Cheap Hemi: 1953 Chrysler New Yorker

No matter how you try to justify not buying a car, can you really manage to look past a complete car that is equipped with a Hemi? Showing some surface rust and worn paint, this ’53 New Yorker seems worthwhile for the $1,500 asking price! Check it out here on craigslist out of Elsie, Michigan. Reader Rocco B. pulled out another great submission! Thanks Rocco!

Appearing complete and in reasonable enough shape this 331 Hemi is not a runner, but it does turn over! It appears the seller invested some time trying to get this engine running as there is a new coil and bracket mounted to the engine. In my mind, if the engine turns over, there seems to be a good chance of this engine being a runner and worthwhile investment. Compression and the condition of the rings on the other hand, well that’s just part of the gamble of buying an old car. The radiator and air cleaner is not visible in the photos, but who knows, the seller may have them.

Not much information is offered about the interior, but this looks to be a photo of the front carpet lying in the back seat. I will say that the upholstery doesn’t appear to be burned up by the sun, so this car must have spent some time indoors, especially considering the fact that it’s a Michigan car.

From what can be seen of the exterior, this New Yorker doesn’t appear to be too shabby. There is no apparent rot, but I am thinking the floors may be questionable as the carpet has been removed. The rockers and quarters are obscured for the most part, but you can somewhat see the driver side rocker which appears to lack any rot. For the $1,500 asking price, you could be getting an engine and a headlight, or you could be jumping into a decent car that may need some minor rust repair. Personally I love to see cars like this revived as there just aren’t enough old cars out on the roads being driven anymore. Is it a fantasy or reality to think this Chrysler could be a driver again?

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  1. John Leyshon

    Nice find ! Not too bad pushing 70 years old and appears to have had a prior Ohio residency to boot. Forget the air cleaner ! just flush some carb cleaner down that 1 barrel toilet every couple of days…

    • 55hemidodge

      It’s a 2 barrel…

  2. John D

    Anything can be a driver again if you stack your twenties high enough. Is it me or does that little carb look lost on that Hemi? One might expect one if not two four barrels. Even trips.

  3. Gregory

    John D this isn’t the kind of ” hemi” that we associate as being a HEMI!! These we’re just the average slug engine you can buy them today for 3-5oo for a builder. They we’re reliable in their day too still cool looking 😁

    • John D

      Yep, I know the differences between the engine block architecture. This Hemi is Chrysler’s original offering of a V8, which in later models i.e. the 300 with the 392 could be had with factory dual quads, as could the polyspherical V8’s. I guess I associate this engine with the brawny drag racing mills that maximized induction. I just think the 1 barrel looks a little anemic on this V8.

      • Gregory

        Ya ,when I was a youngin. I heard HEMI and bought one of these without knowing it wasn’t the hemi LoL

      • Jerry Brentnell

        know what this is perfect for buy the car get the engine running and build a T bucket street rod with this baby hemi and if you need go fast parts get a hold of hotheads in lowgap north caolina! build something different besides chev powered rods!

    • dr fine

      These were most definitely the original hemi. Early 50’s race cars used either the Cadillac or Chrysler V8’s. Once the ’54 hemis were available from wrecked cars, they were unbeatable. The 1957 Chrysler 300C and Dodge D-500 could beat almost anything else on the road. Foreign sports/race cars that used the early hemi include Allard, Bristol 407, Facel Vega and Jensen Interceptor/FF,

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    Classy cars, these old Chryslers. Maybe they didn’t appeal as much as the ’55 and ’56 models but they were still worth the effort it took to keep them on the road. I sure wouldn’t kick one off my driveway….


    This car should be restored, as was said in comments not enough old cars like this around. I think that is actually a small 2 barrel carb. My neighbor had a 61 plymouth 318 with a carb that looked like a one barrel, but when you looked down it’s throat it had 2 butterflys.

  6. Beatnik Bedouin

    Yup, guys, it’s a two-barrel carb, but a factory or aftermarket single or dual quad for the 331 would be nicer.

    I agree with geomechs that this one is worth keeping alive.

  7. Rube Goldberg

    Too far gone. There’s no doubt these were classy cars, but for it to worth it, it has to start out a lot nicer than this. Restoration costs are just too expensive today. If it just needed an engine or paint, but this has to be gone completely through. Re-chroming alone is a fortune. Unless some emotional attachment, put the motor in a rat rod, and maybe someone needs a front clip for an otherwise pristine car.

    • Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

      Hi Rube it can be done on a budget if you have the skills and resources to take it on. Most of the bright work on these is stainless steel and can be polished for the bumpers my plan for my car is to prep and paint them base/clear silver metallic, they can always be stripped and rechromed at a later date. I am currently 80% complete on my 1951 dodge and I have not hit the $3000.00 mark my estimation is to come in at under $5000.00 in parts and materials but I’m a good scrounger. Example I’m refitting the car with front disc brakes power booster and dual stage master cylinder. to keep cost down I am trans planting the entire brake system out of a 2002 dodge caravan donor with a bad transmission that i got from a freind a for $1.00. Seats are from a 2005 Chrysler LHS full leather front and back, like new condition for $120.00. The list goes on and on. When I’m done there won’t be a single thing on that car that I haven’t gone through. The way I see it the biggest reason for sky high costs is labour these restoration shops charge through the nose for their work, and that’s ok they’re in it to make money. So my advice to anyone starting up start building up your tools and start learning how to do the work yourself. Working on these old cars is pretty enjoyable there complexity is not much higher then a riding lawn mower. As for paint these cars were painted in single stage glose enamel which with some practice is not that hard to do and will save thousands on the final bill. JMO.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Yes, you don’t have to break the bank with your restoration. A friend of mine restored a ’38 GMC 3/4 ton (very significant truck because his dad bought it new and my friend learned to drive in the same truck). It had been through a lot of farms during the interim and was rough. My friend did all the work himself and wound up with a total cost of less than $6K. Now I would have done it a little different if it was mine but you sure can’t dispute the final result. It even earned a feature in Vintage Truck. I might add that my other friend’s ’54 New Yorker (above) was another budget refurbishment. Rebuilt and painted in his quonset, and turned out really well….

  8. Steve Sclafani

    [I restored a 54 Desoto Firedome, with a 276 Hemi-2bbl. What a great running car. I sold it to a friend, who got sick and lost vision in one eye. He can no longer drive, so the car is for sale

    • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

      That’s a bummer about your friend Steve. Let us know if he decides to list and we can try to help him out! You can read more about listing it for sale on the site here.

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