Why Are The Good Ones Always So Needy: 1956 Chrysler 300B

Sometimes, this job just makes me want to cry.  I am always looking through the internet to find a car with some type of interesting aspect about it.  Naturally, I gravitate towards my favorite cars throughout history.  I’d like to take all of them home, but space and my checking account restrict me from doing so.  If I won the lottery, however, I would become a car hoarder of the first order.  In that dream scenario, I am not sure if I’d take this 1956 Chrysler 300B found on eBay for a Buy It Now price of $10,000.  The brutal winters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where this car is being sold, have really taken a toll on this down on his luck king of the road.

In 1955, Chrysler dropped a bomb on the industry.  While General Motors and Ford were building up their performance images with the Corvette and Thunderbird two seat sports cars, Chrysler took a different approach.  Engineers and designers raided the parts bins to create a very special high performance personal luxury coupe.  Outside, they started with a New Yorker Coupe body shell, and installed an Imperial front clip and Windsor rear quarter panels.  Other styling additions and subtractions were made, and the customer was allowed to pick from just three colors: white, red, and black.  Under the hood, however, was where the magic happened.  Powering this luxurious brute was a 331 cubic inch Fire Power Hemi V-8, which produced 300 horsepower in the original 1955 version.  This, of course, was inspiration for the name of the car, the Chrysler 300.  In 1956, a 354 cubic inch version of this engine produced 355 horsepower.  Chrysler could then lay claim that they were the first domestic manufacturer to offer an engine producing one horsepower per cubic inch, beating the fuel injected Chevrolet small block V-8 by one model year.

Chrysler wasted no time showing off the incredible performance of these brutes.  These cars dominated both the traditional NASCAR racing circuit and the speed trials that NASCAR used to hold on Daytona Beach.  At stock car tracks around the country, the Chrysler 300 was a winner from the start.  These cars started a winning streak for Chrysler that helped to give the nameplate 55 wins during the 1955 and 1956 seasons combined.  On the beach at the time trials, the Chrysler 300 was first in the flying mile in 1955, laying down a speed of 127.6 mph.  The next year, with Tim Flock at the wheel, the car smashed the previous record with a 139.4 mph run.  Both of these runs were in the strictly stock class.

As you can see, these are special automobiles with an amazing racing pedigree to rest their laurels on.  Despite the racing success and publicity, there were only 1,725 produced in 1955, and 1,102 made it out of the factory in 1956.  The next year brought a whole new body and even more changes, but I have always felt that the first two years of these automobiles were the most appealing.  Evidently, the owner of this red 1956 300B felt the same.  He claims that the has owned the car for a number of years, began restoring it fifteen years ago, and then quit for various reasons.  It has been in dry storage for ten years, and he says it has never sat outside since he has owned it.

Sadly, it must have seen a lot of outside time before he owned it.  The door sills are mostly non existent on this car, and I can just imagine the condition of the floors.  Of course, the lower edges of the quarter panels have rust and dings in them.  The condition of the front fenders is a mystery, as there wasn’t a clear picture of them provided.  The good news is that he is also providing the new owner with a rust free New Yorker parts car to go with the 300.

Inside, disorder is the order of the day.  The seat is there, and it looks like there is enough of the original leather to make a pattern for a replacement.  The dash is there, but all of the items that are supposed to be bolted to it are not.  The owner does not mention whether or not he has all of these pieces, and finding all of them if they are missing would be possible, but difficult and expensive.  This is the problem with dealing with a torn apart car.  You have no idea how to put it back together unless you have intimate knowledge of the particular make and model you are working on.  Even if the owner kept all of the parts, time has a way of helping little bits and pieces wander off.

The best part about this deal is the engine.  It appears to be all there, and the owner states that he has both the single carburetor manifold and the rare dual carburetor manifold for this car.  It even has the desirable “bat wing” air cleaner for the dual carburetor setup.  The engine appears to be in good shape, but would certainly need a freshening up both inside and out under the best circumstances.

At $10,000, I am sure this car will sell.  What worries me is that it will go to someone who has no idea the complexity of bringing this beach warrior back to life.  Make no mistake, this would be a very difficult, expensive, and time consuming restoration to pull off.  If this were a standard Chrysler, it would most likely be stripped for parts and sent to the crusher.  Fortunately, it isn’t a run of the mill car, and its chances of survival are good.  These are milestone automobiles with a performance history that needs no embellishment, and they set the stage for Mopar performance cars for years to come.  The new owner probably won’t save any money over buying one in restored condition, but it certainly would be a worthwhile project.

Just imagine that first ride after finishing this car.  Pressing hard against that gas pedal and hearing those twin carburetors open up would be such sweet, sweet music.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. RH FACTOR

    I think that bat wing air cleaner alone is worth a small fortune.

    • Big Mike

      You are probably very correct on that statement!

  2. Big Mike

    It sounds so funny, but sometime ago, I commented about needing to put all of the pictures of family and my cars and their cars and such of hard drives for safe keeping, well my Wife under took that job and even has them broke down into Family sections.
    The other day the Grandma Ford Torino allowed me to remember the Cars that my Grandmothers drove.
    Well Mom’s Dad always was a Chrysler/ Dodge fan and owned nothing but until his death in 1979. Well we found a picture of his 300, and so I have attached it.
    It is probably the only picture of a car that Grandpa Tom ever owned that I have for some reason. I have a couple with the heavy equipment he operated and a couple of him with Grandma, but they are only a few pictures

    • Jeff Staff

      Exactly as I would want it: black! Very nice car.

  3. Gunner

    Definitely a car worth restoring, in spite of the cost. At a little over 1100 produced, that does make it special for several reasons that you pointed out Jeff. I hope it finds a good home. Nice write up Jeff.

    • Jeff Staff

      Thank you for the compliment. This one was a pleasure to write because I really love the 1955 and 1956 Chrysler 300s. I hope it finds a good home.

  4. Dave Wright

    These were real cars…..the best of there day. I prefer the torsion bar front end that started in 57 (as I remember) the auto writers said that with torsion bars they handled like the best European cars…….but the earlier cars were the ones that were show cased at Bonneville and on other racetracks throughout the country. I am waist deep in projects or I would be a player on this one. This was the Porsche 930 of its day.

  5. stillrunners lawrence Member

    The 300’s came with the 2×4 set up standard on the hemi’s thru 58 and on the 413 E’s to the 300 G ? Also the 300 was based on the Windsor’s body with the Imperial’s optional leather seats standard on the 300 and of course the grill….front parking lights and front bumper base Windsor with the little bumperette’s ……

  6. erikj

    Jeff, All I can say is GREAT write-up!! I love Barnfinds, and all the memories that comes from you folks. I,M 57 so I do really have my heart into the 60s-70s hot cars. And cars like this Chrysler from the 50s where the start to the old school hot rides. love it. hope it gets saved.
    I have driven newer gt mustangs, last was a drive in a 2015 ss Camaro big motor,6spd. And hate to admit it, but ,what a ride-just cant hardly work on them ,so complicated!! I love simplicity!!

  7. Bruce Fischer

    My 56 Chrysler is almost done.Bruce.

  8. Keith

    Makes the 300G I bought 4 years ago for $4200 even more of a bargain.
    The thing with the letter cars is that parts are very, very hard to find. When you do find them, they are prohibitively expensive. I’ll give a couple examples:
    My 300G had a Windsor grille due to the original grille having been damaged. I found the one remaining NOS 300G grille left in the country. Price: $1200
    I wanted the original style spark plug wires. Found ’em: $600 for the set
    Air cleaner filters? For the dual quad setup? Finally found a pair: $300 (no, you can’t go to Autozone and find air cleaner filters for a 300G)
    Point being that while letter cars are, in my opinion, some of the best cars ever made, this one at $10k is going to need $70k+ to get restored, and that’s if you are able to do some of the work yourself. But man….there’s nothing like ’em and they aren’t making and more (the modern 300C not included of course)

    Like 1
  9. Grafton Rd Garage

    My adopted dad purchased the two cars in this article less than one year ago. The 1956 300 is a month or two away from being complete. It is in paint and 90 percent of the components are complete.

    Like 3
  10. Grafton Rd Garage

    Here’s the chassis

    Like 2
  11. Grafton Rd Garage

    Here’s the chassis. Again

    Like 1
  12. Grafton Rd Garage

    Here’s more progress on the 300B in this article

    Like 1
  13. Vic Millis

    This 300B has came a long ways in a short time.

  14. Chris

    I saw this car @ a car show in Ohio .It is Viper Red & Gorgeous. The owner did a great job on restoration, also has another one that he drives that is in the process . One of a kind car. Must see this to appreciate what the owner has done . Congrats brought back from the dead

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.