No Limits Magazine from the Auto History Preservation Society
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Tuesday July 1, 2014
Chrysler 300 - the 1st Muscle Car, '68 Fouranado, '67 Firebird 400 vs GTO, '55 T-Bird, '68 Charger, "Orphaned Brands" - and More!

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Was the Original Chrysler 300 the First Muscle Car?
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Did You Miss These?

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to See the the Article

1964 Pontiacs onthe line

Made in Pontiac - How they put 'em together Back in the Day!

1963 Ramchargers Photo

Revisiting the Ramchargers - A Tribute to Jim Thornton

1970 Chevelle LS6

1970 - Screaming the loudest
before you die!

ForPly vs 64 Wax Wedge"ForPly" versus Tom Hoover's 1964 Pure Stock Max Wedge

Olds W-43 4-Valve

Don't Call Me a Hemi - 'cause I'm not! Oldsmobile's Infamous W-43

1955 Chrysler 300 in drift

The 1955 Chrysler 300 performing a 4-wheel drift! It takes some
serious HP to maintain and steer through this maneuver!

1955 300 in Dayton Trim

Advertising was at the forefront of Chrysler's goals for the 300.
And they were specifically proud of their achievements.

1956 Chrysler 300 Brochure Cover

For 1956 Chrysler coined "America's most powerful car"
as the byline for all their 300 Ads.
There is no doubt what this connotes.

Karl Kiekhaefer's 1955 Trophies

In NASCAR, the '55 300 pulled down 22 wins.
And Karl Kiefhaeker dominated AAA racing that year.

1956 Chrysler 300 Ad

340 HP was a lot of ponies in 1956 and 355 was
just outrageous in a full-size luxury car!

Note: This is a standing Feature which we ran some time ago.We thought we'd dust it off for those of you who haven't read it.

by Wild About Cars Staff - reprint with permission only.

Whenever this topic comes up, many Oldsmobile people will immediately jump on their soapbox and contend that the Rocket 88 of 1949 was the first "muscle car". But we contend that when one talks about muscle cars ("supercars" to people back in the day), we are talking about cars in the GTO, 442, 426 SS 454, Hemi and such, cars that were designed and marketed to the public as factory high-performance cars.

As such, we know that the Rocket 88 and even the 1951-54 Hemi were happy performance accidents. Of course, the designers knew that these new V-8s would outdistance their precursors (many of which were L-Head I-8s, designed for smoothness and low-end torque). And sure the 88 was quick for it's day; the combination of a well designed OHV V8 and a light body resulted in a fast car in 1949-50.

Yes, Detroit was involved in a horsepower war in the early 50s, but the HP figure was more to show that the car modern, state-of-the-art than it was to imply it would blow everyone in the weeds. If it did, fine, but pure stoplight acceleration was still in the bailiwick of hopped up flathead Fords in chopped and channeled 1932-36 bodies. What Detroit was thinking was smooth, silent, and effortless highway cruising at 50-70 MPH. Check out the advertisements of the early 50s and see what even Olds was talking about then.

And, let's face it, no one was thinking "let's build an engine combination specifically for racing and tout the heck out of it" - except Hudson. And even there, the Hornet's plenty powerful "Twin-H Power" dual-carbureted 308 cid six was considered an over the road cruiser that turned out to be a great circle track racer due to the car's low center of gravity.

But what Hudson did accomplish with their incredible string of victories in NASCAR and AAA from 1951-1954 was establish that performance caught the eye of the public. We all know now that this great accomplishment happened while Hudson was sinking into oblivion, even while they made solid, great handling and high performing cars.

The idea was not lost on Chrysler Corporation, who realized that they perhaps had been making the wrong case for their Hemi engine and were falling behind GM and Ford in public recognition of the power and performance of their V-8 engined cars - though their HP numbers were higher than the rest of the Big Three. And there was another thing was helping to set the stage, Virgil Exner was the head of design in Moparland and he was debuting his new designs for 1955.

Exner believed in the aerodynamic benefits of the fins and even used wind tunnel testing at the University of Michigan, but he also liked their visual effects on the car. They were showcased on the first cars designed under his full supervision for sale -  the 1955 Chrysler line and specifically the 300 series, and the Imperial. Exner lowered the roof line and made the cars sleeker, smoother and more aggressive.

Well, if you have an aggressive looking car - it better back it up. They designed and produced a specific car for this purpose - the Chrysler 300. Thus, not only did Chrysler add performance pieces to the '55 300, such as heavy duty suspension, the largest brakes in the industry - and  they "hot rodded" the engine with a more aggressive cam and dual 4-barrel carbs, for an astounding, for the day, 300 HP (hence the name "300"). And they placed it in the lightest Chrysler - the Windsor.

Not only did they do this, but they added specific body pieces, to make it distinctive. Last, and perhaps most important, they advertised the heck out of it as a special - purpose built show up at the dealer and buy it Performance Car!

Like the 1964 GTO a decade later, Chrysler handed off the 300 to the motoring press. And then while the publishers were raving about the car, they went out and shattered a ton of speed records and circle track racing records!

Looking at test data, and remember, they didn't do anything back then for off the line performance but stab it and steer - the first year 1955 300 knocked down a 17.6 @ 82 MPH on hard, skinny tires and with no posi rear. For a day, this was a full second faster than any other car. And could it handle? Check out the image above - that is a stock 1955 300 in a 4-wheel drift!

In year two, the 300B was even faster. Much like the later GTO, you could get the wimpy 340 HP "standard" engine or with the right connections, the optional 355 HP engine, which exceeded one horse per cubic inch one year before the famous 283 Fuelie! A 300B with the optional engine was a 16 second 1/4 mile car - in street trim. Thus, for 1955 and 1956 the 300 dominated NASCAR and USAC's stock car ranks, back when stock cars were really were stock. Check out the chrome exhaust diffusers on the record-holding '55 300 in the picture at right. . . .

To read more about the 300 as a Muscle Car - Click HERE!

More Stories & Articles on the
Chrysler 300, including Ads & Brochures:

To read Chrysler 300 Letter Series Cars - an Anthology - Click HERE!

To see more Chrysler 300 Ads - Click HERE!

To see a Car and Driver Magazine History of the 300 from Back in the Day - Click HERE!


NOTE: These stories make our argument for the Automotive History Preservation Society - It is the material they have collected that allows us to bring much of this to you.

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Documents from the AHPS's Digital Documents Library
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1968 Hurst Fouranado
1968 Hurst Fouranado Exposed

Super Stock Magazine took a deep look into the at the time odd-ball car George Hurst cobbled together and tried to sell to Oldsmobile's brass. It was a 442 build around the Toronado drive train. It worked fine, requiring two major things - the Toronado front chassis grafted into the 442's chassis and lengthening the Cutlass front fenders 6". The rear had to be removed and replaced with a Toro-style piece, but all else worked OK. From a distance you'd never know.

Click here to read about the 1968 Hurst Fouranado!

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1967 Firebird-GTO Comparison
  1967 Firebird 400 Intro & Comparison to GTO

Big news for 1967 would be GM's answer to the Mustang - the Camaro and Firebird. Because of Pontiac's heavy involvement in the muscle car wars with the GTO, the Firebird was thought to be a competitor within Pontiac for the same audience. Super Stock Magazine sought to determine if that was the case by comparing both. See what they concluded.

To See the Comparison of the Firebird 400 and the GTO - Click HERE!

1961 Dodge D-500 Test
1955 Ford Thunderbird Brochure

The 1955 Thunderbird wowed them when it was introduced in late 1954. It was everything the Corvette was not, and it was an immediate success. Was it a sports car? Nope, but it was chic, sporty and fast - and it looked damn good. Like the Mustang a decade later, the T-Bird was spot-on for the market. Surprisingly, Ford only intended to make them for 3 years - deciding even as they debuted that they were going to move into the 4-seat personal car market in 1958. Crazy? Maybe but they sold 3 times as many 4-seaters in 3 yrs. as they did 2 seaters.

To Read and/or Download this 1955 Thunderbird Brochure - Click Here!

1968 Dodge Charger Ads
1968 Dodge Charger Ads

When the Charger came out back in 1966, the fastback addition to the standard Dodge body came off well, but it definitely didn't age well, plus Dodge was preparing to go to all new Coke-bottle styling for 1968. well, that meant that Charger would need a re-skin. Rather than add a fastback to the new Dodge - they went all the way with a distinct style. The results were outstanding - selling 2 time the first 2 yrs. of production in '68 alone!

To Read and/or Download 1968 Dodge Charger Ads - Click HERE!

Check Out Car Models Described
Why are we focusing on "Orphaned Brands" in Techipedia?

What are "Orphaned Brands"? Well, they are car brands that are no longer around. Even recently we've lost the once Mercury, Olds, Plymouth & Pontiac brands. And even those are fading from the memory of even the most ardent enthusiast - not to mention Hudson, Packard, Studebaker, and so forth. Thus the Automotive History Preservation Society has asked us to use it's material to create anthologies of not only those models - but even cars like Mustang! We're working on the oldies - but we'll be getting to the goodies too.

Click HERE to go to "Techipedia and then click on Car Models described in your favorite Brand!

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