Home » Watch A Brand New Chrysler New Yorker Fail Miserably In This Hilarious 1978 TV Review

Watch A Brand New Chrysler New Yorker Fail Miserably In This Hilarious 1978 TV Review

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Last week I either treated or subjected you, depending on your frame of mind, to a 1979 review of a 1980 model year Fiat Strada from a Miami television station, a review that did nothing to help Fiat’s reputation for having quality control roughly on par with the same sort of care your average finch gives to building its nest, and with a similar quality of materials. I feel like Fiat tends to get grief quite a lot for its past quality issues, and it’s worth remembering that Fiats were inexpensive cars, in an era where quality control of any kind was about as mythical and unobtainable as a set of working magic wings you could strap on and use to soar into the sky. That’s why, in the interest of fairness and because it’s grimly hilarious, I want to share another review with you; this one is of a luxury car, a 1979 Chrysler New Yorker, the flagship of the Chrysler fleet. And dear god is it an impressive and absolutely towering pantload.

Here, just, just watch it, and keep in mind that this car, at $9,096 base price (close to $40,000 today – the one tested here was $12,625 or about $52,500 today) was almost twice the price of the little Fiat, which came in at $5,242. Sure, that Fiat had plenty of ridiculous quality control problems, but just check out what the New Yorker has on offer:

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Vidframe Min Bottom

Wow, right? Let’s recap the issues here, because this is fun, somehow.

First, there was the incredible brake light failure that cascaded into an dazzling electrical shitstorm, because when the brake lights failed, then pressing the brakes caused the digital clock to go out, requiring the time to be reset or acceptance of living in a world where it’s aways 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, and the Light Spirit that lived in the brake lights seemed to have migrated to the dash, into a light above the radio that now illuminated when the brake pedal was pushed.

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Lights1

Just think about the massive helping of electrical clusterfudge that’s causing all of this mess. The brake light failure somehow roped in the clock and dash lights? Sounds like a nightmare (As an aside, I’d like to note that the New Yorker has those color-coordinated rubber impact strips I wrote about a bit ago). Oh, and also in the electrical camp is that the hazard light switch refused to stay engaged.

Then we have excitement with the doors: a bad run of paint, both front doors “stuck intermittently,” and while the interior was described as “sumptuous,” the left rear door didn’t quite fit right and wasn’t sealed well, so the rear carpet got nice and soaked when it rained.

Waterleak

And, to top everything off, the A/C quit working on this test car. And, remember, this is all from a TV station in Miami. 

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Mpg

But, hey, at least you could get just over a dozen miles per gallon out of this thing, and that 360 cubic-inch V8 made a boldly flaccid 150 horsepower, insuring that your hauling around nearly 4,000 pounds of half-ass opulence would be a leisurely experience, no matter what.

I never fail to be astounded at what impressively steaming piles some of these late-’70s cars were. This was a premium vehicle, a jewel in Chrysler’s crown, and the brand-new one chosen to be sent for a review leaked, lost its A/C, had strange electrical gremlins, shitty paint, sticky doors, and who knows what else would have fallen apart after, oh, say, two more weeks?

What a pile. Well, I don’t want to be such a downer; there’s always the chance their next review will be for something much, much better, right?

Screenshot 2023 05 08 At 12.02.50 Pm

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Ah, crap.

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LongCoolLincoln
LongCoolLincoln
1 year ago

The cheerful tone in his voice when he announces that next week he’ll be reviewing the godforsaken Olds diesel just made me want to hug the poor man

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
1 year ago

They got him off camera before the eye twitch really kicked in.

Holly Birge
Holly Birge
1 year ago

I love his car reviews. You can go diving down a great YouTube hole watching these.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 year ago

Well at least the front didn’t fall off. ヽ(͡◕ ͜ʖ ͡◕)ノ

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
1 year ago

I spent most of this past weekend going down a rabbit hole of watching his old reviews after you posted that Fiat article. From what I gathered, every car from every company was full of squeaks and rattles, nothing ever fit quite right, and paint quality was pretty bad across the board.

His review of the electric converted Renault Dauphine was interesting even though the final verdict was that it was pretty much unusable and unsafe for anything other than the lowest speed, downtown driving.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

He had nice things to say about the Pacer (!).

DysLexus
DysLexus
1 year ago

Here’s a thought exercise:
What product today is made with “1970s automotive quality” and we take it for granted that it’s not expected to work perfectly out of the box AND in a generation people will laugh at us?

For example “hey I only had to reboot this new iPhone three times today.”

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

An inkjet printer

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

Major appliances (washer, dryer, fridge, etc). Years ago they were expected to last about 25 years. Now we brag if they last 10.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 year ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

They’re unlikely to get better though. Might even get worse as companies cut more corners to boost quarterly profit by 0.04% to net the CEO a $10M bonus.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

My 2006 fridge is still going strong.

McLovin
McLovin
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

Wireless routers and almost anything bluetooth.

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 year ago

This guy is amazing!!! I have watched several of his reviews, and I have never seen such cheerful dunking. He seems to have zero expectations so when the doors and fenders don’t fall off in cartoon fashion when he tries to start the car he’s like “Well, it passed that test!”

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago
Reply to  Black Peter

Not sure if he’s damning with faint praise, or praising with faint damns.

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

Best line about the 1979 Mustang Giha with a 5.0, it “has all the power anyone could possibly want”, that V8 was rated at 139HP, though he did perform an impressive burn out.

https://youtu.be/LtgEBH8JAGM

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago

The 70s were the nadir of Chrysler’s long running quality issues so I’m not surprised that an average car had that many problems but a press car that was a shit show is surprising. I’m also somewhere between astonished and disappointed at the low horsepower and high weight of these crumbling barges. Our beater 2003 Buick gets 205hp out of a 3.8 V6 with roots as ancient as the 360 V8 and even pre bankruptcy GM did a better job with build quality since even with 213,000 miles on the clock everything works and the doors don’t leak

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 year ago

My grandfather always swore by New Yorkers and would buy a new one every three years. He passed away not long after these came out. I am a bit comforted that he didn’t have to experience one of these piles and the accompanying regret it would have introduced.

I love that this guy Randy Levine did all his own post. It’s an absolute shame YouTube wasn’t available to him. He would have crushed it.

SkierX
SkierX
1 year ago

I worked for a Chrysler (all the brands) dealer during the 00’s. The old man that owned the dealership often recounted the late 70’s when he took over from his father and just how awful the cars were. He also talked warmly (sarcasm) about the union members during that time affixing rattles to cars. He talked about them hiding pill bottles of ball bearings in door panels, under fenders etc. I got to experience that when there was a threatened strike in Illinois where the Caliber was built. He discussed how they were rebuilding the cars before they could even think about selling them. We were doing the same with the Calibers when the bankruptcy hit.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  SkierX

“He also talked warmly (sarcasm) about the union members during that time affixing rattles to cars. He talked about them hiding pill bottles of ball bearings in door panels, under fenders etc. I got to experience that when there was a threatened strike in Illinois where the Caliber was built.”

Did he happen to also “talk warmly” about the other side of that coin: Chrysler’s management?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Interestingly, his review of the AMC Concord seems to mirror most of what Motorweek said in the same period – it seems like they actually had barely acceptable quality control in the era, as opposed to the Big Three, who just didn’t do quality control at all

BrakShowStarringBrak
BrakShowStarringBrak
1 year ago

It’s the “Trailer Park Boys” Shitmobile! Of course it’s terrible!

The show actually featured a 1975, but I doubt that in just four years these cars got any less shitty.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

You say electrical clusternuck i say light show. Its the 70s get stoned drive this baby listening to the doors while you get a disco light show. Dont be a debbie downer.
It is surprising the manufacturer or dealer knowing its going for a Herve Villachez test drive that they couldnt or didnt want it to work better.
“Look for the union label. Chances are you’ll screwed. Paying twice as much for half as much is what we give you. “

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Plus, the AC shut itself down because it could see that the milage was terrible and it was doing its part to help out.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

I am tuning in next week!

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago

I spattered coffee all over my desk when I saw that screenshot.

Jb996
Jb996
1 year ago

I also love watching his description of how these cars handle. Many of them he describes as having a tight suspension and handling well, or sporty, and being flat in turns. But then there is video of them wallowing like a pig through the slalom. I guess it’s relative to other cars of the day for him, but compared to modern cars, it’s hilarious.

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
1 year ago

I once picked up a shiny-new Sterling 825 SL press car straight from the dealer on a warm-ish cloudy day. Rather than turn on the a/c, I opened sunroof and windows (all, of course, electric).

On the way home, more clouds rolled in and it began to rain. So, I went for the window and sunroof switches.

Nothing worked. And, as a capper, the windshield wipers refused to wipe, too.

Who says there are/were no bad cars?

If Jason makes this into a series, I can tell equally irritating tales about a Range Rover, Volvo, Buick and Mercedes-Benz….

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  ExAutoJourno

Come on it is not Jasons series it is this guy’s. I would love to see Jason track this guy down, do a driving interview of what this experience was like.

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Hell, if this Bob Mayer dude could zap cars so easily, he should be working for this site!

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago
Reply to  ExAutoJourno

I think of Bob as less of a zapper than an innocent bystander, but maybe that’s just his shtick.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You hit on something here. Torch needs to do a spoof of “Comedians in cars getting coffee”. He uses a different shitbox every episode, and does a fun interview with an industry expert on the way to a local dive. Just like Jerry, he’ll pick a car that the interviewee has a connection with (maybe their first car or something) or just something he thinks they’ll get a kick out of.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

That’s a genius idea! I’d watch the hell out of that, and I never ever watch video content on car journo/blog sites.

In addition to the interview, roast the car they’re driving based on 100% true observations of its failings.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  ExAutoJourno

> Sterling 825

Oh lord, I’m sorry.

In over a century of English shitboxes, the Sterling 825 stands out by what a miserable piece of thick, lukewarm, slightly congealed dogshit, the kind that sticks to your boots forever and whose stench never completely goes away so you wind up having to resole or toss your Church’s, was.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
1 year ago

When auto journalists say there are really no “bad cars” anymore, this is their frame of reference.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 year ago

He seems remarkably upbeat about those issues. His vocal tone is positive even as he describes serious issues for a new loaner car. By the end of the segment, his tone suggested I should still think the car is pretty decent. I find that amazing in today’s vitriol spewing society.

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
1 year ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

I think part of it is just him being a “neutral” newscaster and partly Stockholm Syndrome with generally awful cars where a few problems are expected.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

This is peak malaise era. The bar was low. Soooo f-ing low.

DysLexus
DysLexus
1 year ago

Given all of the options for new cars in 1979:
Is it any wonder why Americans scrambled to buy up Civics and Corollas moving on to Camrys and Accords? They were plain but quality was decades more advanced compared to the rest of world.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

Truth. Just look at what Toyota did a few years later with NUMMI. But GM still didn’t learn anything.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago

That is the thing about Lean manufacturing. It isn’t rocket science. It’s really no secret. It is all about discipline. Toyota didn’t see a risk in teaching them the lessons because they knew true success only came with a massive cultural shift. It is so ironic because Japan’s success was born from lessons learned from an American (Dr. Deming) who couldn’t get anyone on Detroit to give him the time of day.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Fine point.
An ex girlfriend of mine’s father was a six sigma black belt/manufacturing consultant for General Electric back in their heyday, now retired.
He taught me some good tricks that I’ve taken to heart at different workplaces throughout the years, but they mostly just made my workload easier.
Lean manufacturing only works if it is enforced from the top down, and strictly adhered to.
It can actually be fun to implement.
But, in my experience the vast majority of the United States workforce is bothered by it culturally.
Most warehouse peons I work with want nothing to do with it.
I enjoy the challenge of it, and to this day watching a forklift drive across a warehouse without carrying a load bothers me.
(If “this” needs to be put away over there? And at the same time “that” needs to be pulled for delivery from the same isle, why are two lifts and two drivers doing one job?)
“This American Life” ran a great series on NUMMI’s history a few years back that is worth a listen for anyone interested.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Jb996
Jb996
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

Yes. Also European cars.
He does a review of an 1980 Audi 4000, and he is exceptionally positive about the build quality; “absolutely superior”, “superb”. (Because there was only one “malfunction”, a broken fan switch.)

Lokki
Lokki
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

You know defenders of American cars of the day always whined about how the Japanese competition rusted out, and that was true.

BUT:

  1. The American stuff rusted pretty damn badly too.
  2. The Japanese cars were great quality and ran perfectly until they rusted out, something you couldn’t say about the Americans.
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Lokki

The only thing you could say is that BOF cars had a little more time before the rust became fatal, or could be more cheaply patched up for a few more years, but they were pretty well all still rust buckets. If you got your Toyota Ziebarted, it would hold up about as well as an Oldsmobile to road salt, and also run properly

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

Toyotas and Hondas (and, also, Datsuns) were a total revelation to car buyers back then, it’s very easy to see why people happily paid thousands above sticker price (at 15% interest) to get one, cars that were actually built by companies that gave a damn about their customers and cared about their own reputation, it was a new, unfamiliar experience. And it cost Detroit much of an entire generation of car buyers, which then snowballed into several more generations

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

The only problem back then was that if you needed a bigger family car, you had to go back to the big three. My parents absolutely loved their Hondas – a first year 3rd gen (1983) they had to special order, and an ‘85 Accord my dad bought on an impulse when he was getting the civic serviced. Unfortunately, they had to go back to GM for a Caprice wagon when 4 kids were in the picture and we were routinely pulling a camper. Had the Odyssey existed back then, I’m sure we would have never owned another domestic outside a pickup.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Yeah, that was an issue, it took the imports a bit long to come up with an American-size family hauler/land yacht (even when they had acceptable models on the JDM, they delayed in bringing them over).

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 year ago

I’m going to laugh my ass off if the Olds Diesel ends up being the one car that makes it through the whole segment without issue.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

My family bought a Dodge Aspen in the summer of ’76. This level of quality control sounds about right. Maybe even a little optimistic.

Ironically, the next new car we got was a ’79 Fiat 128, which apart from rust problems, was quite a reliable little thing. But the 128 had been in production for what, eight or nine years at that point? And the Strada was new for ’80. Maybe that was the difference.

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

My father owned a Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth dealership in this timeframe … and tis was absolutely the level of quality to be expected.

More than once, a car came off the hauler that was a Volare on one side and an Aspen on the other. Or pretty much dead on arrival with multiple major issues.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  LarsVargas

Hey i worked for a Dodge dealer after the 1st Gulf War. We saw only sold Dodges but we did receive several Dodge Voyagers, and i did see a few Plymouth Caravans on the way to the Plymouth Dealer.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago

Dad bought a 1978 Mercury Marquis Brougham.
It was fine.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

My first car was a ’78 Mercury Cougar. Compared to the piles this guy test drives, it was built like a bank vault.
In truth it really was a good car; nothing ever failed that couldn’t be explained by a combination of age and / or neglect or poorly executed modifications on my part. Worn out bushings, etc… And absolutely nothing ever left me stranded on the side of the road. Even if something started to go out, it would always, always get me home. I’ve had much more modern cars that can’t make that claim.

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

And my first was a ’78 Mercury Zephyr wagon. Similarly a nearly problem-free car. The only issue was the 2700-VV carburetor on that 302 V8. We’d been warned never to mess with it, on pain of never being able to pass smog (or idle without stalling) ever again. It always felt like that car had more to give if we could only… but no, we never gave in to temptation, and it ran dependably (if asthmatically) until we sold it.

Camp Fire
Camp Fire
1 year ago

Ooooh. The Olds 98 Diesel!

Definitely need to do that one next time. Can’t wait to see their glowing review of the Olds 350 engine…

Last edited 1 year ago by Camp Fire
Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
1 year ago
Reply to  Camp Fire

Ah yes… the engine that killed passenger diesels in the good ol’ USA.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago
Reply to  Camp Fire

Looking forward to the MPG results on that one.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
1 year ago

That’s a bad analogy at the beginning; birds put a lot of time and energy into building their nests.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
1 year ago

My parakeet, Delta Integrale, accepts your apology.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

My two Lovebirds ‘Daedalus’ and ‘Syrinx’ are not so sure your apology is sincere.
They await further kind words.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Not me. I want to see Jason build a nest on stuff he finds lying around LA. Video time

SCJeff
SCJeff
1 year ago

The look to camera at 1:27 is gold.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
1 year ago

I bet this guy would be fun to interview for the podcast!

10001010
10001010
1 year ago

Oh hell yes

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

Jason, with the utmost sincerity, I beg you to reach out and see if good ol’ Bob is still around and available to be interviewed in the podacast!!!

Jb996
Jb996
1 year ago

He worked at WTVJ until 2010 (according to interviews on YouTube). It would be amazing to get his perspective on cars, car quality, and car reviews over the years.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Jb996

And he now owns his own video production/marketing company in Miami, I’d bet he’d be happy to talk

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