1957 Chrysler 300C
Sales - Design/Build - Restoration
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Chrysler’s research during wartime and their development work on a new engine for the P-47 Thunderbolt led to the now-famous hemispherical combustion chamber design, or as us car guys like to refer to it as the "Hemi". However, the 300C was incredible not only because of its power, but it also was loved by many because of its exceptional handling that resulted from a lowered placement of the heavy engine and careful location of the rear leaf springs. This 300C left the factory originally covered in a coat of Cloud White, however today it sits covered in a fresh coat of Jet Black. The black is accented very nicely by the tan interior and top.
The 300C’s futuristic design helped mark the debut of jet age Detroit styling trends that would continue for several years. And although Chrysler’s aerodynamic ingenuity came in handy at Daytona Beach, where a fire breathing 390 horsepower Hemi propelled the car to 134 MPH, it was the firm’s style quotient that quickly sent the market into a frenzy. At the front of this rag-top’s sculpted body is a bold, ‘yawning’ grille that hangs a red, white and blue “300” emblem between chrome trimmed ‘increased visibility’ headlamps and innovative brake cooling ducts. Below that grille is an original, re-chromed bumper wrapping clear marker light into pristine stainless fender trim; and above that grille, a fresh chrome “CHRYSLER” script combines with a grafted center fin to detail the car’s massive hood. At the sides of the car’s body, rolled fenders flow into smooth fins behind great looking stainless trim and large red, white and blue “300” emblems. Below that trim, dent-free stainless gravel shields protect the fenders from the car’s twist happy tires; and above the trim is stylish chrome mirrors that combine with flush chrome door handles to lend a healthy dose of form and function. At the top of the car, an angled windshield and like-new greenhouse glass ride between a fresh tan top, bright opposing windshield wipers and polished original trim. And at the back of the car, jet-inspired tail lights center a simple chrome tag bracket and an ornate “300” emblem above a second original re-chromed bumper.
With this car’s 392 cubic inch Firepower V8 Chrysler created a big block legend that’s still highly regarded as a revolutionary blend of performance and luxury. Not only does this hot Hemi mill produce 375 horsepower, but it also twists out 9.25 to 1 compression into 420 lb./ft. of torque. Induction is handled by a pair of gold air cleaners that are piped directly into two high performance Carter 4-barrel carburetors. Fire is provided by a high performance points distributor which shoots sparks between a tagged 30 amp generator and fresh black plug wires. Combustion comes courtesy of a high performance camshaft which breathes through a high performance intake and low restriction exhaust manifolds. Aesthetically, the engine’s fresh aluminum paint contrasts well against cool gold valve covers and the car’s glossy Gauquin Red engine bay. And little details like stainless lines, rebuilt horns, a reproduction Mopar red cap battery, a correct Silentflite fan drive and a cool Jiffy Jet washer bag provide tons of exciting eyeball appeal.
Put the 300C on a lift and you’ll see that bolted to the massive HEMI is the original pushbutton A488 Torqueflite 3-speed automatic push button transmission that sends power to the 8 ¾ rear axle. Also underneath you’ll see the torsion bar front suspension bolted to the X-frame chassis and in the rear a leaf spring setup houses the aforementioned rear-axle. Stopping power comes courtesy of a power drum brakes, and in front of those brakes 14” steel rims have been wrapped in BF Goodrich Silvertown Whitewall tires.
Hop inside this handsome Chrysler and you’ll find a spacious and airy driving environment which has enough room to haul the whole family in comfort and style. Tan leather bench seats harbor correct seat cushions which still feel firm to the touch. Black carpet does an excellent job of highlighting the car’s bright stainless accents and correctly cushioned dash. And speaking of the dash, a bright rearview mirror, a red, white and blue “300” emblem, a rare Highway Hi-Fi record player and pushbuttons for the tough Torqueflite transmission frame super cool ‘jet age’ gauges that are centered on a continuous motion clock. At the sides of the seats, fantastic tri-tone door panels display a prominent 50s design theme between correct power windows and cool “300” branded sill plates. Behind the seats, a new convertible cowl snaps down over a giant, fully restored trunk which props a fifth wire wheel and a full-size spare tire next to an echo-prone level of cargo space. And in front of the driver, a gorgeous wide-diameter steering wheel spins an attractive two-tone rim around a deep-seated “300” center piece and a full chrome horn ring.
This ’57 300C Convertible represents a huge milestone in the development of Chrysler Corporation as a powerhouse manufacturer. After tearing up the beaches in Daytona and shattering speed records at the firm’s own Chelsea Proving Grounds, it single-handedly spawned the world-class performance image Chrysler’s eponymous brand enjoyed well into the ‘70s. This car is absolutely one of the best first year letter series convertibles in existence, it represents the pinnacle of American design and manufacturing dominance and it’s the kind of rare investment opportunity that only comes around once in a lifetime. If you’re a discerning gearhead who likes top-notch classics that draw crowds wherever they go, this high performance luxury machine will be a significant addition to your collection!
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