To be OFFERED AT AUCTION at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale event, April 1-3, 2016.
Chassis No. LC41242
Estimate: $120,000 - $150,000 US
For much of its history, Chrysler was a frontrunner in building some of the most interesting and exciting high performance cars Detroit had to offer. Foremost among them are the formidable early Hemi-powered Chrysler 300 “letter cars” of the 1950s, which, by virtue of their cost and long list of standard and optional features, were reserved for the wealthiest and most discerning buyers. Cloaked in handsome Virgil Exner-designed bodies and carefully engineered, the 300 series offered the ultimate in American luxury and performance. In an April 1958 Road & Track road test, it was remarked that “It is an American prestige car, whose sports car-derived features and characteristics make it outstanding.” Among their conclusions was that the 300D “is a significant car – not a sports car, but the very best Detroit has to offer in its ‘sedan class.’”
The year 1957 had been a banner year for all of the automakers, but in 1958, things changed quickly. The reeling economy, coupled with an industry-wide strike, served to significantly reduce the number of 1958 models built by all manufacturers, and the Chrysler 300D production was no exception. Just 191 Chrysler 300D convertibles were delivered in 1958. Interestingly, Chrysler decided to offer Bendix's electronic fuel injection system as an option. Unfortunately, electronic fuel injection wasn't a great idea in an era when vacuum tubes still ruled the electronics world; hence, the relative handful of cars equipped with the Bendix system were recalled and retrofitted with carburetors. The single engine that remained was a 392-cid FirePower Hemi fitted with dual Carter four-barrel carbs and making 380 horsepower. This particular car has the pushbutton automatic three-speed TorqueFlite transmission.
The 300D powerplant looked like the FirePower engine in the Chrysler New Yorker and Imperial, but had significant differences which justified its cost to the connoisseur of the period. Along with the previously mentioned dual carbs, the 300D utilized a modified intake and exhaust manifold and air cleaners, and a camshaft with both longer duration and higher lift than on the standard engine. Due to low production and high cost, 1958 was also the last year that the company offered its Hemi in a full-size Chrysler; for 1959, it was discontinued with the 300E, which only came equipped with the less expensive 413 cubic inch wedge head V-8 engine. Nineteen fifty-eight was also notable as a 300D was driven to 156.387-mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
This example is painted in Raven Black with beige leather interior and has a factory build code interpretation sheet from the Chrysler 300 Club International, Inc. which shows that this machine was built on November 29, 1957. The car was sent to dealer number 8527 which is no longer in Chrysler’s data base, due to being out of business for a prescribed time. The Region 10 area includes at least Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Along with the car’s options, this document indicates that this 300D was ordered as a “sold car” with the customer waiting for completion and delivery. Among the other features on the sheet is air conditioning, black convertible top, 60-inch manual antenna, heater, non-remote driver’s side mirror, Music Master pushbutton radio, Solex (tinted) glass with shaded windshield, 30-amp generator; power seat and windows. The Sure Grip rear end is noted to be added and with it came a gear ratio of 3.31:1.
This Chrysler is a remarkably rare and beautiful example that awaits its next owner’s enthusiastic ownership. Of the 191 examples of the 300D convertible produced in 1958, the Chrysler 300 Club International has tracked only 55 surviving examples. 1958 Chrysler 300D Convertible