Past Collection – 1955 Chrysler C-300
History of Chrysler 300 letter series
The Chrysler 300 “letter series” were high-performance luxury cars built in very limited numbers by the Chrysler Corporation in the United States between 1955 and 1965. Each year’s model used a new letter of the alphabet as a suffix (skipping “i”), reaching 300L by 1965, after which the model was dropped.
The 300 “letter series” cars were the vehicles that really rekindled interest in performance among major American manufacturers after World War II, and thus can be considered the muscle car’s ancestors, though much more expensive and exclusive.
Chrysler has recently started using these designations again for sporting near-luxury sedans, using 300M from 1999, and continuing the 300 series with a new V8-powered 300C, the top model of a relaunched Chrysler 300 line, a new rear wheel drive car launched in 2004 for the 2005 model year. This is disliked by some fans of old Chryslers who do not approve of the reuse of a 300 letter series designation. Unlike the first series, the second does not have 300 hp engines, except for today’s top-line 300C.
1955 Chrysler C-300
This first of the letter series cars didn’t actually bear a letter; it can retroactively be considered the ‘300A’. The ‘C-‘ designation (later dropped) signified ‘Coupe’, while the 300 originally stood for the 300 hp (220 kW) engine. The C-300 was really a racecar sold for the road for homologation purposes, with Chrysler’s most powerful engine, the 331 cubic inch (5.4 L) FirePower “Hemi” V8, fitted with twin 4-barrel carburetors, a race-profiled camshaft setup, solid valve lifters, and a performance exhaust system. This was the first American production car to top 300 hp (220 kW), and the letter series was for many years the most powerful car produced in the United States by a fair margin.
The car’s “Forward Look” styling can be attributed as much to the Chrysler parts bin as designer Virgil Exner. The front clip, including the grille, was taken from the Imperial of the same year, but the rest of the car did not look like an Imperial. The midsection was from a New Yorker hardtop, with a Windsor rear quarter. Exner tweaked the design to integrate these elements, including fitting base-model Chrysler bumpers, and removing the exterior mirrors for reduced drag at high speeds.
Measured at 127.58 mph (205.32 km/h) in the Flying Mile and doing well in NASCAR, the C-300 aroused a lot of interest that was not reflected in its modest sales figure of 1,725 built.