By on November 27, 2012

After presenting the Broughamic Treasury of Chrysler New Yorker Commercials earlier this month, I’ve had my eyes open for interesting junkyard specimens of Chrysler’s upscale on-and-off flagship. Chrysler hasn’t built a New Yorker since the LH-based 1994-96 models; before that there was the K-Car-based New Yorker, and before that came the Dodge Diplomat-based version. Actually, there was some overlap between the K-Car New Yorker and the Diplomat-based New Yorker in the middle 1980s, with the latter version badged as simply the Fifth Avenue.
The reliable-but-not-so-luxurious Slant Six engine was no longer available in the Fifth Avenue by 1985 (the 318-cubic-inch V8 was standard) which made its $13,978 price tag (about $10,500 less than that of the 1985 BMW 5 Series) look pretty good.
Still, it looks about 95% similar to the Dodge Diplomat, which was the car used by about 60% of American police departments throughout much of the decade.
The K-based New Yorker was about a grand cheaper, had a comfier ride, and got better fuel economy, but the rear-wheel-drive Fifth Avenue was tougher and more in line with traditional postwar American automotive design.
Which would you have bought?

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37 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue...”


  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Love it.. My 87 Diplomat was a very reliable ride for 5 or so years.
    I like the sales photo as well. It looks similar to the one in the ’67 Imperial brochure. Same color too, I think. There is an 86 FA in mint condition for 1999 locally that I am tempted to snap up but the wife keeps saying no way.

  • avatar
    2011TCCE

    I owned a 1989 Fifth Avenue for a short period in the early 2000s. Bought it off a sad used lot for what turned out to be a sad move on my part. It was fun, but had been used up. Fully loaded, Luxury Equipment discount package, leather, almost everything save the power passenger seat and sunroof. Loved the car and had big plans for it, but the lean burn was really bad, not wanting to run smoothly when cold or whenever you really needed it to. Still love these cars and definitely saw there appeal when new. It rode very smooth and quietly, no cheap plastic inside to be found except the ‘wood’, and everything else was cloth covered (not so good when the glue failed, and they all did) or vinyl covered. What happened to carpet on doors new carmakers? Would do it again, love gussied up cop cars, but have been searching for a pristine New Yorker Turbo to fill that K car itch. Fun cars, like the Fifth, when they work.

    If it was my money in 1988, fully loaded NY Turbo for all those quirky last year changes. Though, one cool thing about the 1988.5-89 5th was the tilt airbag. If it was 1985 like the featured car, then a used Imperial that had been converted.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Which would you have bought?

    V8, M-body, every dang time… I still fantasize about a clean one with a four-barrel conversion, dual exhaust, and gear vendors overdrive. I’d keep the outside stock just to mess with the kids in the riced out compacts.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      You can get a good amount of power out of a 318 if you build it right. My long term plan was to put one in my 65 Dart wagon in front of the Hurst 4 speed already in there. I am really starting to miss that car already.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Well, I have developed some respect for the downsized engined things.

      Based on that, I’d say beat them in their own game, turbo the hell out of the slant 6 and enjoy. Of course, you need some EFI, but that should be fairly cheap to retrofit nowadays.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I owned a ’63 Dart wagon, and lusted after the M body wagons. I never found one in good enough shape to restore, and living in Cali, couldn’t drop a ’68 318 into it to banish the lean burn fiasco.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    The K-car based one did feature a digital dash, annoying voice computer and a turbo. Pretty much the trifecta of 1980s near luxury goodness. That said I really liked both of em. The turbo had a long narrow profile which I liked and the M-body reminds me of old(e) money.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Hmmm…having owned a 1981 Reliant, a 1984 E-Class and a 1980 LeBaron, aka the “Batmobile”, that’s a tough one, as all three were good cars, but the LeBaron would have to win on durability – ours had the 225/6 and it was bulletproof – should have kept it longer than two years.

    The guy who bought it from us drove it several years after, proudly displaying the Batman sticker! We saw it every time we came to town.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    In the mid Eighties I was still very biased against 4 cylinders in anything with more than 2 wheels. In an (almost) luxury vehicle, the 318 was the minimum choice.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    The real rarity back in the day was the K based New Yorker Executive limousine . Saw an immaculate looking one on the freeway yesterday .

  • avatar
    danio3834

    For the extra grand, I would have taken this beast. So much MORE car.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    Perfect timing, I just drove an 87 5th Avenue yesterday. The silver or white with the navy interior is a much classier choice then this tan/tan example. It had the typical floaty ride, but boy howdy is that hood long, its like piloting a battleship. It got up to speed with absolutely no drama and cruised like a dream. Perfect for the man who wants to be coddled in the absolute lap of luxury on his way to work.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    The New Yorker’s velour seats were pretty cheesy, but I loved being carpooled in my friend’s mom’s car because of them, they were pretty comfortable.

    Can’t speak for the Fifth Avenue, but my dad’s 80′ Diplomat is still running. Assuming that there will still be people who know how to tune a carburetor, what they say about the slant six is true, it really is indestructible.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    There was a time I wanted to get an old Diplomat cop car and pt a Fifth Avenue interior into it. By the time I had the time and money there weren’t very many of either around here.

    We inherited a K-car New Yorker from the father-in-law. Champagne pink with the maroon clarinet-case interior. Plastic radiator. (Guess how we found that out….) Yeah, I’d take the Fifth Avenue.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    M-body all the way. If anything for the peace and quiet from the 318 versus the course nasty sound turbo in the FWD version. The ride, reliability and extra room are also pluses. The first thing I would do is rip out the lean burn 2 BBL and intake manifold and search for a 4BBL cop car setup, add some timing and dual exhaust enjoy the resulting tire smokey burnouts.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Well, this year I got rid of my ’86 Diplomat (Subject of this Piston Slap: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/10/piston-slap-diplomatic-immunity/) for a FWD “sorta-luxury” car…

    Still, I’m not really into turbos so I’d go for the M-body if I was back in 1985.

    However, once the FWD stuff got the 3.3L and 3.8L, that’s where I’d be headed.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Need a Vellum Venom comparing the 1981-1989 Panther-based Town Car and this M-body Fifth Avenue. The 5th Ave looks a foot shorter and maybe narrower too, but a lot of the same styling cues.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      85 Panther Town Car vs. 85 M-body 5th Avenue vs. 85 Cadillac D-body sedan… Who is the Great American Brougham Champion?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        ’85 Caddy was either 4100 or Olds 307 depending in model and when in the year you bought IIRC, so huge fail for Cadillac. I’ll go Panther over M-body, although in ’85 MY the 5.0 had just become TBI and it was still a bit malaisey in terms of power, but 318 while respectable is still lacking fuel injection and is a gas hog in comparison.

        About six years ago when I was still in the business ‘we picked up a ‘barn find’ ’85 LTD CV which claimed to have 35K on the clock. May not have been accurate but this thing was very clean for being 20yo+ at the time, so the miles were probably close if they were off. Not much power but it floated down the highway like its higher end sister, not a bad find for someone whose into Panthers and would treat it right. I think we paid $900+fees they put $1999 on it and it sold fairly quickly… the AOD may have been acting up in city driving I can’t recall why we moved it so quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’m fully aware of the engine options. I’d take the Fuel Injected 5.0 panther in a heartbeat for engine. I’m not even interested in the Caddy until the 350 SBC becomes an option a few years later. And I’ve already voiced my desire to modify the 5th Ave powertrain.

        Vellum Venom would be a styling exercise though. Who wore their upright grille the best? Whose roof was the most thickly padded? Whose velour was the cushiest? Whose carpet was the thickest? Which car displayed traditional American car virtues the best?

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    Definitely the little Turbo New Yorker…I was a amazed as a child by the fact that it TALKED to you when you got inside…and that 80s dash….mmmmm. I’m not a Chrysler guy at all, but for some reason all those 80s turbo Dodges are awesome to me. Even the GLH.

  • avatar
    mccall52

    I believe they achieved the more formal roof profile by adding a fiberglass cap in place of the diplomat rear window. Same goes for the Ford and Mercury panther sedans in the 80′s, which could be ordered with the standard or formal roof profiles, with the vinyl top of course. The Chevrolet caprice classic brougham from the late 80′s and 1990 appears to do the same.

  • avatar
    MK

    Ah yes, the mid 80s American auto industry idea of luxurious.

    Quilted velour interior, oversized exterior length coupled with moderate interior space, even as a kid i saw nothing to get excited about. Twenty five years hasn’t changed my opinion. … I’ll take the 85 Accord any day.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Everybody’s talking K and that’s okay. The Dip New Yorker was weak on rear seat leg room. Despite the price you can bet that limited sales to the chauffer crowd. Heck back then it hung round like a 75 Seville late leaving the party.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Well, at least the interior isn’t red or blue…

  • avatar
    geo

    I remember flipping through the Lemon-Aid new car guide back in junior high. The only vehicle I recall as having the coveted “Highly Recommended” rating was the Fifth Avenue of this generation. It was claimed that all of the bugs had been worked out and this was truly one of the best cars you could buy for the money. Hard to believe, given the generally high standards of the publication.

    Every once in a while I see one with low mileage being sold, usually by a son or grandson of the owner.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Oh, the M-Body Fifth Avenue, of course. These had all the same qualities of traditional full-size American cars (stately styling, smooth ride, comfortable seats, rock solid reliability), but in a usefully smaller and more maneuverable size. This lasted forever too, the Philadelphia police were still running Diplomats as reserve cars into the 2000s. They outlasted every Caprice, both box and bubble.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      There are still bubble Caprices in use as either taxis, under cover cars and even city works still uses some of them. Most have 200-300K miles and still run good and have original LT1 engines. It’s been since the 90′s since I have even seen an M-body in use so in Upstate, NY in the salt belt it would be the Caprices that outlasted the Mopars.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My gramps, a lifelong Mopar guy and retired mechanic bought new an 83 Diplomat Salon Slant 6 with most options in the same gold paint as this car. It replaced his 72 Fury III 4 dr hardtop with a 318. At the time the K-Car was popular but he said no way to FWD. Decent comfortable ride, you would never know that it’s lineage was the Volare/Aspen. When he became infirm the car was about 15 yrs old with low miles and still running decent. Other family members ended up with it. At about 50k the Lean burn was starting to act up; hard starts, bad idle etc. So it was fixed with a carb rebuild and sold off for under $1k to someone who needed cheap reliable wheels.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    If this is an 85 then it’s a Fifth Ave, the last year the NY’er nameplate was used on the M body was 1983. I own two M bodies, an 82 Diplomat ex detective car, and an 86 5th ave. The M body was what the F body should have been when it came out, because the M body was about as bulletproof as the A body.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    When I closed up my shop & went to work for the L.A.P.D. in April 1984 we still had many Dodge Diplomats In Service as Metro Cars , some Black & Whites in outlying Divisions too , not many .

    They were very good cars but the So. Cal. heat and the standard P.D. procedure of leaving it idle with the AC on full tilt boogie all summer long , heat warped the plastic air cleaners where the Lean Burn computer lived , we changed them out like crazy .

    In time , Carter stopped making replacement fuel bowls for the otherwise excellent ” Thermo Quad ” carbys so that was that ~ I used to buy them by the pallet . for legal reasons we were not allowed to use anything but the original carby .

    We’d begun replacing the Fleet in 1982 With Chevy Carices , full Police RPO package on every one , the Dodges were darn good cars but , I’m a Bowtie Guy to my toes so I preferred the Chevys .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    An interesting fact is how most people love these Fifth Avenues but loathe Lincoln Versailles. I mean, seriously, park both side-by-side, and…

    Anyway, back when they were new I sold both the New Yorker Fifth Avenue and the FWD New Yorker, and even though I’m a RWD man, in terms of driveability I preferred the FWD New Yorker. Simply put it drove better and was more comfortable. The Mark Cross edition was very nice. The FWD Imperial was a wallowing pig, though. I don’t know if it was the front and rear extensions, but it drove very sloppily compared to the FWD New Yorker.

  • avatar

    Yes I too had one of these Cars, my wife fell in love with the Seats, felt like our Living Room Chesterfield, but by the time I bought it,the 318 had seen better times, and yes it rode just great, but used a lot of Petrol,had it over a hard Winter and many problems here in Ontario, so junked it in the Spring! Still think the interior quality was a lot better than most Cars today!

  • avatar
    jhwool

    My dad had a 5th avenue. It seemed huge but had almost no rear seat room. The steering felt totally disconnected from the road as it floated along. Turning a corner was akin to maneuvering a small yacht. It did have the great Corinthian leather seats which at least were comfortable in the front. The thing I remember most is my wife’s story about seeing a 5th avenue rapidly closing on her from behind on the interstate, an unheard of thing since no one under 80 had a 5th avenue. It was one of our sons in granddad’s car.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Had one. A 1989 Gran Fury squad from a county in Wyoming. 318, in white of course.

    Friend of mine had one of these, in maroon. Tried to get it going again, but had little time or motivation.

  • avatar
    markholli

    “What a BEAUTIFUL New Yorker…It’s the talk of the town”

    I don’t know how I missed this Junkyard Find. My Dad had a 1980 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country for several years. For those who are not familiar, it was a wagon verson of this same car with “wood” paneling. We referred to it as “the woody.”

    I absolutely HATED the car. My dad got it for free from a guy who owed him some money. It was brown and was missing a hubcap. This was the 90′s and I was in elementary school in a pretty well-off community. All of my friends parents had Jeeps, Lexii, Acuras, and Suburbans. I was embarrassed as hell when my mom or dad picked me up from school in this thing.

    Another funny memory: the whole time we owned the car the reverse was out. My dad would have to plan his parking very carefully to prevent having to back out. We lived on a hill, so when he got home he would pull the car up past the house, then roll backwards, gaining enough momentum to clear the slope between the street, sidewalk and the flat driveway.


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