The M Body Replacement For 1990 - 1993 Chrysler Imperials
By Jim Gathmann
Everyone who's lived through the 1980's is familiar with the Chrysler M-body line of cars. The M bodies were made from the late 70's through 1989, and was one of the most successful car lines produced by Chrysler. These were the last true rear-wheel-drive V8's made with the Mopar name tags. These cars made up the top of the line models (RWD 5th Ave, New Yorker, LeBaron), and also the mid-range priced models used as cop cars and other "blue collar" professions (Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury).
Most people don't know it, but the AC/Y bodies (Imperial, Dynasty, FWD 5th Ave, New Yorker of the 1990's) were the replacement for the M-body line when it ended in 1989.
The first true AC/Y body was the Dodge Dynasty, which entered the market for the 1988 year. The car was originally meant to be a more expensive (top of the line Dodge model) box-like car, based on the k-cars (like all of the other FWD Mopars of that era). The Dynasty was mostly of original design, and had little taken or influenced by other models. The grill seemed to be based on the older grills used in the 80's LeBaron, and the rear tail lights look to be influenced by the M-body series, but other then that, the car's body was mostly unique.
But when the M-bodies stopped production, Chrysler needed a replacement line. The market for cop cars, fleets (taxis, governmental or business, etc.) were dominated by the M-body. Mopar needed a replacement before the market could start looking toward other companies for cars. It is around this time when cop fleets went from being dominantly M-body Mopars to also including FWD GM's and Fords.
The answer to this problem was (or at least in the minds of some people at Chrysler) the AC/Y bodies. Clearly the Dodge Dynasty could be a perfect replacement for the Diplomat/Gran Fury. Stick in a larger engine for fleets (i.e. 3.3L V6), or a more powerful engine for police packages (3.8L V6), maybe a turbo, and you get a car faster then the M-bodies, with less gas intake, and current technology (the 3.3/3.8L engines were among the first Mopar engines to be almost completely computer controlled, complete with distributor-less ignition systems). Similar models based on the Dynasty could be used as replacements for the old upper price M-body models (5th Ave, New Yorker, etc.).
So by 1990, the introduction of the front-wheel drive Chrysler 5th Ave, New Yorker, and Imperial. Even the names Imperial, 5th Ave, and New Yorker came out of past top of the line RWD models, most of which were M-bodies. The box-shape body was kept, and the same general size as well (these cars are not thought of as mid size sedans, but rather full size cars, which was also typical of the models they replaced).
All of these new models of the 90's were based on the Dynasty, and with few exceptions, these cars have almost all interchangeable parts. The air suspension of the Imperial can go in a Dynasty, and the traditional spring, strut, and shock suspension of a 1991 New Yorker can be put in an Imperial. And with the exception of the Dynasty (which was sold with either the 2.5L, Mitsubishi-made 3.0L V6, or the 3.3L V6), these models all shared the 3.3L V6. The Imperial gained a 3.8L V6 after 1990, but the 3.8 is a bored out, stroked out 3.3.
It was during this time that the Dynasty was used in the production of a prototype police package. The envisioned Police Dynasty used the Imperial's 3.8L V6, with a large turbo. The problem was that the bottom end of the engine would literally destroy its self when under moderate boost (however it should be noted that no where is it mentioned what Mopar considered to be moderate boost in the early 1990's....). The project ended right about then, as the market for cop cars were being taken over by the Ford Crown Victorias, and other similar models made by GM and Ford. The introduction of the LH series was also in the near future, and thus the need for a police Dynasty was 100% over.
But there is no question that these cars were the M-body replacement. Why else would there have been a Police Package Dynasty and the reissued names of Imperial, 5th Ave, and New Yorker on a car series which originally consisted of a FWD Dynasty which wasn't that far from being a reliant k-car?
Also, the 80's Imperial was almost an M-body....
Replacement or no replacement, these cars came to hold their own weigh without reviving the history of the M-bodies. These models reflected the comfort, size, and power traditionally associated with the Imperial name, and no one can deny the level of satisfaction when driving, using, or caring for one of these cars, which are about as bullet proof (with the exception of the engine's bottom end and the tranny) as the old M-bodies which can still be seen in places around the globe being used as taxis, or cop cars, despite over 350,000 miles or far more.