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Although the C-body Chrysler Newport was known by most folks as the "entry-level" full-size Chrysler from 1961-1981 in various forms, the Newport name actually dates back as far as 1941 when it was used on a roadster concept car known as the Newport Phaeton. It's biggest claims to fame, other than only 6 ever being produced, was that actress Lana Turner and Chrysler founder Walter P. Chrysler himself both owned one as their personal car for a time. To top it off, the Newport Phaeton also paced the Indianapolis 500 in 1941, the only time a nonproduction vehicle has ever held that honor. The Newport Phaeton was based on the upper-level New Yorker, a sign of things to come.

The Newport name would come about again in 1949 as a baseline Chrysler model as a 2-door hardtop version of the New Yorker, Saratoga and Windsor models throughout the early to mid-1950s. In 1961, however, the Newport would come into a model on its own, serving as a decontented New Yorker, a role it would faithfully serve until it was terminated after 1981.

Here's a quick rundown from 1961-1981:

1961-1964Edit

As mentioned, the Newport was introduced in 1961 as an entry-level full-size Chrysler. The Newport was intended to bridge the gap between equivalent Dodge and Chrysler models that was created when the DeSoto make was cancelled in 1961. Newports were based on Chrysler's C-body which also included the Dodge Polara and Plymouth Fury. It also shared the New Yorker's tail fins and its rather curious diagonal quad headlight design, a style one either seemed to love or despise. The 5.9L (361 cid) V8 was the standard engine, with a 3-speed manual or pushbutton automatic transmissions available. The larger 6.3L (383 cid) V8 was an option. Bodystyles included a 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan or hardtop, 5-door station wagon or 2-door convertible.

There weren't many changes in 1962 other than the rear quarter panel tail fins were nearly gone as that fad was fast fading. The 6.8L (413 cid) "wedge" V8 was added to the options list. The Newport was restyled in 1963 along with the rest of the C-body line that eliminated the previous diagonal headlight setup in favor of a more conventional side-by-side quad headlight design. Powertrain options and bodystyles continued as before. 1964 models continued with little change other than a slightly revised front and rear end. The 1964 Newport actually gained very small fins running along the back fenders to make it look larger in the side profile. The Newport would be redesigned for 1965.

1965-1968Edit

Chrysler Newport
Chrysler
Production 1965-1968
Class Full Size
Body Style 2-Door Hardtop
2-Door Convertible
4-Door Sedan
4-Door Hardtop
5-Door Wagon
Length 219"
Width 79.5"
Height 55.5"
Wheelbase 124" (coupe, sedan)
122" (wagon)
Weight 4100-4500 lbs
Transmission 3-Speed Automatic, RWD
3-Speed Manual, RWD
4-Speed Manual, RWD
Engine 5.9L (361 cid) V8 (1965)
6.3L (383 cid) V8 (1967-1968)
6.8L (413 cid) V8 (1965)
7.2L (440 cid) V8 (1966-1968)
Power 180-365 hp
Similar Chrysler 300
Chrysler New Yorker
Dodge Monaco/Polara
Plymouth Fury
Platform C

Newports, again with the other C-bodies, were all new for 1965. They would ride a longer wheelbase than before at 124", and would keep this same length until the end of the 1978 model year (wagons were slightly smaller at 122"). Pushbutton automatic transmissions were gone for good now, replaced by a more conventional gearshift lever.

The design for 1965 was more squared-off than previous, having been penned by Elwood Engel, who worked on the 1961 Lincoln before leaving Ford to work for Chrysler. A chrome strip ran along the length of the tope edge of the fenders from front to back. Base engine was again the 361, with the 383 and 413 optional. Available bodystyles were the 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 4-door "town sedan" with opera windows in the C-pillars, 4-door hardtop, 5-door wagon and 2-door convertible. Visual changes for 1966 were minor refinements on the 1965 design, such as a revised grille and taillights. The 361 V8 was no longer available, the 383 was now the standard engine in 2- and 4-barrel carb configurations. The 413 went away also, to be replaced by the all-new 7.2L (440 cid) V8. Front disc brakes became an available option.

1967 models were restyled, although dimensions remained largely the same. Body contours were now more pronounced than before and the styling seemed more upright. Engel experimented with concave body panels, which resulted in some contrived contours in the body. The 4-door town sedan was dropped due to poor sales. The largest change came for the coupe model, which now sported a semi-fastback style and an upswept rear quarter window design that was shared with the Dodge Polara/Monaco and Plymouth Fury coupes. Interiors were all new, and the dashboard was redesigned with the Chrysler-trademarked (for the time) "upside down" speedometer needle. For added safety, a collapsible steering column was introduced in 1967. 1968 models all had the newly required side marker lights, different grilles and the taillights were changed from the ribbed-square design to an inset rectangular style. Reverse lights were now in the inboard section of the taillights and no longer flanked the license plate. Convertibles could have the interesting "Sport Grain" option that included faux woodgrain siding borrowed from the Town & Country wagons. The Newport would be redesigned along with the rest of the C-body line for 1969.

CompetitorsEdit


1969-1973Edit

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Chrysler Newport
Chrysler
Production 1969-1973
Class Full Size
Body Style 2-Door Hardtop
2-Door Convertible
4-Door Sedan
4-Door Hardtop
5-Door Wagon
Length 224.1"
Width 79.4"
Height 56"
Wheelbase 124" (coupe, sedan)
122" (wagon)
Weight 4100-4500 lbs
Transmission 3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 5.9L (360 cid) V8 (1972-1973)
6.3L (383 cid) V8 (1969-1971)
6.6L (400 cid) V8 (1972-1973)
7.2L (440 cid) V8 (1969-1973)
Power 180-350 hp
Similar Chrysler 300
Chrysler New Yorker
Dodge Monaco/Polara
Plymouth Fury
Platform C

The Newport was now redesigned adopting Chrysler's all-new "fuselage" design, which supposedly resembled an airplane fuselage. Front bumpers were now what was known as "loop bumpers" that encircled the entire front end, a design that would briefly spread to other Dodge and Plymouth models. Newports were a little larger than before, but wheelbase would remain at 124" (and 122" for the wagons). Base model was the Custom. Standard engine was still the 383-2 with the 383-4 and 440-4 as options, and the 3-speed automatic transmission would now be the only one available (which 99.4% had anyway). Bodystyles still contained the 2-door hardtop and convertible, 4-door sedan and hardtop and the 5-door Town & Country wagon. Dashboards were redesigned, but they still retained their interesting upside-down speedo needle design. In a very odd ergonomic move, the ignition was now placed down low and to the far left of the driver, defying convention. 1970 models had a new front grille and rear taillights but otherwise remained largely the same. The goofy low-and-to-the-left ignition placement was thankfully changed this year as it was now moved onto the steering column (and back on the right side), a change made in all Chrysler models this year. 1971s had another new grille with slim chrome horizontal crossbars, and the taillights were now vertically sectioned. Base models were now known as Royals.

1972 had a few detail changes, first and foremost was that the convertible model was dropped across the C-body (and the rest of the Chrysler) line. The Three Hundred was dropped at the end of last year, leaving just the Newport and upper-level New Yorker to carry on. The 2-door coupes had a new rear roof design, sporting a more upright formal quarter window design. Grilles were new again, now it was vertically sectioned and split in the middle. Taillights were new too, now vertical and almost boomerang-shaped (some say they resembled parentheses). Reverse lights now flanked the license plate. The 383 V8 was replaced by a new low-compression 6.6L (400 cid) V8 in 2- or 4-bbl versions, and the 5.9L (360 cid) 2bbl V8 became the new standard engine. The 440 V8 remained an option. 1973s had a new front end that eliminated the loop bumper as Chrysler started backing away from its loop-bumper trend this year. Headlights were now in separate square bezels and the grille became an eggcrate design. Taillights were similar to last year's but the top and bottom portions were now divided. There would be an all new Newport in 1974.

CompetitorsEdit


Chrysler Newport
Chrysler
Production 1974-1978
Class Full Size
Body Style 2-Door Hardtop
4-Door Sedan
4-Door Hardtop
5-Door Wagon
Length 227.1"
Width 79.6"
Height 54.7"
Wheelbase 124" (coupe, sedan)
122" (wagon)
Weight 4100-4500 lbs
Transmission 3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 5.9L (360 cid) V8
6.6L (400 cid) V8
7.2L (440 cid) V8
Power 180-220 hp
Similar Chrysler New Yorker
Dodge Monaco/Royal Monaco
Plymouth Fury/Gran Fury
Platform C

1974-1978Edit

For 1974, the Newport was redesigned - one inch lower, one inch wider, and a full five inches shorter than in 1973. Wheelbase still remained at 124" (122" for the Town & Country wagon). The design was completely new from the ground up, along with its other lesser Dodge Monaco and Plymouth Fury stablemates. Bodystyles were the 2-door coupe and hardtop, 4-door hardtop, and the 5-door wagon. Initially the base engine was the 400 cid V8, but shortly the 360 cid V8 was made standard as a mid-year change, mostly for fuel economy reasons. Transmission remained the stalwart 727 Torqueflight 3-speed automatic. The new Newport also used a modular and more conventional instrument panel, eliminating the old "upside down" speedo needle look of old.

1975's changed very little, other than eliminating the annoying one-year-only "seat-belt interlock" feature that prevented the car from being started unless the driver's seatbelt was fastened and most 75's had catalytic converters. 1976 Newports didn't change much either other than receiving new horizontal taillights, replacing the vertical ones. In 1977 the front bumper was re-designed, electronic lean burn engine control was introduced, along with a new steering wheel and various option changes. The 1978's were very similar to the 1977 models, but the 4-door sedan was dropped. The 2 and 4-door hardtop remained. The 1978 full-size Chryslers had the distinction as being the last American car to date available as a true hardtop model. 1978 was also the last year for the 440 V8 engine in any Chrysler car. The Newport would be an all-new downsized model for 1979.

CompetitorsEdit


1979-1981Edit

Chrysler Newport
Chrysler
Production 1979-1981
Class Full Size
Body Style 4-Door Sedan
Length 220.2"
Width 77.1"
Height 54.5"
Wheelbase 118.5"
Weight 3600-3900 lbs
Transmission 3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 3.7L (225 cid) I6 (1979-1981)
5.2L (318 cid) V8 (1979-1981)
5.9L (360 cid) V8 (1979-1980)
Power 90-150 hp
Similar Chrysler New Yorker
Dodge St. Regis
Plymouth Gran Fury
Platform R

The Newport was now an "R" body and much smaller and lighter than its previous land-barge predecessors, although its interior dimensions remained largely the same. The Newport was still a large car, but it was about 400-500 lbs lighter than the 1978 model and more fuel efficient. The Newport's platform was basically a continuation of the outgoing B-body chassis from the now-departed Dodge Monaco and Plymouth Fury that dated back to 1971. Dodge dropped the Monaco after 1978 and renamed its R-bodied successor St. Regis. Base engine was now the 3.7L (225 cid) Slant 6, with the 318 and 360 V8s optional (the 318 being the most popular engine choice). Transmission remained the 3-speed automatic. The Newport remained an entry-level Chrysler and still played second-fiddle to its more prestigious New Yorker brother, just as it did from its outset. There was only one bodystyle, a 4-door sedan. No more coupes or station wagons - or hardtops - in this generation.

1980 Newports received very little change at all as the Newport had actually planned to be terminated after this year, but it (along with its other R-body mates) got a last-minute stay of execution and hung on for one more year despite very sluggish sales after a promising start. Plymouth got into the act this year with its own R-body model, resurrecting the Gran Fury name last seen in 1977, which was merely an identical Newport clone with Plymouth badges on it. 1981s did get a revised grille and the 360 V8 was dropped (except in police and taxi fleet models), but that was pretty much it.

Many things were against the new R-body from the start, not the least of which was Chrysler's reputation for shoddy build quality and unsteady financial condition at the time, combined with tightening oil and gasoline supplies hurt its sales. This, plus the lack of bodystyle choices and other such things as overdrive transmissions no doubt contributed to its ultimate downfall. There would be no direct successor to the Newport, but the New Yorker would live on as a smaller downsized model in 1982 (see Chrysler Fifth Avenue entry for further information).

CompetitorsEdit

See AlsoEdit

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