same in the engine, power train and suspension departments, it would seem the more conventional styling of the Chrysler is giving it the edge over its smaller brethren.”

‘Conventional’ isn’t quite the word many would use regarding the Newport’s design, but the model’s lines were certainly familiar to Mopar buyers. After all, during the infamous last-minute re-styling ordered by management for the 1962 Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler full-size models (the ‘plucked chickens’ fiasco), the latter was spared the worst of it.

Instead of new clothes, Chrysler’s bodies were hastily contrived making use of 1961 front ends with revised rears. Unlike Dodge’s and Plymouth’s controversial new designs, the resulting ’62 Chryslers carried familiar looks with a more contemporary feel.

The Newport was Chrysler’s entry model, and its suggested $3,000 base price was very enticing for a brand still associated with big-car luxury. As reviewers summed up; “the $3166 suggested list… was pretty low for such a lot of car.”

Suggested list price aside, MT’s test car came equipped with plenty of options befitting the model’s intended market; Torqueflite transmission, power steering, radio, heater, tinted windshield, plus other trim options. For the powertrain, the Newport carried a 361CID V8 engine, with 265HP, that provided 380 lbs.-ft. of torque. All for a total of $4074.

MT found the Newport performed above average for the full-size segment; 0-60 arrived in 10.8 seconds, while top speed was estimated at 112-115 MPH. On further performance testing, the car’s drum brakes didn’t show any apparent amount of fade or locking, with their stopping distance results also above average.

The Newport’s handling and Torqueflite transmission got the praise Chrysler products usually got in those areas; “The Newport corners flat and is extremely sure-footed on hard or soft surfaces. Nothing can match it in its size or weight class… The Torqueflite transmission is the only automatic on the market we would unhesitatingly choose over a three-speed manual.”

As had become a norm, Chrysler’s lack of quality control earned poor marks in fit and finish; “Not one of the four doors on our test car would open or close with any degree of precision… the result of careless assembly… lead one to believe that there may be a lack of pride of workmanship left on the Chrysler line.”

Still, MT found the Newport an attractive proposition, even if their hearts weren’t into big cars; “If you belong to the old school… and believe that a big, comfortable car is the best – the Newport is one of the biggest and most comfortable around. It also has one of the smallest price tags.”


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1962 Chrysler New Yorker – Adios Fins

Cohort Classic Capsule: 1962 Chrysler Saratoga – Canada’s Mid-Line Chrysler

Brilliant Blunder: 1962 Plymouth & Dodge – The Real Reason They Were Downsized