5 June 2003
The promotional car for the 1972 stage show 'Grease'
1950 CHRYSLER NEW YORKER CONVERTIBLE
Chassis No. C71-34613
Engine No. C49-19311
Gulf green with matching green and tan interior and tan roof
Engine: straight eight, flathead, 323.5ci., 135bhp at 3,200rpm; Gearbox: fluid drive semi-automatic; Suspension: front, independent, rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic drums. Left hand drive.
Chrysler was busily involved in the American war effort, but in 1946 they quickly turned their attention back to automobile manufacturing. The staple model by 1950 was their six cylinder Royal, which was effectively a slightly refined pre-war design. The Windsor series was an upmarket version of the Royal, while the Saratoga featured an eight cylinder motor. The top of the range was the New Yorker such as the car offered and onto whose chassis this convertible body was mounted. There were only 899 New Yorker Convertibles built in 1950 and the price tag was a rather expensive $3,263.
A school teacher in New Jersey first purchased this particular example new. Then in 1972 the Broadway Company Grease bought the car to use as a promotional vehicle for their stage show of the same name that was showing at the Royale Theater in New York. The original story line includes a Chrysler New Yorker convertible dubbed Greased Lightnin'. The car appeared in TV advertisements, promotional functions and in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades. Among the photographs that accompany the Chrysler is one from 1972 taken in front of the Royale Theater in New York City showing Frankie Avalon and some of the original cast of Grease. The car also featured on a record album cover entitled "Songs from the Movie Grease".
The current owner purchased the car in May 1982 when it had just 39,000 miles recorded. Initially he was somewhat suspect of the vehicle and its vendor because the car was described as having "flames on the sides" and this suggested it was perhaps a Hot Rod! Upon inspection he quickly realized it was indeed the Chrysler New Yorker he recalled seeing on TV promoting the play Grease. An eight-year restoration followed bringing the car back to its original condition, preserving the original leather padded dashboard and Mother of Pearl steering wheel. Today there are just over 51,000 miles showing and recent research indicates that this model is extremely rare with only around seven convertibles currently known to exist. In 1992, the Chrysler received a National Junior 1st Place award at the AACA National Fall Meet in Hershey, PA. And this was followed by a National Senior 1st Place in September 1994. Copies of previous registration cards and letters, including a bill of sale from the general manager of Grease to the former owner substantiating the car's continuous history, accompany the sale. Motor Trend described the Chrysler New Yorker as ...a car of comfort and a car of class. This example has a particularly unusual and fun history and should make a fine addition to any period Fifties garage or collection.
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