Compiled by: Jag Dhatt
Conventional wisdom says the first “muscle car” was the 1964 Pontiac GTO. But more sophisticated automotive enthusiasts know that the 1955 Chrysler 300 has the better claim to being first.
In the mid-fifties Detroit’s big three were going in three different directions. GM introduced its lightweight V8 and put it into its Corvette, Ford introduced its ‘personal car’ the Thunderbird. Chrysler chose to go in a different direction and introduced the 300 series. The name was inspired by the Hemi engine producing 300 HP. The 300 was nothing like Detroit built previously, a luxuriously equipped high performance sedan. The Hemi V8 boasted a performance camshaft mated to stiff valve springs, solid lifters, forged crankshaft and dual 4-barrel carburetors, with a 150 MPH speedometer.
Named for its Coupe body style and the 300-hp Hemi V8 under its hood, the Chrysler C300 was unlike anything Detroit had built in a generation: A luxuriously equipped, high-performance full-size car. At a time when most manufacturers boasted of their soft rides, the 300 chassis was tuned and stiffened to deliver excellent handling and road-holding.
The C300 was 1.5-inches lower than the New Yorker hardtop it was based on, and it was fitted with special Goodyear Super Cushion six-ply tires, heavy-duty shocks and leaf springs, front stabilizer bar and a 150-mph speedometer.
In 1955, Chrysler won the NASCAR Grand National title and the AAA Championship and finished first-in-class at Daytona’s Flying Mile. The C300 established Chrysler as a force in NASCAR racing and speed events for years to come. Some consider these the original American Muscle Cars. Chrysler 300s dominated stock car racing in the hands of drivers like Tim Flock and Lee Petty. With this model, Chrysler now had the most powerful production car in the world. The 1955 C300 established Chrysler as a force in NASCAR racing and speed events. In 1955, Chrysler won the NASCAR Grand National title and the A.A.A. Championship by winning 33 races.
Total 1955 production was 1,725 and there are 251 in the registry. Price as delivered for C300 was $5,175.85 including the optional wire wheels, touch-tone radio, power windows, power seats, rear speaker and tinted glass.