413 Wedge V8: 1961 Chrysler Newport

The Newport was usually Chrysler’s entry-level model between 1961 and 1981, but it was anything but a stripped-down car. The automobile was largely targeted at buyers of the discontinued DeSoto brand. The ’61 would be the last of the tail-fins for Chrysler, with the 1962 models being much the same car without the wings in back. The Newport would be successful, representing nearly 60% of Chrysler production in 1961. This Newport 4-door sedan spent a great deal of its time in West Germany before eventually settling in Indianapolis, Indiana where it is today. It’s available here on eBay where a no reserve auction is holding at $5,700.

In the mid-50s, head Chrysler designer Virgil Exner would come up with the “Forward Look” styling that would carry Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge through 1961. Each succeeding year, the cars got a little wilder looking than the year before, reaching new heights in tailfins and other treatments in 1960-61. The late ‘50s cars suffered from quality controls problems which started to ease up with the switch to unibody construction in 1960. One of the neatest things about the 1960-62 Chrysler line of cars was the use of an electroluminescent dashboard that was as space age as things got in those days. And how about those slanted headlights?

The seller’s rather nice ’61 Newport sedan spent much of its time in Dusseldorf, Germany while being owned by an Army officer. The car and presumably the officer made their way back to the states about 30 years ago. A plugged radiator and a stuck engine would then sideline the car until a 1962 version of the 413 cubic inch Wedge V-8 would replace the wounded original 361. That engine is said to be good for 350 horsepower. The car got a new 727 Torque-Flite and a radiator repair at that time. The brakes and exhaust were also redone.

We’re guessing because of rust, both front fenders were replaced circa 1990 and the car was repainted in the original black color and the top done up in maroon as a contrast. The car saw a couple of thousand miles of use after all this and was then kept in dry storage until recently. The odometer reads 105,000 miles, but we don’t know how much of that is on the replacement motor. We’re told the car runs and drives great. While the transmission was exchanged way back with the engine, it has recently been rebuilt. And the water pump has been changed out, as well.

The interior looks especially nice and looks like the typical Chrysler product of its era. The seats have been recovered and the carpeting is new. Everything is said to work except the radio. The ride behind the wheel should be smooth as the car sports a brand-new set of radial whitewall tires. The seller says he has had the car up on a lift and can find no traces of rust, but the trunk floor was replaced at some point in the past, probably when the car was repainted. If you’re seeking perfection, the chrome parts are a little off after 60 years and could stand a re-chroming and one window is cracked.

This ’61 Newport looks like a great turnkey vintage car. Looking at Hagerty and NADA, is appears the resale value of these cars is tied to the number of doors they have. Steller hardtops might go for $30,000 while sedans perhaps half of that. If you’re not wedded to driving around in a hardtop vintage Chrysler, this one would certainly get attention at your local Cars & Coffee events.

 

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Comments

  1. IkeyHeyman

    Call me crazy, but although this is one of my favorite Forward Look body styles, I would like it better with the original drivetrain.

    Like 3
    • Turbo

      You’re crazy.

      Like 5
  2. Jay

    Batmobile

    Kewl !!

    Like 1
  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    This guy always has good, original cars set up to go – a buy

    Like 2
  4. On and On On and On Member

    Best dashboard and instrument cluster on the planet.

    Like 6
  5. Keith

    Wrong color combo but seems to be in decent condition.

    Like 2
  6. William Fox

    Not bad looking for its age. I like the attention to detail in the seat covers; that fabric looks like NOS material without necessarily being so. The taillight lenses look strange–as if the red color got bleached out of them? Weird.

    Like 3
    • S

      I don’t know if Chrysler did this in 1961, but in 1965 on all Chryslers, they actually had white tail light lenses with red bulbs. Unfortunately after a few months, the clear tail light lenses kept cracking, so late model year 1965 Chryslers had red lenses with white bulbs. If you remember this car was registered in another country, the laws may have been different than in the U.S., so changes may have needed to be made. For example, almost all European countries require orange turn signal lights in the rear, and red for the brakes ONLY. Almost any U.S. made car that was sold or brought over there had to be converted. It’s possible that if West Germany required orange turn signal lights, white tail light lenses with orange bulbs may have had to be used – but that’s a guess on my part as to what’s going on here.

      Like 1
      • luke arnott Member

        Here in the UK,orange rear turn signals only apply after 1965.That said,most US cars here run on the factory fitted units,and providing they work,the police aren’t interested and you can usually get them through the Annual inspection(MOT),ditto lapbelts!

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Back in 1973 I bought a ’61 Newport 2-door hardtop & gave it to my younger brother for his first car. The taillights on our car had also faded. I’ve seen a couple of more and they too had yellowed lenses.

        I lived in Germany in 1974-75, and my everyday car was a 1956 Chrysler Imperial that had been the Paris auto show car for Chrysler. It had red lenses from new. Never had any problem from German authorities or Police.

        I also had a 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud that was sold new in Germany, and unlike the solid red lenses in the UK and USA, it had 2-tone lenses, half red, half yellow.

        Like 2
      • Chuck Dickinson

        This is typical of 61 Chrysler t’light lenses. Even when they were only a few years old, they faded out. The only other cars which I’ve seen like that were imports. A Lexus model of a few years back had an odd tail/stop light in trunk lid as well as ones in the ‘normal’ location, and the ones on the trunk do this as well. It has to do with UV rays bleaching the color out of poorly made lenses.

        Like 3
      • Chuck Dickinson

        It was only the 65 New Yorker which had clear lenses at the beginning of the year.

        Like 1
    • Chuck Dickinson

      This is typical of 61 Chrysler t’light lenses. Even when they were only a few years old, they faded out. The only other cars which I’ve seen like that were imports. A Lexus model of a few years back had an odd tail/stop light in trunk lid as well as ones in the ‘normal’ location, and the ones on the trunk do this as well. It has to do with UV rays bleaching the color out of poorly made lenses.

      Like 1
  7. Clark Goodwin

    Having lived in West Germany in the early 80’s with the US military the car would have been registered with USA license plates. They would have been registered via the US authorities and as such would not have had to comply to the German regulations such as bulb color for turn indicators or brake lights. On the other hand had this car been sold “on the economy” to a native it then would have had to been converted to “German Specs” which would have been rather costly.

    Like 2
  8. Super Glide

    Let’s not forget the “Typewriter TorqueFlite.”

    Like 5
  9. frank orzechowski

    The standard transmission for a Newport was a floor mounted 3 speed.

    Like 1
  10. Glenn

    Chrysler choice of plastic used in 61-62 faded from red to almost clear as seen here. 62 Plymouths are famous for this. they got it right in 63 as my Sport Fury convertible is still a nice ruby red!

  11. Wayne from oz

    Awesome, absolutely gorgeous. Must be a nice seller also, he has a Hudson logo on his garage. lol.

  12. Mike from ohio

    Is there a way to view the car before making a bid? Address or phone number to schedule appt?

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