Incredible Bargain? 1956 Chrysler 300B

Most of us have a post-Powerball car wishlist. As in, which vehicles we would buy if money was no object. One car on my list would be an early 300 Letter Series car from Chrysler, such as this 1956 Chrysler 300B found here on craigslist in Franklinton, North Carolina. The seller is asking a very enticing $10,000 or offer for this super solid-looking 300B! Thanks to Ikey H. for finding this great tip!

This is an imposing car, as if I needed to tell any of you that. It’s over 18-feet in length so it’s worth checking the actual, usable size of your garage first if you have a regular two-car garage. This is the second series of letter cars for Chrysler and the first one to have a letter, if that makes sense. Does anything I say ever make sense? I’m starting to wonder myself. By the way, yes, the front bumper is included.

Stupid Powerball. It would help if I’d remember to buy a ticket every now and then. It’s not that I couldn’t buy this car or that a lot of us wouldn’t have ten-grand to throw down on this one, it’s the $75,000 restoration cost (or more?) that gives me heartburn. I can barely restore a minibike, I can’t imagine restoring a car like this gorgeous and rare 300B myself. The ’56 300B had different tail fins and more power but it wasn’t strikingly different from the 1955 Chrysler 300.

As I was fantasizing about this car and trying to figure out how to make it work, I got to the interior photos and stopped dead in my tracks. Then, as most of us do, I read the description after looking at the photos and I saw that the seller does have the interior and everything else that’s missing in the photos! Hagerty is at $33,200 for a #4 fair condition car and $74,500 for a #2 excellent condition car. Given that upper value, this won’t be a car that can be dropped off at a restoration shop with a blank check, unfortunately. They’re at $120,000 for a #1 concours car, for the record.

This is an exciting engine even now, just imagine back in 1956 to have a 354 cubic-inch, dual-quad hemi with either 340 or 355 hp. I don’t know which version this is and I’m not sure if it’s possible to tell from looking at it, is it? The seller says that it was running two years ago and I have no doubt that most Barn Finds readers would have this one humming again in no time. I hate to be one of those “if” guys (“If it wasn’t on the wrong coast..” “If we had more room..”, etc.), but if… I’ll just say that I would absolutely love to have this car even in the condition that it’s in now. This is a car that I would love to have for the long term, one to slowly restore as I had the time and funds available. Have any of you taken on a big restoration project like this one?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    If underside rust isn’t an issue this could be worth the effort. Very few of the big Hemi cars show up these days. Helped a friend in college build a ’16 foot ski boat with this engine in it. You can’t imagine what that power to weight ratio does to the skier’s arms….. I volunteered to be the first behind the boat and my arms and shoulders hurt for a week after.

    Like 21
  2. Pete Phillips

    Anyone know if those air cleaners are correct? I had a ’55 once, and it had the “bat wing” air cleaner with two oil bath units hanging from the sides.

    Like 4
    • Will Fox

      Pete, the `56 300B’s had the bat wing air cleaner too. `57 had two seperate ones; (same as the regular 392 in a New Yorke used only gold.) First 300 I recall using these was the 413 V8 wedge in the `59.

      Like 6
      • KKW

        I have a 62 300H, with the exact same air cleaners, not sure, but I’m guessing these aren’t correct for this year.

        Like 2
    • Fiete T.

      I’d be the bastard that would resto mod this…and drive it a whole lot

      Like 1
  3. Jeff

    The air cleaners are not correct for a 56 300B, it should have the “Delta Wing” unit. There is one for sale on eBay for $6,000.00 “Six Thousand Hurt Me Dollars”!

    Like 8
  4. rpol35

    I believe the engine is 354 CI, not 345.

    Like 8
    • Will Fox

      It should be, anyway.

      Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You are 100% correct, rpol35! Dang my skeleton fingers.

      Like 1
    • KKW

      Who said anything about a 345? Maybe you got this confused with an International pickup. Lol. I didn’t really laugh out loud, I just chuckled.

      Like 1
  5. Rube Goldberg Member

    Tim Flock cleaned up on everyone in Carl Kiekhaefer’s Chrysler 300B’s. So much so, after a fiery debate, Carl was banned from NASCAR and went into boat racing. I read, this was an expensive car, around $4200 bucks, when a new V8 Chevy was half that. Also, the original 300 (55?) had an unheard of 300 hp, hence the 300 name. I think 56 had the 340 hp. For that reason, mostly, very few were sold.and those that were, had their motors yanked for something else. I believe this was top of the line for Chrysler, but by the 60’s, they were just rusty beaters. Someone was smart to hang onto this.

    Like 7
    • Toby Hall

      Carl Kiekhaefer was boat racing 6 years before he dominated NASCAR! (I buy those outboard motors cause I can’t afford this!)

      Like 3
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        I read, he already had 4 ’57 300C’s with the new 392 hemi but he never got to run them. He was quite a character. At company picnics, they would burn a plastic cowled Evinrude outboard, his arch nemesis, touting Mercury’s all metal design.

        Like 2
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      The 1956 354 engine was offered with 10.5 pistons to gain the 355 hp rating beating the Corvette by a year. Stock 354 motor was 340 hp.

      The first of the Hemi ban followed and the second was after the new motor in 1964. Still again NASCAR has banned the latest Hemi block in this century….guess they don’t want to see the run of wins like in 1967.

  6. TimM

    Yes it’s got a hemi!!!! What a cool car and hemi powered to boot!! I don’t think there’s a guy out there who wouldn’t want to smoke the tires on this car!!! Might be a little difficult to find parts but if the body’s good it may go the way of restomod over restoration!!! Either way it’s a car that should see the road again!!

    Like 2
  7. Brent

    Restomoding any Chrysler letter car will send you straight to Hell. I think it says so in the Bible somewhere.

    Like 30
    • Marshall

      From the Book of Levintageous:

      Thus saith the LORD:
      “Behold, I am the Lord God of vintage vehicles, The Ancient mobile of Days, showing favor on all of them that righteously restore restorable old cars, And showing mercy on all them that “restomod” not too far gone rust buckets that have since lost their originality. But if any man abominate a restorable vehicle, especially one that has been well preserved, the wrath of the Lord thy God, the God of vintage vehicles, shall be upon you! All of your restoration projects shall be turned into a dunghill of rodent infested rust heaps whose floors have collapsed under the weight of years of rat dung. Their motors shall never turn. Your acetylene torches that you use to abominate my precious beloved vintage restorable vehicles shall be cankered away. Yea, these, and all other manner of curses shall befall him that doth abominate any restorable vehicle. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. I AM THE LORD.

      Like 15
      • Ed P

        Amen

        Like 3
      • Brent

        I knew it was in there somewhere! Thanks Marshall, I enjoyed that!

        Like 1
  8. Chris M.

    Certainly a cornerstone car for any collection. Dare I say that these early Chrysler letter cars were indeed the first cars that defined the term muscle car. This is a good buy at $10 grand..maybe less since the seller appears motivated. As mentioned the restoration will approach $100 grand but despite the hefty investment one may realize a profit at the end based on recent sales of these beautiful Mopars.

    Like 5
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Actually, Hemmings Classic Car mag just did a write up of Chrysler 300’s. They covered that very subject. The definition of a muscle car, is a mid size car with a big motor and there was nothing mid size about the 300. I will say, it sure got the ball rolling in the hp race.

      Like 4
  9. canadainmarkseh Member

    I want I want I want….!!

    Like 2
  10. BlondeUXB Member

    1956 styling was the peak for Detroit’s big three. This has to be very near the top of those heaps with the muscle to back it up…

    Like 2
  11. Gaspumpchas

    Very cool with a dual quad baby hemi to boot. Good luck to the new owner. Wonder if the seller has the bumpers. This Mopar needs to be brought back, even if a little at a time!!!
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 5
    • JBP

      he have everything missing in photos

      Like 1
  12. 68custom

    cool with the legendary 354 Hemi! neat car deserves to be restored!

    Like 3
  13. Bingo Hall

    Without being correct and complete I think 10k is too much unless you have the missing and correct parts to restore it to factory.

    Like 2
  14. rh brown

    this was the first engine to break I horsepower per cubic inch and the new”so called HEMI is based on this bore and stroke

    Like 3
  15. YooperMike

    My neighbor here in Valley Springs CA has one of these. Love the car. I’ve been trying to buy it but he always says no. I’ve been asking for several years.

    Like 2
  16. DAVID KENIRY

    😲 IN 1961 I HAD 1 OF THE FIRST
    409s IMPALA, 4sp 411 POSI I RACED
    1 OF THESE. I JUMPED HIM, FIRST &
    SECOND, BY AT LEAST 50’+ BY 3rd HE
    CAUGHT ME, BEAT ME BUY ABOUT
    A CAR. THAT SAID DO ANY OF U OUT
    THERE, REMEMBER HAWTHORNE &
    LEUZINGER HIGH RIVAL’S. 1958-1961 NORTHROP
    AIRCRAFT, THE STREET ON THE SOUTH
    SIDE, IT WENT FROM CRENSHAW 2
    PRAIRIE I THINK 117th ? WE USED 2
    DRAG RACE THERE ALL THE TIME, THE
    COP’S LOOKED THE OTHER WAY.THOSE
    WERE THE DAY’S😎

    Like 6
    • Lance Platt

      The 1956 Chrysler was awesome in it’s day and a true classic of big American horsepower and prestige. But the restoration costs would be prohibitive. I had a friend who found one in cosmetically good condition in the 1970s. However, the frame was rusted beyond repair. He gave me a ride in it..left us stranded in downtown traffic. So I pass.

      Like 2
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      They wouldn’t let me do all caps the other day….changed it right after I posted it….strange…..

      Like 1
  17. Del

    Too much dismantling.

    Engine or carbs not correct ?

    Non runner.

    4000 dollar car. Asking price is silly

    Like 3
  18. ctmphrs

    Resto-mod is the only way to go with this car.Disc brakes,improve the handling and add A/C. Would make a really nice driver.

  19. tberd62

    The market is really soft on these. At $10K plus cost of restoration and you will be upside down on the car. The engine is probably not the correct year based on the air cleaners. But if you gotta play……….

    Like 1
  20. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve owned 2 of these. The first one I bought in 1969 while a senior in High School. It was a very low mileage, all original, garaged, one owner car, black with [or course] tan leather interior. Paid $400 for it!

    The second one was also a fairly original car, I bought it in 1976, from an elderly couple. Again, a black & tan car, but this one was loaded with all options including factory A/C. Paid $500 for it!

    Now about those twin air cleaners:
    Both of my cars were equipped with these 2 air cleaners, not the big delta type. Both of my cars were also built with the new Torqueflite 3-speed automatic transmission. I noticed the car featured here has the 5 buttons on the shift quadrant to the left of the steering wheel. That means it’s equipped with Torqueflite.

    The Torqueflite transmission was a VERY late option in the 1956 Chrysler lineup. Only a very few Chrysler 300B cars came thru with the 3-speed trans.

    Back when I had my first car, a local Chrysler dealer near me had an older mechanic who was very familiar with these cars, successfully racing Chrysler 300 cars on both dirt track and paved oval courses. He told me the reason my car had the twin air cleaners was because the car was equipped with the Torqueflite transmission, and at the time they changed to the Torqueflite, they also changed the air cleaners. He said it had to do with interference between the throttle linkage and the oil bath pots hanging over the heads. I have no MoPaR factory evidence this is correct, but it’s a logical reason for the dual air cleaners. on all 3 cars.

    Like 7
  21. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Going with Bill and not the guessing don’t need it dont want it crowd.

    Been looking for one I can afford for years to join my 56 Fury and 56 D-500….building a clone from a Windsor ….RB motor with torqueflite…what I can afford………

    Like 2
  22. rjc Member

    Great info Bill, thank you.

  23. Steve S

    It would be better if it had the cross ram intake. I thought all of the 300s came with that intake in the trunk and it was an option for the dealer or the owner of the car to put it on for more power. But most dealers didn’t know what that cross ram intake was and threw them in the dumpster.

    • KKW

      The cross ram was optional on later 300s with the 413.

  24. Bill McCoskey

    Steve S,
    The Cross ram was never available on the first generation Hemi engines, it simply won’t fit. And while it was possible to order the necessary parts to change over a 413 motor to the Cross ram setup, the sheer number of parts needed was amazing, as it’s not just the intake manifolds. Even the carbs are different. As far as I know, MoPaR never offered a complete “Kit” as a part number.

    We can only wish that every letter series car came with the center mounted dual carb manifold and a Cross ram “kit” in the trunk, but that’s simply one of those automotive myths that ain’t true!

    Many gear heads also don’t realize the Cross ram engines were FIRST OFFERED as the Plymouth SonoRamic Commando 361, and the Dodge D-500 361, starting with the 1960 model run. In 1961 they were also available with the new 383, and finally in 1962 thru 64 they were added to the Chrysler letter series cars with the Max Wedge 413. By 1965, the last year for a letter series [the 300L], the letter “L” was mostly an upgraded option list, not a hi-po car.

    The manifolds used on the Plymouth and Dodge engines were painted bright red, leading them to be unofficially called “Red Ram V8” engines. As part of a Chrysler 300 letter series engine, the manifolds are painted gold. Some people mistakenly call these “Golden Commando” V8 engines, but that name actually refers to the 383 V8 with a single 4-barrel carb, and if the fender emblem says “Golden Commando POWER”, it’s for a 1959 361 V8 with the single 4-barrel.

    Even more rare are the “Short tube” Cross rams. The “normal” Cross ram setups had tubes measuring 30″, but there were smaller 15″ tubes available on the Plymouth and Dodge engines as well. I don’t think the short manifolds were ever available on a Chrysler 300, but I’m not 100% sure.

    I’ve worked on & restored Cross ram equipped cars, and I can tell you just changing the spark plugs is a half-day’s work; to gain access to the plugs, the first thing you remove from the car are the wheels & tires, then the inner fender panels!

    I remember back about 1978, while rummaging around in a large junkyard near Culpepper, Virginia, I came across a white 1961 Plymouth 4-door wagon, and the front fender emblems showed the original engine was a SonoRamic V8. Sadly the entire engine was long gone! But I pried off the SonoRamic front fender emblems and kept them for decades, until I heard a local guy was in need of them for his SonoRamic Plymouth. [I wish I had known to pull the fender data plate too!]

    Like 1
    • KKW

      60-61 Letter cars were in fact available with the cross ram manifold. Most 63-64s were built with a newly available single 4barrel, with the cross ram still optional for the last time.

  25. Bill McCoskey

    KKW,

    You are correct, sometimes my memory ain’t as good as it should be today. The 300F and G cars did come standard with the cross rams. Chrysler went back to a 4 barrel carb because they downsized the cars for 1962, and the manifolds would no longer fit without major modifications to the inner fenders, hence they were made an expensive option. [As per Wikipedia.]

    • KKW

      I own a 62 300H, and it has the dual inline 4barrels. I’m actually glad it doesn’t have the cross ram, I think they created more headaches than horsepower. Although they do look impressive.

  26. Bill McCoskey

    KKW,

    You basically said it all, the only time the cross ram setup was really important was in serious racing, and YES, it sure was very impressive and certainly encouraged car buyers into the Chrysler showrooms, as well as getting plenty of press traffic.

    Back in the early 1980s, in suburban Prince George’s County, MD, sat a 1962 Chrysler New Yorker 4-door wagon, light blue with blue leather interior. This incredible car was optioned with the dual inline carbs on the 413 V8, French 4-speed on the floor, leather buckets, and it was very well optioned including all the power stuff, plus dual A/C. [But it had no console!]

    The car also had a class 3 tow hitch, and I was told by a neighbor the owner used the wagon to tow a large Airstream trailer. The car was tied up for years in an estate problem. One day as I drove by, I found it was gone, a “house for sale” sign now in the yard. I called the phone number and found the car had been hauled off to the crusher, so the yard could be cleaned up. I checked, and found it had indeed been flattened, then cubed.

    Like 1
    • KKW

      You just made me sick

      Like 1
    • TimM

      That’s a truely terrible story!!!

      Like 1
  27. Bill McCoskey

    KKW,

    Imagine me arriving at the Joseph P. Smith & Sons salvage facility in Upper Marlboro, MD, to discover the car had been cubed only a few days earlier. I was devastated. That company was well known to local car buffs as a place of death & destruction, they would not sell any car once it was slated for destruction, not even a single part.

    About 1995 while on the DC beltway [I-495], I saw a very rough old black limo [it looked like a Rolls-Royce], on the back if a Smith & Sons rollback truck, so I got off at the next exit and headed to Smith & Sons. Yep, there it was, sitting on the ground, a VERY rough Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, I guessed it was about a 1948 to 1950 short wheelbase division window sedan by Hooper & Co. I watched as they DID crush that Rolls-Royce for it’s scrap value. [The engine alone would have sold for $10k.]

    I have no respect for companies that only see the scrap value of stuff. As a Rolls-Royce owner, I DID cry.

    Back to the New Yorker wagon; a couple of years prior, I had even gone as far as to squeeze a large piece of cardboard between the side windows, and have it settle on the driver’s seat, with all my contact info, and stating I wanted to buy the car. [The car was always locked, as it was not in the best part of town!]

    Like 3

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