Hooniverse Weekend Edition – The Very Definition of the word Malaise: The 1979 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham

Within the Automotive Enthusiast community, the term “Malaise” describes pretty much any vehicle built during the 1970s and perhaps in the early 80s as well. This was the era in which there was a convergence of government mandates regulating emission levels, bumper regulations, and fuel economy. With such mandates, each of the automakers had to make their vehicles pollute less, try to integrate large bumpers to existing designs, and to try and eek out fuel economy with smaller engines. In turn, the cars became slower, uglier, and brown…. for some reason. However, there has never been a poster child for this era until now…. Introducing the very definition of the word Malaise, a Brown 1979 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham.

By 1979, all of the Detroit based automakers offered “downsized” full-sized models. GM was the first when they introduced their new sized cars for the 1977 model year. Ford introduced their “Panther” platform in the fall of 1978, and Chrysler followed through with their full-sized cars on the “R” platform, which was essentially a slightly modernized version of Chrysler’s 1971-78 intermediate “B” platform, and could trace its roots in the company’s downsized 1962 full-size models. Compared to the more modern GM and Ford designs, it was uncompetitive to say the least. The best sales year for these short lived vehicles was 1979, in which 54,640 units were sold.

Let’s take a look at this particular New Yorker. It is a Brougham model, and featured about every 1970s gimmick at the time. Of course it has an upright grill, classic hidden headlamps, stand-up hood ornament, and a full width tail lamp. Chrysler specific doo-dads include the trademarked quarter vinyl roof that covered the “C” pillar and rear window, the fender mounted turn signal indicators with the mileage minder, and the Turbine inspired deep dish wheel covers.

Inside, you will find the prerequisite crushed velour seat trim, fake walnut woodgrain on the dash and the door trim, plush carpet under your feet, cable controlled remote mirrors, over wrought trim on the doors, and the Chrysler exclusive push-button climate control system. Even the Automatic Shift lever that was found in every Chrysler, Dodge or Plymouth since the late 60s is here.

Under the hood? It is either the lean burn 318, or 360. The listing makes no mention as to which choked engine lies under all those vacuum hoses. And of course, it is finished in the finest Chocolate Brown paint anyone in the 70s would swoon for, with the complimentary Tan interior. How more malaise can you get? These were such a sales disappointment for Chrysler that they were discontinued half way through the 1981 model year, with the Volaré based New Yorker taking its place in 1982.

The 1979 New Yorker Brougham listed only covered 71,000 miles, and is being offered at $7,450. For that money, this would make you an honorary member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society, but would you want it? See the Auto Trader Classics listing here.

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37 responses to “Hooniverse Weekend Edition – The Very Definition of the word Malaise: The 1979 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham”

  1. tonyola Avatar

    Desperation times for Chrysler. All they had money for was a single sedan body to spread across Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth. Forget coupes or wagons or even unique sheetmetal for the divisions – just a couple different front and rear end caps. Even the dashboards were shared. "Anyone got any ideas as to how to make the New Yorker look expensive without spending any real money?" "Sure, put opera windows in the rear doors instead of the C-pillars."

    1. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

      Hell, Plymouth didn't even get a variant for '79 – They got a Newport-clone Gran Fury to keep the fleets happy for '80-'81, but Plymouth was pretty much finished as a serious Chevy/Ford competitor from then on. And pushing the Newport as a police cruiser did nothing to help the Chrysler brand's premium status, either. Still, '79 was a strong year for big cars and Chrysler still moved almost 140,000 Newports/New Yorkers, despite their flaws, but the St. Regis bombed. Big cars rebounded in the mid-'80s, and given how long-lived the big GMs and Fords, and even Chrysler own M-body were, you have to wonder what would have happened if they could have invested a few more dollars in the R-body.
      That said, it's ironic that today Chrysler is the only manufacturer to offer a volume full size, rear drive V8 sedans.

  2. skitter Avatar

    I would rather have the Volare based New Yorker.
    I can't believe I just said that.
    No wonder the K-cars seemed so brilliant.
    /Ten years later, the same logic applies to the LH-platform.

  3. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Any insight on the plastic surrounding the battery? Looks like it's part washer fluid reservoir / part battery holddown?
    Maybe the worse a car "truly" is, the more I like it, because I love this one. Look at the size of the courtsey lights on the doors….. even from here you can feel absolutely nothing through the power steering.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      I will give Chrysler credit for one thing. In an era when most US cars had just a speedo and a fuel gauge, Chrysler put gauges for temp, alternator, and oil pressure in this car. Maybe given Chrysler's quality in these years, those gauges were really needed…

    2. kingcatpooo Avatar

      Its a thermal guard with the washer fluid reservoir attached to the back. At least that's how it is on my 79 new yorker.

  4. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    Something about a padded landau roof makes me feel like I ought to be wearing a tuxedo. But thhis car is all dressed up with nowhere to go.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      A tux would be a bit over the top unless it was pale blue with a frilly shirt. But if you were wearing this while driving the New Yorker, you'd be King of Disco Night at the apartment complex rec hall.
      <img src="http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/pic/2004/leisure/outfitentire.jpg"&gt;

      1. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

        Even clothes reflected the malaise era.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          [youtube A_sY2rjxq6M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M youtube]

  5. facelvega Avatar

    Maybe it's just me, but when you get to these real depths of the malaise, I feel that there's a grandpa-car appeal still lingering in these cars, and especially the chryslers. I'll take mine with the burgundy velour interior, though.

    1. facelvega Avatar

      I remember when I was in Norway in the mid-90s, my friend's imposingly huge grandfather drove a mid-80s M-Body Chrysler Fifth Avenue, burgundy on burgundy corinthian leather. What was by that point in the US already among the least desirable used cars you could possibly still be driving looked in the Scandinavian context like a vintage Bentley if you squinted a little: huge, square, with big vertical chrome grille. I remember he gleefully told me "there are only two of these in all of Norway, mine– and the King's!"
      Not his, but the right color and with the similar mountain backdrop:
      <img src="http://www.strutmasters.com/v/vspfiles/assets/images/chrysler-fifth-avenue-with-air-ride-suspension.jpg"&gt;

      1. Lotte Avatar

        I love American cars in non-American settings! A popular motoring magazine took a Hemi Orange Dodge Challenger for a romp all over Europe; aside from a great story, what would look positively crass and redneck gives off a very cool "this is what a car should be! Big and Vroom!" kind of vibe. If I ever decide to live somewhere that is not North America the muscle car is coming with me.

        1.  Avatar
          1. Lotte Avatar

            And here having euro plates on your lowered, tinted and m-sported BMW 325i makes you a pretty big douchebag. Hm, now that I think of it, running Ontario (or NJ, or Nunavut! Google if you haven't seen) plates somewhere else would be pretty sweet! "What is that?…"

          2. facelvega Avatar

            quick, trade in the Miata for a Roadmaster, or at least a Mustang. Actually, Jersey plates, you might want to go with something to remind them of the Sopranos.

        2. mrright Avatar

          Right on my friend!

      2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I reckon one of those, black over burgundy with the vinyl roof long gone, sitting on black steelies, would look incredible. There are two important points, though, that need to be made: first, I'm a longtime fan of Bauhaus and the Sisters of Mercy, and second, I could really use some sleep.

  6. PrawoJazdy Avatar

    I have a soft spot for the interior. The lighting in the soffit above the radio and in the door. Also, hiding the over sized door handle in that cave on the side of the arm rest is a nice touch.
    The rest of the car can go, but give me a Malaise interior any day. A couple of grand will keep that brown cavern of luxury from coming apart at the seams.

  7. tonyola Avatar

    Usually it was either a set of lights or a gauge connected to the engine vacuum. Popular during malaise. Quite a few cars offered one.

  8. longrooffan Avatar

    Not sure how they work but on Mom's 76 Grand Fury Wagon, there were turn signal indicators facing the driver on the top of each of the front fenders. When ever I would press the accelerator to agressively the driver's side would light up indicating you were getting poor gas mileage. My Mom would purposely sit in the back seat behind me and yell at me every time that light lit up!!

  9. Tomsk Avatar

    Not really a fan of the New Yorker styling, but I wouldn't mind a Newport, St. Regis or Gran Fury with an airbag at each corner and a late-model Hemi under the hood.

  10. Alff Avatar

    It's awful … and yet …

  11. facelvega Avatar

    I don't know why we are so hung up on the weakness of strangled malaise V8s. Historically this lack of power cast a pall over the whole era, but it would not be terribly difficult or expensive to either rebuild many malaise engines up to far higher power output– cylinder heads, cam, intake, exhaust– not terribly more than a basic engine rebuild and exhaust replacement without these bells and whistles. Or like any old detroit car, you could just spend a few grand to swap in a new crate engine. Yes, it would be a bit expensive for a beater, but it's not exactly an insurmountable barrier, it's fairly common practice.
    That said, I'm not sure this New Yorker is the prime candidate for such a treatment. Maybe, though.

    1. scoutdude Avatar

      Yeah though a 360 Magnum is an easy drop in which would increase power and driveablity greatly, improve MPG, and reduce emissions.
      I could see maybe doing it to a Cordoba, but this NY'er I don't think so, it's too nice of a survivor.
      There are tons of Malaise era cars that are prime candidates for a late model engine swap, a little tweaking to the suspension and modern tires that could make some nice drivers. A colenade coupe, G-body, some of the RWD Caddies, T-birds, Cougars and Marks.
      Personally being a Ford guy I've thought about dropping a Mark VI or 80-81 Town Coupe on a later Panther chassis. Drop a 32v 4.6 or 5.4 for one heck of a sleeper. Even though they are from the 80's, but the style of the Llincolns of that time still scream 70's malaise era pimping. The Mark will drop right on a 92-97 CV/GM the Town Coupe on a Town Car. I'm pretty sure that there would be minimal if any mods required to drop it on the even better 03 up Chassis.

      1. facelvega Avatar

        Funny you should mention the Cordoba, when I wrote that I was thinking of the Cordoba I mentioned last week.
        But when you mention being a Ford guy, you remind me of this old Panther week comparison test on TTAC where it was concluded that an '88 Town Car was an incomparably better object than an '06. Perfect candidate for a junkyard engine swap.

  12. Jim-Bob Avatar

    It's Broughamalicious!

  13. LTDScott Avatar

    My god, that is the biggest door light I have ever seen!
    I have a soft spot for these, although a St. Regis and its clear headlight covers would be my first choice.

  14. dukeisduke Avatar

    I like it alright. I'll bet that grille is hinged at the top, to swing back as the chrome battering ram bumper retracts during a 5mph impact. Makes me want to turn the thermostat down to 68 degrees and put on a sweater.

  15. RichardKopf Avatar

    Oh god, the finest cut of malaise available. To say I want to would be an understatement. I would rock it every weekend, fully decked out in the cheesiest `70s outfits I could find. My girlfriend would most likely leave me.

  16. Black Steelies Avatar

    The seats still look quite comfortable if that's any consolation.

  17. Andre Avatar

    As far as I know, there was no such thing as a New Yorker Brougham in 1979. They had the base New Yorker, which is what this car appears to be, and the 5th Avenue edition, which was two-tone creme, with a matching creme leather interior, thicker shag carpet, "driftwood" accents, wire hubcaps, a "5th Avenue" script in the quarter window glass that was lit up at night from little lights underneath, etc.
    As for engines, that car should have a 150 hp 360-2bbl, although California/high-altitude models got a 318-4bbl with 155 hp. Optional was a 195 hp 360-4bbl that pretty much turned the New Yorker into a copcar in drag.
    Those turbine hubcaps required the extra wide (for the era) 15×7 rims, so that particular New Yorker might handle a bit better than your typical late 70's lovebarge. With the torsion bar front suspension and leaf springs in back, the R-body in general was a fairly good handler for its size, although it didn't give you that nice, floaty, isolated ride that big car buyers demanded at the time.

  18. MRRIGHT Avatar

    This car is not great in brown (as I am not a brown fan in general) but the car itself I love. I would take one of these over most of the mundane Toyota-esque garbage vehicles that are churned out for the even more mundane jackasses who buy that junk. I learned to drive on a 76 New Yorker Brougham (2 door, black with dark red leather interior) and people would stop and ask if I wanted to sell it. There are a handful of attractive cars being manufactured today, and this car is a welcome reminder of a time when, despite some drawbacks, walking in to a car showroom was still an exciting experience.

  19. Dennis S. Avatar
    Dennis S.

    This was my dad’s last car. His was painted a stunning teal green with matching button tufted leather. It really turned heads. We drove it from Minnesota down to Athens, Georgia, and back in 1982, with no problems. One of my dad’s neighbors saw the New Yorker for the first time, and said, “I just bought my car three weeks ago, and was happy about it until I saw yours…nice ride!

  20. Gary Taylor Avatar
    Gary Taylor

    I am not a great fan of brown, but in white or black I would be happy to own this vehicle.

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