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Thread: Chrysler Town & Country (5th Gen) 1969-1973

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    For 1969, a major restyle brought a dramatic new look to all full sized Chrysler Corporation cars. Called fuselage design, it featured a pronounced side curvature from the rocker panels all the way to the roof rails. Plymouth and Dodge models, excluding wagons, shared passenger compartment structures and greenhouses riding on 120” and 122” wheelbases respectively. Similarly, Chrysler and Imperial models ,excluding T&C wagon, shared slightly longer passenger compartments and greenhouses, riding on 124” and 127” wheelbases respectively (all of the Imperial’s longer wheelbase was in the front clip). As in the prior generation, all Chrysler Corp. full sized wagons shared a common greenhouse on a unitized body and chassis with longitudinal front torsion bars, rear leaf springs and the Dodge’s 122” wheelbase. And, as before, the wagon’s shorter wheelbase was offset by additional rear overhang. 1969 Town and Country wagons were nearly identical to other Chrysler body styles in overall length at just under 225”.

    Fuselage era Chryslers all featured a full width loop style chrome front bumper. Quad headlamps and grille were recessed inside the loop, with differing grille inserts for each series. Turn signal and parking lamps were recessed into the bumper below the head lamps. Body sides were simple and smooth with a subtle character line originating at the front bumper, descending slightly for the length of the car, and ending at the wrap-around rear bumper. On Town and Country wagons, this character line was also the location of the lower molding surrounding the standard wood grain side paneling, simulated cherry for 1969. The fuselage profile extended the length of a full sized “long roof” made for a rather striking looking wagon. At the trailing edge of the long roof, body sides, D pillars, and a unique roof top air foil formed one continuous arch over the tailgate opening. The airfoil directed airflow from the roof downward and over the tail gate window, intended to keep the glass clear of dirt accumulation.

    Town and Country’s grille insert and wheel covers for this new generation were from the New Yorker, while front seating choices and interior trim were again drawn from the Newport Custom. The new instrument panel featured a symmetrical padded loop echoing the design theme of the front end. The inverted fan style speedometer from 1967 & 68 continued, balanced on the passenger side by a large glove box door. A unique Chrysler feature was floodlighting of the instruments and controls instead of more typical back lighting. The effect met with mixed reviews over several model years.

    For 1969, ALL full sized Chrysler Corp vehicles returned to standard 15” wheels. This accommodated the growing share of cars equipped with front disc brakes, which were updated to a new simpler and less costly single piston sliding caliper design. Once again, Chrysler sales literature listed power front disc brakes as standard equipment on Town and Country. But, once again, some left the factory with front drum brakes instead. Regardless of brake type, all T&Cs wore standard size 8.85x15 tires on 6.5”x15” heavy duty rims. Powertrain choices for Chrysler and Town and Country specifically remained unchanged.

    Chrysler played catch-up on some wagon specific features in 1969: The tailgate became a two-way door-gate, able to swing sideways or drop downward, a feature Ford had pioneered in 1965. And, the rear axle track was widened nearly 3 inches to 63.4”, enabling a full 48.5” wide load floor between the wheel wells, a feature GM had pioneered, also in 1965. Chrysler sought to leapfrog those competitors with a few wagon only features of its own, including passenger assist handles integrated into the rear opening trim molding, and a tailgate window washer, contained entirely inside the tailgate.

    After so many changes in the prior year, it is no surprise that there were few changes for 1970. Most US makes including Chrysler adopted bias belted tires. They were a short-lived hybrid that combined familiar soft riding bias body plies with tread stabilizing belts used in European style radial tires. One well known brand name at the time was Goodyear’s Polyglas. All 1970 Chryslers featured standard bias belted tires, with Town & Country wagons wearing size J78-15. J identified the second largest size available in load capacity, 78 indicated a cross-section height-to-width, or aspect ratio of 78%, and 15 was the nominal rim diameter in inches, as before.

    A minor styling change was the addition of a dogleg or kink in the lower body side character line on the rearward half of each rear door. It was not shared with other Chrysler 4-door body styles, nor with Plymouth or Dodge wagons. Why Chrysler incurred the expense of re-tooling unique rear door skins for the ’70 Town and Country remains a mystery. Dimensions, specifications, standard and optional equipment remained virtually unchanged. Except… you guessed it… Front disc brakes moved back to the option list one last time.

    The late 1960s proved to be a financially challenging time for Chrysler Corporation, as tightening emissions standards and safely requirements spread resources thin. Consequently, the biennial mid-cycle face-lift originally intended to be the new model year 1971 corporate large car lineup was postponed one year. Thus, all 1971 Chryslers, including Town and Country, looked virtually unchanged from the prior year. Standard tires for the wagons were enlarged to L84x15, a size shared with the Imperial, and unique to Chrysler Corp. Torsion Quiet Ride, comprising a set of tuned rubber isolators for the front suspension sub-frame and rear leaf-spring mounts was added to wagons. It had been introduced as a new feature for all other Chrysler models and body styles in 1970. And finally, for the third time, front disc brakes appeared on the Town and Country standard equipment list… this time for good. Additional unseen changes were related to Federal Emission Standards and the requirement that ALL 1971 cars run on unleaded regular grade gasoline. Compression ratios on all engines were reduced to ~8.5:1. For just this year, engine power and torque specifications were advertised using both the familiar SAE gross rating method (for the last time), and SAE net rating method, which remains the standard today. (Net ratings are more representative of engine output as-installed since they measure output when the engine is fully “dressed” with production intake and exhaust plumbing, cooling system, and accessory loads in place.) Revised ratings for Town and Country engines were: 383 cu. In. 2-BBL V8: 275 (190 net) hp with 375 (305 net) lb-ft; 383 cu. In. 4-BBL V8: 300 (240 net) hp with 410 (310 net) lb-ft; 440 cu. In. 4-BBL: 335 (220 net) hp with 460 (350 net) lb-ft. Dual exhaust systems were no longer used.

    For 1972, the mid-cycle restyle originally intended for the prior year made its appearance. The overall design of Chrysler models remained very similar. The uni-body platform and all key dimensions remained unchanged. The fuselage theme evolved toward an even simpler body side, still with a subtle rearward sloping character line, but with a squared off shoulder at the window sill. The front bumper retained its loop form, adding a center divider splitting the grille into halves. Greenhouses for all 4 door models remained unchanged, while two-door coupe rooflines grew more formal, and convertibles were dropped. After many years of declining sales, the 300 series was eliminated, replaced by a New Yorker Brougham series with plusher interior choices and more standard equipment, slotted between the Imperial and New Yorker.

    Town and Country for 1972 borrowed most of its exterior trim from the New Yorker. Die cast grille inserts were shared with New Yorker, and rear wheel openings once again wore fender skirts. Brushed bright metal moldings about two inches wide ran the length of the car from front bumper to rear, and served as the lower border for the standard simulated wood grain side panels. Standard wheel covers were shared with the Newport, and were identical to the 1969 wheel covers, then shared with the New Yorker. Inside, the front seating choices and door trim were again shared with the Newport Custom. The instrument panel was mostly unchanged… Its upper bolster became a bit more massive, while the lower bolster was reduced in size, eliminating the narrow ledge. And, the glovebox door received a color keyed overlay.

    Unfortunately, as the Town and Country (and every other car in the ‘70s) grew heavier, available powertrain choices became fewer and weaker. Compression ratios were further reduced to 8.2:1. An increase in bore from 4.25” in the 383 to 4.34” produced a new engine displacement of 400 cu. in. With a 2-BBL carburetor, it just matched the 190 net horsepower and 310 lb-ft net torque ratings of the prior year 383s. The only remaining optional engine was the 440 cu. in. 4-BBL V8 produced 215 net horsepower and 345 lb-ft net torque.
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    Last edited by Ferrer; 11-21-2014 at 01:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    1973 was the 5th and final year of what had been planned as a four year platform cycle. A federal mandate to equip MY 1973 cars with bumpers that could absorb up to 5 mph impacts with no functional damage was a major challenge, as the large cars Chrysler Corp had designed to comply with this standard were delayed until MY 1974. The stopgap solution was to replace the fuselage era signature loop front bumpers with a generic looking grille and conventional looking bumpers wearing large black rubber impact absorbers, front and rear. The absorbers added more than five inches to the overall length of every car, and unfortunately, looked like the afterthought that they were. Apart from 5 mph bumpers, other changes for the 1973 Town and Country were few: The 50/50 3 in 1 front seat had proven sufficiently popular that it became standard equipment, as did the higher torque 440 V8 engine, which featured standard electronic ignition for the first time.

    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Chrysler Town & Country #2
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    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

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