1955 Chrysler 300 History
Article by Mark Trotta
Big, quick, and luxurious, the 1955 Chrysler 300 was powered by a 331 cubic-inch V8 producing 300-horsepower. The 4,000 pound car was based on the New Yorker model, boasting leather upholstery and other upgrades as standard equipment.
The Chrysler 300 got it's name from it's 300 horsepower output. Original dealer manuals refer to it as the C-300, as the "C" prefix was applied to all Chrysler models at the time.
Dual Quad Hemi Engine
Under the hood was Chrysler's 331ci Hemi V8 with two Carter 4-barrel carburetors and a solid lifter camshaft. Backing up the power was a Powerflite two-speed automatic transmission. The car was also fitted with stiffer suspension and a performance exhaust system.
The Flying Mile
Before the Daytona International Speedway in Florida was built, time trials were held right on the beach itself. Even with it's 4,000 pound weight, a Chrysler 300 was clocked at 127.58 mph on the Daytona "flying mile".
The 1955 Chrysler 300 was the first American mass-produced 300-horsepower car.
First-year 300 models were available in three colors only; Tango Red, Platinum (white), and Black. Inside was a standard tan leather interior. Just 1,725 examples were produced.
Chrysler Letter Series
The year 1956 saw the introduction of the 300B, and the letter series was born. During the next nine years, the 300 series continued with the 300C, 300D, etc, with a new letter every year (skipping the letter "i") until the final 300L in 1965.
1956 Chrysler 300B
The 300B was fitted with a 354ci Hemi producing 355 horsepower. Power was handled by a 3-speed Torqueflite automatic or special order 3-speed manual transmission.
Chrysler 300 In Competition
Under owner Carl Kiekhaefer, Chrysler 300 drivers won both NASCAR and USAC championships in 1955 and 1956.
1955-1956 NASCAR Wins By Manufacturer
- Chrysler -51
- Ford - 16
- Dodge -11
- Oldsmobile -10
- Chevrolet - 5
- Mercury - 5
- Buick - 2
- Hudson - 1
Although early 300 models were fast and handled well, the engine's solid-lifters and large exhaust made them louder than comparable luxury cars. They also had a rougher ride due to it's stiff suspension.
Modern Chrysler 300
In 1999, Chrysler resurrected the 300 nameplate for it's performance-luxury sedans. The 300M nameplate would be used from 1999 to 2004, then expanded to the V8-powered 300C, which was offered from 2004 to 2008.