APRIL 2023: BARN FIND ’66 CHRYSLER NEWPORT TWO-DOOR HARDTOP—YES, YOU COULD GET A BASE MODEL

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The concept of a base model car is pretty simple—no options.

Many base models were found in the lower-end Fords, Plymouths, and Chevys back in the day because they could provide the price point for the frugal car buyers.

Very few base models were found in the Chrysler lineup, but this ’66 Newport defied the odds when it was custom ordered back in 1966.

Jerry Sutherland

Laurence Verseveldt is only the second owner of this stripped-down Chrysler, plus he is a student of its complete history. He found the car in an ad 15 years ago, and he learned it was a one-owner car—plus it had sat in a barn for 25 years.

The original owner wanted to scrap it, so that’s when Laurence took a deep interest in the big Mopar. Initially he said he, “almost passed on it”—until he saw the paper trail. There was documentation for every phase of the car’s life, so Laurence said that was the moment he “fell for it”. The farmer had everything framed, so Laurence saw all the paperwork and that drew him in.  

The original owner was looking at ordering a stripped down, six-cylinder Plymouth until his car dealer friend talked him into a Chrysler. The bigger C-body didn’t cost much more than the Plymouth, plus it came with a standard 383 V-8 (two-barrel carb).

He got the Chrysler down to a livable price by making it a ‘manual everything’ car. In other words, no power steering, no power brakes, no power windows, and no automatic transmission—this is a three-on-the-tree ’66 Chrysler. It’s such a base car it doesn’t even have a radio. There’s a factory delete plate on the dash instead.

The first owner did order four options: full wheel covers; tinted windshield; upgraded interior and undercoating. He was a farmer, so the undercoating made sense, but the rest of the options are not things you see on a true base car.    

There were 125,000 original miles on the car when it was parked in the barn. Laurence explained how the original 383, “just got tired—it had zero compression in one cylinder, so that’s why it was parked”.   

Parked is the key word because Dave had to trailer the big Chrysler home after he bought it. He kept the original 383 and he might rebuild it, but he found a replacement engine in a ’68 Newport.

Laurence also swapped out the stock 14” wheels and replaced them (and the full wheel covers) with 15” wheels and dog dish hubcaps. He thought the poverty caps made more sense on a base-level car–plus he went back to a factory single exhaust setup.

He redid the interior because the original version was a big victim of a rodent invasion. The results are spectacular. 

This car is the ultimate driver now. Laurence drives his ’66 Newport every day in the summer months. He keeps it in second when he in the city because that seems to be the perfect gear for urban driving. Laurence said the car “runs like a top”, so he’s fearless behind the wheel, but parking lots are a challenge without power steering. He said it “never runs hot” and it pulls down a routine 18 miles per gallon with a 3:23 rear end.     

That’s all you can ask from a base-model ’66 Chrysler—then or now.  

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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