By on December 11, 2014

01 - 1991 Chrysler Imperial Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy 1991, Chrysler was using the K platform as the basis for everything from penny-pinching econoboxes to minivans to the once-majestic Imperial. One thing about the Whorehouse Red Interior Era (approximately 1983 through 1994), though, was that enough red velour and gold-plastic emblems could make even an Iacoccan front-wheel-drive first cousin to the Plymouth Reliant-K into a quasi-credible luxury sedan. Here’s a ’91 Chrysler Imperial that I found in California a couple of weeks ago.
18 - 1991 Chrysler Imperial Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI see a fair number of these cars in wrecking yards, but only this ’92 has graced the pages of this series prior to today.
13 - 1991 Chrysler Imperial Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf the K-based Imperial (technically a Y-body) had evolved into an early-2000s luxury SUV, this Imperial Eagle emblem would have been enlarged to dinner-plate size and slapped on the tailgate.

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157 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Chrysler Imperial...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The car that proved there was no limit to how far a “K” Car platform could be stretched, but to call this thing an “Imperial” was an insult

    This was an Imperial…

    http://www.imperialclub.com/Yr/1961/RRowlands1961LeBaron/RR61LeBaron09.JPG

    … and this

    http://www.imperialclub.com/Yr/1965/Brochure/1965Brochure2-3.jpg

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, but remember the same guy who perpetuated the K-car platform also pimped Ghia edition Pintos and called them Mustangs. To Lido’s credit, the abominable Chrysler TC by Maserati was a better Maserati than the Biturbo.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “To Lido’s credit, the abominable Chrysler TC by Maserati was a better Maserati than the Biturbo.”

        Damning with faint praise, I see

        I have two cars in my garage, one with an engine and one without. The one with the engine runs rings around the one without

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        The first Mustang was a pimped up falcon. What’s the diff.

      • 0 avatar

        There is a Mazerati on our parking lot which looks like another K-car incarnation exported from Detroit. And it has Mazerati emblem too. Convertible in fact. It seems that there is love affair between Chrysler and FIAT long before FCA and Italian CEOs.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Bit behind on our car history eh? You are looking at the Chrysler TC by Maserati. From a time when Chrysler owned Maserati, as Maserati had previously been independent. Though it was not related to the LeBaron, it ended up looking similar, except much more fragile. Fiat was not in the picture at the time.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with Calvin on this. That red velour interior reminds me of cars I used to see in front of check cashing places in Wash DC when I lived there.

      the real imperial had elegance and grace as Calvin’s examples show.

      This ’67 was a notch lower, but still about 10 notches higher than that red velour car of ill repute

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/capsule-review-196-chrysler-imperial/

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      It looks pretty comfy though.

  • avatar
    v8corvairpickup

    14″ wheels, today a car in this class will have… 19″ wheels?

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Insert Peter Griffin “OMG Who The Hell Cares?” picture. The next article in this series should be about the one junkyard in America that DOESN’T have an 80s/90s K-car derivative.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    The fact that that thing was still being made in 1991 astounds me. Who was buying a car with faux luxury styling cues from the late ’70s car? I know, I know, old people.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It was made through 1992, while the other versions (New Yorker/Fifth Ave, Dynasty) continued through 1993!

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        A neighbor of ours bought a ’93 New Yorker — I think it was a demonstrator, or something similar — months after the new LH cars were introduced. I thought she was nuts, but she was quite enamored of the miles of velour.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Who was buying Imperial-Ks in 1991? Probably the same sort of people that are buying Chrysler 300s today, people who weren’t comfortable with less familiar and more advanced cars, and who preferred float in their ride instead of feedback. People with loyalties that kept them out of quality cars, so they didn’t really know what they were missing. People that would buy Tommy Boy’s feces if the box it came in had a guaranty on the side. People that buy cars by the pound and wind up selling them for a fist full of air. Not much has changed for the Chrysler customers that still haven’t learned.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I was thinking the same thing. The styling inside and out is just incredibly dated for being a product of the early 90’s.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    At least the red interior is matched with a proper exterior color. Black and brown are the only cars I could think of where red works. Ever seen a white car with the ole Whorehouse Red velour interior? It just looks so bizarrely wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      A 1990 era Ford Tempo in that weird Eggshell White with three speed automatic comes to mind. As does the similiarly outfitted Chevrolet Corsica/Beretta, Eagle Premier, and unfortunately the Mustang LX four cylinder of the same time period.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      I dunno.

      My folks 90 (or 91?) Eagle Premier, with its charcoal exterior and whore house red interior, looked quite good.

      We won’t talk about the mechanicals, lol. Strictly speaking from aesthetics here.

    • 0 avatar
      MarionCobretti

      And silver! On a proper Imperial, silver and whorehouse red works. For me, anyway…

      http://www.gessweinmotors.com/Preowned-Used/1975-CHRYSLER-IMPERIAL-CROWN-COUPE-Milbank-South-Dakota-57252-2092037

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        We had numerous cars with whore house red interior as I was growing up:

        91 Camaro RS with T-tops (bright red with the notorious Camaro alloys with painted, body-colored red accents) with whorehouse red velour

        89 Olds Toronado, Candy Apple Red over whore house velour, white quarter top with opera lights (loved that damned car)

        Of course, the Premier as stated above.

        Come to think of it, I always liked the red. Not bad. Not bad at all.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Toronado so stylin! With opera lights and landau, you didn’t get no Trofeo. :(

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            You are correct.

            No regrets about not having the Trofeo. That Toronado was gorgeous, man. (Wire wheel covers and white walls!)

            The 90-92 models became bloated and ugly. The one in our house had those sexy proportions… :)

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Oh wow, they’ve got some seriously nice older cars for sale in that place!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I just the other day saw a brand new BMW convertible, white with red interior. Also saw a 370Z, white with red interior. They looked great!

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Yeah, some of the stuff from that era wasn’t bad at all.

        Now those pastel tape graphics, on the other hand…. yuck.

        IMHO, one of the best colored interiors I have seen, I am personally quite intrigued: that orangish-copper-reddish color. I’ve seen that on BMWs, and Goddamn, I love it.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Do folks not think red-on-red works? It was always a common combination.

      I find it odd that (at least last year) they offer a red-accented interior on the Mustang, but you can’t order it with red paint.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The reds always clash. Same with blue-on-blue schemes like my old ’88 Accord LX. The interior blue was a bit lighter and a lot more saturated than the exterior blue, and it just looked bad. Would have been much better with the tan interior that came on black and red cars.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          I’ll be damned, we had an 87 or 88 Accord hatchback in our household.

          5 speed.

          Earned cockroach status, it did. Surprise surprise.

          Dam, same color. Light blue or medium/light blue, lol.

    • 0 avatar
      Birddog

      I just sold an 89 Thunderbird Super Coupe that was “Performance White” with a Red velour interior. It was odd to say the least.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        My 95 Thunderbird LX is black with the red velour interior. Ford referred to the exterior color as Ebony Black and the interior color as Firethorn since black and red seemed so pedestrian in it’s marketing brochures. Most manufacturers give their colors names.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Red interiors generally came with exteriors in maroon, red, white, silver and black and looked just fine in those shades at the time. We live in a very boring minimalist colorless plain society today as indicated by the nauseating stainless steel/black look of current appliances and the charcoal, gray and beige interiors of current cars which are all non colors and a prefect way manufactures have cut costs and made it seem cool and the thing to do.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “By 1991, Chrysler was using the K platform as the basis for everything from penny-pinching econoboxes to minivans to the once-majestic Imperial.”

    Have a feeling we’ll be posting this 23 years from now with VW using the Golf platform in what seems to be a very similar pattern. And in Europe this sharing extends past Vee Dub to SEAT and Skoda; aka, Dodge and Plymouth.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Can we bring back velour seats already? Cloth, leather and vinyl-knit seats just wear out too quickly. What’s it gonna take? Unbelievable how good that seat still looks!

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Mmm, the finest of New Jersey velour, nicely complemented by the fake wood and chromed plastic interior accents.

    Paging Lee Iacocca, paging…

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I cannot believe that Chrysler saw it fitting to name this car as such.

    What a slap in the face to the House of Imperial!

    Who could forget the angle of that rear window and that stubby rear end?

    What the hell was Chrysler smoking in the late 80’s/early 90’s?? (I mean come on, Lebaron Maserati? Oh, sorry TC… BY Maserati…lol)

    And oh yea, my dad’s 91 RS Camaro (305, zzzzzzz) sported VELOUR whore house red interior, and I will have you all know, that it looked quite fitting!

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Ah, the memories.

    *sigh*

    I worked at Dollar Rent A Car in college. We rented mostly Chrysler vehicles to include Imperials such as this one, New Yorkers (looking back I don’t think there was much difference between the two); Le Barons-both sedan and convertible; Neons- some with manual transmissions, as well as the cab forward cars and an occasional AWD Eagle Talon (with a manual).

    Fun Fact: Cigarette smoke loves to hibernate in velour interiors. Especially whore house red ones.

  • avatar
    zach

    I am pretty impressed with simplicity of the HVAC control panel on this car.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    Hey that is exactly how I set up my equalizer! Neat!

    That balance/fader setup was clever, but try adjusting it while driving down anything but a smooth road.

    Nothing wrong with auto climate control and memory position seats though.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      And yes the infamous smiley face: an attempt to get some bass (lows) and treble (highs) out of set of speakers that (at best) could only produce muddy midrange.

      • 0 avatar
        rpm1200

        AKA “boom and tizz”… I was going to ask Murilee if he “pushed the EQ and played connect the dots” or if he found it like that.

        • 0 avatar
          Tim_Turbo

          In college I had an 87 626 GT that had either a 9 or 10 band equalizer from the factory. It was 12 years old at the time, and might have not been all that bad at the time, but you can only do so much to try and make something sound decent.

          As a side note-I worked in car rental for a long time, and now sell cars. It amuses me how some people have the stereo set up. All the sound to the front speaker, bass at -10, mid range at +10, treble at 8. What/how/what?

          While I was kidding (mostly!) about the smiley face-its better than what the majority of the people out there do.

  • avatar
    zach

    I love these gussied up K-cars, and the wire wheels covers, yummmm.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    These never looked quite right. So much fake plastic tinsel on them! This one has to be a mid-level basic, as it has a landau and Imperial emblems, but not leather, which I think was Marc Cross branded on all of these.

    Meanwhile, in 88 my parents bought a grey/grey Dynasty brand new, and boy was that car a piece. Had the Mitsubishi engine, blue smoke at less than 80k miles. Stranded us a couple times on hot days with random no start issues. Also died going through intersections or on highway on ramps.

    After that:

    My grandpa had a 92 or 93 New Yorker, bought used around 98 I guess. I recall it being very soft and comfortable, and having lots of buttons on the door. It leaked oil, so he got rid of it after a short time, and bought…

    And 86 Fifth Avenue, red/red. 13k miles in about 2000. One owner, from an auction. That car had such a velour smell to it, and I loved riding to church in the back. All the old ladies ooed at how shiny it was. Solid car.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Other fun fact:

    These Imperials had a special rear air suspension, I believe on all models. (Not sure if the New Yorker got it too.) This is now unobtainable, and would require some expensive conversion, which is never worth it on a shoddy K-Car. Hence junkyard!

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      When I think air suspensions, I think saggy bottoms!!

      Early 90’s Town Cars and Continentals come to mind there.

      And of course Range Rovers. But that’s a drop in the bucket there.

    • 0 avatar
      cwallace

      I was trying to figure out what would have Baroque on this car sufficiently to send it to the scrapyard…. Down here in Texas, the last time you’d see this car, it’d be towed by a clapped-out Bronco down to the border to become some lucky Central American mayor’s new prize.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I see this and wonder why Cadillac is having such a hard time. I mean how hard is it to make a Malibu comfortable and pretty, and undercut BMW and Merc on the price? It seems like they are spending ludicrous amounts of money on custom platforms, then cheaping out on the details. It makes more sense to cheap out on the platform, throw squooshy suspension and plenty of carpet in it, and spend on the interior quality and styling.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Cadillac doesn’t want to appeal to this demographic anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        It has noting to do with the demographic.

        Luxury is 2 things, its the perception of it being better, along with it actually being better. What is better? People don’t understand handling and front vs rear wheel drive, so all the work on new platforms is a wash. People do understand looks, reliability, comfort. Caddy already has the first, carpets squoosh springs and Malibus take care of the other two.

  • avatar
    zach

    Though this car doesn’t have the 3.0 Mitsu v6, those Mitsu 3.0’s run forever , I’ve had two of them, one smoked ,one didn’t, they both ran easily 200,000 miles+ each, maybe the leaky valve seals keep them lubed, my mechanic’s theory makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      I never knew of any Mitsubishi motor that didn’t (eventually) have overheating issues.

      Hell, oil consumption issues, as well.

      • 0 avatar
        zach

        I’m not sure about other’s , but I’ve has two 3.0 V6’s, and one 2.4 Mitsu 4cyl, none ever overheated.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I don’t think the 3.5 on the Montero had that issue. It was just overworked for such a huge vehicle. Still want one.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Had me a 4G64 2.4L in a Galant that I was unfortunate enough to own.

          The engine itself was rather porous in nature.

          And its Trooper or bust.

          • 0 avatar
            zach

            Rare, what year was your Galant? I had a 2002 that was nice enough for the price, but when the A/C went at 40,000 miles I traded it for an older 1998 Maxima which happened to be the best car I have ever owned, thing was built like a tank.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Mine was a 2000.

            I don’t know which went downhill faster, the deteriorating of the cooling system (head gasket), or its resale value.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The 3.0 liter Mitsubishi engine had a decent bottom end but suffered oil leaks, oil usage from poor valve guides and seals. Religious oil change intervals were vital so as not to clog the oil returns or baffles which also caused a huge oil consumption issue. Another problem on the earlier engines was the rubber cam plug on back of each head which can deteriorate and pop loose which has the disastrous result of leaking oil all over the place and shortly thereafter destructing the engine. I have seen this happen more times than I care to remember. This engine used pressed in valve guides which tended to work loose as time wore on and oil leaked past the guide seals into the exhaust port causing the very familiar mesquito fogger effect often seen on older Caravans, New Yorkers, Dynastys and such. Thankfully Chrysler revised this by installing snap rings on the exhaust guides to help prevent the slippage in early 1992.

        This engine also suffered various drivability issues some of which were related to poor quality gas and the valve guide issues causing carbon deposits on the intake valves which manifested in shuddering, stalling, rough idle and poor performance.

        And last but not least are the infamous head gasket/cracked heads many of these suffered throughout the years. Some of this of course was caused by owner neglect but these engines in earlier year cars did not have very well designed cooling systems.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Wah Wah Wah! Whorehouse red interior!!! Wah!!!! Please stuff the sobbing over a red interior.. Especially since most of you complain about the lack of color nowadays. It is a strong color but certainly not the end of the world. It is no wonder they got rid of real color. People complain about brown as well so give ’em what they want -greys, blacks and derivatives of.

    These cars certainly were not Imperial worthy but they did ride nice and with the 3.8, scooted quite nicely. They should’ve just left Imperial out of it. It’s heyday was long gone before then.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    It was either one of these or a New Yorker I test drove once, a clean mint condition example, it even smelled new too.

    It was truly awful to drive, very much similar to an 80’s Town Car but without the V8, RWD, BUT with Town Car gas mileage at 26 highway, from a V6!

    Underneath these use a lot of Caravan bits, but a Caravan will carry much more cargo so theres little reason to buy one of these over a van.

    I’d take one over an Accord of the time though, M-Bodies aren’t bad at fighting rust.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Looks like the poor thing’s had the front end “New-Yorker’d”.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      It’s a shame, the Imperial front end is magnificent and terrible.

      Of course, I love the 81 Imperial front end, so what do I know?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You wrote a great story to accompany a similar car here…

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-chrysler-imperial/

      It’s worth repeating

      “Herbert and Grace were fed up.

      “Yep! Yep! There he (Obama) goes again! Uses the government to bail out his buddies with this HARP program, while the kids get the shaft, and can’t refinance!” Herb’s face turned beet red, as he clenched every muscle in his being, attempting to shit out a diamond. “Herb, stop it! Turn that thing off!” Grace had to do something to get him out of the house. These days, fits of stress like this typically culminated in an ambulance visit by EMT’s that knew the couple on a first name basis. “I’m hungry. Let’s go to Eddie’s. We haven’t been there in awhile.” Herbert responded, and grabbed the keys to the Chrysler. “Dammit woman. You’re always hungry, and it’s almost 4’o’clock!”

      Although their car was right in front of their home, they had not seen it in nearly a week. “Ohhhhh, that’s just great. Wouldju look at this. The battery’s gonna be deader than shit.” , said a bitter Herb as he perused the stance of the Imperial’s air suspension. It resembled a dog defecating. The V6 slowly cranked over and caught. It had started, but just barely. The air suspension slowly pumped up the rear, and the two set off to get some grub from their longtime favorite diner. The couple soon found themselves in a part of town that vaguely resembled what they remembered. Storefronts were boarded up or vacant. There were ne’er do wells milling about aimlessly. “Look at the Shake Stop.”, noted Grace, upon seeing the new check cashing store. An “illegal” walked out of the store, and got into a highly customized F150. “That’s wonderful. This whole country’s gone tits up!” Grace remained silent in agreement. The couple arrived at what used to be Eddie’s diner. The art deco script neon sign was dim, and half broken by vandals. There was a handwritten note on the door of the lifeless shell. “Thanks for 56 wonderful years!” Herb flew into a hand-waving tirade that included his full vocabulary. Grace looked around for persons nearby. For one, out of embarrassment, and two, for help in case Herb collapsed. Herb, sensing his impending doom if he continued, abruptly calmed. He just shook his head and got back into the dinging Imperial.

      The couple quickly lost their bearings in the de-gentrified locale. They stopped for a streetlight. Herb pressured Grace for results as she fumbled with an archaic paper navigational aid known as a map. An African American urban youth appeared at the street corner. He waddled toughly toward the Chrysler with his pants in tow. Herb was mortified. He blew through the red light, nearly running the man and his pants over. “Damn man!”, said the dark-skinned individual. “Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log! Work that thing!”, Herb shouted at Grace. The GPS was a Christmas gift from their kids. “I don’t understand this thing!”, said Grace as she operated the alien touchscreen device. “POI? What’s POI?” “You’re in the damn settings again!!!”

      The nose-heavy Imperial softly bounced as it took to the on-ramp. Herb jammed the gas pedal to 1/3 throttle, and the luxury car entered the highway at a blistering 40mph. He guided the chromed prow around a laboring moving van. It was power, sophistication, and pure luxury. Grace voiced her displeasure at her husband’s aggressive driving. Somehow, they had found a Red Lobster across town with the alien tech. Herb already began salivating at the thought of the Cheddar Bay biscuits. The couple arrived, and slowly circled the parking lot several times. They cued at the hostess stand. The restaurant appeared filled to capacity. As they waited, an unattended child ran into Herb, nearly knocking his cane out of his hand. The uncaring little girl ran off as Herb scowled. “It’ll just be 40 minutes sir.” Herb responded with a to-hell-with-this hand gesture, said nothing, and the couple left.

      The consolation meal at Olive Garden was wrought with problems with service. Herb enjoyed a low-grade pasta, while Grace complained about her tasteless and salty soup. Herb argued their bill with management for half an hour. As fellow patrons stared, he was gaining the upper hand. The manager cleared $7 from their bill and the couple had achieved satisfaction, leaving puzzled servers in their wake. “Terrible!”, said Herb as he slid into the red velour. The Imperial pumped up. It had a significant yaw motion as it slowly arched across the intersection. The dog dish containing Herb’s leftovers went unnoticed as it slid off the roof, leaving noodles and chicken breast strewn all over the pavement. They were about to miss Dancing With The Stars. Herb fumed at the traffic. He honked the horn at the instant the light turned green to help keep the other motorists sharp. Somehow, they had made it back to the assisted living apartments before the second couple took to the stage. Although uneventful, it was to be the final real drive of the Imperial. The extravagant Chrysler was doomed by indifference and perceived value.

      “Where have you guys been?”, said a neighbor.
      “We went to eat at Olive Garden. It was wonderful.”, replied Grace.”

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        Alternate ending!

        They were about to miss Dancing With the Stars. Herb fumed at the light traffic. The light turned green, and the Camry in front of them slowly pulled away. “Oh, for F sake!” Herb’s right foot jammed the gas pedal into the thick pile burgundy. The Imperial lit up it’s front right like Robocop at the start of his beat. It’s front end crabbed into the turn lane and made haste into the Home Depot lot, sounding like much released compressed air. The Chrysler’s supple suspension absorbed the many speed bumps with the confidence of a Walker Bulldog at 30mph. Grace kept silent, clinging to a pleather strap with the same determination. Herb’s short cut was ultimately fruitless. As they attempted to forcibly merge, the young man in the Camry passed them at a sensible pace.

        “I can’t even-Aaaaarrrrgh!”, shouted Herb. Grace turned away and shut her eyes. The sound of panicking horns related to their forward motion made her turn back. Herb looked at her like he was starring at death himself. Herb’s hands left the wheel for his chest, and he squeezed his eyes shut. Thanks to the quick actions by the other motorists, they weren’t hit until they intruded into the opposite side of the intersection. The Pontiac G8 found the front end of the Imperial.

        The Chrysler’s reign was over. It’s beheaded prow still laid in the crosswalk with one eye open, illuminated by the emergency vehicle strobes. A puddle of dexcool sat under it’s executioner. Grace enjoyed yet another ride in the back of an ambulance next to her husband. She calmly stared at the sheet covering Herb’s face, and dwelled on words she overheard just before the double doors closed shut.
        “…I don’t know, some old crink who shouldn’t have been driving.”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        D**m he’s got talent!

        And that ’93 Imperial that he wrote this for, back in 2013 has an interior just as gorgeous as this one. We can rant as much as we like about the mechanicals but it seems that Chrysler was able to build some pretty resilient and longlasting interiors back in the early 90’s.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Unless the owner does something dumb, like my sister accidentally burning a nasty scar into the door panel because she left her visor clip-on magnifying make-up mirror flat on the seat.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        A perfect tale on how much our society has deteriorated in so many ways the past 15-20 years.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    I know Murilee likes the campy outré of the red interiors but the blue velour was a very nice place to be. Especially the rear seats which were a sleep induction zone on long trips. Cushy, cushy, snore, snore, snore.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    Ultradrive 4-speed automatic – guaranteed to need replacement before 100,000 miles, no matter how you drive it.

    A shame it didn’t hold up well, because it and the 3.3L V6 worked pretty well together, even in the heavier Caravan and Grand Caravan.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I would take a 3.3 or 3.8 Chrysler over the far more troublesome Mitsubishi 3.0 liter any day of the week. They also made a lot more torque. The ultra drive was so bad that I distinclty remember customers test driving brand new 1989/90 New Yorkers etc and complaining that the transmission wasn’t right.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Isn’t it nice that we don’t have to worry about colored interiors or interiors that match the outside. We can now have any choice of interior so long as its black. We can also have limited colors in white, silver, gray, and black. Isn’t that what everyone wants the same color of vehicle with exactly the same options?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Isn’t is so much better to able to choose any color of interior so long as its black. Maybe next we could limit the exterior colors to white, black, and silver because after all we all want to drive the same thing. It is a terrible thing to have a choice.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Whoa ~ what happened to all the K Car Love ? .

    I know this thing looks weird but someone must have liked it .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    I really don’t understand all the K-car bashing on this forum and others. Sure, it was badly dated in the early 90s, but when it was first introduced it was actually better anything Ford and GM were offering. Motor Trend really had no choice but to give the K-car the COTY award. The Aries was certainly better than the troublesome GM X-cars. Even the boxy design of the Aries looked better than the Citation. Heck, even Toyota copied the design of the original K-car, which can be plainly seen in the styling of the first generation Camry. Things only got better when Chrysler introduced affordable turbo charged engines into their carline. Both the Doytona and the Chrysler LeBaron two door where actually attractive variants of the K-car. However, in just a few years the K-car was definitely getting long in tooth. It wasn’t until the introduction the LH cars that Chrysler regained its leadership over GM and Ford. Like the K-car before it the Intrepid won COTY. In this case Chrysler beat the Taurus at its own game.

    To effectively judge the K-cars you have to judge them in the context of history. You have to remember when they came out they were quite literally the only competitive domestic family sedans. This is not saying a lot since GM and Ford were producing rubbish in this category at the time. It was really the Taurus that finally made the K-car look dated and silly. Of course when we look at the Aries today it is very crude, but people in the thirties looking back at the Model T would say the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      If you’ve ever been the “life of the party”, but were still there long after the host and hostess had gone to bed then you’ll understand why people pick on the “K”Car

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        Car guys hate, hate, hate them so of course I love them.

        Plus, I had two and they were mighty swell.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          When’s the last time you saw one?… See

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Every day, this exact car in blue/blue two houses down the block and every work day a super clean ’89 Dynasty in the lot belonging to a manager who puts all his dough into residential property.

            We’re a frugal, troll-like people ’round here.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Every day, this exact car in blue/blue two houses down the block and every work day a super clean ’89 Dynasty in the lot belonging to a manager who puts all his dough into res1dential property.

            We’re a frugal, troll-like people ’round here.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Then there’s you, Mr. Hollywood with your flashy CR-V… probably live under the biggest bridge in town too

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            And I have the biggest Ariens blower, too.

            Well, except for Richard up the block whom we all suspect is reanimated. But you only ever see him outs1de when he’s blowing snow and he has a canopy on his so you can’t tell whether he has bolts in his neck and forehead stitches.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Get out of town, no way do you have the Ariens – 926039, 32″ path, electric start, Sheeet! I bet you only have the 920129 and it’s Richard who has the grand pooh-ba of blowers

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Curse you. Yes, Dickenstein’s is 2″ larger.

            But I have the electric start which I never use. I keep mine sweet.. one pull, every time.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Yeah, it’s tough trying to keep up, betcha ol’ Dick drives a Pilot too

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Avalon. At least we *think* it’s him pulling out of the garage. Could be Eye-gor.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            @Lie2me: Well the last time I saw a K-Car was…today, if you count the Acclaim/Spirit as a K-Car.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I pick on them for having roughly a million variants, not bad as beaters, had a Horizon that shared a lot of K-Car bits. They’ll hold up to rust better than any Asian competitor of the time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Yes the K cars were ahead of their time but they had their fair share of problems–grenading transmissions, imploding Mitsubishi motors, and a host of other problems. As for red velour interiors at that time they were considered luxurious and as we have seen in these segments very durable which is more than you can say about a lot of new cars today. The late 80’s and early 90’s were better than the late 70’s thru the early 80’s for cars but the vehicles are more reliable today. I miss blue interiors.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There were worse cars than the K based cars but the grenading transmissions, imploding Mitsubishi engines, Gremlin like electrics, and a few other things are something not to be missed. A red velour interior was a sought after item in the 80’s and 90’s and honestly there are much worse things than a red velour interior that lasts indefinitely. Today as Denver Mike said above most interiors in new vehicles do not hold up. If you compare the late 80’s and early 90’s cars to the malaise era these were great cars. Today the cars overall are better. It is better to see the K cars in the context of the late 80’s and early 90’s. At least they did not have all black mouse fur interiors with white, black, and silver exteriors which are not bad but bland. I do miss a nice medium blue interior but that will probably never happen again.

    • 0 avatar

      If you were a Motor Trend tester back in the early 80s could you in good conscience give the competition from GM and Ford the COTY award instead.

      The Citation was not only primitively engineered, but it was also unsafe. Opps, I just remembered the Citation also got the COTY award the year before the Aries. Still I think the Aries was better than any of the GM X-car variants. You see the Citation on many worst car of all time lists, but I have yet to see the Aries on any comparable list.

      The Aries design predicted the minimalistic boxy design approach seen in early 80’s Japanese sedans like the Camry and Sentra.

      If you want to go back further in time I also believe the Pacer was the best American small car of the 70s. It wins by default because the Pinto and Vega were so bad. Again we have to look back at the Pacer in the context of when it was available in the early to mid-70s. The reviews of the Pacer were quite good in the day.

      The most recent car that seems bad at the time of its production is 2008 – 10 Sebring. Even the Sebring judged by early 80s standards would probably be one of the best sedans in the world. It is certainly at technology marvel compared to either the Aries or the Citation.

      The looking back at history and the actual experiencing of history are two entirely different realities.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        But the Pacer was a Compact car not a mini-Compact like the Pinto and Vega and it got mpg similar to standard or intermediate sized cars of the time. It was not as reliable as the Pinto either, it was better than the Vega but that isn’t saying much.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Even if Motor Trend had wanted to pick something else, they didn’t have much to select from in 1981. The rules back then were that the car had to be a newly-introduced domestic model. GM’s only significant introduction in ’81 was a refresh on the A-body coupes (Monte Carlo, etc.) — and Ford’s only major introduction was the Escort. I don’t think AMC had anything new that year.

        That said, I’d rather have an ’81 Fairmont than an ’81 Reliant.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “That said, I’d rather have an ’81 Fairmont than an ’81 Reliant.”

          If only for the love of Fox body. I’d take an ’81 Reliant with a Turbo transplant, though.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            No! wouldn’t want any of those. I lived through the malaise era, I had all these crappy cars and I’m not going back, nope!

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Make mine pretty much any of the Shelby turbo monstrosities from the mid to late 80’s.

            Oh yeah. Shelby Lancer. Omni GLHS. I’m not too picky.

            All new and upgraded mechanicals, but let’s weather the paint just a bit.

            Me likey.

            And oh yeah, since we’re on the Fox Body tip, I’ll take a Fox-Bodied LTD with 5.0L. Four-door Mustang time.

            Thank You, Thank You!!

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            The ’81 Fairmont probably had self-adjusting brakes. The rear drums on the ’81 Reliant were not, although the ’82 and newer were. So I’d rather have an ’82 Reliant ;)

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The Citation did get the award in 1980 followed by the k-car in 1981 and the Camaro in1982. Each was a major advance ahead compared to it’s immediate predecessor for the early 80’s. GM screwed up by letting bean counters dictate cheapening the rear brakes, electrical systems and other X-body maladies but the basic design was pretty sound and it’s basic bones would under pin the larger and more successful A-body cars like he Ciera and Century.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This was an extremely well taken care of car. 157K miles on the odometer, 23 model years old, that interior is in amazing condition. Appears the only thing that killed it was a relatively light front clip accident.

    Impressive mileage and condition for a glorified K-car.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Yes that car was well taken care of. I had a tan velour interior in a 1978 Regal that held up well. The velour in tan almost could pass for suede. It would be nice if they could offer a velour interior similar to this car in tan and medium gray. We might not see velour again because it costs more than mouse fur and it would last too long.

  • avatar

    My grandfather bought Imperials in the 60’s. The unique selling point was a claim of “hand assembly”. When this stopped, he bought a New Yorker instead. Fortunately he passed before seeing what it eventually became.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This version of the Imperial is by far not as bad as the Dawoe Lemans which really darkened the legend of the original Lemans.

  • avatar

    Wow, prior to the accident that was one Mint Imperial.

    Also, this car is probably the most American car I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in an overwhelmingly positive way.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      If you like this one, you would have really liked the ones with the Mark Cross leather interior. Say anything about the Imperial/New Yorker brethren of that vintage, but the ones with the Mark Cross leather package were VERY nice.

      Some of these also came with a factory cell phone built into the driver’s side sun visor. Yes, you read right. I’ve only seen one with said feature, though.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    They use to have a hybrid rose named “Chrysler Imperial”. I guess after they produced this Imperial the variety of rose disappeared as well.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Eww, an Imperial of this vintage with an analog dash? Cheapskates.

    My grandma bought a New Yorker of this model year new and she adored it. At the time, it was a very classy car. You have to look at things with that early 90’s perspective in mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I am as surprised as you about that, Danio3834. I am guessing this car (and the previous one featured my Murilee) were rental-spec Imperials. I rented Imperials equipped just like the featured cars, but the ones I saw for retail sale always had leather and the digital dash.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Guess that rose is not as popular as it once was, I haven’t seen one in 20 years.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    My father ordered a 1985 Olds 98 Regency from the factory that didn’t look all that different from this. His was a metallic red with a tan velour interior. Aside from the choice of the cloth interior (he had a hatred of leather at the time that he go over in later cars) the car was loaded with every gizmo available in a top of the line 80’s Oldsmobile, including a trip computer and a pre-federal law CHMSL. He drove the car until I got my license, which made the insurance more than we could afford. He sold it, picked up a mid 70’s Dodge window van to get back and forth to his job at GM, and pocked the difference.

    I made it up to him years later by lending him my ’91 Z-28 convertible long-term as a commuter. By that time I was onto VWs and the Camaro was becoming a bit of a money pit.

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