For the last eleven posts our friends Tintin and Captain Haddock have been chasing a set of goons who are suspected of kidnapping Professor Calculus from the Bordurian embassy. Last nine posts have been an eventful journey in the backseat of Arturo BGGPAAC da Milano’s Lancia Aurelia. The speed fanatic Italian near missed a large number of cars, trucks, horses, people and what not in his pursuit of the villains. Finally, after driving through a set of railway gates being lowered, out trio were able to intercept the villain’s car. The villains always love to enjoy life with their ill gotten money, and in this case the car a diplomatic connection also. The suspects were driving a huge American Luxo-barge, a Chrysler New Yorker. The car in question was the 1955 model.
The New Yorker was Chrysler’s flagship model. It was also the longest running American model with a manufacturing run in excess of 56 years spanning the period between 1940 and 1996. There are fourteen generations of this car and many can be seen on road. This model established Chrysler as the maker of luxury cars which spanned the gap between the mainstream manufacturers like Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth, Pontiac and the full luxury cars like Cadillac, Lincoln and Packard. These cars competed against the high end models of Mercury, Oldsmobile and Buick.
The New Yorker model was introduced in 1940 as a sub-series of the Chrysler Imperial, but became a separate model after World War II with the introduction of the second generation car. The car being discussed in this post was the fourth generation vehicle introduced in 1955. This generation had a short run from 1955 to 1956. It was offered in a number of body styles like: –
- 4-door sedan.
- 4-door station wagon.
- 2-door hardtop.
- 4-door hardtop.
- 2-door convertible.
This car did away with the high roof design which was now obsolete and introduced the flat roof. It drew inspirations from Virgil Exner’s 1952 Imperial Parade Phaeton. These cars formed a set of three ceremonial vehicles designed by Virgil Exner to the show the way ahead for new Chryslers as far as styling was concerned. One each was based in New York, Detroit and Los Angeles. They were maintained and operated by Chrysler and were used in a number of ceremonial drives like the drive of the astronauts of Apollo 11 across New York. The New Yorker had all the right ingredients for a successful and appealing 1955 car, a split egg crate grille, tall chrome enclosed twin tower tail lamps and attractive clothe and vinyl interiors supported by a potent engine, about which I will talk later. This styling was called the “100 million dollar look”.
These were large cars measuring 5,558 mm (218.8″) long, 2,009 mm (79.1″) wide and 1,547 (60.9″) tall. They had a huge 3,200 mm (126″) wheelbase which liberated huge amounts of space inside. They weighed in at 1,970 kg (4,340 lbs). They were powered by a 5,425 cc (331.1 Cu-inch) naturally aspirated V-8 petrol engine which breathed through two valves per cylinder. Air-fuel mixture was fed into the cylinders using carburetor. These engines produced 250 HP at 4,600 rpm and torque of 461 N-m (340 ft-lb) at 2,800 rpm. The power and torque was transmitted from the front placed engine to the rear wheels through a 2-speed automatic gear box whose selector was mounted on the steering column.
This V-8 could push these cars to a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph). On the drag strip it could do a 0-100 km/h in 12.3 seconds and cover the quarter mile in 18.7 seconds reaching a speed of 122 km/h (76 mph) at the end of the drag strip. Stopping power was provided by drum brakes on all four wheels.
The Powerflite two speed automatic transmission in Chrysler cars used a torque converter like most standard automatics today which added more multiplication on a sliding scale than just the two gears. The Powerflite had an additional stator in the torque converter that added more multiplication so it wasn’t just a simple two speed plus torque converter like the Chevy Powerglide.
The Powerflite transmission was supplanted by the three speed Torqueflite in about 1958, although the Powerflite was still used in lower end models until around 1961.
Torque converters offer a CVT like multiplication from about 2.3:1 up to 1:1 depending on how much power is applied. The downside is that the more multiplication, the more energy is turned into heat.
The ultimate torque converter automatic was the Buick Dynaflow, which had a 5 element torque converter plus one low gear that was only used when you floored the gas pedal. It was almost like two torque converters in a row. So it normally had no shift points like a modern CVT, but turned a lot of the engine power into heat.