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