Stylist Virgil Exner, well known for his Ghia show cars of the early 1950s, wielded more authority than ever over the styling of the 1953 Chrysler Corporation lineup, including the 1953 Chrysler New Yorker convertible.
Highlights included an extensive sheetmetal reskinning that made all models shapelier, with emphasis on more glass, one-piece curved windshields, and wraparound backlights. Hoods were drawn further down for a lower look. Overall, the cars seemed less bulky and they were a bit lighter.
For the Chrysler New Yorker (replacement for the Saratoga) and New Yorker DeLuxe, weight was pared about five percent. Length receded to 211 inches, and a six-inch chop reduced the wheelbase to 125.5 inches, same as the Windsor. All models shared a tidier grille and squared-off rear flanks with new taillights.
Chrysler's famed hemi V-8 held steady at 331.1 cubic inches and 180 horsepower, but Buick, Cadillac, and Lincoln now boasted ratings of 188-210 horsepower.
No matter, a 300-500 pound weight advantage kept Chrysler competitive -- unlike the semi-automatic Fluid Drive and Fluid-Torque Drive transmissions, which didn't. PowerFlite automatic, long overdue, finally appeared late in the model year. Perhaps not surprisingly, almost 50 percent of Chrysler buyers still chose the ancient 119-horsepower six, standard in the $600-cheaper Windsor.
New to the options list in 1953 was Airtemp air conditioning, joining power steering, brakes, and windows. Also new were extra-cost Kelsey wire wheels, resplendent in chrome and listing for a pricey $300. Thus, by 1953 a Chrysler could be ordered with most of the luxuries taken for granted today.
In hindsight, early 1950s Chrysler styling was outdated. Customers didn't seem to notice, however, as they pushed 1953 model year output to a corporate record of 1.27 million cars, 162,187 of them Chryslers.
At $4,025, the 1953 New Yorker DeLuxe convertible was the most expensive model in the series. The car shown here, owned by Bob Brannon of Des Plaines, Illinois, was largely original when he found it, but he restored it to better-than-new condition. Only 950 units were built, so few people ever knew the joy of owning a top-of-the-line Chrysler ragtop in 1953. Today, for most of us, it's a car to dream about.
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