Monday, December 2, 2013

1958 Chrysler New Yorker 4-door Sedan

"Watch your spirits rise as you slip behind the wheel of this mightiest-of-all Chryslers and head for the open road. Its long, low (barely over 4 1/2 feet), Flight-Sweep styling and FirePower V8 10 to 1 compression ratio performance and economy put you in full command of everything on the road."

Chrysler had surprised the automotive world with Virgil Exner's gorgeous "Forward Look" styling in 1955. Just two years later, an even bolder design direction, now called "Flight-Sweep styling", bore some more surprises, although not all of them were favorable to the company.

The new Chryslers sure looked stunning, because their compact torsion bar suspension allowed for a much lower silhouette than most of their competitors. Over at GM, where "longer and lower" was Harley Earl's eternal mantra for the look of new cars, the arrival of the new Chryslers caused quite a dismay when GM designers, who certainly had been spoiled by their own long-time success, suddenly realized that they weren't the trend setters anymore. In response to the new low-slung Chryslers, GM designers decided on a posthaste rework of the whole lineup for 1959.

With such stunning design, the Chrysler lineup only needed minor updates to stay "fresh" in 1958: quad headlights and different chrome trim were the most notable changes.

Yet, as gorgeous as the Chryslers looked, as badly they were built: a severe lack of quality control meant very lousily assembled cars. Some Chryslers literally fell apart before even reaching the dealers. On top of that, most cars were plagued by early corrosion, due to the use of poor quality steel. Although Chrysler addressed many issues within the 1957 production run, the damage was already done. The 1958 models were better, but the customers were alarmed and backed off from these elegant cars. The economic recession of 1958 added insult to injury, as most bigger cars anyway sat like ducks at the dealer's. Thus, in 1958, Chrysler could sell just about half as many cars as in the year before.

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