Dry Climate Patina: 1964 Chrysler Newport

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As someone who has spent his life in two states that measure their annual yearly rainfall in fathoms, I am always fascinated with cars from arid regions.  While we deal with rust holes that a Peterbilt can do a three point turn in, folks in these areas can count on almost perfect sheet metal.  The tradeoff is that the ever-benevolent sun just flat cauterizes paint and cloth in ways that make rides from these regions obvious to even the novice eye.  Take for example this 1964 Chrysler Newport four door for sale on craigslist in, you guessed it, scorching Phoenix, Arizona.  Can this sun baked but solid Newport provide lasting joy to a new owner for a mere $5,000?  Or would you quickly be underwater trying to bring this Titanic sized Mopar back to factory fresh shape?  Thanks again go to T.J. for this faded find!

My grandfather, who was the one that passed on the car nut infection to me, strongly advised me to never, ever purchase a project car with rust issues.  The collectible cars he had during the time that I was around were both completely rust free examples of open cars.  I have two of them today along with a closed sports car that cannot rust, so you could say I took that advice to heart.  You also have to factor in that this advice was passed along in the seventies.  This was the decade where car dealers sometimes had to fix rust issues on new cars, so his viewpoint may have been influenced by those experiences.

Many of the project cars we perused together suffered from catastrophic rust in one way or another.  As his trade was auto glass, he saw plenty of cars with destroyed floors due to leaks that found their way through windshield gaskets and door weatherstripping.  A little leak was often just an annoyance to a new car buyer.  That same leak ten or twenty years later adds up to a piece of roofing tin riveted haphazardly to what was left of the floor pan.  Magnify the size of the leak or the frequency of rain in your area, and that Flintstones floorboard moment would arrive much quicker.

In areas where rainfall is infrequent, they really don’t have to worry about rust so much.  Arid climates are excellent places to purchase, own and use a collector car.  The problem is when that arid area is overwhelmingly hot for many months out of the year.  Paint, interior materials, and any rubber around the glass and doors is subject to a baking process that soon ages the vehicle tremendously.  You win some, you lose some I guess.

Which takes us to this 1964 Chrysler Newport.  In some ways, this car is spectacularly well preserved for a vehicle of its age.  The body panels are perfectly rust free except for the thin layer of surface rust where the sun did a spectacular job of baking the paint off.  Inside, it appears that a lot of the upholstery has survived the ravages of time and ultraviolet rays well enough to be reused in a lot of areas.  The headliner is completely gone though.  Add something to your budget to get that replaced.

The peek given to us under the expansive hood reveals a fairly rare option for the mid 1960s: air conditioning.  While we are not aware if it runs or not, it appears that al of the parts and pieces are there and likely could be restored to operation.  The question is whether or not this is a factory system or an aftermarket add-on that was installed at the dealership or later in the car’s life.  Can a reader help us out with this?

In all, this looks like a very solid car that would be fun to own.  The pictures lead us to believe that the current owner has gotten it back on the road and has made some simple modifications.  Considering that this is a four door and will likely never offer a large return on your investment, why should the new owner deviate from this path?  Put a headliner in it, fix the air conditioning, install a monster sized electric fan to help with cooling the radiator off in the summer, and cruise in this big old Chrysler.  Its what cars like this are made for.

Have any of you owned and/or restored a car from a dry climate?  What were the pros and cons?

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  1. HoA Howard A (retired)Member

    Appreciate the Peterbilt reference, it’s true. 4 or 5 points with manual steering. My brother had a car just like this, and to say it was a highway cruiser, would be an understatement. That car rolled like thunder. Speaking of thunder, the New Yawkah gets it all, but the Newport wasn’t far off. I remember we hit a deer with it at speed,,Newport came out a lot better on that deal. In the 60s, Chrysler was on top of the game and made great cars like this. In Colorado, we get a lot of faded paint as well, and since all the painters have left the planet, or so it seems, it’s just not an issue. Cars do rust, but just not structurally, like up north. Heck, my parking brake still works on the Jeep, also unheard of up north. Nice cars here.

    Like 3
  2. NHDave

    Craigslist “posting has been deleted by the author.”

    Like 1
  3. Mike

    That patina would look great on an old truck, but not on this. Dash looks cool.

    Like 1
  4. Big C

    If the car haulers weren’t charging an arm and a leg to deliver out of the southwest? I’d be willing to take a chance on something like this.

    Like 2
    • J Martell

      I live in the south west and have a 75 Imperial with surface rust on top where the vinyl used to be.White paint’s oxidized but decent.For sale 3k.2nd owner, just need to take out the old gas.HMU if interested.

      Like 1
  5. Pete Phillips

    That’s not a factory A/C installation. That’s an after-market compressor. And the upholstery is not original, either. A neighbor had one just like this when I was growing up in the late 1960s–same color, same model.
    These were and are very good cars–well built, last a long time, and no cheap plastic parts anywhere!

    Like 0
  6. KurtMember

    Did these come with two doors?

    Like 1
    • Ed P


      Like 0
  7. James

    My first car was a 64 Newport. Had a lot of fun with that car. The thing was huge. “I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20″…

    Like 1
  8. Gary

    I was 6 when my dad bought a brand new Newport sedan, Persian White with a taupe and burgundy interior and a 360 V8. He had it 9 years. Learned to drive in that car. It could cruise forever.
    I think that’s an aftermarket AC from the interior photo. If memory serves, factory AC had vents on the dash pad. It’s a pity that these unique bodied cars can’t fetch a price that justifies restoration.

    Like 1
  9. david r

    My grandmother gave me hers when I was 17, 3,000 miles, absolutely immaculate. Of course I didn’t appreciate it at the time. Sigh.

    Like 2
  10. Bob WashburneMember

    That’s an Eaton A/C compressor, not the V-2 mill Chrysler built. Probably a Sears install. They work fine, make sure the compressor oil is topped up at repair/recharge.

    Like 1
  11. Dave

    A high school buddy had one. The windshield wipers would come up on their own from the air pressure starting at about 90 mph

    Like 2
  12. MitchRossMember

    Mexico is close enough, a trip to Puerto Penasco this time of year is nice and you can get it painted and have the headliner done for 1/3 the cost

    Like 0

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