TexRiv_63

70's Chrysler Daily Driver?

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I am looking for a daily driver car, not a total beater but something that I can park on the street and take anywhere, and it has to be dependable. I love big cars and in my limited search so far have come across a few 1977-78 full size Chryslers. Good looking cars with all the toys but I have never owned a Mopar product from that era. Does anyone out there have experience with these cars? Reliability, problem areas, ease of getting parts, etc? Thanks for any help you can give.

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I had a '77 New Yorker, it was a comfortable reliable car that liked to drink the gasoline!

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The "Lean Burn" engine was replete with problems,

but there is a way to bypass the system.

 

I think the big Chryslers from the late 1970's are

attractive, even beautiful, but according to the experiences

of thousands of people who owned them and reported

their experiences to Consumer Reports, Chrysler

Corporation cars were the least reliable of the Big 3.

I have their reliability summaries, over quite a few

mechanical systems, that document people's exeriences.

 

As you know, the company's sales fell during that period,

leading to financial problems and the well-known bail-out.

People didn't stop buying the cars for no reason.

 

But let's hear encouragement, too, from satisfied owners.

It's not that every example was poor in every system--

just that the percentage of problems was greater.

If he gets a decent car, Don's venture sounds like fun.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Although not anything like you are looking at I drive my 1980 Plymouth Volare all summer long unless I take my 52 somewhere. Parts availability is great, most parts available at Napa. Never had a breakdown in 25,000 miles. Really just normal maintenance. And easy to work on.  If the weather wasn't so crappy around here I would drive it much more..

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The April 2018 edition of Hemmings Classic Car magazine, issue #163 in their labeling scheme, has a 1978 Chrysler Newport as one of its featured cars.  It's a low mileage example so the owners complaints are most about cosmetic imperfections.  You might find it an interesting read.

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We had a 78 Chrysler Cordba in the 80's. It was a good car.  The only problem we had was the ballast resistor on the firewall would burn out every few months. They are less than 10.00 and easy to install since it mounts on the firewall with one bolt and two plug in wires as I remember it. I kept a spare in the car and could change it in a less than 10 minutes. Nice looking comfortable car. I would not mind having one like it today. Most cars from that era have a quirk or two to keep things interesting and this one was just  a minor inconvenience 

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Not full-size by 1970's standards, but definitely full size today.....1971-1977 B-bodies (Coronet/ Charger/Satellite/Cordoba).  Better fuel economy than full-size models (aka C-bodies).  Fairly bulletproof mechanically (the 4-doors were the darlings of the taxi and police markets) and roomy.  A well-equipped four-door or station wagon is much less expensive than a two-door version, and can be bought reasonably if you take the time to search.   As with most cars, rust is the enemy so a western or southern car would be a better bet.

 

Personally, I'd like a stick-shift Aspen or Volare, any body style as long as it's reasonably priced.  Still kick myself for not buying one new....

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They were good cars and very reliable. And the lean burn cars were surprisingly economical. They got 25% better mileage than non lean burn on the hiway. The system is not very complicated but nobody bothered to understand it.

 

Chrysler engineers figured out that you could get a lot better mileage if you leaned out the carburetor to 18:1 instead of the standard 14:1. But in order to get the mixture to burn you had to advance the timing to 52 degrees from the usual 30 degrees. For this purpose they put a second pickup in the distributor.

 

When you were cruising at a steady speed, with the engine fully warmed up, the electronic control switched the ignition to full advance and worked a solenoid in the carburetor that switched the main jet to lean. This leaned out the mixture and advanced the spark. If you pushed the gas pedal to the floor it would drop back to standard mode for full power. The system ran on standard mode until fully warmed up.

 

Owners reported over 20 MPG on the hiway which was fantastic for a full size V8 car in the late 70s. They had the additional advantage of not needing a catalytic converter.

 

Mechanics who didn't understand the system and couldn't do  a few simple tests, advised changing to standard carburetor and ignition which got them off the hook but cost the customer for unnecessary parts, and killed gas mileage.

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Mechanical parts not usually a problem. Chrysler tended to use the same engine, transmission, brakes etc on many different models for many years which simplifies things. They are well supported by normal parts stores.

 

I wouldn't be afraid of one as a daily driver BUT I don't rack up high mileages, I am used to old cars and know how to run them and how to fix them.

 

If you know what you are doing, and the size and gas mileage don't scare you, they are one of the best cars you could get for your purpose.

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Bought a new 77 Chrysler Cordoba. Owned it until 1984 at 98,000 miles.  I don't recall having too many issues.  Expect 10 mpg city and probably not more than 15 highway. 

 

Good luck

 

 

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I think if I had my druthers I would opt for a 60s Chrysler over one from the 70s.

Much simpler.

And they can be found reasonably priced, especially the old lady four doors.

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On thinking it over I wonder if you might be happier with a full size rear drive sedan or wagon from the 80s or 90s? Ford Crown Vic, Mercury, Chev Caprice, Buick, Olds or Cadillac. Or even a Chrysler 300. There was quite a bit of progress in things like gas mileage, reliability and engine life between the mid 70s and mid 80s.

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I had a '78 Newport with a 360 as daily driver for a couple years. It had over 100K on it, but was well maintained and I had no problems to speak of, even with the Lean Burn. It was a comfortable car and ran smooth. Even did a couple cross country trips, and towed with it once or twice. I always thought the New Yorkers of that era looked nice. I haven't had to source parts for one for a while, but I don't see why one wouldn't be a viable and affordable driver.

 

On a somewhat related note, my parents had a rent-a-car franchise in the mid/late '70s stocked with Plymouths. I remember them saying the Volares were a lot of trouble but the Furys were good.

 

There is probably a really clean low-mile 78ish Newport still lurking in a garage at the end of my block. The owners retired to Europe and the building has been vacant. Wondering if I'm going to get that call someday...

 

 

 

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That 62 Plymouth looks like it would make a great daily driver, real good condition and a low price. That car around here, they would want twice as much for it at least. Is that what they are going for in Carolina?

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I often think if my business ever sent me over to the other side I would buy something like this Plymouth instead of renting a car.

Then drive it home.

I don't think this one will last very long.

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3 hours ago, James-Wahl Motors said:

...my parents had a rent-a-car franchise in the mid/late '70s stocked with Plymouths. I remember them saying the Volares were a lot of trouble but the Furys were good.

 

Your parents' experience with the Plymouth Volares

concurs with the respondents to Consumer Reports.

In the 1981 Buying Guide Issue, the 1977 Volare

was rated "Much Worse than Average" in 8 out of 18

reliability categories;  and "Worse than Average"

in another 3 out of 18, for an overall rating of 

"Much Worse than Average."

 

If your child came home from school with "Average"

grades, you'd probably accept them but urge him

to do better.  If he was "Worse than Average,"

you probably wouldn't be happy.  If he was 

"Much Worse than Average," what would you say?

Even so, a majority of Chrysler product vehicles had

overall ratings of "Worse than Average" or "Much Worse

than Average" at that time.  According to the owners

of the time, the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volares

had the most faults.  The Chrysler Newports and 

New Yorkers were a step better, being only "Worse than Average."

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I had a 77 Volare and it was a big POS for such a "small" car. It had so many problems and terrible dealer service. I ended up giving it away to my father in law in 1987 since he really needed a car. He gave it back to me a few years later and several hundred dollars poorer because of it. I turned around and sold it for $600, 10% of what it cost new, just to get rid of it. I offered to give him the proceeds of the sale but he declined.

My father in law never held it against me for giving him such a terrible car.

Edited by Bleach (see edit history)
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Chrysler was going through a bad period in the late seventies  because the company was looted for his own profit by Lynn Townsend before he retired. The Aspen and Volare were particularly bad. But, the basic design of the other cars was sound and you would expect the defects to be fixed by now.

 

Personally I like the style of the early seventies fuselage style models.

 

The truth is all American cars were lousy at the time. Chryslers were far from the worst.

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I always liked the Cordoba, perhaps because I've never had one.

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I remember my 77 Chevy suburban that I bought used in about 1983. Already badly rusted, but the 350, 4 speed trans and other mechanical stuff worked great.  Sometimes i wish I still had it.

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3 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

The truth is all American cars were lousy at the time. Chryslers were far from the worst.

 

Rusty, in your experience, or from what you know,

which ones were worse?  It's always interesting to

hear people's experience from thousands of miles of driving.

 

In my 1981 Buying Guide Issue from Consumer Reports,

about the only vehicles worse than the Aspen/Volare were

the imported Fiats and the Audi 100.  Others that were

unreliable were the AMC Pacer, the 1978-79 Chevrolet Corvette,

the Chevrolet Monza, the Dodge pickup truck, certain years of 

the Volkswagen Dasher...

 

The big Ford Motor Company cars, and the big GM cars,

were actually rated "Better than Average."  That's probably

one of the reasons that Oldsmobile was booming at the time.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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I had a '78 Cordoba with the 400 CID.  It got much better gas mileage than the 360 both with lean burn.  I would average 18-19 mpg.  I'd love to find a solid one of these.

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19 minutes ago, 61polara said:

I had a '78 Cordoba with the 400 CID.  It got much better gas mileage than the 360 both with lean burn.  I would average 18-19 mpg.  I'd love to find a solid one of these.

 

You got better mpg's than I did with the Volare and it had a 225. It was a slug too.

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I only had one problem with the '78 Cordoba and it happened to me 3 or 4 time in 100,000 miles.  In 40-50 degree weather, if it did not fire on the first crank, it would flood the engine to the point of wetting the spark plugs.  Plugs had to be changed or pulled and dried to get it to start again.

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