The 1977 New Yorker Brougham St. Regis traded imperial status for the Empire State
The 1976–78 Chrysler New Yorker Broughams came about due to the demise of Imperial as a separate nameplate in 1975. We were lucky to have gotten the marque’s final two years, by the way. A chance sighting of a design sketch at Highland Park led to a stay of execution for the beloved but slow-selling Imperial brand after the 1973 “Fuselage” Imperial went out of production.
That new model, debuting in 1974 as the last all-new Imperial, did not sell well at all. Just 14,483 1974 models and a mere 8830 ’75 Imperial LeBarons, offered only as a two-door or four-door hardtop, were built, the last of the line. Well, until 1981 when a new coupe-only, bustle-back Imperial debuted, but that’s a story for another time.
Chrysler, however, still had a very new body shell, and an ornate one at that. So the New Yorker Brougham, which had been around as the top of the line Chrysler for several years, moved to the ex-Imperial body. It had the look and feel of the ’74–75 Imperial, but many features and extras that had been standard on the Imperial were now optional. And some things, like the four-wheel disc brakes, were eliminated. 1976–78 New Yorker Broughams had the much more commonly used front disc/rear drum brake setup. And as a Chrysler Corporation product, these big sedans of course had torsion bar front suspension.
As with the Imperial LeBaron, the New Yorker Brougham was offered in coupe and sedan versions. Wheelbase was 124-inches, overall length was 231, and width was 79.7. A full-sized vehicle in every sense of the word. Also carrying over from the old Imperial was the St. Regis roof option for coupes. The St. Regis package consisted of a forward “canopy” style padded roof, starting at the A-pillars and continuing two-thirds of the way back across the roof. The padded vinyl also extended down and encircled the rear quarter windows. This, by the way, removed the ability of those windows to roll down and create a proper pillarless coupe.
This feature is prominently featured on today’s car, a 1977 New Yorker Brougham spotted by my friend in Nova Scotia, Kevin Campbell. It is particularly fetching in triple white-with matching paint, top and interior-in leather, of course! It is also equipped with the optional power sunroof.
Sales of the “Imperialized” New Yorker Brougham were much better than that of the last Imperials, due to the lower base price of about $6700. Of course, many were loaded up with extras. And it’s quite likely that many NYBs went out the door for Imperial money. But that lower initial price, plus the Chrysler name, led to 19,732 coupes and 56,610 sedans built for model-year ’77. Most of these cars came with the proper 440; a 400 with slightly less power was available for the economy-minded, while a 360 was provided for California and certain high-altitude regions.
1978 was the last year for the truly large C-body New Yorker Brougham and its less-expensive siblings, the Newport and Newport Custom. For its final appearance, 11,469 coupes and 33,090 sedans were sold. There was a small weight reduction and the 400 replaced the 440 in all applicable areas.
In 1979 an all new, significantly smaller New Yorker appeared. While it was attractive in its own right, and a cool new “Fifth Avenue” model with designer colors was added to the line, it was available only as a four door sedan. And it wasn’t quite as regal and decadent as these fully full sized 1976–78 models!