Image credits: © Chrysler.

MSRP: $29,845-47,820
Invoice: $28,707-46,195

New 2013 Chrysler 300 Lineup Delivers Best-in-class Fuel Economy, Eight-speed Automatic Transmission, Leather Seating and More Value – Standard

• Simplified product lineup delivers 31 best-in-class highway mpg and more comfort and convenience features standard on new 2013 Chrysler 300, 300S, 300C and 300C Luxury Series models

• New Chrysler 300 model features standard heated leather seating, Úconnect 8.4 wîth voice command and 3.6-liter aluminum Pentastar V-6 engine wîth state-of-the-art ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, for under $30,000

• New Chrysler 300 AWD model offers best-in-class city and highway fuel economy wîth head-turning style and even more all-season capability at a legendary value

• Chrysler 300S features a new cold-air induction system and sport-tuned exhaust for 300 horsepower and a black-painted roof option for an even more athletic look

• Named 'Wards 10 Best Interiors,' Chrysler 300C Luxury Series features exclusive appointments including ultra-premium Poltrona Frau 'Foligno' leather, hand-sanded matte wood, world-class craftsmanship and refinement

• New Chrysler 300 Glacier edition combines the §egmènt's most advanced all-wheel-drive (AWD) system wîth unique design appointments, world-class technologies and delivers a fresh look to the stylish and sophisticated 300 series sedan lineup (late availability)

Vital Stats
Engine : 3.6 L., 6-cylinder
Power: 292 hp
Torque: 260 ft-lbs

Engine : 3.6 L., 6-cylinder
Power: 300 hp
Torque: 264 ft-lbs

Engine : 5.7 L., 8-cylinder
Power: 363 hp
Torque: 394 ft-lbs

8-speed Automatic
• Improved navigation: award-winning Úconnect 8.4N wîth easy-to-use Garmin navigation now features enhanced 3-D map and route guidance graphics


September 1, 2012 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - For those who work hard to achieve their place in the world, the 2013 Chrysler 300 series sedans are designed to reward the determination of these individuals wîth even more luxury, world-class technology, value, and of course the bravado expected from the Motor City's luxury sedan. (concept carz)

Repositioned lineup wîth even more luxury, efficiency and value
Ensuring that all 2013 Chrysler 300 models deliver the §egmènt's most luxurious sedan wîth a surprising array of standard amenities, world-class performance, best-in-class fuel economy and a legendary value – the entire Chrysler flagship portfolio was repositioned. The simplified Chrysler 300 lineup now consists of:
Chrysler 300 – the brand's most appointed entry-level flagship ever, starting at $29,845
• 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine wîth state-of-the-art eight-speed automatic transmission for up to 31 mpg highway

Now includes standard leather seating wîth heated front seats
• Úconnect 8.4 wîth voice commands and Bluetooth streaming audio

• The §egmènt's most advanced all-wheel-drive (AWD) system wîth best-in-class city and highway fuel economy (18/27 mpg) now available

Chrysler 300S - $32,995 (priced $675 less than 2012, wîth more than $2,300 of added value)
• Now includes a 300 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine wîth sport-tuned exhaust, cold-air induction and eight-speed automatic transmission wîth 'Sport Mode'

• Now includes standard Black or Radar Red leather seats wîth heated front seats
Gloss Black painted roof option for even more athletic style

• Available 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 engine wîth 363 horsepower and four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology and performance-tuned suspension and brakes available

• The §egmènt's most advanced AWD system is available wîth both powertrains

Chrysler 300C – the flagship's 'letter series' prestige now delivers 31 mpg highway and more affordable $35,995 MSRP (priced $2,675 less than the previous year's model)
• Now features the 292 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine wîth state-of-the-art ZF eight-speed automatic transmission for up to 31 mpg highway

• Standard Úconnect 8.4N wîth easy-to-use Garmin navigation wîth improved navigation features

• Available 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine wîth 363 horsepower and four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology

• The §egmènt's most advanced AWD system is available wîth both powertrains


Chrysler 300C Luxury Series – the brand's most fuel-efficient and luxurious sedan ever, starting at $39,995
• Named 'Wards 10 Best Interiors' and features exclusive appointments including ultra-premium Poltrona Frau 'Foligno' leather wrapped upper door trim, I/P and center console side panes, Nappa Leather wrapped door bolsters, door armrest and center console armrest, hand-sanded matte wood, world-class craftsmanship and refinement

• Now features the 292 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine wîth state-of-the-art ZF eight-speed automatic transmission for up to 31 mpg highway

• Únique platinum exterior accents including front grille, door handles, exterior mirror caps and fascia accents

• Standard Úconnect 8.4N wîth easy-to-use Garmin navigation wîth improved navigation features

• Available 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine wîth 363 horsepower and four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology

• The §egmènt's most advanced AWD system is available wîth both powertrains

Últimate in luxury and value: New 2013 Chrysler 300
Because luxury should not be limited to the wealthy and privileged few, the new 2013 Chrysler 300 model delivers the most appointed entry-level Chrysler flagship sedan ever. With its standard heated-leather front seats, Úconnect 8.4 wîth voice commands, 3.6-liter aluminum Pentastar V-6 engine wîth state-of-the-art ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and up to 31 mpg highway– the new Chrysler 300 provides its passengers wîth the comfort, convenience and technology features of cars costing twice as much.

For the first-time on the entry-level Chrysler 300 model, the §egmènt's most advanced AWD system is now available, providing even more all-season capability. And for those wanting even more comfort, technology and style, the new Driver Convenience Group includes Parkview rear back-up camera, remote start, HomeLink universal transceiver, 12-way power front-passenger seat and more.

Other key standard equipment includes front-row reactive head restraints, advanced multi-stage air bags, full-length side-curtain air bags, seat-mounted side-thorax air bags, driver's knee bag, rear head restraints in all positions, electronic stability control (ESC), Hill-start Assist (HSA), Rain Brake Support (RBS), Ready Alert Braking (RAB), tire-pressure monitoring (TPM), ÚSB port wîth iPod control, SiriusXM Radio, SD-card reader, auxiliary audio input jack, §teering-wheel mounted audio controls, six-speaker audio, Keyless Enter-N-Go, dual-zone automatic climate control wîth humidity sensor, cabin air filtration, acoustic windshield and front-door glass, 12-way power driver's seats including 4-way power lumbar, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-wrapped Chrysler brand §teering wheel wîth manual tilt/telescoping §teering column, leather-wrapped shift knob, luxury floor mats, 140-mph LED-illuminated instrument cluster wîth full color and driver-selectable Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), satin chrome interior door handles, LED-illuminated assist handles and front map lights, LED-illuminated front cup holders, rear-passenger reading lamps, LED-illuminated front and rear door handles, LED-illuminated center-stack storage bin, glove box lamp, illuminated vanity mirrors and two 12-volt power outlets.

On the exterior, the Chrysler 300 model features 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, P215/65R17 all-season touring tires, comfort-tuned suspension, touring brake package, liquid-chrome grille bars wîth chromed surround, bi-halogen projector headlamps wîth chromed bezels, automatic headlamps, chromed daylight opening, chromed front and rear fascia accents, LED-illuminated 'C' shaped daytime-running lamps (DRL), body-color exterior mirrors and door handles, LED-illuminated taillamps wîth LED-illuminated light pipe, dual-chromed exhaust tips wîth rolled-edges, cap-less fuel-filler door wîth power release, 17-inch compact spare tire and chromed '300' deck-lid badge.

More powerful: new 2013 Chrysler 300S
With its avant-garde appearance, world-class ride and handling, discrete exterior styling elements, contemporary interior materials, exclusive Beats Audio system and state-of-the-art technology features – the new 2013 Chrysler 300S now delivers greater performance wîth its award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. With the addition of a new sport-tuned exhaust system and cold-air induction system, the aluminum mill now produces 300 horsepower (8 more than last year), 264 ft.-lb. of torque (4 more than last year) and an enthusiast desired sound.

The §egmènt-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission wîth §teering-wheel mounted paddle shifters and 'Sport Mode' help to deliver the performance of the 2013 Chrysler 300S to the pavement. In addition, 20-inch polished-face aluminum wheels wîth black painted pockets, all-season performance tires, touring-tuned (performance-tuned wîth available HEMI V-8 engine) second-generation E-§egmènt chassis architecture wîth 25 percent quicker §teering and 20 percent heavier on-center feel than the entry-level 300 model deliver a visceral driving experience to the Chrysler 300S driver.

Named 'Wards 10 Best Interiors,' Chrysler 300C Luxury Series
Designed to be the most luxurious and fuel-efficient Chrysler flagship sedan ever, the 2013 Chrysler 300C Luxury Series combines ultra-premium leather – once limited to some of the most exotic Italian luxury cars – wîth world-class refinement and handling, state-of-the-art safety and connectivity features and eight-speed automatic transmission wîth Pentastar V-6 engine for 31 best-in-class highway mpg.

Exclusive interior features found on the Chrysler 300C Luxury Series sedans include either Black or Mochachino Poltrona Frau 'Foligno' leather-wrapped instrument panel, cluster brow, center console side panels and upper front- and rear-door panels. Premium Nappa leather covers the door armrest, bolster and center console armrest. Black or two-tone Mochachino seats are wrapped exclusively in supple Nappa leather and include 12-way power-adjustable driver and front-passenger seats (including four-way power lumbar) wîth two-mode ventilation and two-mode heated seats for both front and rear passengers. Black or two-tone Mochachino leather-wrapped §teering wheel — wîth all-new die-cast paddle shifters — features a unique chrome accent ring to highlight the §egmènt-exclusive 360-degree heated rim. Completing the interior environment is specially selected Natural Pore Mocha wood trim featuring a matte finish to enhance the beauty of the real wood.

On the exterior, large 20-inch polished face rear-wheel drive (RWD) only, 19-inch wîth all-wheel drive (AWD) and painted pocket aluminum wheels, provide the Chrysler 300C Luxury Series sedans wîth an even more planted and road-holding look. Platinum chrome fascia accents, exterior mirror caps and door handle accents provide an even more upscale look. Topping off the unique exterior is a platinum-chrome finished grille surround wîth platinum-chrome grille for a truly distinctive appearance.

For even more power and performance, the 2013 Chrysler 300C Luxury Series can be ordered wîth the top-of-the-range powerful 363 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine wîth four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology.

All-season athlete: new 2013 Chrysler 300 Glacier
Through lifestyle driven models, the new Chrysler 300 continues to show the numerous personalities that are capable from its elegant and iconic design. Beginning wîth the ultimate in muscle – Chrysler 300 SRT8, the ultimate in luxury – Chrysler 300 and 300C Luxury Series, the ultimate audiophile – Chrysler 300S wîth Beats by Dr. Dre, and arriving this fall (late availability) the ultimate all-weather athlete – the new Chrysler 300 Glacier.

From cruising through the city, to escaping away to a snow-covered ski resort, the new 2013 Chrysler 300 Glacier has a commanding design presence and the power and all-weather capability to carve through some of the most snow-covered landscapes.

With its state-of-the-art eight-speed automatic transmission, §teering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, and a more powerful 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine wîth new sport-tuned exhaust and cold-air induction system for 300 horsepower (8 more than last year) — the new 2013 Chrysler 300 Glacier delivers best-in-class fuel economy (18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway, while providing maximum all-weather traction, efficiency and driving performance through the §egmènt's most advanced AWD system. For even more power, the new 300 Glacier offers the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine wîth four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology to deliver 363 horsepower and up to 23 mpg highway.

The Chrysler 300 Glacier's AWD system features a §egmènt-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle-disconnect system to improve real-world fuel economy. No other major automotive manufacturer offers the combination of these two independent technologies. Chrysler 300's innovative AWD system seamlessly transitions between rear-wheel drive and AWD wîth no driver intervention. When AWD is not required, the system automatically disconnects the front axle to maximize fuel economy while still providing the outstanding fun-to-drive performance and handling inherent in rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

Building on the avant-garde appearance of the Chrysler 300S model, the new 300 Glacier features contemporary exterior and interior styling elements for a flagship sedan that delivers refinement within its landmark design. Hinting that this Chrysler 300 sedan was born wîth an ice-cool demeanor – unique body-color fascia accents, along wîth Gloss Black mirrors, headlamp bezels and Black Chrome sculpted horizontal grille blades give the Glacier a low-key street presence. Emphasizing the Chrysler 300 Glacier's iconic silhouette and head-turning proportions even more is an all-new Gloss Black painted roof option. Filling this AWD sedan's wheel wells and aiding in its world-class handling are unique 19-inch eight spoke aluminum wheels finished in Satin Carbon wîth P235/55R19 all-season performance tires. Exterior paint colors for this Chrysler 300 include Bright White, Billet Silver Metallic and exclusively to this model, Glacier Blue Pearl Coat.

The interior of the Chrysler 300 Glacier exudes an athletic-luxury theme wîth 12-way power driver and passenger sport seats featuring black 'Falls' cloth in the seat centers and leather-wrapped bolsters in black and finished wîth black French-seamed stitching. Exclusive use of Piano Black on interior center stack, instrument panel, §teering wheel, gauge cluster and door panel elements provide a uniquely lacquered and highly detailed appearance. For even more spirited driving die-cast §teering-wheel mounted paddle shifters wîth 'Sport Mode' are ergonomically designed behind the 300 Glacier's black leather-wrapped thick-rimmed §teering wheel. Completing the enthusiast-designed interior are matte carbon hydrographic accents and black floor mats wîth black velour binding and 'Glacier' logo embroidered.

Úconnect 8.4N — the §egmènt's largest handsfree communication system — now features improved map graphics
The 2013 Chrysler 300 sedan's Úconnect 8.4N system has been upgraded for 2013, enhancing the award-winning Garmin navigation system wîth enhanced colors and graphics, along wîth a more Chrysler-brand focused appearance.
Enhancements to the Garmin navigation features integrated into the Úconnect 8.4N include improved graphics used to display road signs and lane guidance that now cover over 60,000 intersections across the Únited States. In addition, the Úconnect 8.4N system now also features 3-D buildings and terrain views. Information is very realistic and intuitive, enabling drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and focus on the road.

With the §egmènt's largest touchscreen display (8.4-inch), the easy to use Úconnect 8.4N wîth integrated Garmin navigation features voice recognition and SiriusXM Traffic. With natural voice commands, the Úconnect 8.4N enables passengers to input street addresses and navigate to points of interest. And wîth the integrated SiriusXM Traffic, real-time traffic monitoring notifies the driver or enables the Garmin navigation to reroute due to congested throughways.
For the Chrysler brand, keeping drivers focused on the road is a priority and the Úconnect 8.4N (and 8.4 model) includes handsfree texting, to keep passengers even more connected through voice commands. With a compatible Bluetooth phone, Úconnect enables text-to-speech for incoming text messages, and provides the driver wîth a list of popular responses for outgoing messages.

Segment-first eight-speed automatic transmission
Once limited to premium import vehicles costing twice as much, the new §egmènt-exclusive ZF 8HP45 eight-speed automatic transmission expands the world-class power and fuel efficiency of the 2013 Chrysler 300, 300S, 300C and 300 Luxury Series models and offers class-leading fuel efficiency wîth respect to:
• Best-in-class highway fuel economy (31 mpg highway)

• Best-in-class V-6 all-wheel-drive (AWD) fuel economy (18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway)

• Best-in-class combined fuel economy (23 mpg wîth RWD, 21 wîth AWD)

• Únsurpassed city fuel economy (19 mpg RWD, 18 mpg AWD)

• Overall unsurpassed fuel economy in its class (19 mpg city and 31 mpg highway wîth RWD)

The addition of three more gear ratios in the proven ZF eight-speed automatic transmission design help to reduce the gaps normally associated wîth upshifting and downshifting. Combined wîth the award-winning 292 horsepower – or new 300 horsepower – 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, passengers will experience world-class levels of refinement due to small, evenly spaced ratios that provide quicker acceleration and smoother shifts.

Quicker shifts are possible on the new Chrysler 300S and 300C Luxury Series models as a result of a 'Sport' shift mode that requires simple driver input. When the driver chooses to let the transmission shift in 'Sport' mode, gear changes are quicker and revs are held higher for even more performance-oriented acceleration and higher shift dynamics. For even more control, the driver can also use a pair of die-cast, §teering-wheel mounted paddle controls and view gear selection through an all-new full-color EVIC centered in the instrument cluster.

Chrysler and Beats by Dr. Dre premium audio experience
The partnership between Chrysler and Beats By Dr. Dre brings music-studio sound to consumers in cars not just by adding speakers, but working wîth the music makers themselves to reproduce sound the way that it's made in the studio. Instead of the traditional approach to automotive sound, entrusting lab coat-adorned engineers as the arbiters of musical taste, Beats by Dr. Dre founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine worked side-by-side wîth the engineering team at Chrysler Group to design and tune the 10-speaker audio system.

Standard on 2013 Chrysler 300S, and available on Chrysler 300, 300C and 300C Luxury Series models, the Beats by Dr. Dre audio system includes a powerful 12-channel amplifier that integrates the heart of the Beats proprietary equalizer algorithm, creating the high-definition sound required in professional recording studios.

Delivering the mid- to high-range needed for studio-quality sound are three 3.5-inch speakers located in the instrument panel and two 3.5-inch speakers located in the rear doors. Two 6 x 9-inch front-door woofers provide bass, while two 6 x 9-inch speakers and a center-mounted 8-inch speaker located in the rear-shelf area provide full-range audio. Maximizing how music genres from hip hop to Motown should sound and feel, an 8-inch Beats Audio trunk-mounted dual-voice coil subwoofer wîth sealed enclosure delivers tight, powerful, punchy bass.

Chrysler 300 named 'Top Safety Pick' by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The new Chrysler 300 was named a 'Top Safety Pick' by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), achieving their highest rating.

IIHS recognizes vehicles wîth outstanding crashworthiness in front, side, rollover and rear crashes. The new Chrysler flagship received 'good' ratings, the highest achievable, in all four categories.

To be considered, vehicles must have available electronic stability control (ESC) systems that significantly reduce crash risks. Chrysler 300 has standard ESC. Other standard safety features include, full-length side-curtain airbags, seat-mounted side thorax air bags, driver's knee bag, front-row reactive head restraints, Hill-start Assist, Rain Brake Support and Ready Alert Braking.

Source - Chrysler
In 1955, Chrysler introduced the C300. The 'C' stood for coupe and the 300 was the horsepower rating of the original Hemi engine equipped with , two four barrel carbs, solid lifters, special manifolds, and enlarged dual exhausts. This vehicle gave the Chrysler Corporation a performance and sporty image, a much needed persona in this post World War II era. Many European manufacturers, such as Jaguar and MG, had introduced high powered, small, responsive sports cars. American manufacturers countered with the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Thunderbird. The Chrysler 300 was a performance car with a contemporary 'Forward Look' designed by ex-Studebaker stylist Virgil Exner. The design was void of the popular chrome sides which was prevalent during this era. It was simple but aggressive gentleman's car.

The Chrysler 300 was outfitted with a hemispherical (Hemi) combustion chamber 5.4 litre V-8 that produced 300 horsepower and matted to a performance modified two-speed 'PowerFlite' automatic gearbox. The body came from the New Yorker; rear quarter moldings were compliments of the Windsor. The two piece grille came from the Imperial. An improved suspension was implemented to provided sporty and responsive handling. The base price was $4,055.

Sales of the C300 were fueled by its success on the stock car circuit. The C300 dominated the sands of Daytona Beach, Florida where it won the stock production class and took home the Tom McCahill trophy. From 1955 through 1957 it was the fastest American car.

In 1959, a 300D driven at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats by Norm Thatcher set a new Class E speed record of 156.387 mph. During the same year, Brewster Shaw achieved a quarter-mile time of 16 seconds with a trap speed of 94 mph at Daytona Beach, Florida.

For 1956, Chrysler increased the displacement of its Hemi engine to 5.8 liters and changed the name to 300B. With 355 horsepower, the V8 engine had one horsepower per cubic inch, an achievement that very few manufacturers were able to claim.

The letters continued to climb the alphabet annually until the 300L of 1965 (the letter I was skipped). They became known as the 'letter cars'. In 1959, the 392 hemi was replaced with the 413 cubic-inch Golden Lion wedge-head design engine. In 1962, the 300 Sport series became available along side the 300H. The 300, without a letter designation was continued until 1971. In 1970, the 300 Hurst was produced, built by Chrysler and modified by the Hurst Company. The modifications included two-tone paint, special striping, spoiler on the deck lid, and wheels. The 300 name was again revived in 1979 as the 300 Special Edition, but endured a short life span. It was based on the Cordoba platform and available only in white with red leather interior.

Even with eleven years of production, less than 17,000 were produced. The bodystyle's available were either a two door hardtop or convertible. The convertible was not available during 1955, 1956, and 1963.

In the early 2000's, Chrysler revived the model name with the 300M. For most 300 enthusiasts, it is a good attempt, but far from the original 300's. The original 300's, as argued by some MOPAR enthusiast, is considered to be the first muscle cars. Although they were fast, they were also large and luxurious, qualities that muscle cars did not typically process. The 300 did get American moving on the fast track to the horsepower and performance revolution, and looked good while doing it.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2009
In 2005, the wave of retro design that is still shaping American cars first washed over Detroit. American companies, with their stale product offerings, began looking towards their rich pasts to inspire new models with the design and flair of long-gone icons. It was in 2005 that Chrysler launched a modern iteration of the famed 300.

The 300 name had actually been revived by Chrysler several years before the 2005 300's introduction as a car called the 300M, but that model was dated even when brand new and didn't evoke nostalgic memories in the same way its replacement would. The 2005 300 was a total departure from the Chrysler models immediately preceding it. The sleek, low slung, 'cab-forward' design language of the 300M and others was replaced by the new 300's brash and blocky look. The 2005 Chrysler 300 was not merely an updated version of a bygone classic, but rather a revival of Chrysler's attitude during the company's most exciting times.

The new 300 went back to a rear wheel drive platform and reintroduced the muscular proportions of America's former bad-boy sedans. Available V8 power rounded out the package and a large, upright chrome grille stood proud in grand American fashion. The 2005 Chrysler 300 was met with great fanfare and positive press. For as exciting a car as the '05 300 was, though, it could barely capture the style and spirit of the car that inspired it. The original 300 was one of the most thrilling Chryslers ever released. It was a car whose inspirational design and performance will be lauded forever and whose legend will continue to be respected by Chrysler workers, owners and admirers, as well as by the flashy new car that shares its name.

Produced without interruption from 1955 through 1971, the Chrysler 300 in its earliest form was one of the very first muscle cars. Though production extended into the early 1970's, the best-known (and best-loved) 300s were the 'letter series' cars of 1955-1965. All 300s were part of this letter series until 1962, when both letter and non-letter variants were offered through 1965. Models made from 1966 on were not part of the letter series. Each Chrysler in the letter series used the 300 designation followed by a single letter. That letter ascended alphabetically once every year, making it up to 'L.' Confusingly, the first of the series was not called the 300A but the C-300. In that one instance, the letter 'C' simply stood for coupe. Revisions on the C-300 theme created the 300B for 1956, then 300C for 1957, 300D for 1958, and so on. The only other snag in the letter series system was the use of the letter 'J' for the 1963 300, instead of the 'I' for which the car was due. Chrysler likely used the 'J' nomenclature to prevent confusion between the letter 'I' and the Roman numeral I.

The letter series 300 introduced potent performance and a fresh design to Chrysler, whose other models had grown stale. In that sense, the original 300 arrived for the same reasons as 2005's remake. The name was chosen for bragging rights. Chrysler, with its aptly named C-300, had become the first American manufacturer to develop 300hp in a production car. That power led the 1955 Chrysler to become the fastest production car in the world, reaching 127.58mph at Daytona Beach. The C-300's engine was a 331ci Chrysler V8 with hemispherical combustion chambers and two 4-barrel carburetors. The aforementioned 300hp was achieved at 5,200rpm.

There was much more to the C-300 than formidable speed. The car was large, luxurious, and packed with comfortable features. At 220 inches in length, the C-300 was huge for a two-door. A weight of 4,300lbs gave it the bulk of a personal limousine. Its two speed automatic transmission required no effort on the driver's part. The car was rolling evidence that speed and luxury were not mutually exclusive traits. The C-300 was the fastest car on the road, and it may very well have been the most comfortable.

A superb combination of performance and comfort alone would have made the Chrysler C-300 a classic. But the car's quality didn't stop there. Designed by the talented and innovative Virgil Exner, the C-300 was a triple threat of sumptuous luxury, speed and, and style.

Before moving to Chrysler, Exner had worked for GM under the guidance of Harley Earl and for Raymond Loewy's own design firm. His experience led him to be a daring designer, but the 1955 C-300 was a subdued design. It was handsome and understated, free of the garish detailing the plagued so many of its contemporaries. With its regal proportions and proud stance, the C-300 separated itself from lowlier cars that used glitz and glam as their only stylistic values. A split egg crate grille, in chrome, dominated the frontal aspect of the C-300 and had a tastefully minimal chrome bumper running beneath it. The subtle fins picked up just aft of the doors and beneath the beltline. At the rear, the vestigial fins flowed into vertical taillights. With a base price above $4,000, buyers paid dearly for a fine congregation of elegant design, comfort, and rapidity.

Even more power was made available for the 1956 300B. A 354ci V8, at first making 340hp, was available with 355hp by the middle of its run—making it the first American engine to produce 1 horsepower per cubic inch. Three transmissions were offered: PowerFlite and TorqueFlite two-speed autos, and a three-speed manual.

Performance improvements in the 1956 300B were complemented by the availability of an even more comfortable interior. Air conditioning was offered as well as a clock in the steering wheel for the particularly punctual. And, of course, if the clock wasn't distracting enough, a record player could also be ordered.


The styling of the 300B featured a revised rear treatment, but the car was largely the same as 1955's C-300. For the 1957 300C, though, Exner thoroughly revamped the 300's shape. The new design was more brash but still tasteful and clean. It featured more pronounced fins and a quad headlight face with a large, one-piece egg crate grille. From the side, the 300C looked particularly good. Its long and low proportions were readily revealed from that angle. Also easily noticeable from the side, the 300C had a forward tilt to its front end that was mirrored by a rearward tilt to its fins. The balanced look was an Exner hallmark that worked wonderfully on the 300C. A convertible version was offered whose absence of a roofline emphasized the trapezoidal side profile of the 300C's body. A top speed of 150mph could be reached by the 300C.

For 1958, a 300D was introduced. It looked very similar to the 300C, but big improvements were still made. Fuel injection became an available option and power brakes were standard. With 380hp, the 300D could be propelled to 156mph. The 300E of 1959 offered similar styling but with a very different engine. The hemi-head V8 was replaced by a 413ci wedge-head V8.

The 300F brought major styling changes for 1960. While other companies toned down their use of fins for the 1960's, Chrysler gave its 300F a wild, one-year-only rear treatment with razor sharp fins. Ralph Nader, in his book Unsafe at and Speed that most famously criticized the Chevrolet Corvair's poor handling, called the 300F's fins 'potentially lethal.' Automotive writer Quentin Willson offered good reason for Nader's concern in his own work titled The Ultimate Classic Car Book, pointing to a 1963 traffic accident in which an unfortunate motorcyclist became impaled by one of the fins of a 300F.

With a front end that looked slightly awkward compared to the noses of its predecessors and a heavily criticized faux spare tire cover incorporated into the rear deck lid, the 300F's overall look lacked the thoroughly clean appearance of earlier models. But from the side at least the 300F still looked good, and performance and comfort were as impressive as ever. Up to 400hp could be had from the 413ci engine. A beautifully finished interior continued a tradition of comfortable motoring. The interior was so inviting that the seats literally offered themselves to driver and front passenger, automatically swiveling to allow easy access whenever a door was opened.

The 300G was brought out for 1961 and was the last finned 300. The front end retained four headlights, but they were now stacked two per side in tilted columns. Standard power windows and cruise control further enhanced an already excellent list of convenience features, and performance options remained similar to those of the 300F. The 300H used the following year was similar in most respects to the 300G, but had a fresh tail design with a smooth, tapering deck where once stood fins. Production of the 300H was unusually low even for the exclusive letter series, but sales were bolstered by the introduction of a more affordable non-letter series variant, named simply the '300.'

For 1963, the letter 'I' was skipped and the 300J was introduced alongside a revamped standard 300. The 1963 models were plainer, with square styling that belied their still capable performance. The 1964 300K and 1965 300L were the last two models of the letter series. By 1965, the plain styling of the 300L and the narrow performance gap between it and the base 300 had created an uninspired package. After 1965, the letter series was discontinued.

The garden variety 300 soldiered on until 1971, losing sales and substance as it went along. Chrysler couldn't have picked a better time to pull the plug on the aging model, as allowing it to last any longer would have exposed it to stringent emissions regulations that instantly would have robbed the car of the only virtue it really had left—power. Even the very last 300 had a 440ci V8 that had a tremendous output compared to any American offering of the mid-1970's.

History has ignored any shortcomings of the largely average 300 produced from 1966-1971, focusing on the raw power and suave personality of the early letter series. Few American cars before or since have been able to offer so much speed and luxury wrapped in a shell of aesthetic excellence. From 1955 through 1959, the 300s were the uncompromised rulers of the American automotive kingdom—even the 1960-1965 models were superbly executed. Inspiring the successful 2005 Chrysler 300, the early letter series cars have shown that sometimes history is worth repeating.

Sources:

'History of the Chrysler Three Hundred Series.' The Chrysler 300 Site Web.28 Jul 2009. http://www.chrysler300site.com/cgibin/history.cgi.

Nerad, Jack. 'Great Classic Cars: Chrysler C-300.' AntiqueCar.com Web.28 Jul 2009. http://www.antiquecar.com/gc_chrysler_c300.php.

Willson, Quentin. The Ultimate Classic Car Book. First. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1995. Print.

By Evan Acuña
 
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