1956 CHRYSLER 300 B



One of 1102 built  / 354 c.i. “Hemi”, 340 h.p.

Second year of the legendary 300, so named as the 1955 C-300 was the first production car to feature 300 horsepower. Chrysler had long been building solid, well-engineered but conservatively styled automobiles. By 1954, as the American public wanted more pizzazz in their cars’ styling, and more zoom from under the hood, Chrysler was in trouble, with Plymouth, long America’s 3rd best-selling make, slipping to 4th place behind Buick. All this was about to change for 1955, a milestone and banner year for almost the entire American auto industry. Under the direction of stylist Virgil Exner, Chrysler introduced the “100 Million Dollar Look.”  Not only were all the company’s offerings – especially Imperial, Chrysler and DeSoto – beautifully redesigned, but management at last realized that the 331 c.i. Hemi V8, introduced in the 1951 Chrysler Saratoga, New Yorker and Imperial models, had enormous performance potential; hence the limited edition “300”. This model was never intended to make money directly, but boost the marque’s image, which it accomplished even more than anticipated. The 1956 edition is one of the few “face lifts” that actually improved on the original, with the tailfins –“vertical stabilizers”, according to Chrysler – beautifully integrated and the appearance of the “cathedral” tail light lenses.

I purchased this car in 1976. It is one of very few to have factory air conditioning, as air uses horsepower and Chrysler felt their performance car should not have been burdened with it. Obviously it was a special order. When I bought the car, it was white, as most 300s were, but once we checked the data plate, we discovered it was originally Regimental Red, much to my delight.

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Last Updated June 4, 2008
May 2004  © Richard Carpenter

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