Rides from the Reader: 1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham

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Ken Tolksdorf

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

Today’s featured car is a 1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham. Essentially an Imperial with a Chrysler body, a lower price tag, and a different options menu, the ’76–78 New Yorker Brougham was one of the last holdouts of true full-size luxury. In 1979, Chrysler debuted an overhauled and much smaller New Yorker, but the “Imperialized” cars are in a league of their own. They were offered either in coupe or sedan versions, both resplendent with frameless glass and razor-thin B-pillars, and were powered either by a 400- or 440-cu-in V-8 mated to a three-speed TorqueFlite auto.

This particular Wedgewood Blue example features the 400-cu-in option and belongs to Ken Tolksdorf, who stumbled upon it quite by accident in July 2013. At 19 feet, 3 inches long, it was “as big as a whale,” in his words, and impossible to miss. The paint was dirty and the battery was dead, but it boasted a “near perfect” interior with optional Corinthian leather. Even better, the car only had 34,250 miles.

Tolksdorf and his wife dreamed of participating in Detroit’s famous Woodward Dream Cruise, rather than simply being spectators, and they decided that the New Yorker would be the perfect cruising candidate.

After a tune-up, a new battery, a Chrysler Lean Burn conversion kit, and new electric lock solenoids, and a laundry list of smaller fixes, the New Yorker was up and running. The Tolksdorfs’ efforts have been well-recognized at cruises and at shows, and the New Yorker has even sat on the Edsel and Eleanor Ford estate at the 2017 EyesOn Design show.

Despite the time invested in the restoration, the Tolksdorfs aren’t afraid to get out and enjoy their New Yorker. “Our car always gets a lot of attention and quite a few thumbs-up wherever we go with it. Occasionally someone will ask me where I dock my ‘boat,’ and we all get a good chuckle out of that.”

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