From a stunning 1941 concept car to fin-tastic coupes, sedans, wagons and convertibles circa 1960, Chrysler has certainly taken liberal use of the Newport moniker. And, with all the low riders and assorted customs roaming around, it is clear that enthusiasts have too. It wasn’t until ‘61 that Chrysler dedicated a specific model line to the Newport name. Up until that point, the badge designated a 2-door hardtop body configuration. This entry level full size sedan, essentially a de-contented sister vehicle to the upscale New Yorker, was meant to bridge the gap between Chrysler and Dodge when DeSoto went under.
Newport’s stylist, Elwood Engel, also penned the out-of-this-world ‘61 Continental and T-Bird before Chrysler stole him away. Engel, who served as design chief at Chrysler from 1961-1974, knew a thing or two about designing cars that moved off lots quickly and even studied under iconic stylist Harley Earl while at GM’s school of design. With models like Newport, his first start-to-finish product design at Chrysler, it is clear that Engel’s distinguished restraint carried over to his new employer. Gone were the exaggerated tailfins from the Virgil Exner administration and in was a squared off, slab sided aesthetic tastefully adorned by chrome strips that ran along the top and bottom of the flanks.
PT Cruiser and Sebring are awesome and everything but we pray the “new”, post-chapter 11 Chrysler has given design talent the directive (and freedom) to create cars even half as compelling as this Newport was.