This may have been the 3rd year of the iconic 1950’s “muscle luxury” car from Chrysler, but it was one which captured the imagination of the buying public, along with the rest of the Chrysler Corporation products that year, and which also was part of the impetus for GM to spend hundreds of millions on all-new 1959 cars, in order to try to pay catch-up to the “3rd rate company on the other side of town”, as GM considered Chrysler. In fact, GM scrapped the entire planned 1959 lines (except for Corvette) and started over, which was especially expensive for Chevrolet and Pontiac, which instead of being restyled or facelifted 1958’s, replaced cars which were all-new in 1958 with all-new 1959’s.
So, there wasn’t any “false advertising” from Chrysler in 1957 when they crowed proudly “Suddenly, it’s 1960!” The Chrysler 300C was the lowest, newest, hottest grand touring car available in the United States, bar none. All new from the torsion bars and from the new frame right up to the top of the car which was not only five inches lower than the 1956, but more importantly, several inches lower than virtually all of the competition. The old “high wide and handsome” adage suddenly gave way to a new one; “low, wider and longer”! The 300C came with a mass-produced 392 cubic inch Chrysler Hemi V-8 with 375 horsepower, but also available at extra cost was a Hemi with two four barrel carburetors, cast-iron headers, mechanical lifters and high compression ratio that belted out a mind-bending 390 horsepower at a time when most V-8 family sedans had about 200 at best.
The car was sold as a 2 door hardtop or convertible, and only 1,918 of the former and 484 of the latter were churned out of the Detroit plant for the 1957 model year. Costing in excess of $4,200, these cars were not as expensive or lavishly equipped as the luxury New Yorkers, but they were fast, comfortable and considered very roadable in their day, much more so than most 1950’s cars. Chrysler claimed it was the new Torison Bar front suspension, but much of the public opinion also centered on an explanation that recalled how Chrysler engineering was generally thought to be excellent and ahead of time. Certainly this was the case for the Torqueflite automatics, the first modern Simpson geartrain three speed automatic ever introduced and which in this first generation was built through 1961 and which later gained an alloy case. A manual shift was standard, but few were built. Few of these cars survive today due to rust issues that plagued this generation of Chrysler product, which only serves to drive up values to sometimes eyebrow-raising heights.
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