In the mid-1950s, Detroit’s Big Three followed different directions in search of the market’s hot buttons. General Motors introduced its lightweight, small-block Chevrolet V8, transforming its Corvette into a sports car. Ford introduced its Thunderbird – “personal car” and more of a stylish cruiser than a true sports car. Chrysler chose an entirely different course, introducing the 300 series; a limited-production, luxurious and high performance sporting sedan.
While the Chrysler 300 is widely recognized as American’s first “true” muscle car, it was also a refined, full-size automobile with an abundance of luxury features not commonly found on most other cars of the era. Its 331 cubic inch V8 engine was the most powerful engine available to the public since the supercharged Duesenberg Model SJs of years past, and its 150 mph speedometer was an indication of its inherent power.
In competition, the C-300 immediately became a legend. At Daytona Beach, Tim Flock piloted a C-300 to a 127.580-mph two-way average in the flying mile, more than seven mph faster than its nearest competitor. Carl Kiekafer, the pioneering NASCAR team owner, prepared a C-300, driven by Tim Flock, which went on to win the 1955 NASCAR Grand National Championship. On the street, the C-300 was capable of ten-second zero-to-sixty times, en route to a 17.6-second quarter-mile dash.
Utilizing the information from Briggs Cunningham’s prior Le Mans efforts, the C-300 engine was equipped with a full-race camshaft, higher compression, adjustable rocker shafts, solid valve lifters and dual four-barrel carburetors with a special “bat wing” air cleaner. Underneath the C-300 benefited from a heavy-duty suspension with a lowered ride height, an improved Powerflite automatic transmission and a 3.54:1 rear axle. This formidable combination was praised by pioneering road tester Tom McCahill, who called it “a magnificent piece of semi-competition equipment not meant for the faint of heart”. Chrysler produced just 1,725 C-300s in 1955, and today, the Chrysler Letter Car Club estimates that just 10 percent remain in existence.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in March of 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida and in August 2009 at the Shotwell Gustafson Pavilion at Meadow Brook Hall, Rochester, Michigan.
300 bhp, 331 cu. in. overhead valve V8 engine with two four-barrel carburetors, Powerflite two-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126"
Source: RM Auctions