The 1957-1959 Chrysler New Yorker was the happy result of a major overhaul at Chrysler in the mid-1950s. Not content with its 1955-1956 sales comeback, Chrysler Corporation spent another $300 million to restyle and reengineer its entire line for 1957. The results were as unbelievable as they were unexpected. With these radically changed cars, Highland Park decisively wrested industry design leadership from General Motors and, in so doing, forever banished its staid image.
Though all the firm's 1957s looked good, the Chrysler New Yorker arguably wore this second-generation "Forward Look" best of all. From a clean, horizontal-bar grille to gracefully upswept rear fenders, it flaunted the sort of unified design that could only have come from one mind, not several. A wedge profile, dramatically lower beltline, vast new expanses of glass, and striking height reductions -- three inches on sedans, five on hardtops -- combined to suggest greater overall length, yet the 1957s were actually a bit shorter than the 1956s (on unchanged wheelbases).
In all, this "New Look of Motion" was distinctive and exciting, yet commendably restrained for the period. It made the 1957 Chrysler New Yorker exactly what Chrysler claimed: its "most glamorous car in a generation."
Along with its corporate cousins, the 1957 Chrysler New Yorker introduced two major mechanical innovations. One was "Torsion-Aire Ride," a new front suspension comprising longitudinal torsion bars acting on lower transverse arms, plus upper A-arms and an anti-roll bar.
Its design goals called for improved handling with no penalty in ride comfort, and it succeeded admirably. Torsion-Aire made Chrysler Corporation cars, including the Chrysler New Yorker, America's most roadable 1957s, aided by a new box-rail chassis with wider tracks and a reduced center of gravity.
Highland Park's other technical triumph that year was TorqueFlite, a new three-speed automatic transmission offered throughout the corporate stable as an alternative to two-speed Powerflite. Standard for all 1957 Chryslers save Windsors, where it cost $220 extra, and also featuring pushbutton control, TorqueFlite received plaudits for its quick response and smooth shift action.
As another path to higher 1957 sales, Chrysler revived the Saratoga series, a sedan and two hardtops slotted between Windsor and New Yorker. All other offerings returned from 1956 save the New Yorker St. Regis and Windsor convertible and Nassau. Windsor moved up to the previous year's 354-cubic-inch hemi V-8, with 285 standard horsepower or 295 optional; the latter was included on Saratogas. Chrysler New Yorker, befitting its top-line status (not counting the year's equally new 300C) received an even larger 392 hemi packing 325 bhp.
To learn more about how the 1957-1959 Chrysler New Yorker benefited from Chrysler's new initiative, go to the next page.
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For all the worthy changes in the 1957, 1958, and 1959 Chrysler New Yorker, they did nothing for Chrysler's 1957 model year production and industry rank, both of which held steady from 1956. This must have been a disappointment, but nothing compared to what 1958 would bring. Thanks to that year's deep recession, plus the 1957 Chrysler New Yorker's growing reputation for indifferent workmanship and early body rust, Chrysler slipped from 10th to 11th.
Predictably, the 1958 Chrysler New Yorkers were much like the 1957s. Higher compression boosted horsepower across the board (to 290/310/345 for Windsor/Saratoga/New Yorker), and a minor face-lift typical of an all-new design in its sophomore year involved mainly grilles (more DeSoto-like, oddly enough), smaller taillights, and revised trim.
The market began a modest recovery for 1959 and so did Chrysler volume, though the model year total was up less than 6,300 units to just 30 shy of 70,000 -- still pretty dismal. A more substantial face-lift that year brought rather duller-looking front and rear ends, and the Windsor convertible reappeared (actually, two had been built in 1958) in what was called the "Lion-Hearted" line. That name referred to a crop of new wedgehead V-8s that cost much less to build than the hemis, yet offered more horsepower.
Chrysler New Yorker carried a big-bore 413-cid version (shared with the 300E) tuned for 350 bhp; Windsor and Saratoga ran a 383 rated respectively at 305 and 325 bhp. Chrysler New Yorker convertible sales slowed down to a trickle and, except for the Windsor sedan, no 1959 Chrysler model saw more than 10,000 copies.
Unfortunately, matters would get worse before they got better for Chrysler Division, with product miscues and inept marketing policies taking a big sales toll in the first half of the 1960s. Some -- but far from all -- of these troubles began with the 1957-1959 Chrysler New Yorkers, which are significant not only as the last hemi-powered Chryslers but the last with body-on-frame construction and distinctive styling free of outrageousness.
Fine all-round performance and the aforementioned rarity of certain 1957-1959 Chrysler New Yorkers have only enhanced their appeal as some of the more collectible cars from this decade.
To see the specifications of the 1957-1959 Chrysler New Yorker, keep reading.
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1957, 1958, 1959 Chrysler New Yorker Specifications
The 1957, 1958, and 1959 Chrysler New Yorkers took the auto world by storm with their bold new design and innovative automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the model failed to totally pull Chrysler from its economic and sales doldrums. A look at the 1957-1959 Chrysler New Yorker specifications below, however, show why the New Yorker is such a coveted collector's item.
Engines: ohv V-8 1957 392 cid (4.00 × 3.90), 325 bhp; 1958 345 bhp; 1959 413 cid (4.00 × 3.90), 350 bhp
Transmission: 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic
Suspension, front: upper A-arms, lower transverse arms, longitudinal torsion bars, anti-roll bar
Suspension, rear: live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs
Brakes: front/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 126.0
Weight (lbs): 4,220-4,445
Top speed (mph): 110-115
0-60 mph (sec): 10.0-11.0