By on September 5, 2011

Traditionally, when Detroit mass-produces luxury, it stamps out heraldic crests and classy-sounding names by the ton. Back in the day, the East Saginaw Lux-U-Ree Works worked three shifts belting out chrome-plated pot-metal emblems for the Big Three, but everything had gone to plastic by the Reagan era. I had forgotten about Salon-edition cars until last week, when I spotted this one at a Denver wrecking yard.
The Chrysler New Yorker of the late 1980s and early 1990s wasn’t quite up to the snob-appeal level of its early-60s predecessors, since it was based on the proletariat-grade Dodge Dynasty (which was itself a K-car derivative) and packed Mitsubishi V6 power under its hood. The Salon of this era was the base model, which shows the cheapening of the once-proud New Yorker Salon designation since its debut in the 1960s. Chevrolet did the same thing to the late-80s Camaro RS, which became the name for the El Cheapo base model instead of a pricey option package.

However, Ricardo Montalban was still pitching New Yorkers, and that helped. Check out that Crystal Key™ (and if you want one today, you must pay). Chrysler was willing to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the d’Elegance Cadillacs, no doubt about it.
The final owner of this car clearly was a man of the world, if we are to judge by the reading material I found on the passenger seat.

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48 Comments on “Brougham, Landau, d’Elegance… or Salon?...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Hilarious finding that porn on the passenger seat. My badge preference depends on the brand and the decade.

    Oldsmobile – make mine Brougham
    Cadillac – hard to chose between Brougham and d’Elegance (in the 80s/early 90s) but I’m also thinking of Cadillac’s silly alpha naming system of late. DHS – Deville High-luxury Sedan; DTS-Deville Touring Sedan; ETC – Eldorado Touring Coupe; SLS – Seville Luxury Sedan, and so on and so forth – just as bad as what Lincoln has done more recently
    Chevrolet – I had forgotten until recently that in 1989 you could get a Caprice Classic LS (I assume Luxury Sedan) Brougham (talk about a mouthful.
    Lincoln – make mine Cartier (any year it was offered) or Ultimate or Designer or (in a pinch) a loaded Signature Limited
    Mercury – Ultimate or Premium? (hard to say)
    Buick – have they finally eliminated badging based on options packages? I haven’t been able to figure out what CX or CXS or anything else stands for other than CX is more or less a base car.

    Could or readers who live in foreign countries comment on any strange little naming conventions in other countries?

    • 0 avatar

      Buick – for a time – went by CX < CXL < CXS with 'Super' above CXS for the LaX and Lucerne. Now, apparently, trim options have been – inconsistantly – dropped among certain models.

      I wouldn't mind a lineup of base (no trim) < Limited < Ultra myself.

    • 0 avatar
      Austin Greene

      My father had a factory-ordered 1989 Caprice Classic Brougham LS, with leather, F41 suspension and really thick carpeting. That car was fabulous and only lacked galvanized steel body panels.

    • 0 avatar

      We had Chrusler by Chysler with usual brougham attachments Ford LTD Marquis ditto Holden Statesman DeVille to show its heritage. Australian makes blatantly echoing Detroit

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        “Holden Statesman DeVille” sort of rolls off the tounge doesn’t it? Too bad none of us got a Marquis De Sade from old Henry’s company. :P

      • 0 avatar

        We had a ’76 Gran Torino 4-dr new. The middle position of its rear seat was definitely designed-by The Marquis de Sade … uncomfortable contours, and something (either the Trailer-Package rear-axle, or the catalyst) caused it to get so hot (not warm, but hot) that you were at risk of cooking your buns if you sat there.

    • 0 avatar

      Cadillac combined Brougham d’Elegance on Fleetwoods of the 1970s. Mot only that, you could order a Talisman option.

    • 0 avatar

      Not a convention, but I seem to remember Volkswagen offering a ‘Fancy Boy’ limited edition options package on the Golf.
      I remember hearing once that the Volkswagen importer for the UK refused to import any.

  • avatar

    The Brougham designation appeared on the extra-fancy trim level of Pontiac Bonnevilles in the 1960s, too, but I’ve never actually seen such a car except in brochures of the era. It was essentially the equivalent of the Town Car level of Lincoln Continental sedans in the mid-1970s – different upholstery, an exterior badge, and not much else. In the early 1970s there was briefly a “Catalina Brougham” as well, which was just the equivalent of the earlier Ventura line (the name Ventura having gone to a Nova clone).

  • avatar

    The best writing in those porn ‘novels’ is the title. Everything else between the covers is virtually unreadable. Understandable when you know that guys like Ed Wood actually wrote some of that stuff.

    With that said, my favorite titles were ‘Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?’ and ‘Trap of Lesbos’, the latter being something of a cult-classic at one particular Indiana University dorm in the late seventies. My biggest contribution to higher education…

  • avatar

    Make mine a Lincoln…Cartier.

    /would also ask for the skin mag

  • avatar

    Chromium plating by electrolysis was water intensive and left heavy metal ions in the waste water.
    As for the New Yorker above I remember a rental back around then. I wasn’t impressed, it felt cheap all over. I still have a clear memory for the feel of the front end – vague and all over the place on the highway.

  • avatar

    +1 on the wandering front end. I only drove one once. I particularly remember that the centre stack on the instrument panel looked like a miniature filing cabinet. Too bad Murilee didn’t get a shot of the IP.

  • avatar

    I always liked the concept of the Dodge Dynasty – one of my brothers-in-law owned one for many years. Me? I wanted one because they took the K-Car to the max by blowing out the interior as far as they could. Trouble was, the doors were only about 4″ thick, and even though they had safety bars inside, I just felt better in my Acclaim which had much thicker doors that felt like – well – doors should feel, if that makes any sense. I sure liked the formal roofline.

    As far as model nomenclature and badging, I always wondered why “model creep” downward happened. Impala LS was the medium model in 2004 with base (mine) being bottom and SS at the top. Now, LS is the base and all the silly LT 1&2 and LTZ at the top. Could it get more meaningless?

  • avatar

    I drove a brand-new ’85 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Brougham my senior year of High-School. My Grandparents bought it as a retirement car for themselves, but niether really liked driving the thing, and had other vehicles, so I ended up with it when I got my license, until they decided to give me the ’82 Subaru when my Grandmother retired. Awful, awful, awful car, my friends and I all refered to it as the Unaborted Pregnancy. And the stupid thing cost $20K, real money back in ’85-86.

    About the ONLY thing I appreciate about sedans of this era are those back doors. You can actually get in and out of them easily, as the window frame is square. I was in and out of the back of a friend’s Mercury Milan today and it was a real struggle with the radically sloped roofline and window frame. Also the usual lack of headroom, even with the seat too close to the floor. Silly coupe styling these days.

  • avatar

    I really liked the Corsica and Intrigue. Just names, no silly add-ons. The Corsica started out as having LT and LTZ packages but by 1995 there were no sub-lettering at all. The Intrigue started out just being an Intrigue then it went into silly sub-lettering (GX, GL, GLS). Heck, the only place you could find the word “Oldsmobile” on my Intrigue was in the right-hand taillight.

    On model creep, was Ghia ever put on anything other than the top level Ford or Mercury? (with the exception of VW of course! :)

  • avatar

    Funny. The sales designation of GM cars has little to do with the parts department. I have people telling me they have a GSL or something, and it means nothing to me. I usually have to get the VIN number and check out the nameplates to know what their car is called.
    Pigs with lipstick comes to mind.

  • avatar

    Speaking of nomenclature, that’s one of these telltales that alienates everyone but the hardcore car nerd. Referring, for instance, to the Eldorado Touring Coupe as the “Et Cetera” or sniggering at the top trim level of Toyota’s extended-cab Tundra (the Limited Access Cab).

    And let’s not forget the Taurus Service Engine Soon…

    • 0 avatar

      I always read Toyota TRD emblems as TRO, which is lawyer-speak for “temporary restraining order.”

    • 0 avatar

      I never really understood this “Limited” emblems, What does it mean? Limited car (capability)? Limited mental capability of the owner? Surely not limited edition for mass produced mediocre standard car. Or perhaps I am too limited to fully apprehend deep marketing logic behind it :-)

    • 0 avatar

      A few of my faves:

      Toyota MR2 = Mister Two
      Focus ZTS = Zits
      Aztek = Ass Tick

      A couple that didn’t technically exist. The 6000SUX from Robocop, based on the Pontiac 6000 LE and 6000 STE, alternately known as ‘Ghoulie’ and ‘Ghostie’.

      And from the old ‘Grin and Bear It’ daily newspaper panel cartoon: the Belchfire. I’ve always dreamed, Homer Simpson-style, that if I owned a car company, there would be a Belchfire in the model line-up.

  • avatar
    Keith Tomas

    But there will never, ever be anything like the AMC Matador Barcelona…

  • avatar

    Everytime I see a top trim LTZ Chevy, I call it a Lutz. I’m pretty sure he had a hand in bringing back the LTZ trim ;)

  • avatar

    Chrysler used the “Salon” tags to distinguish the cheaper and/or smaller New Yorkers from the more deluxe Fifth Avenue brethren. In 1990, the New Yorker Salon was almost identical to the Dodge Dynasty right down to the exposed headlights and full-with taillights. The only differences were the badges and grille insert.

  • avatar

    …and Mercury died without ever producing the De Sade edition of the Marquis…

    • 0 avatar

      And year after year after year, in their new car rundown, Car & Driver had to make that same old joke (“Once again, no DeSade edition”). And I bet they thought it was still funny after all those years.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My grandfather had a 83 Dodge Diplomat pretty much a base model but not a cop car or taxi.For some reason it has Salon emblems on the interior door panels but none on the outside.

  • avatar

    Holdens for years were called Berlina for the average model and Calais for the premium version. It says something that Aussies would want to use European cities anyway but what does it say about the two cities? Is the French coastal city more upmarket?

  • avatar

    That porn mag reminds me of some of the cool…and just plain gross…stuff I’ve found in cars at the junkyard. If I had the time, and I don’t, I’d go down to the last surviving U-Pull-It yard in this area and take pictures of the stuff people leave behind in junked cars.

    Some of the things I’ve found at the local auto bone yard:

    A complete brand new exhaust system, including clamps, left stuffed inside the passenger compartment of the model car I was working on. The yard owner sold it to me for 1/3 of what it would have cost at Autozone.

    Tools, gas cans, etc. I’ve got a couple of dozen tools I’ve found in junk cars.

    Fireworks. Found a brick of perfectly good Black Cat firecrackers.

    Ammo, various calibers. Never found a complete firearm…..I guess the yard guys keep those for themselves.

    Tapes, CD’s vinyl records.

    Various computer odds and ends.


    Clothes, including female undergarments.

    Gross stuff — used condoms, loaded up diapers, used tampons(one day I’ll tell you the tampon applicator story), bloody bandages, syringes, dried vomit, dead animals, rotting food, etc.

    Papers with identifying info. Expired registrations, DL’s, insurance cards. Various court documents, including restraining orders. Bills, bills and more bills. Bills marked, “Third Notice”, “Final Notice”, “Will be sent to Collections”. etc.

  • avatar

    My favorite wretched excess nameplate of the era: Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham Colonade Hardtop Coupe.

  • avatar

    Most do it but Chevrolet may be the king of model name cheapening.

    1955 Belair is top of the line, Delray is extra on top of the “210”.
    1958 Impala pushes Belair down a level, then Biscayne and Delray is El Cheapo.
    1959 Delray is dropped, leaving Biscayne at the bottom.
    1965 Caprice pushes Impala down a level.

    1973 Cheyenne is top truck trim, above Custom Deluxe and Custom.
    1975 Silverado is top of the line in trucks, with Scottsdale just below, pushing Cheyenne down two levels at once. This remained for at least two decades.
    Now, Silverado is generic for the whole line.

  • avatar
    Keith Tomas

    For MRF 95 T-Bird: Let’s see, there were several cars with the Salon designation. The New Yorker Salon in the early 60’s….then the Cutlass Salon, Olds’ version of the Pontiac GrandAm…then the Omega Salon. Then it brought the moniker back for those awful 78-80 fastback models – and those were the base models! Chrysler briefly squeezed in a Salon model between the base and Medallion models for its LeBaron/Diplomat series. Clearly, the name has meant different things to different makes.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The Diplomat Medallion was the top of the line then. I think the reason why gramps did not go for it was that it had a vinyl roof standard and he lived in FLA where vinyl roof get baked to death so he went for a moderately optioned Salon. The car ran well for years but then had carb problems and was sold off.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        After reading this article on Tuesday I glimsed a sun burned slightly rusty old diplomat in the Burger King drive-thru. I spent my time waiting in line trying to decide if it was an ex-police car or not.

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