1979 Chrysler New Yorker: Green Goddess

1979 Chrysler New Yorker: Green Goddess
1979 Chrysler New Yorker: Green Goddess

The Chrysler New Yorker was finally redesigned in Autumn ’78. While it may not have been quite as massive and ornate as its 1974-78 predecessors, the new R-body (and its siblings, the Newport and St. Regis) was still luxurious, albeit in a smaller size.

1979 New Yorker

Although the 1979 R-body Chryslers looked all-new at first blush, they were in fact highly revamped midsized 1971-78 B-bodies under the skin. A four-door sedan was the sole offering, regardless of make or trim level; coupes were axed.

1979 New Yorker

Riding a 118.5 inch wheelbase, the 1979 New Yorker weighed in at 3,800 pounds and had a base price of $10,026.

1979 New Yorker

Top of the line was the New Yorker Fifth Avenue Edition, which was available only in two-tone Designer’s Cream and Designer’s Beige paint. Other exterior refinements included wire wheel covers (optionally available on other New Yorker models), color keyed bumper guards and bumper protection strips, special hood ornament, Medium Beige accent stripes and edge-lighted opera lamps set into the opera window, with etched “Fifth Avenue Edition” logo.

1979 New Yorker

Inside, leather was standard in Light Champagne. Like the exterior colors, the interior trim color was available only on the Fifth Avenue Edition. Driftwood wood tone trim and a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel were also standard.

1979 New Yorker

But as glitzy as the Fifth Avenue was-it was definitely a response to Lincoln’s Designer Series Marks-the standard New Yorker four-door sedan was pretty nice itself. A vinyl landau roof with inset opera lamp was standard, as were full-width taillamps and hidden headlights.

54,640 were built for the year. Engine options included a 2-barrel 318, 2-barrel 360 and four-barrel 360. Chrysler’s excellent Torqueflite 3-speed automatic transmission was standard. After all, it was a New Yorker!

1979 New Yorker

Other standard New Yorker features were expected for domestic luxury cars of the late 1970s: digital clock, power disc brakes, power steering, power windows, V8, automatic transmission and tinted glass. Alas, whitewall tires were optional! But probably ordered on 98.8% of production, ha ha.

1979 New Yorker

The 1979 showroom brochure touted the fact that although the redesigned New Yorker was trimmer and lighter, it retained close to the same amount of interior room as the large and in charge 1978 New Yorker Broughams.

1979 New Yorker

Of course, it was 1979, so in addition to the many optional extras, you had many color choices. In addition to the cream/beige two-tone on the Fifth Avenue, there were ten color choices, and four two-tone combinations for standard New Yorkers.

1979 New Yorker

Interior colors were Champagne (Fifth Avenue only), midnight blue, teal green, cashmere, red and gray. In addition, white leather was available with your choice of blue, red or teal green carpeting and instrument panel. Which brings me to today’s featured car.

1979 New Yorker

This car was originally found by my buddy, Jason Bagge. It had been mothballed for years, and he just happened to spot an online classified shortly after it was unearthed. Despite being a non-runner and having a sagging headliner, he snapped it up. In very short order he got it running.

1979 New Yorker

But typcially, once he got it cleaned up and running, yet another old car beckoned, and he sold off the car before I could write it up. Fortunately, the new owner, Bobby Wicker, was kind enough to send me these pictures of the car as it looks today.

1979 New Yorker

The color is Teal Green Sunfire Metallic, with white leather and teal green trim. It is a stunning combination! I’m always glad to see a classy old car brought back. And when it finds a great new home, so much the better!

1981 New Yorker

Sales of the new New Yorker did not meet expectations. Of course, the late ’70s and early ’80s were not a good time for Chrysler, and many thought the entire company was set to disappear. A second gas crisis right around the time the 1979 New Yorkers started appearing in dealer showrooms didn’t help. In 1980, 13,513 were built. 1981 was even worse, with only 6,548 New Yorkers produced. By that time Lee Iacocca was pinning Chrysler’s future on front-wheel drive K-cars, Omnis and very soon, minivans. So the R-body New Yorker was put out to pasture. It would return in 1982 as a formal-roofed ex-LeBaron on the M-body chassis, then go full Mini-Me in ’83 as the plushest K-car available. Ultimately the New Yorker made it all the way to 1995, and today’s 300C sedans still carry on the tradition of Mopar Broughamage!

1979 New Yorker


  1. I have a soft-spot for these R-body Mopars. My dad was a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and he drove a variety of Chrysler cruisers over the years, including the R-body Plymouth Gran Fury. Because these had such a short run, the OPP didn’t buy many of them, and quickly moved on to the M-body Plymouth Caravelle in the early 80’s. Dad’s assigned Gran Furys were certainly never as luxurious as the New Yorkers pictured above, but he appreciated the room in these cars that the later M-bodies were not able to match.
    Picture here: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/127041560@N03/34638671865/

  2. Did anyone actually like the inset opera window that looks obviously added on as an afterthought and makes the rear door window look silly small? I hated them when they were new, and they haven’t gotten better with age.

    1. Well, it was the style of the time. And Chrysler had to do something to make the NY more distinct from the similar Newport, thus the hidden headlamps, different grille, landau roof and full-width taillights. Now the Fifth Avenue opera lamps were even better, they were hidden around the edge of the vinyl opera window, and highlighted the outline of the window itself at night.

      By the way, I saw you caused a Niedermeyer meltdown over at Cantankerous Coot. All deleted since, as is his custom. But it made me laugh! 🙂

        1. He apparently owns Tesla stock and won’t allow anything critical to be written about Tesla or EVs in general. Funny, he never cared if I wrote something critical about GM.

    2. But when you sit back in the back seat, you could see out of the opera window since it was large enough plus it does distinguish the car from the other makes. I think it’s a classy look with function.

  3. I found one of these near my home in September of this year. Similar green color, but with a white quarter roof, a velour interior and the standard wheel covers for these cars. It was a survivor, in decent condition, but with the scars of 38 years of existence. I was never able to find out if it had been parked and then revived, or if it was someone’s Grandma’s car, they inherited it and then they decided to sell it.

    These cars were initially received well, but the ongoing fuel shortages and quality issues conspired to kill these cars. I’ve related before that my FIL had the Dodge St. Regis version of this car. He hated it with a passion, as the car was not assembled correctly and many things either worked intermittently or not at all. I don’t recall if the Chrysler version came with the Slant Six, but the lower end Dodges and Plymouths did. IIRC, my FIL’s St. Regis had the Slant Six and it was not well suited for a car that size.

    In the intervening years, I think these cars have aged well. Out of the Big Three downsizing trend that was taking place in the late 1970’s, I think the styling of the R-bodies rates right up there with the GM efforts. The first Panther Fords looked a bit awkward to me with the overhanging bumpers and the too-narrow track. The GMs set the tone and the Chrysler R-bodies also got it right. Too bad the quality wasn’t there.

  4. Considering the times at Chrysler, it is amazing they came out as well as they did. I wonder if the timing of the 79 R body and the 74 C body could have been reversed that Chrysler could have done much better. The R body would have been a sensation in 74 with an efficient slant six to take on the oil embargo. Similarly the C body would have really stood out in 79 after the other guys went small. Chrysler was in a unique position on CAFE by then with so much of their volume being ultra high mileage Omnis to absorb the mileage penalty of a successful large line.

    1. Seeing as the R-body is really just the B-body that dates back to 1962, Chrysler was already selling cars about this size with these mechanical components in 1974. I suppose they were only sold as Dodges and Plymouths until the Cordoba arrived. Ironically, this platform began production in 1962 as a downsized full-sized lineup and was a marketing flop. Then it spent fifteen years as an intermediate only to be reclassified as a full-sized body in its last years.

      There has been much discussion through the years about how full-sized US cars grew beyond any logical dimensions and many customers really wanted something handier, leading to successes like the first Seville and the 1977 GM B-bodies. Was the reason that Chrysler failed to right the path in 1962 due to the market just wanting the most imposing cars they could afford, or was it due to 1962 Exner styling that suffered when downsized at the last moment? The current trends in trucks suggests that people just want bigger portions, but that could all go pair shaped just as fast as the full-sized car market did.

      1. There was a lot of talk in my 1974 Consumer Guide that the AMC Ambassador was the correct size for a full size. The lack of Ford and Chevy style noise control and old fashioned dashboards were holding it back. The B bodies in 1974 would have faced similar issues as the Ambassador. An engineered to drive full size R body might have been better equipped for that and offered a 6, which Ambassador lacked. A full size R body 6 might have cleaned up in fleet sales, which was probably a big percentage of embargo addled 74

  5. I remember when I first saw the R-bodies when I was homeported in San Diego in the late ’70s – early ’80s. I thought for a long time (a couple of years actually) that they were Mercury’s as the roof line appeared to be an upscale Ford offering perhaps a longer version of a Lincoln Versailles which my aunt drove. I finally noted one at my bank on Tierrasanta that the badge was for a Chrysler product. Nice cars but I had been out of the US – vehicle market for some years and didn’t consider anything domestically produced.

  6. Interesting, I never knew there was a Chrysler equivalent to the St. Regis. R-Body’s are one of those cars that seems to fly under the radar because they are not as memorable as the mean 70’s battleships or the 80’s brutally square Diplomats.

    1. There were two, actually. Chrysler dealers got the NYer and a cloth-seats-and-crank-windows version of the R-body as the Newport, which was basically a St.Regis without the fancy headlight covers.

  7. Can you imagine one of them as a taxi?

    I can. Houston Yellow Cab had one franchisee, who bought his own vehicle – it was permitted at the time – and had the Yellow Cab shop convert it to a cab.

    They did well, but – of course – the result was underwhelming. The hidden headlights stayed. The paint shop did a good job of masking/removing the nameplates and trim; but the padded roof and door cladding got the yellow spray.

    The owner was proud as hell of it, and I guess he should have been. Having a cab that was yours (Yellow Houston did have a buy/franchise program at the time) and off the menu (meaning you were a longtime driver, or family friend of the owners) meant you could cut your lease to less than half what the plebe drivers were paying.

    But every time I see one of those, I think of that New Yorker.

    Houston Yellow had just given up on the R bodies, in favor of the M body Dodge Diplomat. As a new driver, I got a couple-years-old R Newport. Drove better than a Gran Torino, which I had recently had to drive…parents’ cage.

    In terms of driving dynamics, better than the Fords – probably better than Panthers. Not in terms of how it might hold up.

  8. I have a Chrysler New yorker 1979 and I desperately need the wheel caps. I am staying in South Africa and would appreciate assistance. I am busy working inn The hidden headlamps mechanism as there’s a problem. I am very happy with the car.

  9. My parents bought a new teal green 1979 Chrysler New Yorker, just like the one pictured, with teal green button tufted leather interior. My mom actually pointed the car out to my dad on the showroom floor. I loved the opera windows/lights. It turned heads whenever we rode anywhere in it. It really looks striking in that teal color too. Thank you for posting this!

  10. My parents bought a new teal green 1979 Chrysler New Yorker, just like the one pictured, with teal green button tufted leather interior. My mom actually pointed the car out to my dad on the showroom floor. I loved the opera windows/lights. It turned heads whenever we rode anywhere in it. It really looks striking in that teal color too. Thank you for posting this!

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