Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. Click image to enlarge

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Inside Story is a review of interior comfort features, cabin controls, storage options, trunk space and under-hood accessibility based on a seven-day evaluation. For driving impressions, please see our Test Drives section.

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue

The year was 1987. People still knew the name of the other guy from Wham! Mullets grew without ridicule. And the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrated the twentieth anniversary of “The Thing They’ll Never Win Again.”
 
In Detroit, automotive designers busied themselves, with such far-reaching issues as how much padding to add to Landau tops, and the placement of spring-loaded hood ornaments. There were an increasing number of bold departures from the typical automotive form, such as the Ford Taurus, and Chrysler’s fabled mini-vans. This vehicle isn’t one of them. This is the official Inside Story Winter Back-up Vehicle, a 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue, in all its pillow-infested, Landau-padded, pinstriped glory.
 
Now before the “wait a minutes!” reach a feverish pitch, let me explain. As motoring people, we all share in a higher responsibility for interior functionality. Be it through focus groups or stamping our feet like children, our respective needs and wants are what shapes the cockpits, the centre stacks, and the cargo holds of the vehicles we choose. This week, I ask just how far we’ve come in the last 23 years, and if we’ve missed anything along the way. (Warning; some of these images may be disturbing, simply as a matter of taste.)
 

The Cockpit/Centre Stack

 
Let’s start with the obvious; there is no centre stack. The Fifth Avenue instrument panel manages to incorporate the primary motoring needs for HVAC, instrumentation, and audio controls within a relatively small footprint, much like traditional light-duty trucks. Silly car; it keeps calling my door a jar. Gauges include engine temperature, and the state of the charging system. These gauges include secondary warning lamp indicators, which will glow in the likely event of overheating, or when you attempt to run the wipers, radio, high-speed HVAC fan, and the rear defroster grid at the same time. There’s an impressive amount of business going on with the turn signal stalk, which incorporates cruise control, high-beam actuation, and delay wiper/wash. The automatic transmission is a column shift, with an indicator bar that doesn’t stress about precision for the gear you’re actually in.

Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
Inside Story Flashback: 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue   How far have we come? inside story
1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. Click image to enlarge

The HVAC uses an auto temperature slide, with a thermostatic temperature sensor below the dashboard. The drudgery of fast-forwarding and rewinding your cassette tapes is gone forever, thanks to auto-reversing technology. The driver can choose from auto sound equalization, or one can fiddle with slides that seem largely decorative. Bonus! This particular head unit brings your talk radio to new heights, with AM stereo playback. Reaching out for those radio waves is a power fender-mount antenna, adept at freezing itself inoperative during the winter months. The driver’s door pod opts for an elongated and somewhat confusing pattern for the power windows and power lock actuation. Noteworthy at this point in automotive history is the appearance of a power window lock-out switch. Exterior mirrors are powered; by you! A cable-fed toggle on the driver’s door pod positions the driver unit, while a lower mid-dash toggle sways the passenger side. The spring-loaded Chrysler pentastar continues to provide joy to neighbourhood children, who keep positioning it to point east-west. And if I ever catch those little darlings…
 

Cubbies!

 
While the front and rear doors are cubby exempt, each door is equipped with lower floodlamps, which launch their searing light when the driver or passenger door handles are lifted. According to Mopar historians, 1987 was the last year of the 17-ounce deep pile carpeting, which grows from the floorboards to the lower edges of the door panels. Note the wide opening angle of the rear doors, which probably explains the popularity of lower station models for police use. This non-smoker Fifth has plenty of receipt room in the front ashtray, plus a 12-volt DC powerpoint.