1975 Chrysler: Today driven by teenager

Staff reports
Farm Forum

One summer day in 2014, Ruben Alvarez was driving past an automotive tire shop not too far from his home in Stafford, Va., when he observed a “for sale” sign in the windshield of a distinctive car in their parking lot.

The sheer size of the 1975 Chrysler New Yorker, which came within an inch-and-a-half of being 19 feet long, caught his attention. He drove by the shop on a daily basis, always admiring the car.

Finally, in August, he took his teenage son, Quentin, to show him what American cars used to be like. Quentin was impressed.

The father and son examined the well-worn Chrysler, which, according to maintenance records, had been gently treated. As was typical of many cars in 1975, the rooftop of the four-door sedan was covered in vinyl.

The New Yorker was equipped with power-assisted extras including steering, windows, door locks, seats, exterior mirrors, and brakes. Disc brakes were on the front wheels while the rear wheels had drum brakes.

Another feature the pair noticed was that its two-spoke steering wheel was mounted on a collapsible steering column, which had both tilt and telescopic functions.

After comparing the almost 40-year-old Chrysler to modern automobiles the father and son went home. However, with his son nearing driving age Alvarez couldn’t help but think it would be a perfect car for his son — and the rest of the family, too.

On Quentin’s birthday, at the end of August 2014, the family went to buy the car. The odometer had counted 9,000 miles, but based on its maintenance records, Alvarez believes it more likely has been around the odometer twice.

The handsome top-of-the-line Chrysler is black with white pinstripes running the length of the car. The upholstery and interior trim, Alvarez says, are ocean blue.

Most any car with this much age is in need of some care. Alvarez reports that the dual-exhaust system had virtually disintegrated and required replacing. Additionally, the non-functioning air conditioner needed to be upgraded.

A total mechanical tune-up did wonders for the car, along with a replacement suspension system including hard-to-find parts. The 4,660-pound New Yorker now provides a luxurious ride on the 124-inch wheelbase supported by 15-inch tires. The Chrysler still takes 48.2 feet to turn around.

Not only do the occupants have an abundance of room in the 79.5-inch-wide car, but also their luggage can easily fit inside the spacious 20.2-cubic-foot trunk.

A four-barrel carburetor delivers fuel to the thirsty 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine at the rate of 10.5 miles per gallon. The 25.1-gallon gasoline tank is filled through the centrally located opening between the two backup lights. A decal on the nearby bumper cautions: “UNLEADED GASOLINE ONLY.”

At the other end of the 1975 Chrysler, atop the leading edge of each front fender is a small warning light visible to the driver. When either turn signal is activated, the corresponding light flashes to alert the driver. Heat passing through the 15 horizontal red wires embedded in the glass defogs the rear window.

The patient father and son keep improving the Chrysler with detail items, such as the windshield wiper motors and a new power steering pump. Next on the agenda are some electrical gremlins to work out.

Only 12,774 cars like this one were manufactured, each one with a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The New Yorker sedans were not inexpensive with each one carrying a base price of $6,424.

Both father and son agree they’re happy whenever the 1975 sedan starts and moves. Even after all these years, Alvarez says, “It’s fun to drive.”

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