The Chrysler New Yorker was, once Imperial became a separate marque in 1955, the top of the line Chrysler. The most chrome, the flossiest interior trim, and the most standard features-and available options. And naturally, the New Yorker convertible was the flashiest of them all.
In 1961, the New Yorker convertible was the flamboyantly finny and fine glamour queen. Fantastic. And rare. Exceptionally rare, as a matter of fact. To the tune of 576 convertibles built.
The Chryslers had been totally redesigned for 1960. As usual, there was a two-door hardtop, four-door hardtop, four-door pillared sedan, six- and nine-passenger Town & Country station wagons, and of course, the convertible.
New Yorker refinements for 1961 included chrome rocker trim and wheel opening moldings, chrome and satin-finish metal trim on top of the front doors, with gold lion emblem, chrome chevrons on rear quarter panels with a gold tone medallion in between, and of course, plusher interior trim, door panels and upholstery than lesser Newports and Windsors.
The fins carried over in Bristol fashion from 1960, but the fin-mounted 1960 taillamps moved to below the trunk lid, with the back-up lamps mounted in the former taillight location.
Fins were still alive, well and flourishing on 1961 Chrysler Corporation products! And in my humble opinion, the Forward Look still looked great in 1961. And looked best on the New Yorker. Sure, I like the 1961 300G, and there’s no questioning their performance and good looks. But I’d still rather have a New Yorker.
The biggest change vis a vis the 1960 New Yorker was up front, with headlamps newly set at a forty-five degree angle, following the sculpturing of the new front fenders. Parking lamps were similarly aligned.
Gold-toned New Yorker logos resided in a cove behind the parking lamps, and wheel cover centers were similarly gilded.
While I personally prefer the look of the 1960 New Yorker over the ’61, the ’61 is still a great looking car. And 1961 would prove to be the final year of giant, unapologetic, no-holds-barred fins on Chryslers.
As I mentioned, only 576 1961 New Yorker convertibles were built. That made it the rarest New Yorker of the year.
But there were similarly uncommon 1961 New Yorkers, though not quite as scarce. Second rarest 1961 New Yorker was the NY Town & Country six-passenger wagon, to the tune of 676 units.
Third rarest New Yorker was the nine-passenger Town & Country station wagon, at 760 produced. Scarce Chryslers, for sure! But the winner in the ’61 Chrysler production scarcity contest was the-envelope, please-1961 300G convertible, with a mere 337 units built. So you probably won’t see three of them at a car show, unless perhaps you’re attending the Chryslers at Carlisle show in Pennsylvania! Rare when new in 1961, ever more scarce today. So if you see any of these, please linger. You may never see another one!
And despite all the Jet Age awesomeness of the 1961 Chrysler New Yorker, perhaps its best feature was inside, with that fantastic Astra-Dome instrument panel!
It was one of the first, if not THE first, uses of electroluminescent lighting, which, simply stated, means the numbers and indicators are lighted from within, rather than using spotlights on the face of the gauge or gauges themselves. Totally common on 2018 cars, but in 1960-61, it was revolutionary.
Everything was housed in a quarter-globe housing that held all gauges. There was no need for a column shifter provision, as all automatic Chryslers used the push-button Torqueflite transmission, as seen to the left of the steering wheel in this picture. For that rare buyer who had to have a manual transmission in his new Chrysler, a floor-mounted lever was installed.
The black 1961 New Yorker was spotted just a couple of weeks ago at the annual automotive mecca in Hershey, Pennsylvania, by my friend Dave Smith, owner and operator of the most excellent Facebook group, The American Brougham Society.
The red one was spotted by your own author at a car show in 2015 at Heritage Cadillac, in Lombard, IL. These two 1961 New Yorker convertibles represent 0.35% of total 1961 Chrysler New Yorker convertible production. Amazing so few were sold. They were gorgeous, flashy cars. But despite all their merits, Cadillac was still king of the luxury cars in 1961, and it showed in 15,500 Cadillac Series 62 convertibles built, totally blowing the Chrysler-heck, ALL Chrysler convertible production, well and clear out of the water! But they look great, and I’ll always love them. I consider myself fortunate to have spotted one in person!
True to your word!
Thanks, I wanted to see more of that black convert.
These early 60’s Chryslers were the last trumpet blast for the Forward Look. When I was a kid, these were still on the streets and at the time, they were just old cars. Now, I find them infinitely interesting. So much going on, but still a harmonious whole. If pressed, I think I prefer the 61’s, only because I find the angled headlights on these and the Lincolns that preceded them a little odd. I wouldn’t kick either one out of the driveway, however.
Great catch. No question that convertibles really showed the flamboyant lines of all late 50’s cars, and this is still a ’50s car. When I saw the Tesla roadster shot into space, I really wanted to see something like this Chrysler instead! Imagine a spacesuited “driver” behind the wheel, top down, piloting this spaceship to orbit the sun. Now, for us Brougham/Googie types, that’s evocative!
‘Unapologetic’ ~ yes, and rightly so, ! .
I love the red flop top .
? How many rag tops were actually made with manual gear boxes ? .
Gorgeous, and thrilling to drive.
All they needed was brakes.
Wouldn’t brakes take a lot of the thrill away?
Beautiful – if, with time, they seem a bit retro, a bit 50-ish. The clean new Bill-Mitchell look, with shrinking fins and swelling hips, was the thing for the early 1960s.
Chrysler had its pedigree as a luxury-car maker; but let us not forget…they jumped the shark with their Forward-Look introduction. The cars were hurried into production; quality was abysmal. There was chaos in the front office, as the chairmanship became a revolving door. Rumors hadn’t yet come out of imminent bankruptcy – that was a year or so later; but there was the dark cloud of uncertainty.
Not what a status-conscious luxo-barge buyer, ready to spend a lot but expecting plenty of support as well as trouble-free ownership…not what such a buyer would want to hear.
That wagon is absolutely gorgeous, but… I can’t help think that 50’s era tech would have a hell of a time matching all those lines and gaps.