By on December 30, 2009

a stellar curbside classic

Why exactly does this car create such a powerful response (in me, anyway)? It projects such solidity, dignity, and self-assurance. It flew in the face of GM’s 1965 coke-bottle styling, and showed that hard-edged angularity still had some serious life in it. Most of all though, this Chrysler New Yorker represents a pinnacle: never again would the New Yorker attain this degree of success, prestige and quality.

CC SM74 118 800

The Virgil Exner years at Chrysler were a styling roller-coaster ride. He resurrected Chrysler from the stodgy, boxy K.T. Keller years and set it on the path toward styling leadership with the radical ’57 models. But he took the hit for the strange 1962 models, and his Exneruberance was a bit too wild or overdone at times, like his persistence in grafting fake-spare tire covers on the trunks of everything from Valiants to Imperials. By 1961, too much of Chrysler’s  sales woes were blamed on Ex, and it was time to exit.

CC SM74 120 800Elwood Engel was recruited from Ford, where he was credited with the mile stone 1961 Lincoln. It’s angularity and compact elegance laughed in the face of the over-wrought finned Caddys. Engel brought a radical change in styling direction to Chrysler, and in its first few years, like so many new starts, it worked like a charm.

The first sign of the new direction was manifest in the very T-Birdish Turbine Car of 1963. It took a few more years for Engle’s angularity to come to full fruition at Chrysler, and it arrived just as GM was heading the opposite direction. And Ford was chasing the Pontiac look. Eventually, it led Chrysler into a dead end, and the radically different fuselage Chryslers of 1969 were seen to be the way out. It wasn’t, despite their strangely appealing qualities. By 1974, Chrysler was back to a boxier, edgier look, hoping to recapture the success of the ’65 – ’66 models, without avail.

CC SM74 121 800

One of the first Curbside Classics was a ratty, rusty 1965 Chrysler Newport coupe. This stately New Yorker that I found on a walk in Millbrae is every bit its opposite: a remarkably superb car to be sitting out front. I could practically feel its presence over a block away, standing out among the curvaceous little cars around it like the Chrysler Building in a trailer park.

CC SM74 119 800These Chryslers were some of the best built cars carrying that name since its WWII tanks, and the passenger tanks it built just after the war. The unibody was tight, the torsion-bar suspension lacked the floaty feel of its competitors, and interior and trim quality would never again be this solid. But don’t be fooled into thinking this barge was overly heavy: at 4,295 lbs, it weighed exactly the same as a “compact” 2009 Saturn Vue. With 340 horses (gross) on tap from its 413 CI V8, these Chryslers hustled down the road effortlessly. Brakes were better than average for the times, and the Torqueflite tranny was best in class. Chrysler’s numb power steering was the only fly in the ointment, but for its intended purpose, who cared?

Chryslers appealed to buyers who still felt that a finer engineered car was the one to buy. There were several relatives and University acquaintances for whom these vintage Chryslers were the last American cars they ever bought; they all drove Mercedes by the mid seventies. Now that I think of it, that’s the reason why I hold these Chryslers in such high esteem: they really were the end of the road in more ways than one for Chrysler.

CC SM74 117 800

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59 Comments on “Curbside Classic CA Vacation Edition: 1965 Chrysler New Yorker...”


  • avatar
    tced2

    I never drove one of these, but I drove my grandfather’s 1967 Imperial (which bears a resemblance).  I believe 1967 was the year that Imperial was built off the Chrysler chassis rather than being a separate line.  It was quite a commanding car and seemed to be much more of a “driver’s car” than the similar vintage Cadillacs.  Yes, the power steering was “finger touch” easy – and the steering wheel was very thin, translucent plastic – the first car I drove that had a tilt and telescope wheel adjustment.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The previous CC’s Impala is to the Hummer H2 what this car (or the 61 Continental) is to the second- or third-generation Acura TL.   Both are period pieces, but the former is a cartoon while the latter is a classy piece of work.
     
    You’d hope either Chrysler or Lincoln could return to making cars like this.  Both came really close (the 300M and LS, among others) but backed off.  GM is hopelessly addicted to bling and has been for more than half a century, but surely someone in Amercan automotive design would take another kick at the “classy” can.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I guess I’m more on the pro-”cartoon” side of things because I’d take a ’60 Impala or a ’61 300G over this New Yorker.
       
      This CC looks like it would hit me on the wrists with a ruler for talking out of turn. I think it is from that crew cut of a roofline.

    • 0 avatar
      B10er

      Sorry,

      In terms of class, style, and dignity, The 300M and LS were just not in the same ballpark as this 65 New Yorker, but rather they were 40 miles down the highway stuck in traffic during the 7th Inning.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

       
      I guess I’m more on the pro-”cartoon” side of things because I’d take a ‘60 Impala or a ‘61 300G over this New Yorker.
       
      Most people would.  I’ll bet that, in forty years, the H2s and H3 Alphas will anchor this decade in the same way.  It’s not a bad thing, per se, just a statement on which vehicle shouts the loudest about the dominant design language of it’s era.
       
      In terms of class, style, and dignity, The 300M and LS were just not in the same ballpark as this 65 New Yorker, but rather they were 40 miles down the highway stuck in traffic during the 7th Inning.
       
      That has everything to do with persective.  There’s new classics coming to light these days that I would never in a million years have given credence to when they were new or nearly so.  At the time, this Chrysler was probably considered the epitome of drab.
       
      I suspect the 300M, Intrepid and Concorde, especially, will be considered as such when they finally “get there”.  Mechanically they’re not great cars and the running examples are not aging all that well, but the occasional well-cared for model still looks good in a way that, say, the Ovoid Taurus or Lumina-On-Steroids Impala does not.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      I’d say that Chrysler got closest to the mark with the first generation LHS sedan. Still a sharp looking car 15 years after it’s introduction. Sadly the car that should have been a cornerstone for Chrysler re-establishing it’s luxury market was cheapened and de-contented (see AllPar for the story) by the new germanic masters as it was seen as a threat to Daimler luxury vehicles.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    And besides, if the car had a/c, it had a cool little black and gold “AirTemp (Pentastar) Chrysler Corporation” decal in the window!

  • avatar
    geeber

    Another great article! This car’s near-twin lives in this area (near Harrisburg, Pa.). It is identical on the outside, but the interior features the front bench seat; the upholstery is black-and-white fabric and vinyl. The owners bring it to the Chryslers at Carlisle show every year, and it appeared in the movie Girl, Interrupted, which was filmed here. The car  is all-original and in near-mint condition. What a classy, substantial car!

    It’s a shame that Chrysler never followed through on the promise of its all-new 1965 full-size cars. All of the full-size Mopars that year – Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler – were tough, roomy cars engineered for drivers. The GM full-size cars were better looking, but cursed with a flabby frame and somewhat shaky body structure. The Chevrolets also had very uneven build quality.

    And I agree with psharjinian, especially with regard to Lincoln. It’s too bad that Lincoln never followed through with the promise of the LS (which was a solid car, but needed better styling and more refinement).

    For that matter, it’s too bad that Ford management couldn’t see what it had in the suicide-door Continentals of the 1960s, which were easily outsold by Cadillac, but always seemed to me to be a classier, more substantial car. One of my requests to Santa was that, in 2010, Paul runs across one of these parked along the street…

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      geeber, its my wish too. I just found one of the later suicide door Lincolns in a driveway here, and I’ll show it this week as an outtake, but I’m still awaiting the real thing.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s hard to be romantic about a car stylistically when your leading competitor outsells you by more than seven to one, which was the typical Cadillac edge on Lincoln in that era…

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I regularly see 1961-65 Lincolns on the “best styled car” lists. Can’t say the same about contemporary Cadillacs. Also note that Cadillac offered a wider selection of body styles compared to Lincoln, and covered a wider price spread. The Continental competed with the more expensive Cadillacs. There wasn’t a Lincoln “Calais” or “Series 62″ during those years.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Nice old NY’er! It reminds me that for several years in the 1960′s after the DeSoto line was dropped, Chrysler put different grilles, side trim, and tail light trim on each of the four series they produced – Newport, 300, 300L, and New Yorker. This helped them to cover the gap between high-end Dodges and Imperials. Base price for the Newport 4-door sedan was $2,968, and for the New Yorker 9-passenger wagon was $4,856, quite a spread.
    Nearly all the 1965 Chryslers I’ve seen in western Washington have spots of thinned chrome plating on the front bumpers where water would drip off the edges of the hood. I don’t see those on this drier-climate car.
    I am reminded that I still miss my old 300L hardtop.

  • avatar
    OhMyGoat

    If I’m not mistaken, Chrysler’s “fuselage styling” made it’s debut in 1969. I remember the gargantuan 300 our family had. It was roughly the dimensions of an aircraft carrier.

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    Now, this is when Chrysler made great cars.  My gramps and grams had a 65 Newport as I have mentioned earlier.  Loved that car so much.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    I love Chrysler Imperials and New Yorkers of almost any vintage.  I have a reoccurring dream involving a 1972 Chrysler New Yorker, light green (that classic 70s combo of sea foam, metallic pea, and lime peel http://www.amcgb.org/pictures/72%20chry.JPG exactly like that).  The paint is burned thin by years of polishing and sun damage, the interior isn’t perfect but about as good as you to could expect out of an almost 40 year old car that’s un-restored.  I’m not a man who believes in premonitions but given that I live in the dry desert of the Southwest, I think I’ll have one someday.   I wish one of the American companies could still claim to have the best engineered cars on the planet.

  • avatar
    Hank

    The 65-69 Full size Mopars are my favorites, and this is a beautiful example.  My first car was a ’68 Fury, so I’ve got a soft spot.

  • avatar

    My favorite NYer is the ’64. Is that Exner or Engel? (I”m guessing Exner). I also love the ’64-5 Imperial, including the spare tire. The ’65 NYer is nice, too, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer these others. And of course–OF COURSE!–the ’61 Lincoln is a favorite. These they should still make–a bit smaller, perhaps, but in the same style, for the presidential limo.
    Both of these guys were terrific stylists.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    I’m not sure there was any other car made that so perfectly says “Banker.”  In a good way.  I am referring to a time when the banker was a pillar of the community, with a sense of responsibility for making his town prosperous — not a bonus-grabbing wheeler dealer who spent his mornings kiting derivatives and his afternoons adding fees onto subprime mortgages.  Yes, kiddies, there really was such a time.  And the banker drove a car like this, to project the same image of security, sobriety and stability as that temple-like downtown bank building he drove to every day.  The banker wouldn’t dream of driving something as flashy as a Cadillac, and a blingy sports car just wouldn’t convey the right message at the Chamber of Commerce or the Lions Club.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      And college presidents drove sedate cars like that.  When I went to Defiance College (1995-1999) the president (Dr. Harris) drove a (LH) New Yorker and then replaced it with a Mercury Mountaineer.  I worked in maintenance while I studied and we made fun of him for not driving a sedan, even the working class man in a GM town (there was a power train factory there) could see that only posers would drive SUVs as luxury vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Didn’t Milton Drysdale drive one of these? Always dragging Miss Hathaway along to visit Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly (rowr) Mae…
       
      A boss of mine in ’73 had one of these – complete with under-dash air and a Muntz 4-track stereo tape deck. Rode like a cloud.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Mr. Drysdale drove an Imperial, at least during the black-and-white episodes and early color episodes (or  through about 1967). Miss Jane Hathaway drove Dodge convertibles – Coronets at first, then a Challenger towards the end of the series, if I recall correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Nothing says ‘Businessman’s Express’ like a large, mid-to-late sixties, early seventies, pre-emissions choked, railroad-tie bumper, big-block Chrysler (esp. a convertible).

      And besides Donna Douglas (Ellie Mae), seeing what Mr. Drysdale or Miss Hathaway rolled up to the mansion in was the only reason to watch that dumb show.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Slight correction: Mr. Drysdale didn’t drive an Imperial; he was driven in one.

      Agreed, these cars and the Elwood Engel-designed Lincolns of the same era went beyond style or class: These automobiles had presence.

      Unfortunately, it may be a long, long time before we see vehicles like this ever again, from any nation.

  • avatar
    B10er

    So cool…

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Yes, very cool. But a sign of the times, I guess. No  more of the behemoths for the next couple of years at least.

    Any how, as I posted on this very website before, I think the new Fiat-Chrysler would benefit greatly for having a car like this and reserving it to the Chrysler brand. I know, it flies in the face of my previous paragraph, but one could only dream and imagine that the mothership had enough money to produce a money loser like this. Sigh, maybe in another life when we’ll have mastered nuclear propulsion.

  • avatar
    wmba

    My best friend at college was a Mopar nut. Nothing could persuade him that Chrysler’s weren’t engineered by the good lord himself. Until his Dad’s ’65 New Yorker forgot its manners and broke a front torsion bar with a rifle crack sound, just sitting there parked in 1968. Was the third Mopar I’d seen that did that.

    I drove this vehicle and another friend’s ’64 Chrysler, back in the day. The ’64 was a far better car in that it was much more wieldy, plus I liked its looks much more. The ’65 was ponderous in the extreme and any handling advantage it had over the competition was that it was slightly less wobbly, replacing GM float with a rubbery boing-iness all its own from the front end, together with a solid thump as the cart sprung rear axle reacted to large bumps.

    Not sure about its structural integrity either, as the windows would move and squeak over the roads we had (still have) around here. By the time the middle ’70s version of this car had been fitted with giganto bumpers, they would exhibit body tremble over tiny bumps and felt quite unsafe to me. I’m speaking of the hardtop versions — the sedan Dodges and Plymouths were tighter.

    The Mopar intermediates were much better structurally, IMO, but blessed with steering that could only be described as approximate. They weren’t one hand on the wheel wafters like GMs, especially on cambered two lane roads. The even smaller Valiant/Barracudas were just fine, though — loved the ’68 Barracuda 340, quite a machine.

    I think we are viewing all these old barges through rose-colored glasses. They weren’t all that great as cars. The 60′s were when some people started to get more into European imports, any of which barring rear engined VWs were far better vehicles in terms of dynamics and steering, although bereft of 350 pounds of sound-deadening material and torque enough to pull a cruising axle ratio. So you exchanged marshmallow cushiness and tufted velour seats for noise. Most people liked the big quiet car, because they didn’t know or care about dynamics.

    I have to confess that I was studying mechanical engineering during the mid-sixties, so my criticisms as a car nut were tempered by my increasing knowledge of structures and dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      A friend of mine in high school had a 1966 New Yorker hardtop sedan – dark blue with a light blue interior. It always seemed to be more of a “driver’s car” than a comparable GM or Ford product. It was also a pretty tough car – it was still going strong in the early 1980s, with well over 100,000 miles on the odometer. Her family used it as a daily driver.

      The choices car buyers faced were much starker in the 1960s. If you wanted handling and braking prowess, you bought foreign and faced the prospect of driving a more “fussy” car without effective air conditioning, a good automatic transmissions or too much sound-deadening material. Or you bought a domestic, which were more reliable, easier to repair, offered more comfort and convenience options, were better suited to interstate travel – but also offered the handling and braking of a steamship and the prospect of sloppier workmanship.

      The domestic compacts and early pony cars tried to bridge this gap, but it was the 1970s imports, led by the Japanese on the low end and Mercedes on the high end, that did a better job of offering the best of both worlds.

  • avatar
    V6

    that’s a cool looking car. i love the colourless rear lights on it too. that ’74 chrysler is pretty sweet to look at too i think

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I have a fond memory of a 66 New Yorker.  I and my dad took our Plymouth to the dealer for some repairs; the loaner (usually a new car to ‘hook’ you into trading up) was out so they pulled a New Yorker off the used lot and handed the keys to dad.  About 8 or 9 miles from home he looked over at me and said the words that every 10 year old longs  to hear; “lets see what she’ll do.’  He floored the big 440, with a deep roar and a quick kick down of the TorqueFlite, in seconds the long speedometer needle was sweeping past 110 mph. Other than the sound of the engine the Chrysler was as rock solid and as quiet as it was at 60.  I always think of my dad when I see these big Chryslers.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    A “drivers car” ?
    My first experience with full sized MOPAR products was an early ’70s DriverEd car.   A Polara.   To say the steering was numb is to give it credit for more feeling than it really had.   It was like a video game.    No, on second thought, video games have more road feel.
    I like the looks of this car, but “drivers car”,  c’mon.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Isn’t this what the Green Hornet drove?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Close. The original car that the Green Hornet (Van Williams) was chauffered around in by Kato (Bruce Lee) was a lightly modified 1966 Chrysler Imperial.

      FWIW, in the remake movie that will be coming out this summer, he’ll get a black ’65 Imperial Crown. Don’t know if the movie will be any good, but at least there will be a cool car…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This is a car that should only be driven in a suit and tie.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming


    This is my favorite Chrysler four door of the 1960s. Paul hit the nail on the head in pointing out that it took self-confidence for Engels to go down a different road stylistically than GM and Ford – particularly at that point, when Chrysler was still trying to rebound from its serious troubles in the early 1960s.

    Chrysler had a meaningful engineering advantage over the rest of the Big Four in those days. Alas, the corporation’s huge investments in fuselage styling and sporty coupes in the late 60s and early 1970s proved a costly failure. So, to cut costs, the engineering staff ranks were decimated by the time the Volare/Aspen compacts were being developed. Disaster ensued – which was all the sadder given the stellar reputation of the Valiant/Dart compacts they were to replace.

    It doesn’t take long to destroy a reputation.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    There were three different looks on full sized cars during the 1960s. They can look like Lincoln Continentals or Chevrolets, with or without Pontiac headlamps.

    Ford went with the Continental look with the Pontiac headlamps.
    Mercury went with the Continental look
    Oldsmobile went with the Chevrolet look
    Buick went with the Chevrolet look
    Cadillac went with Chevrolet look with Pontiac headlamps.
    Rambler went with the Continental look with Pontiac headlamps.
    Plymouth went with the Continental look with Pontiac headlamps.
    Dodge went with the Chevrolet look.

    Had this New Yorker came out with the Continental look in 1962, Chrysler could have gotten three more years out of that look by the time it looked dated. By 1969 the Lincoln Mark showed the long hood, short deck, stand up grille and padded enclosed coupe look that dominated the 1970s. However, Chrysler updated their dated Continental look with the Fusilage look which was an areodynamic shaped larger version. Naturally, this style appeared dated within two years since the rest of the big cars of the era adopted the Lincoln Mark look unveiled in 1969.

    So Chrysler was behind the ball by the time their dated full sized cars hit the 1974 gas crisis. The 1974 Chrysler was the Lincoln Mark look done five years later when most everyone else except AMC’s Ambassador had already adopted it.

    So when I see this beautiful New Yorker, I see a manufacturer late to the styling games being played in the market. Yeah – it had nice touches, but overall it is a very nice “me too” automobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming


      I’d agree that this Chrysler wasn’t anywhere near as daring as the 1961 Continental. But the Continental was (at least in my book) one of the most paradigm-challenging American designs of the post-war period.

      The overall shape of the 1965 Chrysler may have been fairly derivative, but it had an unusual number of design details that were relatively unique for the time, such as thrust backward front fenders, covered headlamps, “white” taillights and a partial vinal roof. Also noteworthy were the rounded fender shoulders (by 1965 everyone else had gravitated to hard-edged surfaces) and a subtle, double-S side curvature that I find more elegant than the more extravagant creases on the 1965 Buick or Pontiac – and more visually interesting than the slab surfaces on the Oldsmobile, Lincoln and Cadillac.

      What I most like about the 1965 Chrysler was that it managed to be stately without looking bulky (unlike the 1967-68s). The key ingredient was the way the Turbine Dart-style rocker panel was integrated with a vaguely Mustangish rear bumper. The result was less ponderous than any big GM or Ford of that year.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      That was the biggest problem with Chrysler after the 1962 ‘down-sizing’ debacle. The completely original (but horrendous) styled 1962 models caused the cyclical bottom to drop out of the always tenuous Chrysler sales picture, which would become a hallmark of how the company operated, lurching from one crisis to another.

      Chrysler (as usual) could ill-afford another blunder of such monumental proportions, so they had to be content with going back to the ultra-conservative route of simply taking previously successful GM designs and updating them.

      It was pure survival mode after 1962. Combined with Chrysler’s superior engineering prowess, lucrative defense contracts, and solid sales of bread-and-butter transportaton like the anvil-tough Valiant, the strategy kept the company afloat for an amazingly long time and they did a truly remarkable job of making last-year’s GM styling trends look fresh and worth buying.

      A great example is the ’66-’67 ‘tunnel back’ rear window on the GM intermediates. GM had moved on to a flush rear window with the new ’68 models, so Chrysler adopted the tunnel-back to the brand-new ’68 Dodge Charger to the point that, along with the rest of the styling, makes it one of the most hailed designs to ever come out of Detroit, far overshadowing the GM cars that inspired it.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Several commenters have mentioned that they don’t care for the handling of 60′s and 70′s Chrysler products. All I can say is, they never drove a 300 letter car. I always got a kick out of the comments from Ford and GM guys after riding in my 300L, along the lines of “wow, that thing’ll really handle”. Well, obviously it’s no RX7, but it would outhandle any other full-size American car.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My Grandparents had a long string of full-size Chryslers. I particularly remember the poop-brown Polara that my Grandmother had, and the ginormous station wagons that my Grandfather drove. Until he traded the last one for a 1980 Subaru hatchback….

    Way before I was old enought to drive, sadly. My only experience of RWD full-size American barges is the mid-80′s Chevy wagons my college had in the motor pool. Video game steering is about right, I think.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Back in 1979 my uncle sold  his 1969 Imperial to my brother. I wasn’t of driving age yet but will never forget doing 130 mph on the VanDyke Freeway with my brother at the wheel. That thing floated like a Cruise Ship …. don’t remember the sound of the engine but can recall it had a 440 -4 barrel. I remember the (left) foot pedal button used to scan to the next radio station, and the time we fit 17 people in it to go from our family picnic grounds to the beach at Stoney Creek Metro Park north of Detroit.
    Too bad that thing sucked gas like a camel after crossing the Sahara.
    http://fuselage.de/index.html?http://www.fuselage.de/imp69/

  • avatar

    A number of clarifications here.
     
    First, Virgil Exner was not blamed for Chrysler’s sales woes per se; Lynn Townsend blamed him for the debacle of the 1962 models and fired him over it in November 1961. The irony is that the way the ’62s turned out was over Exner’s vehement protests (in fact, he was pretty much the only one within Chrysler who said they were disasters and that they were going to flop). See here for the whole weird story: http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/family-cars/146-chrysler-downsizing-disaster-1962.html  (Exner was to blame for the toilet-lid fake Continental kit thing, though.)
     
    Second, the hiring of Elwood Engel had less to do with any desire by Chrysler management for a new styling direction and more to do with the schmoozing power of George Walker. Walker had become a styling consultant for Ford in 1946, and Engel and Joe Oros, who worked for him, were his principal on-site liaisons. When Walker became Ford’s first styling VP in 1955, Oros became head of the Ford studio, Engel the head of advanced. (The design that became the ’61 Lincoln Continental was actually created as a competing proposal for the 1961 Thunderbird, not for Lincoln.) Engel was Walker’s choice to succeed him as VP when he retired in 1960, but Ford management found out that Engel was playing fast and loose with his expense account, expensing things like expensive Italian leather shoes, and generally lining his own pockets. He was passed over in favor of Gene Bordinat.
     
    George Walker, who was nothing if not loyal, started scouting around for a new job for Engel. He had lunch with Chrysler’s Lynn Townsend in the fall of ’61 and started chatting him up on Engel. Townsend was either getting set to fire Exner or had already done so, and bought Walker’s spiel hook, line, and sinker. He apparently never asked why Engel hadn’t gotten the VP slot, which is ironic, since Townsend had just become head of Chrysler following a messy double-dipping scandal among Chrysler executives.
     
    The first production Chryslers on which Engel had any major influence were the ’64s. (The ’63 Turbine car was not a production model.) Exner’s ’63 designs were done when Engel arrived, and Engel told Townsend he thought they were fine as they were; there ended up being some minor tweaks, but the ’63s are about 90% Exner’s work. A lot of Exner’s early Chrysler designs are lifts of things he’d worked on at Ford, to one degree or another — look at a ’64 Imperial next to a ’61-’63 Continental, and it’s pretty obvious.
     
    The mid-sixties Chryslers look better today than they did at the time. At the time, they were considered a little stodgy, a little too rectilinear and derivative. Removed from their original context, they don’t look bad, but in their day, they were definitely not fashion leaders.
     
    Also, I’m not sure on what scale of values 4,300-odd pounds is not “overly heavy.” This is the same sort of nonsense that characterizes a family car that can run from 0-60 in less than 7.5 seconds as “sluggish.”

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      It stinks that Townsend blamed Exner for the 1962 cars, when it was really done on the last minute insistance of then-Chrysler president William Newberg (based entirely on something he overheard Chevrolet prez Ed Cole say at a dinner party).

      Exner, to his credit, didn’t believe the rumor but still did the best he could with the limited resources and time he was given to totally revamp the nearly ready for production Dodges and Plymouths, which ended up looking like awkward, big Valiants. It didn’t help that Exner was also in ill-health at the time.

      Chrysler chairman Tex Colbert correctly fired his ex-prodégé Newberg (ostensively for malfeasence), replacing him with Townsend, and that should have been the end of it. Exner didn’t deserve to get fired for Newberg’s foul-up and an ignominious end to a career that spawned the revolutionary ‘Forward Look’ that brought Chrysler so much acclaim and success in the late fifties.

      As pointed out, Engel didn’t make a lot of changes to Exner’s original proposals for the 1963 Chrysler lines, one example being the successful and well-styled 1963 A-body Valiant and Dart.

  • avatar
    gasser

    My college roomate came from a family of Chrysler lovers. In ’64 he drove a ’57 Desoto that had been handed down from Dad to Mom to him. His dad had a ’59 Imperial with huge A/C funnels sprouting from the dashboard. In ’66 they traded it for a ’66 Chrysler which was either a New Yorker or a Newport sedan, pillarless 4 door. It was cream with a tan leather interior and was, to this day one of the best cars ever. It was fast, reliable and had freezing cold A/C.  It easily held 3 in the rear seat and had a cavernous trunk.  I remember driving it in the first year they had it. The pick up was great, the transmission shifted well and I recall the steering to be just fine in comparison to the even more numb GM steering. I liked the driving dynamics better than the even larger Olds ’98s of ’66 and ’67 that other families had. Compared to these Chryslers, Mercedes were ugly, underpowered and something only a complete lunatic would consider buying. Gas was between 25 and 30 cents a gallon…who cared about mileage.

  • avatar

    Mr. Drysdale drove an Imperial, at least during the black-and-white episodes and early color episodes (or  through about 1967). Miss Jane Hathaway drove Dodge convertibles – Coronets at first, then a Challenger towards the end of the series, if I recall correctly.

    As I recall, the Clampett conveyance was an ancient Oldsmobile panel truck. Also, in the 60s and 70s, the (then) Big Three  furnished vehicles to several network programs, apparently on the condition that every vehicle on screen — even those parked in the background — had to come from one of their divisions.

    My Three Sons and Family Affair=Pontiac; Bewitched=Chevrolet; Andy Griffith and The FBI=Ford, and so on. I can’t think of any AMC product placement, but if “On the Waterfront” had been made later, maybe they’d have donated a Marlin…
     

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    This edition of CC made my day.  Thanks Paul!

  • avatar
    thornmark

    I had that car in high school.  Same, except no chrome guards on the doors and had red tail lamps – the earlier New Yorkers had the silver ones but they had problems and were eliminated later in the model year.

    It was my grandfather’s car, a replacement for his 1964 Newport that was rear-ended.  It was the “executive” model, used to sell the series to customers – high zoot.  As such it had the same interior as here, but I believe it was 375 hp, having the 300L engine option. 

    The car was indeed over-engineered, the torqueflite was easily the best auto of its day, with two pumps, front and rear, you could push start it!  I read it in the manual and tried it and it worked!

    That dash was incredible and was significantly cheapened in 1967.  The center had a “picnic tray” that pulled out with places for various sundry items and dual ashtrays.  The glovebox had a built-in kleenex dispenser.  Had the best interior door handles of any car ever.  Coldest air I’ve ever experienced. 

    When we put radials on it the handling was superlative for such a large car.  Never needed snows with that car and radials.
    Speaking of snow, I remember getting hit by a VW Bug on the Merritt Parkway on the New Canaan line during a snowstorm when traffic stopped.  The VW hit the rear and then went into the woods.  VW totaled, windows popped out.  The ChryslerJet as I called her, had minor bumper damage.

    Huge chrome metal grill, great glass headlight lenses with lines and gold crowns.  Here’s one for sale: http://www.online-car-show.com/car-show/classic_cars/572_1965_chysler_new_yorker.cfm
    Looked better in dark green, when waxed, it was the shiniest thing in town.

    I loved that car!

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    In my view Virgil Exner’s 1955 Imperial was that era’s classiest car. It was marketed as a separate brand, apart from Chrysler. Subsequently Imperials became overwrought, even bizarre.
    http://tinyurl.com/y9e9d75
    http://tinyurl.com/yjxbmkh
     

  • avatar
    Syke

    Why exactly does this car create such a powerful response (in me, anyway)? It projects such solidity, dignity, and self-assurance. It flew in the face of GM’s 1965 coke-bottle styling, and showed that hard-edged angularity still had some serious life in it. Most of all though, this Chrysler New Yorker represents a pinnacle: never again would the New Yorker attain this degree of success, prestige and quality.
     
    Bingo!  My memory of this is courtesy of the parish of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Lakewood, Ohio.  My aunt was a housekeeper there for something like forty years, starting just before WWII.  And Monsignor Francis J. Dubosh, the pastor, drove one in deep green with a green interior.  He usually spent his holiday vacations at our house (and my family would spend at least a week in July at the parish) bringing my aunt home.
     
    Back then, if you were a pastor in the Diocese of Cleveland, this was as close to a lust object as you’d ever get.  I always considered them classy beyond belief.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I owned a 65 new yorker just like the one in the photo, back in the late 70′s. I got it from my uncle, who always owned new yorkers and imperials.
    Mine was fully loaded, power windows, 4 way power seat, cruise control, electric rear window defogger. The odd thing was that it didn’t have ac. This car was one sweet runner, all new yorkers had the 413 engine with the carter afb 4 barrel.
    These cars had a very smooth ride, despite the fact that they had 14 inch tires. And like the author stated, they were very stable without the floaty feel of the bog ford and gm products. However the steering was very slow, it seemd like you had 4 turns of the wheel lock to lock. That was typical of most big cars back then.
    And i can say that the body was incerdibly tight, especially for a pillarless 4 door. It was more rigid than most pillared sedans from other makers.
    Visibility was excellent, about as good as it got in a big car. The hood looked quite small from behind the driver’s seat, and rearward vision was just as good. These cars had generous amounts of legroom and headroom, and the seats were comfortable.
    However, i never liked this body style. I like the sides of the car, but I never liked that tall roof, with all of that glass. I know this was what contributed to the good visibility, but when I’m in a big old car I like the feeling of being isolated from the outside world. I get good visiblity from my ram, whic is great, but when I’m cruising in one of my big cars for a summer drive or on my way to a show I want to feel like I’m in a big car.
    I noticed a few people on here criticizing the later fuselage cars. I have a book on the development of those cars, and according to styling executive dave cummins, those cars were purposely designed with the high beltline to give the feeling of “sitting in a fortress,”, which was the feel that most luxury car buyers wanted in those days. He states that the high roof and high seating position in the engel inspired cars was criticised by many people.
    He says that part of the reason for the fuselage styled car’s massive length was due to the requirement of a high roofline by Bob kushler, head of product planning at the time.
    He says that despite repeated objections by everyone on the styling staff they finally realized that the tall roof was not going to go away, and the only way to deal with it was to increse the lenght of the car and raise the beltline.
    The fuselage styling was highly regarded by many. They had very smooth, fluid lines lacking in the 65-66 cars. I have a 73 Imperial, and once owned a 72, and I like them much better than the 65 that I had. of course we all have different tastes, if everyone liked and drove the same things then the world would be a boring place.
    BTW the first drawings for the fuselage cars were planned for the Imperial, but the top brass at chrysler told them that there was not enough money for separate cars for the chrysler line, and chrysler was the main money maker, so they had to revert to work for the chrysler and Imperial on that single bodyshell.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Wonderful article, Paul. In 1970, I bought a used 1965 Chrysler 300 4dr. “hardtop” sedan. That was the mid-range Chrysler that year – 383 4-barrel premium gas engine with a 3-speed Torqueflite. Never timed 0-60, but at 70 it just pulled away from everything when floored.  It had a hang-on under-the-dashboard aftermarket A/C that was very cold. AM/FM radio with a rear speaker! Black vinyl buckets. Same rear as that New Yorker, except for badging. Huge trunk. Guzzled lots of premium gas @ $.35/gal = about, what, $3.00 today? – never saw 20mpg. Great ride, good handling for its time. Just a solid, beautifully built big car.

  • avatar
    buffaloguy

    First car I drove was my dad’s gold on gold 65 New Yorker 4 door hardtop – identical to this one other than color. Loaded with every option but a/c – not really needed in Buffalo! That 413 4bbl was a monster and it was solid as a tank, but steering was super light and twitchy. One feature I thought neat at the time was the fender mounted turn signal indicators – those small chrome darts on top of the leading edge of the front fenders. Dad was a Chrysler man as far back as I recall beginning with Dodges (48 & 52) and moving up to Chryslers with a 55 Windsor and 59 Saratoga (with swivel buckets!) sedans. Moved up again to New Yorker sedans in 61 & 63, and finally hardtops in 65 & 67 (next best thing to a 2 door or convertible for a teenage wannabe motorhead). Believe the 65 cost @ $4600 and the 67 @ $4800. He retired and “downsized” to a couple of late-60s Fury IIIs before passing on. I actually think Chrysler has begun to recapture that mid-60s feel with the RWD/AWD 300s, but time will tell.

  • avatar
    Fullsizedcarlover

    The advertising literature of 1965 Chryslers said it best: The Most Beautiful Chrysler Ever Built.” The cars are long, lean, and distinguished. The New Yorker grill of 1965 is most beautiful. The interior door handles on the New Yorker are clever. The speedometer design is elegant. The car moves quickly, with ease. I’ve owned two ’65 New Yorkers in my life and my current one is an ice blue 4 door hardtop that I intend to keep for years to come. You can take your Caddys from ’65, and the Lincolns, too. The Chryslers of ’65 have the most distinguished, lean, and yet solid look by far.


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