1951 was a monumental year for Chrysler as they introduced the famed HEMI engine, serving as a replacement for the L-head straight-eight whose basic design had been used by the company since 1930. Though the HEMI engine was not designed for racing, the high performance capabilities were quickly realized, resulting in it being specified for road racing and stock car competition, plus many other events ranging from sports cars to drag racers.
This 1951 Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe is powered by a HEMI 'Firepower' overhead valve engine offering 180 horsepower. It was a stock production vehicle that was taken off the showroom floor of Horace Holly Motors in Abilene, Texas and driven, with only minor modification, in the 1951 Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico. Drivers Clyde Johnson and Royal Russell placed 11th and may have finished higher had they not encountered tire problems. The car remained the property of Horace Holly for many years until it was purchased by the Walter P. Chrysler Museum and restored to racing condition.
In 1951, the car had a factory base price of about $3,000 and came equipped with a Fluid Drive semi-automatic gearbox. The wheelbase measures 125 inches and is 207.8-inches long.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2011