Mechanix Illustrated review of the 1963 Chrysler New Yorker, by Tom McCahill
NEW FOR '63

Wheelbase is four inches shorter . . . roofline, grille and headlights redesigned . . . increased legroom . . . better brakes . . . better corrosion protection . . . new seats, interior and instrument panel.


As Blackstrap Finnnegan once stated, "Every good herd of cows must have a bull." The New Yorker model is the bull of the Chrysler herd.

Just about every Chrysler product, from the Imperial to the Valiant, orbits around the New Yoker. Even the head-hunters in Smokey's Saloon will tell you that Chrysler builds more luxurious and expensive cars as well as many lesser ones- but the base of all these for some years has been the New Yorker. Back in 1924, with the introduction of the first Chrysler 70, the entire automotive world was shoved to the wall. Within a matter of weeks automotive men knew that the Chrysler 70 was a turning point for the industry. With its many inovations, it was, as they say on Madison Avenue, "An entirely new concept of what an automobile should be."

It had four-wheel hydraulic brakes, which the Rickenbacker had a year before. Four-wheel brakes had also been used on Jimmy Murphy's Dusenbeg that won the Grand Prix of France at LeMans in 1921. But four-wheel brakes, and especially hydraulic ones, had not become acceptable with the popular car builders of the day. With his new product Walter P. Chrysler put a lot of brand-new and nearly-new innovations into one basket and shot the old guard right out of their suspenders. Rumors ran wild, as they still do today about new products. In the sharper salesrooms along New York's Broadway many dire tales were related about four-wheel brakes. Generally, they were said to have caused cars to somersault, killing barge-loads of innocent people at unknown locations, usually somewhere out west.

The Chrysler 70 was the first car to have what was then known as a high-speed engine. Many tales were told by competitive camps about how these engines burned out after a few hundred miles and that the only engine for an automobile was the low-speed, marine-type luggers with a stroke slightly longer than an elephant's trunk. I believe it was Abe Katz who stated, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can fool automobile buyers all the time"-but in this case Abe was wrong. Chryslers soon became back-ordered by months and the old guard were forced to shape up their engineering departments, burn the old drafting boards and get on the new bandwagon or go out of business.

That first Chrysler 70, in addition to the engine and four-wheel hydraulic brakes, featured for the first time small wheels (not the roller-skate size we have today), balloon tires, high-compression heads and indirect instrument lighting. In fact, it was like showing one of today's Cape Canaveral cans to the Wright brothers. Anyhow, as they say in the fairy-tale books, as the tree grew so did the number of models. Then came many divisions such as Dodge, Plymouth and others. (Chryslers were known in the early days by such simple names as 70, 80, 65, 72 and 75).

In 1963 millions of dollars and a lot of high hopes hang on how the public will react to the new Chrysler styling. The New Yorker has taken on semi-knife-edge, boxy lines. In this direction they are hardly alone as a look at many of the other '63 models shows similar trends. Or, as they say in Detroit, "Stylist has been visiting stylist." Or, to put it more bluntly, "Thieves have been working."

The New Yorker shows small styling resemblance to former Chryslers. Four inches have been whacked off the length since last year and an inch off the girth. The roof reminds one strongly of the Imperial LeBaron which, as you know, is the corporation's luxury cream puff. From the LeBaron they have also borrowed the larger doors and door line in the rear. Up front the headlights are worked into the fenders and the parking lights are built into the bumper face. Perhaps the biggest switch in styling is the elimination of reverse curves and deep contours that were to be seen in former models. The taillights are larger circular jobs somewhat reminiscent of those on recent Fords.

As we have stated on these pages may times, no one can tell how the general public will react to any type of styling. If anyone could, he could write his own pay check with any of the Big Three. The Chrysler New Yorker is definitely a good-looking, high-styled rig of the '63 school. I think it will sell-but the buyers will make that decision.

Fo over 20 years the New Yorker has been Top Dog of the Chrysler lot. From the New Yorker model we find offshoots with different power packages and at different prices. The cheapest car bearing the name Chrysler is the Newport, then comes the Standard 300. A notch above the New Yorker in performance and prestige is the Chrysler 300J.

In 1963 all these come standard with one wheelbase- 122 inches. The Standard 300, not the J, can be bought with the big New Yorker engine plus a power pack which includes solid lifters and dual exhaust. The New Yorker uses the 413-cubic-inch V-8 it used in 1962. For real performance nuts, the 300J, which comes standard with two four-barrel carburetors, ram induction and dual exhaust, whcih should be plenty for any normal use, can also be ordered with the 426-inch dam buster. This is as furry as the backside of a Kodiak bear.

To test the New Yorker, Boji and I rode our tandem bicycle out to Chelsea, Mich., where Chrysler maintains one of the world's fastest tracks. After a cursory inspection to make sure the car had four wheels, we went out for a spin.


This is a real luxury car and the ride is excellent, even though four inches have been taken off the wheelsbase since '62. The car handles faster than before thanks to this decreased size, but the boys at Chrysler have allowed a bit of softness to creep into the great torsion-bar suspension and it doesn't corner quite as crisply as it once did. But don't get the impression that the cornering and roadability are bad, because there's nothing to out-corner it in the other camps. It just isn't quite as sharp as it was. I'd go into why they do such things as softening up near-perfect suspension except that I've already covered this in some other recent test pieces. n a nutshell, however, some lunatics in sales research still feel that what Americans really want is a softer, mushier ride even if it kills them. It will take a lot of educational work before this stupid approach can even be slowed down.

Performance-wise, the New Yorker is a tremendously able barge. It will whip up to 120 miles an hour on a turnpike if you're anxious to find a cop, and it bangs out 0 to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds. This isn't record-shattering performance but when you consider that this is a full-size family car, ideal for a coast-to-coast run and as smooth as snake's eyeballs, it's a bagful more than adequate.

One unusual feature, by today's standards, is the gas mileage. In spite of the big New Yorker 413-cubic-inch engine, these jobs, when used with the available Auto Pilot, will get between 17 and 18 miles to a gallon on turnpike runs at speeds of 70. The New Yorker can't be matched in this department by any of the competition. In fact, compared with rivals capable of similar performance, the Chrysler will average close to three miles a gallon better milage- and as much as six over some makes. This is something to think about when Uncle Sam has three fingers in your pocket.

The New Yorker has always had top road feel and that goes back quite a few years. When you're cruising in one of these buckets at 70 or better, it has a solid un-skittish character that you don't get in many of the other cars of this class. The New Yorker tracks without the slightest trace of nervousness, even at high speeds over some third-rate roads.

In summing up, the Chrysler New Yorker is a thoroughly solid citizen-with style. From an engineering standpoint it won't have to bow to any other car on the road. Chrysler engineering gets more compliments from the personnel of the other camps than any other car.

Recently at that big bowl of secrets, GM's Proving Ground, where I was doing some testing, the talk at lunch got around to the Chrysler and how it will do in '63. None of these GM boys had seen the new styling at the time but I remember one high-ranking engineer saying, "If they only have the looks this year they ought to go, as they certainly have the engineering." Another younger engineer chirped in and said, "There are no better engineered cars on the market. Their styling has killed them." Well, in my opinion, for what it's worth, this year they have the styling. Now let's see what happens.


TEST CAR SPECS:

MODEL TESTED: 1963 Chrysler New Yorker four-door hardtop

ENGINE:
V-8 cyls;
413 cubic ins;
340 brake hp;
470 ft--lbs max torque;
10.1 to 1 compression ratio.
Bore 4.19 ins;
stroke 3.75 ins.
Fuel required: Premium.
Standard axle ratio: 2.76.
Wheelbase 122 ins;
Length 215.5 ins;
height 55.3 ins;
width 79 ins;
front tread 61 ins;
rear tread 59.7 ins.
Weight 3985 lbs.
Gas tank capacity 23 gals.
Turning circle diameter 43.1 ft.
Tire size 8.50 x 14.4.

PRICE (without optionals): $3,746

PERFORMANCE:
0-30 mph, 3.5 secs;
0-50 mph, 6.9 secs;
0-60 mph, 9.2 secs.
Top speed 120 mph. All times recorded on corrected speedometer.


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