Junkyard Gem: 1976 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham Hardtop Coupe

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Even after OPEC served notice that cheap oil would no longer be a given and notorious eco-fanatic Richard Nixon decreed a national 55 mph speed limit, plenty of Americans continued to buy enormous coupes equipped with big-displacement V8 engines and cubic yards of cushy upholstery as the early Malaise Era ground on during the middle 1970s. In 1976, Ford offered the Lincoln Continental Mark IV, the Mercury Marquis Brougham, and the Thunderbird. The General had too many such cars to list here, including the Buick Electra and Olds 98 Regency Coupe. Chrysler was right there in the battle for Broughamic supremacy that year, with the New Yorker Brougham at the very top of the company’s prestige ziggurat. Here’s a raggedy-but-still-opulent New Yorker Brougham Coupe, found in a Denver car graveyard during the winter.

Just look at that spacious Whorehouse Red™ interior and its pillow-topped Corinthian Leather split-bench power seats! I admire this luxury so much that my band in the late 1980s recorded a hymn to the Chrysler New Yorker.

This car appears to have the $598 (about $2,750 in 2020 dollars) St. Regis option group, which included a “boar-grain” padded vinyl roof and opera windows. A few years later, Dodge offered a full-sized model called the St. Regis.

The New Yorker Brougham was the most expensive model offered by Chrysler in 1976 (the Imperial went on hiatus for the 1976 through 1980 model years, only to return as a much more modest car). The buyer of this car got rung up for at least $7,269 (about $33,520 after inflation). 

Curb weight wasn’t quite as high as this car’s imposing bulk might suggest: 4,752 pounds. That’s a bit less than a new Dodge Durango today.

A junkyard shopper scored the engine, which would have been a 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) V8 rated at a startlingly low 205 horsepower and all the torque in the world (actually, 320 lb-ft). Numbers like that prove that we now live in the Golden Age of Car Engines; even the base V6 in the current Charger makes 292 horsepower out of half the displacement of the 440.

Even in a car this swanky, any kind of an audio system cost extra (contrast that to 2020, when even the humblest econoboxes have standard-equipment Bluetooth-ready rigs with many speakers). A plain old single-speaker AM radio cost $99 ($457), while the top-of-the-line AM/FM/8-track set ’76 New Yorker buyers back $375 ($1,730). This is the AM/FM stereo radio, which cost $197 ($908).

Not legal for sale in California.

It wouldn’t have taken much to keep this non-rusty car on the road, but big Malaise Era luxury coupes just don’t have much of an enthusiast following.

Such a deal!

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Saurabh Shukla

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