Chrysler 300D Convertible

For much of its history, Chrysler was a frontrunner in building some of the most interesting and exciting high-performance cars Detroit had to offer. Foremost among them are the formidable early Hemi-powered Chrysler 300 “letter cars” of the 1950s which, by virtue of their cost and long list of standard and optional features, were reserved for the wealthiest and most discerning buyers. Cloaked in handsome Virgil Exner-designed bodies and carefully engineered, the 300 series offered the ultimate in American luxury and performance.

For 1957, Chrysler enlarged its already legendary hemispherical-head V-8 engine to 392 cubic inches. Thanks to this increase and refinements by Chrysler engineers, power output reached 375 bhp and then 380 bhp for the 300D of 1958. Performance of the 300D was stunning right off the showroom floor, with the large and relatively heavy cars easily capable of accelerating from rest to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, en route to top speeds of some 135 mph, depending upon the final drive ratio selected. 

While 1957 was a banner year for all American automakers, storm clouds were gathering. In 1958, the economy, which seemed unstoppable just a year earlier, began to stagger. Coupled with industry-wide labor unrest, Chrysler 300D production numbers plummeted to just 809 cars, including 191 convertibles, of which only about 53 are known to exist today. Due to low production, valvetrain complexity and high costs, 1958 marked the last model year that the company offered its first-generation “Hemi” V-8 engine in a full-size Chrysler; for 1959, the less expensive and exotic 413-cubic inch “wedge-head” V-8 debuted.

Part of the RM Auctions in March of 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida and in August of 2011 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California. Also part of the event for John Staluppi in December, 2012.

380 bhp, 392 cu. in. “FirePower” V-8 engine, dual carburetors, pushbutton-operated TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission, independent torsion-bar front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel, power-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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