1953 Chrysler New Yorker for a Washington Embassy
Alan Hais needed personal transportation to get around the Washington, D.C. area when he was a young engineer in 1971, so he answered an ad offering a 1953 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe convertible for only $300. The elegant convertible, one of only 950 made, had been purchased new by an embassy in the nation’s capital. The base price was $3,945.
“I had to think twice about it,” he says. “It had been repainted, but it was a mature car that appealed to me.” Besides, how wrong can you go for $300? He climbed behind the three-spoke steering wheel, fired up the still-powerful 331-cubic-inch Hemi V-8, and, with 180 horsepower at his command, steered the 4,295-pound convertible home. “I made it home with no trouble at all,” he reports.
During the next three decades, Hais slowly accumulated parts that he knew would be instrumental for restoration. The catalyst for that task came when the power brakes were barely functional. When a nearby shop agreed to do the work, “It was like having a child accepted at a four-year college,” he says.
The two-barrel carburetor was rebuilt, a new exhaust system was fabricated and the steering drag link was replaced. “Piece by piece,” Hais says, his car was restored. “There was very little rust,” he says. “It is a solid car.”
The poor quality chrome was sent to Pennsylvania for replating. The Chrysler was then stripped down to bare metal before being repainted in the original maroon hue. The maroon leather upholstery was replaced, as was the maroon carpeting. The maroon padded upper dashboard remains original, as do the black-painted lower dashboard and the window frames.
A tan top replaced the original black convertible top. A maroon leather boot was made to dress up the car’s appearance when the top is down. Courtesy lights illuminate the rear passenger compartment. The big car is moved by a Fluid Drive transmission. A Safety Clutch eases operation. The shift pattern from the left is Park-Low-Neutral-Drive. The handbrake serves as a parking gear.
Optional equipment on the big car includes heater, AM radio, fog lamps, air conditioner, power steering, outside mirrors, locking gas cap, power Vacu-Ease brakes, and Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels.
This was the third year that Chrysler offered the Hemi engine. Five quarts of oil keep it lubricated while 26 quarts of coolant keep the temperature under control. On the floor between the Safety Clutch and the Vacu-Ease brake is the windshield washer activator.
Although the speedometer is ready to record speeds up to 120 mph, Hais says, “It can cruise at 80 mph and it’ll probably do 100 mph.” Looking at the restored car, Hais says, “It gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”