Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
Important people need important-looking cars. It looks a little incongruous for someone with a high-profile job (like mayor) to drive around in a Toyota Corolla with three hubcaps. I'm not naming names.
But no one likes a show-off, which is why this week it's time to look at a couple of large cars with great presence that don't cost a ton of money to buy – even if they might cost a lot to gas up. Of course, we're going to be looking at big old American cars.
Aside from a weird part in the 1980s, the Chrysler New Yorker has always signaled a big car. It might be big and accommodating, but rarely is it brash. Something like this 1966 New Yorker is a great example of refined taste in a large American sedan. In this car's red-orange paint, it looks rather racy. But not athletic, because that would never happen.
Still, people will move over if they see you coming in this New Yorker. This one happens to be equipped with the 440 V8 producing somewhere in the neighborhood of 35o horsepower. I'm no New Yorker know-it-all, but this is a heavy car and 350 horses won't exactly pull it with much surplus power. And you'd better hope you pass a lot of gas stations on your daily commute to your important office. Still, at least it's air conditioned by the Chrysler Corporation.
The bigness is most apparent inside with two wide bench seats and lots of glass and legroom, perfect for giving lifts to dignitaries and waving at people, etcetera. But it's also in here where some of the details start to fall apart. This light fabric upholstery looks very dated and plebeian. The fake wood is very fake and in tired shape. And other than the AM radio and clock, it's lacking in toys. Currently going for $4,900, though, it's a lot of old, classic car for the money.
If you want to step things up, you have to flash forward a few decades and turn to Buick with the 1996 Roadmaster Collector's Edition sedan seen here. It's the last of the line of monstrous Buicks and big GM sedans and the most advanced, technically speaking anyway. There's an LT1 V8 under the hood with 26o horsepower, but that horsepower comes with fuel injection and has to carry around substantially less bulk.
Inside, though, there's far more luxury going on. Luxury is glued or stapled or snapped onto every inch of this interior. It's the kind of luxury that's the same color as the outside of the car – and that's fine if you're into that sort of thing. Still, all of the modern conveniences are here and accounted for: CD player (with cassette, too!), electronic climate control, remote keyless entry and power seats. At 10 grand, it's a lot for a '96 Buick, but at 54,000 miles, it's also covered fewer roads than most of this age.
There is less airiness going on here than in the New Yorker, though. The inside isn't as commodious for six. There's also something about this Roadmaster that emphasizes its bulk. It's always been a fat-looking car which I'm sure does wonders for the handling. Except this car has the Gran Touring Suspension, which probably means it has actual suspension rather than the marshmallow fluff that supports the standard car.
It's the styling that does it for me, because fuel consumption concerns aside, I'd take the much more striking New Yorker and live with the nastier fake wood on the inside. The Roadmaster may be more modern and useable, but it doesn't look that dignified. Put a couple of flags on the front fenders of the New Yorker and people might think you're the president... of something.