Q: Greg can you give some history on the Chrysler Newport, one of my favorite cars from back in the 1960 era? I remember a column you wrote a long time ago about a gentleman who owned a 1962 Newport that was so rare, only a few were built with a 3-speed shifter on the floor. Can you also give information on the Dodge and Chrysler resemblance from 1962?
Glenn, Massachusetts

A: Glenn let’s start with the history of the Chrysler Newport. Chrysler first used the Newport name way back in 1940 and 1941 when just six Newports were built for show car purposes. Featuring a beautiful slipstream design with hidden headlights, they were officially known as the Chrysler Newport Phaeton and most notably paced the 1941 Indianapolis 500. Power came from a straight-8 with dual carbs so it didn’t have any trouble bringing those Indy roadsters to the green flag back then.

Chrysler brought the Newport name back in 1950 more so as a hardtop designation offering and was even featured as a Town & Country style with wood trim (see photo). All Newport trims featured the hardtop style with no B-pillar.

However, it wasn’t until 1961 that the Newport became a standalone model. The lower price, full-size entry-level 1961 Newport carried a base price of $2,964 with the 361 V8. With the demise of the DeSoto line, the Chrysler Newport was an instant hit, even in the “plain Jane” version. Many had crank windows, as power windows and doors back then were options.

As we moved to 1962, this is where the Newport and Dodge resemblance come into play. Chrysler continued to use its nice looking 1961 front end with the canted headlights, but also gave the OK over at sibling Dodge to share three quarters of the full-size Newport sans a distinct Dodge front end. This Dodge in Newport skin was called the 880 line and utilized the exact same new rear clip design from the Chrysler Newport. Thus, all full-size 1962 Dodge 880s use the same 1961 Dodge front design and then feature just about everything else Chrysler Newport, including the chassis and interior. These Dodge Custom 880 models became available in January 1962. The Newport survived until 1981 and proved to be one of Chrysler’s overall most successful full-size models.

As for the rare ’62 Chrysler Newport you mention, it was from a question I received about a two-door coupe that was owned by a man named Brian K., from Sodus Point, New York. He indicated that just seven dealer display models were ever built, but I was not able to track down any further information although I certainly believed what he uncovered about his rare Newport was 100 percent accurate. (I had to go back 10 years to find the original column).

This rare ’62 Newport in question included the Newport/Dodge 880 rear clip, a ’61 Newport front end, 361 V8, 3-speed manual shift on the floor, 40/60 bench seat, crank windows, manual steering, and manual brakes. Each one of the seven had one option, an AM radio. These cars were sent to dealers to be priced at $2,939.00. The car that Brian was able to buy originally went to a dealer in Hay Springs, Nebraska, after it came off the assembly line.

Although Brian had the car’s build sheet, he was unable to find any production records and said that even his father, who was a Chrysler technician in the 1960s, could not remember ever seeing one like his. The Chrysler museum at Dearborn, Michigan, did find records for 10 3-speed transmission orders that year at its Newport assembly plant.

I still hope that one of my readers out there can help out, as all of the people I’ve spoken to about that car came back with the same additional information … namely big zeros. However, because Brian had the build sheet, it at least proves that his car was indeed factory built and worthy of some additional price consideration.

Hope this all helps, as the rare ’62 Newport delivered from the factory with build sheet makes Brian’s Chrysler worthy of this week’s column. And if Brian is still the owner of this Newport and still reads this column, any update, photos or anything else he may have discovered over the last 10 years would be appreciated.

Thanks for your question Glenn.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com.