380 bhp, 392 cu. in. “FirePower” V-8 engine, dual carburetors, pushbutton-operated TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission, independent torsion-bar front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel, power-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126"
- One of 191 300D Convertibles built
- A fresh and correct body-off restoration to original specifications
- A special-order car when new; highly equipped
- Documented by Gil Cunningham of the Chrysler 300 Club International
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.
For 1957, Chrysler enlarged its already legendary hemispherical-head V-8 engine to 392 cubic inches. Thanks to this increase and refinements by Chrysler engineers, power output reached 375 bhp and then 380 bhp for the 300D of 1958. Performance of the 300D was stunning right off the showroom floor, with the large and relatively heavy cars easily capable of accelerating from rest to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, en route to top speeds of some 135 mph, depending upon the final drive ratio selected. At Bonneville, a 300D set a new World Land Speed Record (Class E) at 156.387 mph.
While 1957 was a banner year for all American automakers, storm clouds were gathering. In 1958, the economy, which seemed unstoppable just a year earlier, began to stagger. Coupled with industry-wide labor unrest, Chrysler 300D production numbers plummeted to just 809 cars, including 191 convertibles, of which only about 53 are known to exist today. Due to low production, valvetrain complexity and high costs, 1958 marked the last model year that the company offered its first-generation “Hemi” V-8 engine in a full-size Chrysler; for 1959, the less expensive and exotic 413-cubic inch “wedge-head” V-8 debuted.
This original 1958 Chrysler 300D Convertible has just emerged from a correct and complete body-off restoration to original specifications with all mechanical components rebuilt, a correct Gary Goers leather interior and all brightwork restored to as-new condition. It was previously in the long-term ownership of Ken Smith, a long-time member of the Chrysler 300 Club International. According to a factory build code interpretation by Gil Cunningham, this particular 300D was built to customer order. Finished in Matador Red with a beige leather interior and a white power-operated convertible top, it was completed at the Detroit assembly plant on November 12, 1957 and shipped two days later to Batavia Motor Co. of Batavia, Illinois. Unusual for a car delivered new to Illinois with its cold winters, this 300D was an original heater-delete car.
In addition to its 380 bhp, dual-carbureted 392-cubic inch “Hemi” V-8 and pushbutton-operated TorqueFlite automatic transmission, this 300D was also factory-equipped with a six-way power front seat, power steering, power windows and a power antenna for the Electro-Touch Tuner AM radio. Other desirable features included a driver’s side view mirror, Solex glass with a shaded windshield, rear-fender stone shields and a 3.3:1 Sure-Grip differential.
One of just 191 300D convertibles originally built, this documented, highly equipped and freshly restored car not only marks the final production year for the 300 with the dual-carbureted 392 Hemi but is also one of the rarest and most desirable of Chrysler’s legendary 300-series letter cars.