Hemi Survivor: 1955 Chrysler New Yorker St. Regis

That thing got a Hemi? You bet! As did so many Chrysler, Dodge and Desoto models in the ‘50’s. But beyond that, this 1955 Chrysler New Yorker St. Regis, which is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is for sale here on craigslist just oozes ‘50’s cool. Thanks to Pat L for the tip!

The Chrysler St. Regis was essentially a trim option for the New Yorker two-door hardtop and that’s the only St. Regis body style that was available. This iteration of the St. Regis was offered in 1955 and 1956, though the name St. Regis threaded its way through various Chrysler products off and on over the years. Based on research, I believe this 1955 version and its single year successor in 1956 were the most deserving of the exalted name.

Starting under the hood, we find Chrysler’s “Hemi” V8 engine, displacing 331 CI and producing 250 HP. While the Hemi is the stuff of legend, this 331 was pretty tame, power wise, compared to the ‘60’s version or even the modern iteration. Still, for 1955, 250 HP was substantial. The seller claims that the engine in this St. Regis, “starts and runs nicely with plenty of power.” Backing up the Hemi is a two-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission.

Interiors in 1950’s cars are, in my estimation, works of art and this St. Regis is no exception. This beautiful two-tone contrast places perfectly with the style of the exterior body lines and the two-tone Jade Green and Platinum White finish. If you look closely, you can see some wear but everything and everybody gets a little wear and tear after 64 years. Note the power window switch on the passenger door, a nice feature. In keeping with the times, no seat belts to be found.

Down under, we see a new aluminized exhaust system, a maybe weepy differential pinion seal and some dry surface rust (not the invasive kind) so I think the chassis and floor integrity is sound. There is no disclosure made by the seller regarding rust and corrosion but a single picture is worth 1,000 words so I think we’re good. The leaf springs are a bit questionable at their forward attaching points however.

The owner states that the two-tone paint finish is in surprisingly good condition except for, “a few localized areas” and I would agree. There is some slight wear in this photo visible on the hood but what do you expect after 64 years. Chrysler Corporation of the ‘80’s could have taken some advice from Chrysler Corporation of the ‘50’s on how create durable finishes. No complaints with this one.

I have examined several different Chrysler models over the last few weeks and never walk away from an article less than impressed with what Chrysler was at one time, both engineering and styling. We probably won’t see another car like this again. There are a corresponding or two models offered today by Mercedes-Benz and BMW, maybe Audi too, but they are very limited and very expensive. Besides that, tastes drift to SUV’s, CUV’s and pickup trucks these days. Will we ever go back? Hard to tell, I would have never predicted the current trend. But you know, what’s old is new and maybe at some point in the future, we’ll see a resurgence of this type of high-end two door model but propelled completely by electricity. What do you think, possible?

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Comments

  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    I love 30’s through 50’s cars and there are some great examples from all the manufacturers of the day. I am however more partial to the Mopar line up. This is a beautiful car that would be a joy to own. The St Regis name does as mentioned above include the dodge line up the Mayfair badge is in that group. Most people only know of the 1953 and up Mayfair’s but the badge originated in Canadian only models in 51 And 52. Low production #’s and Canadian winters have made them extremely rare. I have a 51 and even though it’s rare it doesn’t mean it’s of high value. This Chrysler too is rare and quite a beauty it will likely never be a 6 figure car either, this is ok it will remain attainable to the average guy. Nice find.

    Like 15
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      It’s of high value to the rest of us appreciating what you’ve saved, canadainmarkseh-this is another beautiful machine that we all will always enjoy. Though in our household we have an older Dodge Cummins, a Tahoe and a new Korean SUV (incredibly well built!), we still get a little crazy when something like this big old Chrysler or a truck (any make) of this vintage makes an appearance

      Electrify these old monsters, Jim? Intriguing thought! But unless the technology changes radically very soon we may not see any of these around to try that out… All the lights on The Strip in ‘Vegas would go dim if you hooked one of these up on the current battery systems out there I’ll bet!!! (Yes, pun intended)

      Like 4
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    It’s interesting to think that Virgil had the ’57 Forward Look cars already on the drawing board when this car came out in ’55. Tall and boxy cars would give way to the long/wide/ and sleek designs of the late 50s and through the 60s.

    It’s funny, when I park my ’63 Riviera next to modern cars, they seem really tall and boxy compared to the Riv. So maybe that aesthetic did come back after all.

    Like 4
  3. TimM

    Beautiful car I would kick it out of my driveway!! The underside looks pretty clean except for the little seepage of the rear end!!! Not to bad for a 50+ year old car!! The post war 50’s cars had it all simplicity, comfort, and style!!! I’m actually glad it’s not a six figure car so maybe an average guy can buy it and drive it!!!!

    Like 4
  4. The one

    Wow, how cool is this. totally normal wear and tear, not messed with, at all.. I give this one a “Double dang”.

    Like 11
  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Wow, great looking car. The 331 may not be the biggest Hemi ever produced but it had oomph behind it. In fact I once had a 55 Dodge pickup with a 331 in it. It was really ratty when I got it, crappy wiring, hadn’t run in years. Some rewiring, some clean-up and some work on the engine and it fired right up. Even with the truck 4 speed behind it, it was surprising what it could do.
    I wonder if this one has like my pickup had – lug bolts instead of nuts. This was my first time with a Dodge of that era and couldn’t get the lug bolts out till I finally wised up that one side went clockwise where the other side was counter-clockwise. Makes you feel rather foolish when you finally realize what’s going on there.

    Like 10
    • Phil Maniatty

      This has the lug bolts that tighten counter clockwise on the left side of the car. I have a ’55 DeSoto and it has these. A restoration guy ruined my left rear hub by not understanding this.

      Like 2
      • Miguel

        That has happened to a lot of us.

        I was smart enough to ask someone that knew more than I did before I wrecked anything on my 1963 Fury.

        Like 2
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        I drilled the holes out and installed the wheel studs into the hubs, way better.

        Like 1
  6. benjy58

    One of the best and underrated cars. Fifty and Fifty six models from all the big three were among the best looking ever produced. For ride, power and style they were the best looking.

    Like 3
  7. JohnfromSC

    My dad bought one of these new and I learned to drive on it in the late 60’s. We loved that car and had it until 1969. When it was new, I remember him blowing away more than one Chevy BelAire with this.

    The basic difference between this one and the Chrysler 300, which was the fastest car in 1955, was two quad carburetors on the 331 hemi vs one. Many 331s found their way later into hot rods and drag cars.

    The only thing to look for is cylinders 7&8. Due to a slightly poor intake manifold oassage design, these can run lean and ultimately burn a piston. Usually at 80K-90K miles.

    My personal fantasy car in this series is the ’56 Imperial 2 dr. It retains the beautiful 55 grille treatment, has the cool gun site tail lights (vs the bland 56 New Yorker tail lights) and has the bigger hemi.

    Like 5
  8. Del

    Well worth the asking price and underneath pictures for a change.

    A serious seller .

    Like 4
  9. Mountainwoodie

    Yabba dabba do! Now we’re talking!. One of the aspects of older cars that perversely warms the cockles of my moto heart is the dealer script and town that is often found on the rear of old cars. Usually in pot metal and attached to the sheet metal……I wonder if anyone can decipher the dealer and town on this one. Looks like Maddox /Stoney? I wonder where the car was first sold.

    Just a beaut. Once again I looked at a similar 56, but a four door, and passed on it because of the extra doors and because it wouldn’t fit in my garage at the time…………all of three grand and just in beautiful original shape.

    I guess its worth what someone will pay but I wonder if the market has moved along far enough to get twelve grand for this.

    This screams Americana…………..and two doors!

    Like 3
    • moosie moosie

      The dealer town on this beauty’s nameplate was Sidney, i clicked on the UTUBE directive and it was clearly Sidney. This car is amazing in it “Cherryness”, unbelievable condition for being 64 years old.

      Like 1
  10. Richard Hollis

    If I had any reason to go to Oklahoma, this would be my ride home.

    Like 4
  11. Fred Alexander

    When I lived in Lethbridge AB the Wong family at the west end of our block on 7th. Ave S. bought one and I believe it was coral pink and charcoal color scheme.
    Now it may have been a 56 as the cars are similar especially to a 12 year old then and this many years later reaching back in the memory.
    I know they were the only family on the block that had a new car – – – dad being an Asst. Supt. for CPR and making a pretty substancial wage just couldn’t wrap his head around how Mr Wong who owned a restaurant – – The Shanghai, could afford this expensive car – – especially raising three kids and buying his house,
    Billy and Bobby were my pals at the time – – their (very pretty) sister was about 16 at the time and had a boyfriend – – – I was jealous ):
    anyway always liked these cars and the DeSoto models – – there were a lot of them around Lethbridge as it was a pretty affluent population there with all the ranching, farming, railroad, trucking etc.
    Lethbridge used to be called “The Hub Of The Highways For Southern Alberta” which I believe CJOC Radio station conjured up.
    It was their signature so to say.

    Like 2
  12. JJS

    In ’55 only the gear shift leaver was mounted on the dash.
    Footnote: Technically the engine is a semi-hemi, or a polysphere. The true hemi has has two rocker arm shafts per cylinder bank, the polysphere has one shaft per bank

    Like 1
    • BR

      It’s a hemi, not a poly. I had a ’57 DeSoto with that same engine. Those massive valve covers, with the spark plug covers down the middle, removed will reveal TWO rocker shafts per head.

      Like 2
  13. David Ulrey

    I’d really like to actually drive one with the 250 hp Hemi. I don’t know the power to weight ratio but one of my cars, my daily driver actually, is an 04 Highway Patrol car with a 4.6 250 hp engine. It moves very nicely. I know, more hp is always cool but if that early Hemi has the same scoot to it that mine does, seems like it would move this car quite nicely. This is one beautiful old Chrysler!

    Like 1
  14. moosie moosie

    331 engines do have 2 rocker shafts per cylinder head, the intake valves are situated on the upper portion of the head adjacent to the intake manifold and the exhaust valves are on the bottom portion, they are Hemi’s.

    Like 4
    • Driver jay

      Between 1955 and 1957 Chrysler Corp produced both a hemi and a semi-hemi (polysphere),both referred to as the A engine. In ’55 the New Yorker and the C300 were available with the 331 hemi. Other models had the 301 poly. Dodge had the D500 hemi (315 cu in) available. DeSoto used engines(Fire Dome) made by Dodge. Plymouth never had a hemi. In ’56 the hemi was a 354 cu in and in ’57 it was the 392 of drag racing fame. In 1958 Chrysler Corp went to the wedge (B)engine

      • Paolo

        Desoto had their own engine development, Hemi and Poly.

        Like 1
      • Ed P

        The A engines did not go into production until 1956. Previous hemi v8’s were fitted with poly heads about 1955.

      • BR

        What??
        My ’52 DeSoto had a 276 cu in hemi (two rocker shafts/head, and giant valve covers). It was identical to the Chrysler 331 except for the bore and stroke. Check the part numbers.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Hemi_engine#First_Generation:_FirePower

      • Ed P

        BR, The Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge v8’s used 3 different blocks with different bore centers. Very few parts were interchangeable.

      • JJS

        With each division developing its own engine, no wonder the hemi was expensive to build.

        Like 1
  15. BR

    I would LOVE to own this car, but the usual keeps me from it.

    Like 2
  16. Terry

    Brake pedal is wide enough to use both feet. I hope that’s not necessary.

    Like 1
  17. Rex Kahrs Member

    Regarding those left-hand threaded lug nuts, it does seem kinda dumb. I mean, if you’ve got the nuts cranked to say 100 foot-pounds, the likelihood of all 5 of them coming off at once seems pretty remote.

    True story: a friend had a VW squareback and was driving in the hills of Southern Ohio, when he noticed a tire passing him on a small country road. Seconds later the back end dipped and he came to a stop. He then retrieved the tire from up the road, and used one lug from each of the other 3 wheels to re-attach it. Amazing he didn’t hear anything leading up to this!

    Like 1
    • Ed P

      Left handed studs were also used at Nash.

      • PatrickM

        My father had a ’48 Pontiac for a while with left handed threads on the left side of the car.

  18. Del

    Ahhh Fred . People in the restaurant and laundry business can really make money.

    Part of it is structuring the Tax part of the business plus some side endeavours.

    Have you ever watched Deadwood ?

  19. PatrickM

    Nice car!! Would really love to have something like this. And to think, in 1955, Chevy came out with the 265 c.i. engine, and everybody said, “Wow!” How many of us really did the math? Think about it. For some reason, Chrysler Corp has always played third string to GM and Ford. For a while I was partial to GM products. But, mostly I like them all. There are good, bad and ok in all of them. I’ve heard of lemons and great cars from all manufacturers. This one is sweet.

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