From a complicated time in Chrysler’s history comes this 1989 New Yorker Mark Cross. It’s all used up, but its formal style still makes an impression.
Chrysler’s charismatic early-’80s CEO Lee Iaccoca was the company’s savior. When Chrysler was on death watch and car buyers found a new reason to avoid its products – would this car company still be around in a year to service what it sells? – Iacocca adopted a Patton-esque posture and stepped in front of the cameras.
In addition to his commanding presence, Iaccoca’s accelerated reshaping of a sick company reassured buyers and landed Chrysler a life-saving government loan.
And most fortunately, the boxy 1981 K-cars were exactly the fuel-efficient and front-wheel drive sedans buyers wanted. Quality was still an issue, but at least the cars were finally becoming broadly relevant.
As was common with American car companies in the 1980s, the dollars for R&D dried up once profitability was reached, and Chrysler held on way too long to the prosaic K-car platform, which underpinned everything from Plymouth Sundances to Dodge Daytonas.
And Chrysler New Yorkers.
This rolling brick of a New Yorker debuted two years after Ford’s jellybean Taurus, which saved Ford’s hide much as the K-car saved Chrysler’s. As the Taurus defined ’80s futurism, the New Yorker’s styling cues ladled onto that narrow K platform came from the past.
There’s even a little bit of a fin built into the tail lights, which are about as thin as a bulb’s-width to give a visual impression of much real estate between them.
That’s how it is when you’re rehashing a platform past its due date: you end up with a long series of compromises.
This New Yorker’s rigid boxiness extends to the interior, with its bluff-faced instrument panel.
This one is loaded with electronic instruments and a “Traveler” trip computer.
The leather wrap on this New Yorker’s steering wheel rim was gone, except for this remainder at the triangular spoke.
Credit where credit is due: there’s a nice blending of the dash into the door panel, and the laid-down door handle is a unique touch.
However, a cardinal rule has been broken here: friends don’t let friends eat Funyuns.
“Mark Cross” – such an official-sounding name.
The worn driver’s seat and filthy seatbelt shows that this car was milked for its last mile.
As it happens with cars that are dated when they debut, today this New Yorker Mark Cross fascinates.
Iaccoca made the choice to pursue a limited market with a car for which the tooling and R&D had long been paid for, and that creative laxity nearly drove Chrysler back into the ground.
Another round of savior cars – the cab-forward LHs – debuted in 1992 to help the company regain its altitude, and the books that have been written about the aftermath have not been kind to Iaccoca’s legacy.
Still, who hasn’t wanted to go the safe route after a long storm? This New Yorker Mark Cross is a testament to that temptation.