Chrysler’s 300 letter series was a formidable car by any measure of its time. It was a sleek, fast and luxurious automobile with legendary performance that could put most of its competitors to shame. The 300C was the ultimate expression of this era’s forward-thinking style that was designed by Virgil Exner and previewed in his dramatic Chrysler Dart/Diablo concept car. This imposing coupe was powered by a 375 hp 392 ci Hemi V8 with dual four-barrel carburetors which was the most powerful engine available in any American production car of its day. The resulting machine was a true road-hunter capable of dominating the fastest races at the Daytona Speedway and Chelsea Proving Grounds with speeds that averaged over 134 and 145 mph respectively.
This 300C was equipped with a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission which was the most advanced powertrain of its day and made this one of the best driving cars on the market. A full array of luxury features were available to enhance the owner’s experience behind the wheel, including a leather-faced steering wheel, power windows and seats, air conditioning and a luxurious deluxe sound system with discs. A rear bench seat was included for the benefit of passengers.
A big part of what made the 300C stand apart from other cars of its day was its aerodynamic body design. The svelte silhouette was enhanced by the forward-swept tail fins which were not only stylish but they also reduced wind noise and aided in better handling. The forward-look styling was well integrated and was augmented by elegant chrome trim and a sleek grille with the Chrysler medallion that was to become the trademark of this line of vehicles.
The muscular and refined underpinnings of the 300C were further accentuated by a fully independent front and rear suspension with torsion bars. The rear suspension was also lowered to provide sporty handling capabilities. The powerhouse 375 hp 392 ci hemi V8 was engineered to be as reliable as it was potent. It featured a heavy-duty crankshaft, mechanical valve lifters and adjustable rocker arms, oversized pistons and rings, special high-rise valve springs, dual spark plugs and a Carter four-barrel carburetor.
A CC reader sent in a copy of the 1958 issue of Sports Car Illustrated (which eventually became Car and Driver) which cited the 1957 Chrysler 300c as “America’s Fastest Production Car.”
While many snobs scoffed at this assertion, the fact was that the 300C was indeed America’s fastest production car at the time. In addition to its racing success at Daytona and Chelsea, a 300C won the Flying Mile at the Speedway and set an American record of 134.0 mph at the famed Chelsea Proving Grounds. While the horsepower cycle had peaked, it was still enough to leave a lasting impression. With a car like this, it is easy to see why the 1957 Chrysler 300c was considered a “must have” for the discerning buyer.