When it arrived in 1957, the Chrysler 300C wasn’t considered just the most beautiful or most desirable car of the time — it was also the most powerful in the US.
With a 390-horsepower Hemi engine backed with Virgil Exner’s ‘Forward Look’ design language, this had as much grace as it did pace. From the trapezoid grille to the upswept tail fins, Exner had designed one of the world’s most beautiful cars. He was key in transforming Chrysler’s outdated and old-fashioned image with a much more exciting look that appealed to the youth of the day. A clever advertising campaign helped too, with slogans such as “Suddenly… it’s 1960” emphasising the 300C’s fresh and futuristic aesthetics.
Packing performance, presence and prestige in abundance, the 300C sure gave Harley Earl over at General Motors some sleepless nights; the Chrysler had the highest horsepower rating in the industry in 1957. Known as the “Banker’s Hot Rod”, it had a 392-cubic-inch (6.4-litre) FirePower Hemi (mated to a three-speed Torqueflite, which had been introduced the year before) with solid lifters, a 10:1 compression ratio, a longer-duration, high-speed camshaft and twin Carter four-barrel carburettors making 570Nm of torque and able to hit 100kph from rest in 8.3 seconds.
It wasn’t just all-out fast, it displayed exceptional handling too. The high-performance chassis included the new “Torsion-Aire” suspension with angled upper and lower control arms. This reduced dive under hard braking and it had a set of sticky Goodyear Blue streak nylon racing tyres wrapped around 14in wheels. It was luxurious too and featured a push-button dashboard layout, with supple leather seats and power steering.
Clean examples can be had for Dh200,000 — but the rarer convertible body style goes for twice that.