Dodge St. Regis
|Dodge St. Regis|
|Assembly||Detroit, Michigan, USA (Lynch Road Plant)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
Chrysler New Yorker
Plymouth Gran Fury
|Engine||225 in³ Slant 6 I6
318 in³ LA V8
360 in³ LA V8
|Transmission||3-speed A727 automatic
3-speed A904 automatic
The St. Regis was based on Chrysler's rear wheel drive R-body platform, itself based on a modified version of the circa 1971 B-body design that provided the foundation for such cars as the Dodge Charger and the Chrysler Cordoba. Available engines included the 225 in³ (3.7 L) straight-6, the 318 in³ (5.2 L), and the 360 in³ (5.9 L) V8s.
"St. Regis" was originally an uplevel trim package on the 1956 Chrysler New Yorker hardtop coupe, and again on the 1974–78 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham coupe.
Offered only as a four-door sedan, the St. Regis was differentiated from its sister models, the Plymouth Gran Fury, Chrysler Newport, and Chrysler New Yorker by retractable, transparent plastic headlight covers (introduced a year earlier on the 1978 Dodge Magnum).
The new cars (like their 1974–78 predecessors) arrived at precisely the wrong time. A second gasoline crisis hit the U.S. in 1979, and despite the fact that the St. Regis was somewhat smaller than its predecessor, the Dodge Monaco, it was not much more fuel efficient. Also, under the sheet metal, the St. Regis was mainly the same old B-body that dated back to 1962, and could not compete with the completely new GM B-bodies and Ford's Panther platform vehicles. At the same time, higher interest rates and Chrysler's ongoing corporate and financial problems, all combined to keep sales low. The St. Regis, and the other R-body models, were dropped midway through the 1981 model year, leaving the Dodge Diplomat, (a mid-size car), to soldier on as the marque's sole "full-sized" model, until the introduction of the Dodge Monaco in 1990.
After 1979, the bulk of St. Regis sales were for fleet use. The St. Regis, along with the Plymouth Gran Fury and even the Chrysler Newport, did sell as a police car during the early 1980s, although it is generally accepted[by whom?] that the cars were not as good—or as fast—as previous Chrysler Corporation police cars. Despite this, the 1979 St Regis, when equipped with the 360 cu in (E58 option) and 49-state police specification package, is considered[by whom?] one of the all-around, best performing and handling, police cars of the century. Most perceptions that the St. Regis was slower comes from police officers moving out of 440-powered cruisers. Using the same final drive ratio, the Michigan State Police tests found the 1979 St. Regis to be a superior performer to the 400 powered 1978 Monaco, in all areas except gas consumption, though performance definitely dropped as drive ratio and engine sizes went down.
|Performance comparison||78 Fury||78 Monaco||79 St. Regis||80 St. Regis||81 St. Regis|
|HP, SAE||255 bhp||190 bhp||195 bhp||185 bhp||165 bhp|
|Road course lap time||91.1||93.6||91.65||91.8||93.93|
|Top Speed, mph||133||117||122.9||122.7||114.7|
|1/4 mi. time||NA||NA||NA||18.4||19.63|
|1/4 mi speed||NA||NA||NA||77.5||74.50|
|Fuel, EPA city||10||13||12||11||15.5|
There was a controversy in 1980 with the police version of the St. Regis. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) used the St. Regis in 1979 with the 190 hp 360 cu in four-barrel V8 and it was deemed acceptable for patrol use. In 1980 all that was available in California was a 155 hp 318 cu in 4 bbl V8 with the California emissions package, mandated by the California Air Resources Board.
Officers began to complain about the underpowered engine and its inability to pace and intercept speeders. Many officers claimed that the car's top speed was below 100 MPH with a lightbar and 65 MPH on a steep mountain grade. This issue was so severe that limited modifications were permitted to the vehicle, such as replacing the muffler with a straight pipe, removing the emission control flap, and advancing the timing. In addition, the cars were put on beats to reach the CHP's 70,000-mile sell-off quota as quickly as possible; some were even sold outright simply to get rid of these cars, before the mileage limit was reached. Because of this problem, the CHP adopted the 'Ford Mustang Severe Service Package' in 1982 as a pursuit vehicle.
Television and collectors
Although the St. Regis does not hold much collector value today, fans of Chrysler products sometimes search junkyards for the cars' disc brakes as an upgrade for earlier cars such as the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda. With the small number built, and the high percentage that were destroyed in film and TV work in the 1980s, very few St. Regis survive today.
- Sanow, Edwin J (1994). Dodge, Plymouth & Chrysler Police Cars 1956–1978. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers. ISBN 978-0-87938-958-1.
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