(Image of a Chrysler 300 Letter Series, Letter Unknown)
The original Chrysler 300 letter series cars are some of the most collected classic Chrysler cars collected today, and interest has been renewed in these classics with Chrysler's release of the new 300 series. The 3000 letter series began in 1955 and ran through 1965, with each year bringing the next letter in the alphabet. The first year, the model was named C-300, and the following years it went from 300B, 300C, and so on through 300L. The 300 letter series cars can be considered the “grandfather” of the muscle car , since it was the first model after World War II based on real performance. Unlike the muscle car of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, which was based on high performance and a cheap buy, the 300 letter series was a high performance car but a true luxury and expensive model. The 300 was derived from it’s 300 horsepower Hemi V8.
The 300B engine power was raised to either 340 or 355, depending on the model. The 300C in 1957 is considered the classic letter car, and engine ratings were raised to 375, or there was a limited edition model that reached 390 horsepower. Only 18 of the 390 horsepower models were built. The 1958 300D output was raised to 380 horsepower, and 35 cars were built with electronic fuel injection, raising output to 390 horsepower. The electronic fuel injection had a lot of problems, and was soon discontinued during the model year.
The Hemi engine was dropped for the 1959 model year with the 300E. Output was about the same with the Golden Lion wedge-head V8, but sales dropped without the Hemi engine, and the current recession. Sales increased dramatically for the 1960 300F, due to new unibody construction and sharp styling changes. The body style would go through more extensive changes for the 1962 300H model line.
Starting in 1962, the 300 series was now a standard model line for Chrysler, and the 300H was the top model of that line. Eventually this would signal the end of the letter series line a few years down the road. Through 1965, nearly all trim and extra options found on the higher end letter series could be ordered in the standard 300 series. With the high price of the letter series line, and the loss of “exclusivity” with the standard 300 line now on the market, sales nosedived. Sales increased for 1964, and the most models were sold that year ever for the letter series. However, this was due to a lowering of the price by over $1,000 with the subtraction of previous standards such as leather upholstery and a more powerful engine. The 1965 300L would be the last letter series car produced by Chrysler; the letter series lost the prestige it once had.