Have you seen Barrett-Jackson on tv and made a mental note of putting that on your bucket list? Barrett-Jackson puts on an amazing show, but there is more to Scottsdale Auction week if you are prepared to venture off the beaten track and visit some of the other auctions going on! If you are lucky, you will see some fantastic cars, meet some amazing people and hear some astonishing car stories, just like this one about the infamous Plainsman Concept Car where a chance encounter with the current owner, Mr. Pete Vicari, at Worldwide Auctioneers provided the material for this article!
Sometimes, a name can be more important to success than the actual thing itself-at least when it comes to cars. Chrysler’s premium Cadillac fighter, the Imperial, a separate marque from 1955-1975, is such an example. Intended to move Chrysler Corporation more into Cadillac and Lincoln territory, it never really took off despite attractive design and plenty of luxury features. But for many, it was always a “Chrysler Imperial,” and thus not as prestigious as a Continental or Fleetwood Brougham. That was what ultimately brought the Imperial as a marque to a grinding halt in 1975. Funny thing, though. The car itself continued. As the ‘new’ Chrysler New Yorker Brougham.
The chronic Mopar misfortune held steady through the ’70s. In 1974, all their new full-size C-bodies, from the Plymouth Fury to the Imperial LeBaron, were redone with more formal and Broughamier sheetmetal. Although not drastically different size-wise from their fuselage predecessors, they looked bigger. And when the gas crisis hit in late 1973, just as the ’74s were debuting, Chrysler got screwed–again. Despite the company’s continuing bad luck, all their new models were attractive despite styling cribbed directly from GM–something especially noticeable in the Plymouth Fury’s Oldsmobile 88 cues, and in the Dodge Monaco, which looked suspiciously like a 1973 Buick LeSabre.
At the top of the heap was the C-body full-size Imperial LeBaron, arguably the most attractive car of the bunch–as well it should have been, considering its premium $7,200-7,800 pricing. The Imperial’s 124″ wheelbase was the same as lesser New Yorkers and Newports, but the car itself was longer overall and featured exclusive hidden headlights; button-tufted upholstery, in velour or optional leather; and four-wheel disc brakes.
But it didn’t sell: After selling just 14,483 1974 models and a mere 8,830 ’75s, the Imperial finally left the building. Well, until 1981, but that’s a story for another time. Continue Reading →
Note: This is the continuation of Mike Batch Kirouac’s ’66 Windsor saga (Read Part 1 here, if you missed it). As previously related, he’s a friend of mine, met during the olden days, at Cantankerous Coot, ha ha. Hope you enjoy. He finished this car last summer, and I am hoping he will write up a brand new post with the fascinating conclusion. As always, republished with his permission. -TK
I am fighting a rust monster. I haven’t seen it, but the signs of its voracious appetite are everywhere. The monster’s corrosive, salty venom has taken its toll on my 1966 Chrysler Windsor, even eating away structural components such as frame rails and body mounts.
My earlier article on the Windsor ended in a cliffhanger in the fall of 2011, just as I pulled the trigger on restoring the body. I removed the grille, bumper, radiator, underhood wiring harness, engine and transmission.
During the late ’70s, Chrysler Corporation found itself in dire straits. They were losing money hand over fist, their newest models, the 1976 Plymouth Volaré and Dodge Aspen, had serious quality issues and rust problems, their midsize Coronet and Fury were popular only with little old men, taxi operators and law enforcement, and there would be no relief in the form of a new product—in the form of the FWD Omni and Horizon–until 1978. And then there were the full-size yachts.
The redesigned full-size Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler never really got a chance. Production was still in its early stages when the “oil shortage” caused by events overseas caused the sale of Big Three biggies to plummet rapidly. GM and Ford did not get hurt as bad as Chrysler due to their overall better shape and subcompacts like the Vega and Pinto. Stop laughing, they sold! If not for the tried and true-and stone reliable-Darts and Valiants, Chrysler Corporation may not have lived to fight another day. But at any rate, the C-body Mopars never regained the popularity they had had in the 1965-73 period.
NOTE: A friend of mine, Mike Batch Kirouac, who penned the Olds Diesel article earlier this year, has given me the green light on running some of his other posts from the other site. His favorite car is the 1966 Chrysler, and he owns several-which you’ll see more of in the near future. Enjoy. -TK
Elwood Engel left Ford Motor Company in 1961 to succeed Virgil Exner as head of styling at Chrysler. The 1965 Chrysler–which essentially evolved the Engel design language created for the 1961 Lincoln Continental–was his first “clean sheet” production car design for Chrysler. The 1966 refresh was, in my opinion, an improvement on the ’65s that provided greater differentiation between the base Newport (Windsor, in Canada), sporty 300 and high-end New Yorker models, all of which shared most of their sheet metal.
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.
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.
Hershey is always a big deal to car nuts. Friends of mine have been, but not me. Well, my comfort zone, living in the Quad Cities, is a circle roughly between Des Moines, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee. Within that circle, I can drive to a car show, concours, model show or whatever and still have time enough to attend, enjoy myself, have lunch or dinner, and get back home, all in the same day.
Fortunately, I have friends all over, and Dave Smith, a good friend of mine who lives in Connecticut, made the drive to Pennsylvania. As a result, he took many excellent photos. As a result, I was able to do a virtual tour from the comfort of my own home. As will you. This is, quite simply, a photo tour, short on text and long on great pictures! So sit back, scroll, and enjoy. And many thanks, Dave, you’re a gentleman and a scholar.
Back in June of 2013 the Antique Automobile Club of America decided to have their Grand National Meet right here in the Quad Cities, in downtown Moline. I was excited, because in general, AACA shows have some pretty cool cars, and no hot rods or customs. Ha ha! No 2016 Mustangs, Resale Red 1969 Camaros, and restomod Challangers would be there! Excellent. There were many fine cars at this event, but my favorite car is the subject of today’s post: The fin-tastic 1961 New Yorker Town & Country.