Monday, May 4, 2015

The Original Chrysler 300

The 1955 model year saw Chrysler Corporation's payoff for appointing Virgil Exner as styling leader.  His restyled corporate lineup reversed a downward sales trend while altering public perception of Chrysler as a stodgy purveyor of automobiles.

Some models were more attractive than others.  For example, I expressed pleasure at DeSoto styling here as well as that of the Imperial here.  On the other hand, I have problems with the Chrysler line.  Perhaps Exner might have too, because when the decision was made to market a high-performance Chrysler, he raided the parts bin to create the look for the new Chrysler 300.  The most important change was replacing the fussy Chrysler grille with that of the Imperial.


Here is a top-of-the-line Chrysler New Yorker hardtop.  Its grille is complicated, the upper part being poorly related to the lower.  Also complicating the design is the two-tone paint division that has an awkward moment where it curves up to meet the C-pillar.  This was essentially what Exner had to use as his starting point for the 300.

The body elements are not entirely New Yorker; the rear quarter panels were apparently taken from the shorter Windsor line.  Deleted was the heavy windshield frame that incorporated a micro-visor.  The improvement created by incorporating the Imperial grille is apparent.  Also, the 300 lacked the fashionable two and three tone paint schemes that were fashionable at the time; buyers could only choose amongst white, black and red.

This side view shows the 300s excellent lines.

This rear 3/4 view from Hyman auctions highlights the 300s most dubious styling detail: the tail lights carried over from standard Chryslers.  To me, they seem to be an affectation at odds with the elegant styling of the rest of the car.

No comments: