The Chrysler Saratoga

The Saratoga nameplate for the Chrysler Corporation first appeared in 1939.  It applied to the most expensive full-size eight-cylinder vehicle, which put it above the Imperial and the New Yorker.  Full wheel covers came standard on the 1939 model and it cost $1,443.  The 1940 model was then assigned to the Series C26 eight-cylinder models, with the Traveler that had replaced the New Yorker and Imperial.  It only came in a four-door sedan model but offered a standard and sport formal interior; the latter included a glass partition that could be lowered.  This was also the year that Fluid Drive was offered for the first time with the three-speed transmission.

The 1941 and 1942 styles were very similar.  The Saratoga was assigned to the Series C30 eight-cylinder, which meant they were demoted to the bottom of all eight-cylinders in the line.  During this year, the business coupe, club coupe, four-door Town Sedan, and the two-door sedan were offered in terms of body style.  The Fluid Drive was offered again, but this time with the eight-cylinder version of the Vacumatic which mated the three-speed transmission to an overdrive unit.

The Saratoga nameplate disappeared for a few years due to the changing of name to Crown Imperial Special.  It returned, however, in 1946 and was again the least expensive eight-cylinder model.  Due to government restrictions on goods, Chrysler offered white steel “beauty rings” on the car’s wheels to give the appearance of white wall tires.  The actual white wall tire option returned in 1947.  This was one of the only style changes the Saratoga received until 1949.  It was still restricted to two body styles, the four-door sedan and two-door club coupe, but it had a straight-eight engine and a Prestomatic semi-automatic transmission.  2,475 vehicles were sold that year, but that number severely dropped in 1950 to only 1,300 cars even though the model received new grilles, taillights and a larger rear window.

The 1951 model saw a great increase, however, when it added Chrysler’s famed Hemi V8 to the car.Power steering, an industry first, was all added, along with Fluid Torque Drive. The body styles also were expanded to include a wagon plus right-passenger sedan and a limousine.  This year saw production numbers in the 36,000s, but that was short lived with a decrease to 17,000 in 1952 due to the Korean War.  After the lowering of production, the Saratoga was renamed the New Yorker, with the old New Yorker being called the New Yorker Deluxe.

In 1957, the Saratoga nameplate reappeared one last time in the United States as part of the “Forward Look” styling by Virgil Exner.  This model was positioned between the Windsor and top New Yorker models.  Chrysler’s Hemi V8 was not available for this model but instead has a cast-iron poly head block V8.  These models had the option of dual headlights or quad-headlights (where state law permitted), but by the model year end, all had quad-headlights.

During its final years, the Saratoga did not see too much change.  The 1958 model had a modified front end design but was using the New Yorker body and came in four-door sedan, four-door hardtop and two-door hardtop coupe.  The 1959 model got the new RB V8 engine that was Chrysler only in 1959 and 1960.  During the Saratoga’s final year, 1960, the model was based wholly on the New Yorker body shell with less trimmings.  15,525 vehicles were sold before  production and sales was moved solely to Canada, ending the Saratoga’s run in the U.S.

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