Unbelievable Survivor: 1981 Chrysler Newport

The 1980s were a funny decade, and not always ha-ha funny – with over-the-top “fashions“, music, and car makers scrambling to downsize in the name of better MPG. This 1981 Chrysler Newport is unabashedly holding onto another decade, another era, another mindset, and it’s doing a beautiful job of that even now. This gorgeous full-sized survivor is listed on eBay with an almost laughably-low buy it now price of $4,250! The current bid is just over half that amount and this car is located in equally-beautiful Boise, Idaho. This looks like one nice car! Let’s check out this unbelievable 40,000-mile survivor.

As the great sage of Idaho – Napoleon Dynamite – might say: GOSH! Ok, I know that the movie was only filmed there, but still: GOSH! This car belongs in a museum, where do these unbelievable survivor cars come from? This seller has been locating mind-blowing vehicles and listing them on eBay for almost two decades now. They were my go-to seller back in the days when I worked in a cubicle and used to sit there during my lunch break, looking at cars on eBay, dreaming about finding and buying cars in this condition. (GOSH!) For the record, we don’t take gratuities for mentioning companies on this site, at least as far as I know. We just do that to give a shout out to some enterprises that I, or we, think are worthy of checking out. Hey, how about that NAPA hose! Just kidding.. jeez, tough crowd.

I literally can’t believe that there are any vehicles this old in this condition left on the planet. Most of us dream about finding vehicles in this condition, whether or not we’re fans of a seventh-generation Chrysler Newport or not. It’s like gold fever, just knowing that there are cars like this still out there gives me hope. Some of my finds have been, shall we say, in less than spectacular condition, even though they looked great online. After paying for shipping that’s always a disappointment. I have a hard time believing that anyone would be disappointed in this car when it arrives on the car trailer. The details speak for themselves with this car. Check out the auction, there are over 100 photos. Even the vinyl top looks immaculate. I do see one possible glitch, if it can be called that; it appears that the RF fender has been repainted but there is no mention of accidents or rust so I’m not sure if that was a parking lot fender-bender or why that is a shade darker. That’s the only flaw that I can see on this car inside or out, top to bottom.

The Chrysler Newport was sort of a man-in-a-gray-flannel-suit sort of car – not an executive car like the New Yorker that Corey showed us a few days ago but more of a middle-management type of car. You knew that you had something and that you were something when this car was in your driveway in 1981. I would feel the same way now. And, unfortunately, this car is almost 19-feet long so it won’t fit in our garage. I ran into that with a certain 1966 Lincoln purchase this past summer and it wasn’t fun. This car is light years ahead of that car was in quality, at least present quality and current condition. I’m finding myself having a hard time not bidding on this car, small garage or not! Look at this interior! I know, I overuse exclamation points as it is, but this thing is beautiful. (!) The seats appear to be in perfect condition, front and rear, as does the dash, the door panels, the trunk, and everything else.

This is the optional four-barrel, 318 cubic-inch V8 which in 1981 produced 165 hp and 240 ft-lb of torque. That may not sound like much power for a 3,700-pound car, but I’m sure that it’ll keep up with modern traffic just fine. And, with this car having factory cruise and AC it would make a nice road trip car. Of course, then there’s the 14 mpg part of that equation to consider. Barn Finds writer Corey Kemendo has a 1981 Chrysler New Yorker so I know that he’s a fan, are there any other fans of these big R-body Chryslers out there?


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  1. Gary Will Scollins

    How can you not love this car. Definitely on my Christmas wish list….Hello Santa??

    Like 1
  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    Demented – just goes to show what’s possible

  3. Alan

    2 years ago I bought All original 1980 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue cream ext with cream leather int All original 15K miles. 360 2B power front driver seat, factory AC, factory AM/FM radio, wire wheel caps with all documentation window sticker & owners manual. asking price was 14K I got it for 13K.

  4. Rock On Member

    You are one tough negotiator Alan!

  5. Maestro1

    If you are sentimental about big Chryslers like some of us, this is for you.

  6. Nrg8

    Can honestly say I haven’t seen that body style with that particular nose and tail light design. Was this a US only car?

    • GeeBee

      I just think there weren’t a lot of them sold.

      • Nrg8

        Yeah went and flipped thru my 89 motor auto repair manual. They spec all manufacturers as well as the front ends of all available models for each year. There it was, seen lots of 80 New Yorkers but that was a first. Besides. I love going thru the 1976 edition. All those muscle car specs. What a time to be alive…..

    • Superdessucke

      If you’re under 35 you may well have never seen one. These things weren’t made very well, and the vast majority were off the roads probably by 1990 or so. They sold well initially but sales tanked when people realized all the quality problems – windows that bowed out at speed, chrome that peeled off the bumpers, etc.

      Also, back in 1979-80, people were really afraid of Chrysler going out of business. The government bail out of Chrysler and the drama leading up to it was big in the news then and closure looked possible. That also didn’t help sales.

      And a lot of these were sold to fleet buyers. They were popular police cars for a hot minute. But they didn’t hold up very well in those positions.

  7. Troy s

    It’s clean, there is no arguing that at all, but I get a bit nervous about Chrysler products, or any domestic car really, from that time period. Too much confusion hooked up to an otherwise great 318 engine.

  8. Elwood

    My father had a Dodge St. Regis back in the 1980s, this car’s twin-under-the-skin. The St. Regis was one of the more abominable pieces of junk (for build quality) foisted on the public during that era if you ignore the Chevy Citation and its bretheren, Oldsmobile Cierra, Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz, Chevrolet Corsica, Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Cavalier, Cadillac Cimmaron, Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar, Ford Escort, Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch, Ford Fairmont, Chevrolet Celebrity, Dodge Aires/Plymouth Reliant, . . . . oh, nevermind. There were so many abysmal domestic models being produced during that era, they outnumber in spades the very few shining stars (Camaro, Firebird, Cadillac Eldorado, and Ford Crown Victoria to name a small handful). Of course, on the foreign car market, there were Datsun F-10s, Renault everything, British Leyland, Yugo, and plenty more.

    • Derek

      Elwood I doubt that you have owned all of the above mentioned. I currently have a 1984 Chevy Celebrity Hess & Eisenhardt Convertible and it has been one of the best cars I’ve ever had in the 83 cars I have owned since 1977. There is good and bad in every make. It sounds like you just don’t like ANYTHING!


    Had an 81 Dodge St.Regis ex Florida safety vehicle 360 heads on 318. Actually a fast car. Had 99000 miles when i bought it. Great car all and all. Love to find another.Got rid of leanburn,used Mopar performance electric ignition system got 21 mpg on highway at 70 mph. This car would be a good buy for someone.

  10. Buick Fan

    Not a chrysler fan, nor of blue cars, or cars of the 80’s, but this car looks awesome! If this is a dealer, how can he be making any money at this price? The pics are amazing. Looks more like an imperial than a Newport. I wish it had pwr windows, but that’s my only complaint. No brainer at the buy-it-now price. Pile the kids in it and have fun…you can go back in time with a car like this, turn on the disco station squint and you’re back in the 80’s. Won’t last a day imo, and I’m giving it serious thought. Heck, you could leave it outside with little concern…LIKE!

  11. David Miraglia

    Worth every cent.

  12. jtmorgan 225

    Slight paint difference in that fender could quite possibly be due to Chrysler quality control during that period. A friend of my father purchased a New Yorker brand new in the late 70’s and the doors were a slightly different shade of maroon from the rest of the car. This one may be all factory paint

    • Buick Fan

      Fender looks ok, bumper filler is discolored which is typical?

  13. Adam T45 Staff

    I have always been a fan of smaller, nimble cars that are comfortable being thrown at a length of twisting road. I have to say though, I’m really quite taken by this, and wouldn’t mind having it in my garage (and it would fit too!). What is happening to me? Is this something that normally happens to a man when he starts pushing into his 50’s?

  14. Vance

    The question is what did he pay for it.

  15. Grumpy

    I worked as a tech at Chrysler in the early 80’s. These were great car’s with few problem’s compared to the Omni/Horizon’s we sold. The only issue would be the lean burn. They were hit or miss for reliability. I am surprised by the lack of power window’s!

  16. Derek

    I think it is a pretty car. In the last 10 years I’ve learned to appreciate these cars and others like them. When you compare them to the boring plastic bubbles they make now with horrible visibility and cookie cutter bumpers and design it makes these look like works of art.

  17. Buick Fan

    Ditto on the poor visibility! I don’t understand why the space age materials and CAD systems have left us with huge A,B,C, and D-pillars requiring cameras and sensors to alert us of objects we can’t see. Drive an old Honda CRV and compare to most current cross overs they feel downright unsafe!

    • Michael

      You are so right about poor visibility. The massive, high rear ends, high beltlines, etc., make them impossible to drive forward, let alone change lanes or back up in parking lots or other tight spaces. I’ve driven a few and am shocked at the lack of built-in safety, meaning “just being able to see.” Another huge gripe about modern cars (besides the fact that they’re all gray or white and appear to be cast from the same molds) is the single-bulb taillights–one per side–of which one is almost always burnt out and there is no redunant light on the same side to make up the difference. Does it remind anyone of the tiny, single taillights on a 40s or early 50s car? How far have we disgressed?
      Should I also mention the compact, multi-light front light pods where the ultra-brilliant headlights totally drown out the turn signals? Or the newer headlight designs that render oncoming drivers completely blind, yet, I am told, provide poor and unsafe lighting conditions to their drivers at the same time?
      UNSAFE!!! The more cars progress in safety in some areas, the more they digress in others. I don’t get it.

    • 427vette

      I believe the phrase you gentleman are looking for to describe most new car designs is a “homogenized blob” painted in a bland non-primary color rolling it’s way down the road.😂. Makes me want to puke at how boring car design has become

      • Buick Fan

        I agree, but 100 mph never felt better!

  18. Derek

    Even with the cameras and sensors people still bang into everything. Just look at the bumpers of any car more than a few months old. People drove better back then no phones etc. But you can SEE EVERYTHING out of every window in these old cars.

  19. Dwilson

    Great looking car.

  20. SCOOT

    Hi, french reader/follower here. What is the lean burn you are talking about, have already read this on other ads on Barnfinds.

      • SCOOT

        Thanks,very interesting reading. So this system can be reliable after all? Was wel though of in any case.

    • carsofchaos

      Hi Scoot,
      Speaking strictly on the 81-83 Imperials which had the Lean Burn as those are the cars I’m most familiar with, most of the Imperials were converted back over to a traditional carb setup, as the Lean Burn system was very unreliable. For example there is a famous instance in which Frank Sinatra (who was given one of the Imperials as he was a spokesperson for Chrysler at the time) drove over some railroad tracks and his Imperial abruptly turned off. He is said to have gotten out of the car, pitched the gold keys with real crystal Pentastar, and said “take this *#%@$ car back!”.
      The conversion of a vehicle with Lean Burn to carb cost Chrysler around $2,000 (not period adjusted) money per car. One can tell if Chrysler did the job (as opposed to a shade tree mechanic) by an * on the digital dash next to the Odometer read out.
      As to reliability, these systems were in their infancy and Chrysler rushed it to production as, at the time, they were desperately looking for a way to stand out in the market. I have seen only a few vehicles which were equipped with the Lean Burn system to still have in en tact and functional. Hope this information is interesting.

      • SCOOT

        Fan of learning new old stories. Thanks for that.

  21. Jubjub

    Chrysler R body: One in every episode of “Murder She Wrote”.

  22. Oingo

    Dodge Mirada, Chyrsler Cordoba easily worth it’s asking. A nice vintage machine that you can drive without owning a repair shop or gas station.

  23. carsofchaos

    Dang, where were all you people who say this is a great deal at $4250 when I was trying to sell my 81 Imperial with 60k miles on it last year?!?! LOL. I couldn’t give that car away and finally did at $2,250.

    • Michael

      Wow….I’d gladly pay $2250 for a nice Imperial. Wish I would have known!

  24. Michael

    Wow….I’d gladly pay $2250 for a nice Imperial. Wish I would have known!

  25. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: someone must have nabbed this car as it’s “no longer available” and the auction has ended. If one of you grabbed it, let us know!

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