I still occasionally see M-body Fifth Avenues on the road. They’re always well-kept, but also actually being driven. How much longer will they last?
“Fifth Avenue remembers what fine car buyers demand!”
Little changed for 1987, Chrysler’s rear-wheel-drive Fifth Avenue sedan did receive an updated steering wheel. Otherwise, things continued along virtually the same as they had been since the M-body Chrysler went from the New Yorker Fifth Avenue name to the Fifth Avenue name in 1984.
The only powertrain available was an LA 140 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a Carter two-barrel carburetor paired with a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission—the slant six had departed from the M-body after 1983. 0-60 came in about 12 seconds in a car with a 3,741-pound curb weight. Mileage ratings were 16 city/21 highway by 1987 standards—which equals 15 city/20 highway today. With an 18-gallon gas tank, a Fifth Avenue owner could expect a range of 285 to 300 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard exterior features on the $15,422 Fifth Avenue (about $38,900 in today’s dollars or about what a 2021 Chrysler 300S V6 sedan goes for) included a color-keyed padded vinyl Landau roof and tinted glass on all windows. Mechanical features included power front disc/rear drum brakes, power-assisted steering, and P205/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels with Premium wheel covers. Inside, an air conditioning/heater with automatic temperature control, power windows, a Luxury two-spoke steering wheel, and an AM radio were included.
Packages, Options, and Production Numbers
The Luxury Equipment Discount Package added hood stripes, electroluminescent opera lights, and wire wheel covers with locks. Inside, the same package added automatic speed control, a tilt steering column, Deluxe intermittent windshield washers/wipers, a power deck lid release, and an AM stereo/FM stereo radio with the Premium speaker system and a power antenna. Added upholstery features with the package included (of course) Corinthian leather 60/40 front seat with vinyl trim, dual front power seats, and a Luxury leather-wrapped two-spoke steering wheel. This substantial package cost $2,113 if ordered with the Ultimate Sound audio system and $2,251 if ordered without Chrysler top-of-the-line stereo. Either way, it added 14% to 15% to the Fifth Avenue’s base price.
A Two-Tone Paint Package was also available. This package included (natch!) two-tone paint with a choice of three colors matched with Radiant Silver, a special padded vinyl Landau roof with electroluminescent opera lights, and cast aluminum 15-inch wheels.
Individual options included a power glass sun roof and a driver-only passenger seat. A range of three optional car stereos topped out with the Ultimate Sound system, which included an AM stereo/FM stereo radio, a cassette tape player with automatic reverse and Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR), a five-band graphic equalizer, and a joystick balance/fader control. Many individual options cost less if they were ordered along with the Luxury Equipment Discount Package.
Chrysler sold 70,579 Fifth Avenues in 1987, making it the single most popular Chrysler model, though all the various LeBaron models combined were good for far more sales. With tooling that had long since been paid for, all the M-body cars (the Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury were also in production) were probably good for Chrysler’s profits.
The View From 2021
These cars were the last of the old Chryslers, with a platform that dated back to 1977 and some design elements that were far older. When rear-wheel-drive returned to big Chryslers in 2005, it was based on a Mercedes-Benz E-class platform.
Though they are far from collector cars, Fifth Avenues of this generation are sometimes available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and occasionally show up at auction. As I write this post, a Radiant Silver 1985 Fifth Avenue with a silver vinyl top and gray velvet cloth 60/40 front seats is for sale on Hemmings for $7,850.
Make mine Crimson Red, please.
Other rear-wheel-drive Chrysler products I have written about are the 1980 Chrysler Cordoba coupe, the 1980 Plymouth Volaré station wagon, and the 1983 Imperial coupe.