By on March 9, 2011


Plenty of interesting street-marked machinery in my Denver neighborhood; on the same block as the Subaru GL hatchback coupe is this huge survivor of three major fuel-price upswings. It didn’t get crushed after 1973 or 1979, and so we can assume— or at least hope— that it won’t get crushed now.

Four-door hardtops are inherently cool, even when they sport a green vinyl top… or maybe that’s especially when they sport a green vinyl top.

The ’71 Newport was a pretty good deal at the time (some would say it kicked off the cheapening of the Chrysler brand that reached its nadir with the Sebring), with the four-door hardtop sedan priced at $4,496 (about $25,500 in 2011 bucks). As Aaron Severson points out in his excellent history of the Plymouth Fury, the more upscale Furies came with sticker prices within a few hundred bucks of their Chrysler-badged C-body siblings, so why buy the Fury?

The base engine in the ’71 Newport was the reliable, though thirsty, 383 V8; for $198, Newport buyers could get the monstrous 375-horse 440 engine. Sure, you’d get 8 MPG instead of 11 MPG, but it would be so worth it!

I’ve always liked the early-70s big Chryslers, and I’m glad to have found a Newport in Denver after shooting several in my former place of residence. There’s this ’71 Newport sedan, for example.

But I much prefer the Newport coupes, even though a 4,000-pound two-door is a pretty silly idea. Here’s a ’71 Newport Royal down on the Alameda street.

And, of course, my favorite: This mean-looking (and mean-sounding) ’70 Newport coupe. I tried to contact the owner of this car, with the idea that I’d buy it and install a 4-speed and 6-71 blower, but (probably fortunately) he or she never responded to the notes I left under the wiper.

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42 Comments on “Down On The Mile High Street: 1971 Chrysler Newport Custom...”


  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    When I was growing up abroad and people said “American Car” this is what they meant.

  • avatar
    JKC

    My father had a ’69 Newport when I was a teenager, which I promptly nicknamed The Pig of Steel (or the Pig for short.) As I recall, you could lock up the brakes by blowing hard on the pedal, and the steering had absolutely no feel whatsoever. But that thing was fast: a tank of premium gas and a heavy foot, even with the 383 and the 3-speed TorqueFlite gave you ridiculously quick 0-60 sprints.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      even with the 383 and the 3-speed TorqueFlite gave you ridiculously quick 0-60 sprints.

      8.8 seconds?  You mean it was about as fast as a 4-cyl 11′ Camry automatic?

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      8.8 seconds?  You mean it was about as fast as a 4-cyl 11′ Camry automatic?

      Marty McFly?  Is that you?  And why did you arrive in a Camry instead of a DeLorean?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “You built a time machine….out of a Camry?!”

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      8.8 seconds?  You mean it was about as fast as a 4-cyl 11′ Camry automatic?
       
      Toyota didn’t make a 2011 Camry in 1971. If someone called the ME163 Komet a fast airplane, would you feel the need to point out that a modern Eurofighter Typhoon is much faster?

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      @jmo:
      In 1977 in the hands of an inexperienced teenaged driver that car was plenty fast enough. Would a WRX likely spank it today? Definitely… but back then “performance Subaru” was an oxymoron and at the height of the smog-controlled low output 70′s, that was about as good as it got.

    • 0 avatar
      K5ING

      Back in 1973 or 74, I got a ’69 Newport 4dr sedan (my dad wouldn’t co-sign the loan for the ’64 E-Type Jag that I had found at the same dealer).  It was the first year of the fuselage Chryslers, and IMHO, the cleanest of the bunch. Turbine Bronze in color, no vinyl roof, black interior.  It turned out to be a great party car.  The only mods I did to it was to put a discreet alligator clip on the antenna (roach clip), and I put clear lensed spotlight bulbs (replacement aircraft landing lights actually) in the high-beam sockets.
       
      It was so wide that, even at 5’11″ tall, I could lay across the back seat.  The instrument panel had indirect lighting which looked pretty cool at night, as did the fender mounted turn indicator lights (I wish we still had those).
       
      I had a couple of problems with that car, however, that made that my last Chrysler product I would ever buy.  The 383 that was in it dropped a valve or something, and it was cheaper to just swap engines instead of fixing it.  Also, the brakes went out on me one day while I was driving towards a highway intersection at about 60.  The pedal, which another poster mentioned could be locked up if you breathed too hard on it (I had mine held up by a large rubber band between the pedal and the steering column) went to the floor.  The front brakes did nothing, but the rears locked up solid, making me skid right through the “cross traffic doesn’t stop” intersection at 50mph.  Luckily, no one was coming, but it soured me on Chrysler products to this day.
       

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Not sure what was intended by a replyer’s remark “at the height of the smog-controlled low output 70′s”; there had been the switch to regular gas because of compression ratios, but the really severe smog controls didn’t begin until a year or two later, just before the introduction of catalytic converters for 1975. My dad’s 460-powered ’72 Lincoln was plenty fast (on regular gas), for example.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      1974 was the nadir for emission controls.  Most cars sported a rat;s nest of vacuum tubes, triple/quad taps, crude EGR, etc.  The step to the cat may have made regular gas go away, but it helped eliminate some of that mess, at least for a few years.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    HEY ZACKMAN!  IT’S A HARDTOP!  (Now that that’s out of the way,)

    For some reason I always liked these big old mopars.   Maybe its the fact that the big block was available across the entire line up (Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth) maybe it’s the solid handling of the torsion bar suspension, or maybe its the rareness of them.  Or perhaps simply the IN YOUR FACE American-ness of these cars. 

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Got any pictures of the Mid-70′s Gran Coupe?  These cars were bad-a$$ alright.  Mopar rules.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Someone on Boston Craigslist has one of these for sale with the 440. Someone talk me out of buying it…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Stop and think how far you could afford to drive it each day.  That’s the only thing that keeps me from buying an old land yacht.  (But keeps me looking at Panther platform cars, 1980s and 90s B-bodies, and Cadillac Fleetwood/Broughams from the 1980s and 90s.  At least they get a legitimate 25mpg hwy.)

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      Don’t listen to Dan.  Buy it.  You know you want it.
      If it’s got 2.76 gears, the highway mileage won’t be that bad.  Swap the Holley 4-bbl. for a Thermoquad, with it’s tiny primaries, and the mileage should get even better.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Hey the guy asked somebody to talk him out of it.  (Personally if I had the money to buy it AND drop a gear vendors overdrive in it, I’d love it.)

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Where would you put it? These things are longer and wider than a Suburban, so unless you have a really big garage or a spare football field, you may be out of luck.

    • 0 avatar
      Ethan Gaines

      Hell I can barely fit my 05′ Ram quad cab in the garage… But I can knock out a wall for one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      friedclams

      I live in Cambridge, MA and have on-street parking only. I think I just snapped out of it!

  • avatar
    obbop

    http://fuselage.de/index.html?http://www.fuselage.de/chr70/hurst.html
     
    In official Old Coot seeking-a-job opinion the above linked-to was/is even finer than my self-appraisal.

    Another site:

    http://blog.cardomain.com/2009/02/27/cardomain-obscure-muscle-car-parking-lot-the-1970-chrysler-300-hurst/

    If curiosity AROUSED (arousal can be a wondrous thing) The Google search term “hurst 300″ is one of several but that particular term works very well.

    This hopefully helpful message has been brought to thee by 6-pack, mopar, 340 and detroit iron
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Birddog

      There’s a Hurst 300 that comes to the Belvedere Mopar show out here every year. Man I’ll tell you, pictures do that car no justice at all!

      My personal favorites were the ’69 Polaras. A long time ago a buddy of mine had a red 69 ragtop with a TNT 440. It was on the borderline of daily driver/beater. and it was just flat out awesome..

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    The ’71 Newport was a pretty good deal at the time (some would say it kicked off the cheapening of the Chrysler brand that reached its nadir with the Sebring), with the four-door hardtop sedan priced at $4,496 (about $25,500 in 2011 bucks).
     
    Don’t forget that the Newport was the lowest trim-level of Chrysler…. lots of equipment that was standard equipment on the 300 and New Yorker was optional on the Newport.  That way Chrysler could advertise a low starting price to get people into the dealership, then the salesman would try to up-sell you.  While I don’t disagree that that practice led to the cheapening of the brand, I’m sure it wasn’t only Chrysler playing that game.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Also, there was nothing new about Chrysler going after the budget buyer. The new-for-1961 Newport was about $200 cheaper than the bottom-line 1960 Windsor, which became a mid-line model for ’61. The Newport cost about the same as a 1960 Dodge Polara, and it was a conscious effort to replace the departing DeSoto. Actually, if anything, the top Chrysler New Yorkers actually went farther upscale in the 1970s since they essentially became rebadged Imperials after 1975. The real rot didn’t set in until the R-cars beginning in 1979, followed by endless variations of K-cars in the 1980s.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I find it amusingly pathetic that the passenger cabin covers less square footage than either the trunk or the engine compartment.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Nonetheless, that passenger compartment was plenty big – A college friend lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and his family had a ’69 New Yorker 4-door hardtop (same green color and roof as this Newport) in which I was occasionally a passenger. You could easily have fit four across, front and rear. I still can’t believe (although I saw it myself) that they parked it on the street, in a neighborhood of apartment houses only.

  • avatar
    anchke

    Used to call these “aircraft carriers” for obvious reasons. Dad bought the big Dodge coupe version. And look at the overhang front and rear! They look like a normal car that’s been inflated and stretched. My, my, my.

  • avatar

    I’d owned/driven a few of these ’70-’72′s – all Plymouth versions – back-in-the-day. Honestly I liked the 67-68 versions better…I owned a ’68 Newport convertible and a ’67 Sport Fury Fast Top…they seemed to have better build quality (paint quality notwithstanding) and were just a little more solid on the road.
     
    Noteworthy is rust issues under the vinyl top…I remember walking new car lots as a young teen and seeing rust peeking out from under Mopar vinyl tops on the ’69-’70 models. I learned why decades later, from a guy who’d redone two Darts and a Duster…the top was glued over bare metal.

  • avatar

    A friend had a Newport coupe in college, after a weekend flame job done with pink latex paint it was dubbed “The Anti-Chrysler”.  We even autocrossed it.  Rather than negotiate a slalom, it was more effective to mow down the row of cones with that whale and take the time penalty.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I’m still kicking myself (well, now and then) for not buying one of the 1969 440-powered ex-state-patrol Furies out of that row of them at auction. They were white on blue Fury III’s, and were basically four-door Road Runners.
    A friend had a Fury II 4-door sedan that looked remarkably similar to the 4-door hardtop shown. It was an ex-state car with a 318 and Torqueflite, bought at auction with just under 100k miles. It served him well for nearly another 100k with no issues. I was surprised at how easily the 318 moved it down the road.
    Another guy I knew had a 70 300 convertible, red on black; yet another had two or three Hurst 300′s. I never did see the appeal of the latter; anyone could come up with a paint job and different wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      The 1970 300 Hurst was more than just a special paintjob.  It had a unique fiberglass hood and trunklid with integrated spoiler.  It also came with the high-output 440TNT engine.  Inside, it had the power bucket seats (perhaps it was a split bench) from the 1970 Imperial and a console shifter standard.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    Had a 71 300 4 door ht. back in the mid-80s-it was a cool ride even then.Made the bland 1980s far more interesting but it’s the same old ending…somebody wanted it more and cut a big check.

  • avatar
    ray_d_eightor

    My mom had the wagon version of one of these though it was probably a 72 or 73. In ’78-79 timeframe the ignition module took a dump during a family trip to the shore. The gear drive starter was crap – we probably replaced it 3 times in as many years. Took my driver’s test in ’80 in the g$%dam^ thing. Was like piloting a container ship. Last mopar my family ever owned.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    8 mpg out of a 440?  My ’73 Galaxie with the 400 would get 15 on the highway.

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    Maybe it is just me, but it seems a disproportionate number of these old survivors are painted in some sort of “Sea Foam Green”.  Was this a wildly popular color in the 70′s or was it a color that appealed to a certain demographic, a demographic that tended to be easier on their cars than the ones who selected attractive colors?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I actually like shades of green (yeah just about all of them.) My Great-Aunt Kessie (yeah Kessie with a “K” not Tessie with a “T”) ordered a 2000 Cadillac Sedan DeVille that was painted a metallic sort of “pea green” to replace a 1992 Sedan DeVille that was a rather pedestrian shade of tan.  I wish I had been present for her estate auction.  That car was so carefully cared for, she wouldn’t change the headlight bulb without specifying genuine GM parts.

    • 0 avatar
      Buster Brew

      Dan – I guess my disdain for the light green shades has a great deal to do with a 1970 Pontiac Tempest 2dr coupe (Sea Foam Green) purchased by my parents from an older neighbor.  That car defied my every attempt to bring a shine back to its oxidized finish.  The Tempest looked incredibly frumpy next to a friend’s bright red Le Mans Convertible of the same year and to me the color was to blame.  My Grandmother had a 68 Tempest in a similar color and my Great Aunt’s 74 Newport Coupe was Light Green as well, therefore, to me at least, Light Green is forever a matronly shade.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Yes, it was insanely (IMO) popular, and not just on cars. We called the lighter shades of it, “frosty ass green” and the darker, like the car above, “Avacado”. Just thinking back, I can still rattle off the cars belonging to my dad, neighbors and others that were these two basic shades:
      1. My dad’s Aavacado 69 Caddy. Yuck!
      2. His employee’s 72 Dodge Satellite wagon, almost the exact same color as the Caddy, with the wonderful addition of fake wood on the sides.
      3. My best friend’s mom’s Buick wagon, don’t remember the year or model, but it was FA green. It got stolen and wrecked, and it was replaced with a turd brown Chevelle Wagon. Just one of many odd car choices that that family made in the late 60′s until the mid ’70′s that included a VW bus, an MGB, a Citroen, and the last one, a TR-6A. The ghost of Mr. Lucas was in the MG and TR, and he made life with those cars pure hell.
      4. A neighbor’s Camaro was really frosty. It had a six with whitewall tires! Why?
      5. Another neighbor had a really nice condition frosty Olds “Dynamic 88″ they bought new, and it was still in good shape until around 2000, when the old lady owner’s driving got to the point of where she ran it into a parked flatbed truck at over 70MPH and was nearly decapitated. She claimed the parked truck “just pulled out in front of me!”, when it hadn’t been moved in almost a week. That was the end of her driving, and the 88 went to the scrappers.
      6. A neighbor’s Chrysler (Newport?) Wagon, Avacado, with the fake wood, and a 440 with a big cam, headers and duals in it. It had that musclecar idle, and was scary fast for a big wagon. He got it to “tow with”, but I don’t think he ever really did tow. He’s about 70 now, and drives a silver Chrysler 300C.
       

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    Bravo, Murilee. The fuselage Chryslers are some of my favorite land yachts and a 69-73 Imperial or the 70 300-hurst are definitely at the top of my Chrysler wish list. They are rare due to their popularity at the demolition derby. I love the smooth styling and generous proportions.
    On another note, have you ever seen a 1978-79 Dodge Magnum XE in the wild? With that gorgeous NASCAR styling and those aerodynamic headlight covers, I dreamed of owning one as my first car, but “settled” on a 77 Grand Prix when I couldn’t find one. If you see a nice one being thrown to the crusher, let me know.
     

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    A friend had one of these in high school.  The speedometer topped out at 150.  He buried the needle on the expressway one night.  The car felt like it was doing 70 – No road noise and smooth as glass.   The 383 just just purred.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I took my drivers’ license road test in one of these in 1979. (a 1972 model owned by my dad). Parallel-parked it perfectly on the first try. Damn, I’m good….

  • avatar
    Autojunkie


    Brings back memories…

    My parents purchased a used 71 Newport 4-door hardtop beck in the 75 or 76. It was dark blue with a black vinyl top and black cloth interior. I loved that car, much like I love all cars. It was so huge that my mom had to sit on a pillow to drive it. Being from Germany she found it funny that she had to do this with nearly every car made here back then. I remember one time she even hit the side of the garage while trying to dry dock it.

    Unfortunately that car had some kind of issue that Dad didn’t have the knowledge to fix it back then. He ended up selling it to a mechanic after only owning it a couple of years.

    I now own a 70 Polara coupe… It brings back memories while creating new ones for my kids  :)


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