To mark its 25th anniversary as an automaker, Chrysler introduced its first all-new post-war design for the 1949 model year. The overall look was considerably cleaner and more modern, with shortened overhangs better proportions than the hastily adapted pre-war designs. While the new styling was undoubtedly more contemporary than the outgoing models, some critics felt Chrysler’s look was too conservative to stand out in the rapidly evolving market, particularly in the face of stiff competition from GM, Ford, and Studebaker.
By 1953, Virgil Exner’s efforts to revamp Chrysler’s staid image were finally finding traction. His stunning “Idea Cars” caused a stir on the auto show circuit, and the influence of spectacular one-offs like the 1951 K-310 and 1952 C-200 would soon appear in the showrooms. For the 1953 model year, Chrysler revealed all-new exterior sheet metal that was altogether cleaner, more dynamic, and modern. Notable changes included a one-piece curved windshield and lowered, sloping roofline. The coupe, in particular, was influenced by concept cars like the K-310, especially in the elegant C-pillar treatment. The top-line New Yorker series stood apart from the rest of the line, with a unique grille and side trim treatments. All New Yorkers featured Chrysler’s Hemi V8 engine, most came equipped with the new PowerFlite automatic transmission, introduced midway through the production year. Perhaps reflecting Chrylser’s more conservative audience, the four-door sedan dominated New Yorker sales with more than 20,000 top-line Deluxe models produced. By comparison, the production of the sportier Club Coupe and Convertible Coupe struggled to top 2,800 examples.
This 1953 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Convertible Coupe is one of just 950 built and is extensively yet discreetly updated for effortless long-distance touring. The subject of a nut-and-bolt, body-off restoration, it is finished in a lovely combination of Casino Cream with a striking navy blue top and Highlander interior. At first glance, this New Yorker appears to be a standard, beautifully restored example, but a closer inspection reveals extensively re-engineered front suspension, brakes, and more. The paintwork is highly attractive the car appears very well maintained in the time since its refurbishment and subsequent enjoyment in the hands of its previous owner. Particularly notable is the brightwork, which is in excellent order, especially the large bumpers, grille, and body side trim. It sits with a purposeful, slightly lowered stance, rolling on chrome Kelsey Hayes-style wire wheels fitted with black wall BF Goodrich radials.
The splendid presentation continues inside, with beautiful navy-blue leather accented by blue Highlander tartan inserts on the seats and door panels, and a body-color dash and steering wheel. As with the exterior, the interior gives away little to suggest this is anything but a well-restored standard car, while a second look uncovers air conditioning controls hidden behind a panel in the dash, vents integrated into the footwells, and a revised shift lever for the updated automatic transmission. Matching seatbelts with early-style chrome buckles are a welcome safety addition. The leather is in excellent overall condition, with a bit of creasing on the front seat that is consistent with moderate use. The top and fitted boot cover are made using matching blue Stayfast canvas and display excellent fit & finish.
Making your way under the hood, you see the 331 cubic inch Hemi is well detailed and tidy with body-color valve covers and a custom air cleaner. Modern updates include an aluminum intake manifold, Edelbrock carburetor, 12-volt alternator charging system, modern A/C compressor, power steering, and dual circuit power brakes. Backing the engine is a proven and robust GM TH350 automatic transmission, which is more than enough to handle the Hemi’s output reliably. The modifications don’t stop with the drivetrain. The chassis is re-engineered to accept Mustang II-style tubular control-arm front suspension, which allows for power rack-and-pinion steering, disc brakes, and modern performance dampers. Disc brakes also feature in the rear, which retains the original style leaf spring/live axle configuration. The conversion work is professionally done, and the undercarriage is clean and orderly, with light soiling from occasional use.
Comprehensive upgrades and high-quality restoration work come together in a cohesive package that vastly improves the mighty New Yorker’s performance and handling without sacrificing its authentic character and distinctive style. Well-constructed and thoughtfully updated, this marvelous Chrysler New Yorker is perfect for relaxed, top-down cruising with room for the whole family.
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