The Chrysler New Yorker has faced amazing success in the four decades it has remained in the auto industry. Introduced originally as the New Yorker Special in 1938, the name was eventually simplified to just the 'New Yorker'. America's longest continuously used nameplate, the New Yorker has kept this title for 58 years. In 1939, Chrysler began to manufacture vehicles in Mexico and until the early 1960's manufactured nearly the same models being produced in the US. Until its discontinuation in 1996, the only competition that the New Yorker faced was the Chrysler Imperial, which outranked the New Yorker in size and price. Helping define the Chrysler brand as a maker of upscale models priced and equipped above mainstream brands like Dodge/Plymouth, Chevrolet/Pontiac, and Ford, the New Yorker was below full luxury brands like Lincoln, Packard, and Cadillac.
The first generation New Yorker Special model was initially introduced as a distinct sub-series of the '38 Chrysler Imperial. Due to its soaring popularity, the New Yorker became its own series for 1939 based on the same platform as the Chrysler Imperial, along with the new Chrysler Saratoga. In 1938 the New Yorker was debuted as a 4-door sedan with a 323 CID Straight-8 and featured a very spacious interior in a comfortable setting. The following year the New Yorker line was expanded with 2 more Coupe versions and a 2-door sedan. In 1940 the first convertibles were debuted with the all-new body design. This year also saw the introduction of Fluid Drive; a fluid coupling between the engine and the clutch, with the only transmission available being the basic three-speed manual.
For the 1941 model year completely new bodies were debuted this year. The business coupe now featured the three window design. The Town Sedan was also all-new with the rear doors having the hinges at the forward edge of the doors. Also new for this year was the Vacamatic made available, and unlike the version sold on six-cylinder models, the Saratago/New Yorker version was a three-speed transmission with overdrive. Due to America entering WWII all vehicle production was halted in February of 1942, so the '42 model year was cut roughly in half. During the war, Chrysler would produce and experiment with engines for tanks and aircraft.
Unlike most car companies, Chrysler didn't roll out updates from year to year on their model range. Models from 1946 until 1949 kept the same basic look, best remembered for their 'harmonica grille' based on the original '41 model. In 1947 the New Yorker underwent a slight update in trim, tires, and the instrument panel.
The 1950 New Yorker was a lush dreamboat of a car in comparison to the regular eight-cylinder Chryslers and sported cloth upholstery that was available in a variety of colors with 'chair height' seats. With two different speeds, the 'Prestomatic' fluid drive transmission had two forward ranges. The high range was engaged using the clutch when driving normally, so the car could then be driven without using the clutch at any speed over 13 mph, the driver then released the accelerator, and the transmission was shifted into the higher gear of the range with a slight 'thunk'. Once the car came to a stop the lower gear was again engaged. Other big news for this year the New Yorker series; two-door hardtop, or club special club coupe, also dubbed the Newport in sales literature. For '51 a station wagon was available and a total of 251 models were built.
For the 1951 year, Chrysler unveiled the 180 hp FirePower Hemi engine which became a very popular choice for racers and hot rod fans. Able to achieve 0-60mph in just 10 seconds (faster than the Oldsmobile 88 Rocket engine of the time), the Firepower Hemi was a true beast. The New Yorker also featured Fluid Torque Drive, a true torque converter instead of Fluid Drive. Vehicles with Fluid Torque Drive only came with Fluid Matic semi-automatic transmission and had a gear selector quadrant on the steering column. Sold under the name Hydraguide, power steering was added as an option on Chrysler cars with the Hemi engine, an industry first.
The final year for the 131.5-inch wheelbase chassis for the New Yorker was 1952, and along with this the only update was a slight redesign on taillights with the backup lights in the lower section. For 1953 the wheelbase dropped down again slightly to 125.5 inches which gave the New Yorker a less bulky look. The body of the car now featured a one-piece curved windshield that was newly integrated with the rear fenders. Wire wheels were optional. The 1952 Saratoga became the New Yorker for '53, while the former New Yorker morphed into the New Yorker DeLuxe. The base New Yorker featured a long-wheelbase sedan and a Town & Country wagon while the Newport hardtop and the convertible were available only in the New Yorker DeLuxe. At a steep price, the 1953 Convertible was the most expensive New Yorker model on the 125.5-inch chassis, and only 950 models were built.
A premium version of a standard 1950's size body was introduced in 1954. The more popular FirePower Hemi V8 became the new favorite as the old six-cylinder became a thing of the past. The price was dropped slightly on the New Yorker, $3,230 for the standard and $3,400 for the DeLuxe model. The DeLuxe had an unheard-of output of 235hp, while the standard model featured a mild 195 hp output. All 1954 New Yorkers were available with the new two-speed Powerflite automatic transmission while the Fluid Torque Drive and Fluid Matic were dropped. This year was also the final year for the long-wheelbase sedan offered by Chrysler.
Following the war, Chryslers continued to be available with Fluid Drive, and the New Yorker was now available with true four-speed semi-automatic transmission. For 1949 the second generation of the New Yorker, or Second Series; was debuted using Chrysler's new postwar body (also shared with Dodge and DeSoto) with pontoon, three-box styling. The engine remained the 323.5-CID straight-eight joined to Fluid Drive and the Prestomatic four-speed semi-automatic. The body styles of the New Yorker were reduced to club coupe, convertible and 4-door sedan. The wheelbase was increased to 131.5 inches from the 127.5-inch frame introduced in 1941.
In 1955 the third generation of the Chrysler New Yorker was debuted with a whole new look and styling cues borrowed from the custom 1952 Imperial Parade Phaeton. The earlier and generic 'lead sled' design of the 1940's was dropped. The heavy-duty Hemi engine produces 250 hp this year, and the result of this would morph into an ongoing trend for increasing engine output throughout the next two decades with Chrysler and its competitors. The Powerflite transmission was manually controlled by a lever on the instrument panel. New this year, the series called New Yorker DeLuxe with the base New Yorker was dropped from the lineup. The club coupe was replaced by the Newport two-door hardtop. All new was the more expensive St. Regis two-door hardtop that filled the void from the former Newport. Still available was the sedan, convertible, and Town & Country wagon.
The 1956 model year was dubbed 'PowerStyle' by Chrysler as it was heavily influenced by the design works of Virgil Exner. The New Yorker received a new mesh grille, pushbutton PowerFlite selector, leather seats, and a V8 with 280 hp. The most expensive vehicle for 1956 at $4,523 was the Town and Country Wagon model. The St. Regis two-door hardtop was given a unique three-tone paint job that did raise the price up slightly. 1956 was the first year for the New Yorker 4-door pillar-less hardtop. Only 921 convertibles were built this year.
At the hefty cost of $300 million, Chrysler cars were redesigned with Virgin Exner's 'Forward Look' in 1957. Rated at 325 hp was the powerful 392 cubic-inch (6.4L) Hemi V6 engine. This uber-stylish New Yorker car sold well with a total of 10,948 units built, only 1,049 convertible models. '57 models came with the TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission and a Torsion bar suspension dubbed Torsion-Aire which gave smoother handling and ride quality to the vehicle. Fins that swept up from just behind the front doors were featured on the car. Single headlamps were featured on early model year models before being dropped later in the year. Quad headlamps were optional where state regulations permitted.
For 1958 the Forward Look remained intact but the model featured new body-side trim, shrunken taillights, and 345 hp. Still available this year was the convertible model, but only 666 models were made. (In 2008, only 15 working convertibles were known to still exist.) Though the sales from the previous year had decreased slightly due to The Recession of 1958, sales were still steady. The car's reputation was unfortunately tainted because of rust problems caused by rushed production and testing.
For 1959 the New Yorker now featured 350 hp, all new tailfins, a new front end, and no Hemi. A cheaper wedge head 413-CID RB engine replaced the FirePower Hemi engine. Unfortunately, the Hemi would never return to the New Yorker and slowly ended its image as a performance vehicle and re-branded it as a luxury car. It was until 1964 that the Hemi engine itself wouldn't return to Mopar cars with the second generation 426 Hemi.
For 1960 the New Yorker had uni-body construction, Ram Induction, and the new RB engine with an output of 350 hp. This was the final year for the New Yorker convertible, and a total of 556 final units were built.
For 1961 the New Yorker debuted with a brand new grille, a continental kit on the trunk lid, slanted headlights, and a 413 CID Golden Lion V8. This was the final season for the 'Forward Look' models. For '61, a total of 2,541 New Yorker two-door hardtops were produced, the final ones until 1964 in Canada, and 1965 in the United States.
The fourth generation of the Chrysler New Yorker was debuted in 1962 and it was introduced without the Chrysler fins that had made the car so unique in the past. Now only 4-door models were offered in wagon, sedan, and hardtop models. Many critics considered the newest New Yorker 'bizarre' and unfortunately, sales were slow in comparison to its entry-level sister car; the Newport, which was identical in body style and available in a convertible model. This was the final Chrysler to have a 126-inch wheelbase.
In 1963 Chrysler finally received a healthy boost in sales with the introduction of a 5-year/50,000-mile warranty; a business practice that was unheard of in the 1960's. Using Chrysler's completely redesigned body the New Yorker had only the windshield showing traces of the earlier Forward Look designs. Added midyear as a trim package was a brand new more luxurious Salon four-door hardtop. The wheelbase is now 122 inches and the engine output was 340 hp.
The following year the update included a new grille, small tailfins that gave the car a boxier look from the side, and a large rear window. American consumers got the Salon option on the four-door hardtop while Canadians were given the choice of a new two-door hardtop.
The fifth generation of the Chrysler New Yorker was redesigned in 1965 by Elwood Engel with styling cues from his 1961 Lincoln Continental. The styling included a square side view with chrome trim along the top edges of the fenders. Optional on this model was a 413 CID V8 engine, dual-pipe exhaust, and power options. Though it was phased out for the 440 Firepower the next model year, the engine pumped out 375 hp. For 1965 factory options included a 350 hp 440 Firepower engine, Tilt 'N Telescopic steering wheel, vinyl rear roof pillar insert, and standard power options.
The 4-door sedan used the six-window Town Sedan style for 1965 that was also used by the '65 Chrysler Newport and Dodge Custom 880. All C-body wagons shared the same basic body and the Town & Country wagon was on the Dodge's 121 inch wheelbase. The two-door hardtop was now sold in the United States, and all models except the wagon were 124 inches.
The following year the New Yorker adopted the new 440-CID V8 engine. Styling updates for 1966 included a new grille, taillamps, and a revised side trim. Newly marketed as a series on its own, the Town & Country wagon was dropped as a model. 1966 was a very positive sales year for Chrysler with a steady increase in both production and sales.
For 1967 the New Yorker received a sheet metal redesign below the beltline with wraparound parking lights at the front and taillights at the rear. Replacing the more straitlaced look of 1965-1966 a brand new fast top design was debuted for the two-door hardtop. The four-door sedan returned to the four window style as used on the Newport sedan. Bad for the year, the company's sales dropped 20% in 1967, the lowest in five years due to an economic slump this year.
For 1968 the New Yorker received new front and rear treatments. The New Yorker continued with the original roofline that had been introduced for 1965 though the Newport and 300 four-door hardtops received a new, sportier roofline that was also shared with Dodge and Plymouth.
For 1969 the Chrysler big C bodies underwent major reworking with curved sides and a higher beltline. Underneath the brand new look were the underpinnings of 1965 and the new look was called 'Fuselage Styling' and was not received as positively as the 1968 models. The Chrysler two-door hardtop received a look reminiscent of the club coupes of the 1940s.
For 1970 the Chrysler received minor styling updates in the grille, taillamps, and trim area. The small vent windows on the front doors were deleted on the two-door hardtops. The following year it was determined that the sales were still abysmal, so the facelift that had been scheduled for 1971 was pushed forward a year. This year did include a few updates that included vent-less front door windows on the four-door sedan and hardtop, and new grilles, and revised taillamps. Engine power was dropped in 1972 to meet stricter emissions standards and rising gas prices. Similar to the Dodge Chargers of 1971-74, Chryslers received a new 'split grille'. This was the final year for the 'loop'-style front bumpers on Chrysler. 1973 was the final year for the distinctive Chrysler 'Fuselage Styling'.
The sixth generation of the Chrysler New Yorker was introduced in 1974 and featured a more massive slab-sided effect. The models this year were timed perfectly to coincide precisely with the '73 OPEC oil embargo and were a huge part of Chrysler's economic woes in the late 1970s. The '74 models were the final full-size models that Chrysler designed from the ground up, as the short-lived 1979-81 R-bodies were stretched versions of the old mid-sized B-bodies.
The New Yorker acquired front and rear styling of the discontinued upscale Imperial in 1976 along with its interior. This new styling gave the New Yorker a little boost in sales since the car looked distinctly different from the down-market Newport. The design aspects used on the '74 and '75 New Yorkers were passed on to the base Chrysler Newport. Unfortunately, sales of the Newport and New Yorker continued to decline. Until the appearance of the downsized 1979 models, the full-size Chrysler line remained basically the same.
The Imperial was sold as the Chrysler New Yorker Brougham from 1976 to 1978 after Chrysler's Imperial brand was discontinued in 1975. The original New Yorkers came with a big-block V8 Fire-Power engine, the first V8s to be produced by Chrysler. This massive engine was referred to as the early Hemi engine due to its hemispherical combustion chambers. Replaced by a 33-CID Hemi V8 following its second year on the market, the New Yorker was improvised to provide better airflow and fuel/air mixture ignition. This new design also reduced thermal energy loss and improved airflow which made the engine more efficient.
Chrysler rolled out their seventh generation in 1979. The Chrysler Fifth Avenue began as a sub-model of the New Yorker this year after the nameplate was shifted to the Chrysler R platform. The R-body series was a 'Pillared Hardtop'. For this year the 360 engine was optional and the New Yorker now used the 318 V8. This generation featured vehicles that were lighter and much shorter than previous years, but the cars still had a semblance of a big car 'look' and ride.
Distinguishing itself from its R-body brother; Newport, Gran Fury, and St. Regis, the New Yorker had hidden headlamps and full-width taillights. Halfway through 1980 a Fifth Avenue 'Limited Edition' was offered that featured a stainless steel roof car and smaller rear window. Not many changes were made this year other than exterior colors and fabric options. For 1981 the New Yorker received a zesty new grille with simple vertical ribs.
Launched in 1979, an upscale sub-model of the New Yorker was created in the Chrysler Fifth Avenue. This occurred when the nameplate was shifted to the Chrysler R platform. Redesigned with a squared-off body, the New Yorker continued to be one of Chrysler's best-selling models. It continued to keep the original V8 engine and offered a model that featured a rear-wheel drive. The Fifth Avenue Edition also featured a two-tone finish which further accentuated the leather trim interior, exclusive opera windows that opened along with the rear doors, and a landau vinyl roof. The New Yorker and the Fifth Avenue trim moved to the LeBaron M-body which utilized Chrysler's 318 in³ engine in 1982.
The New Yorker grew into its eighth generation in 1982 and both the New Yorker and Fifth Avenue trim moved to the LeBaron's M-body. This M-body New Yorker utilized Chrysler's slant-6 engine while the 318 in³ engine was optional. This generation featured two models; the base and Fifth Avenue trim. While both used formal roof treatment, the base model had cloth seats, while the Fifth Avenue package featured pillowed lush Corinthian leather seats. The taillamps on this generation were the same as on the Diplomats but also featured a red reflector panel between them. The New Yorker prefix was dropped for 1984 and became the New Yorker Fifth Avenue. A total of 50,509 units were produced for 1982.
In 1983 the ninth generation of the New Yorker was launched and the line became a little more complicated as the New Yorker name was used on two different models. The M-body car now became the 'New Yorker Fifth Avenue', a title that lasted a year before being simply dubbed 'Fifth Avenue' until the end of the model run in 1989.
The New Yorker name was shifted to the front-wheel-drive Chrysler E-platform in 1983. This became the beginning of the extended K-car years. These models featured the most updated and state-of-the-art technology for the times, which included a digital dashboard along with the Electronic Voice Alert. The New York Turbo continued to stay on the E-body and would be the last New Yorker that came equipped with a turbocharger.
In 1988 the New Yorker was moved again to the Chrysler C platform, and front-wheel drive. Continuing as an M-body and remaining on a stretched platform, the Fifth Avenue would eventually rejoin the New Yorker in 1990. Showcased at the 1992 North American International Auto Show held in Detroit for the 1994 model year, the last generation of the New Yorker was unveiled as an LH-car. Comparable to the Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler LHS, Chrysler Concorde, and the Eagle Vision this new model shared a nearly identical exterior to the LHS.
The all-new tenth generation of the New Yorker was debuted in 1988 and was even bigger and bore no resemblance to the E-body model. Most of the suspension and underbody components were carried over. This model shared similar upright body styling with the newly-introduced Dodge Dynasty. The New Yorker featured a V6 engine; a Mitsubishi-sourced 3.0 liter powerplant and optional anti-lock brakes. This generation offered Base and Landau trim choices and newly rediscovered hidden headlamps.
A brand new stretched wheelbase version was offered in 1990 and it carried the additional moniker of Fifth Avenue from the recently departed M-body platform. A new base model was called Salon while the short-wheelbase New Yorkers continued with Landau. A rebadged Dynasty, the Salon featured exposed headlamps, horizontal taillights, and a similar grille to the Dodge. This year all models carried a new Chrysler-built 3.3 L V6 engine. For 1991 the Landau model was dropped, but even Salon models now featured vertical taillights, hidden headlights, and a traditional Chrysler grille. An available option was a new 3.8 L V6 engine. For 1992 a styling updated was underwent that produced a more rounded appearance front and rear. This generation produced a total of 416,440 models.
The final generation of the New Yorker, the Eleventh generation was debuted in 1994 and continued with the front-wheel-drive on an elongated version of the all-new Chrysler LH platform. This generation was debuted at the 1992 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The New Yorker was released side by side with the nearly identical Chrysler LHS for the 1994 model year; a year following the original LH cars; the Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, and Eagle Vision were introduced.
Standard with 3.5 L EGJ, the New Yorker produced 214 hp. Replacing the old Pentastar logo was a brand new logo on the grille for 1995. A more 'traditional American' luxury image was achieved on the design of the New Yorker by Chrysler this year, while the LHS was given more of a European performance image. Though little actually separated the New Yorker from LHS is appearance except for different color choices, gray body cladding, chrome exterior trim, optional chrome wheels covers, column shifter, and front bench seat. The LHS featured many of New Yorker's optional features as standard equipment along with a firmer tuned suspension to add to its European image.
Unfortunately, the New Yorker name was dropped after 1996 because of the similarities between the two and in favor of a six-passenger option on the more popular LHS. For 1997 the traditional New Yorker was considered far more contemporary and monochromatic in design compared to earlier models.
A much more luxurious version of the LHS, the last New Yorker model finished its last year with its most elite vehicle yet. The short sloping hood and long windshield demonstrated the brand new 'cab-forward' design that inspired many 90's models. Offered in new front-wheel-drive V6 powered, this top-class model flaunted a plush interior with a leather front bench seat and a suspension that controlled the soft smooth ride.
Less than it's LHS sibling, the New Yorker featured a more monochromatic design both inside and out and aluminum wheels with a Spiralcast design. The single color motif was more pronounced on models without the grey lower cladding. The Upscale New Yorker models featured leather-trimmed seats, shift knob, steering wheel, and door inserts. Passengers were treated to lush creature comforts like the rear center rear armrest, personal reading lamps, and 8-way power seats for the driver and passenger.
Standard on the New Yorker were power windows and central door locks, along with climate controls with air conditioning and cruise control. Optional were remote keyless entry available, remotely activated alarm, an overhead console with a computer, alloy wheels, and power moonroof. The Infinity sound systems found in the car were featured eight speakers positioned throughout the cabin along with an equalizer was one of the best stock audio options found in the New Yorker. Head units included a radio with either cassette or CD playback and up to a five-band adjustable graphic equalizer, with fade control and joystick balance.
Standard safety features included were dual front airbags, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. Available on this car was dual-way power sunroofs, designed and installed by American Sunroof Corp. An installed sunroof eliminated most of the front overhead console that featured storage bins for sunglasses and a garage door. The Overhead Travel Information System; or onboard computer, with integrated map lights remained. Overall production for the Eleventh generation was 61,202 units.By Jessica Donaldson