16-17 January 2014

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Lot 73

1955 Chrysler C-300

  • Chassis no. 3N551301
  • Engine no. CE555235

Sold for $77,000

300 hp, 331 cu. in. overhead-valve V-8 engine, dual four-barrel carburetors, Powerflite automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.

  • The original Chrysler “Letter Car”
  • The most powerful American car since the Duesenberg
  • Recently restored chassis and powertrain

When it comes to the question of which was the first American muscle car, it is hard to find a better argument than one on behalf of the 1955 Chrysler C-300. Development of the C-300, by chief engineer Bob Rodger, traces the muscle car template perfectly: take heaps of horsepower—in this case some 300 horsepower, the most offered in a factory-specification American car since the supercharged Duesenberg SJ—and wedge it between the fenders of an automobile that is typically motivated by a much less potent powertrain, specifically Chrysler’s New Yorker hardtop.

To make the C-300 stand out from the rest of the cars in Chrysler’s stable, stylist Cliff Voss added a little flair borrowed from the Virgil Exner-penned Imperial line, while Rodger supplied a 331-cubic inch Hemi-head V-8 with a race camshaft, higher compression, twin four-barrel Carter carburetors, and a beefed-up suspension and Powerflite two-speed transmission. A 150-mph speedometer also found its way onto the dashboard by necessity.

Chrysler wasn’t far off when they called it “America’s greatest performing motor car,” as the hefty C-300 could hold its own against the then-new Corvette, at least in a straight line. It also took home championship wins on the NASCAR circuit in 1955 and 1956.

This Tango Red C-300 is better suited to the concours field than the race track, and it shows very well from just about every angle, thanks to a thorough body-off chassis and powertrain restoration that was commissioned less than 10 years ago by Bill Madden, noted Chrysler expert and former owner. The scarce miles the car has logged since—it shows 53,212—mean that the undercoating and powder-coated chassis and suspension still show as much as they did then, as the car has been lovingly maintained in top driving condition.

The original engine block was, for unknown reasons, swapped out for a similar 1955 Imperial block long ago, but the high-performance C-300 internals are all still there, including the solid lifter camshaft and the adjustable rocker arm assemblies. The C-300’s trademark golden “Bat Wing” air cleaner and special valve covers are also present; these are the highlights of what may be the best looking engine bay in a Chrysler of this age. Under the hood is beautifully and correctly detailed, with original stamps and labels present. The power steering and power brakes work like new, as does the Town & Country signal-seeking tube radio, and the new Goodyear whitewall radials have just been installed. Panel gaps are perfect all around, with a properly fitted hood and doors that close with a satisfying solid sound.

This C-300 would complement any collection, and it would also make a great weekend driver or concours contender, as it is arguably one of the cars from which the muscle car era was born. It is one of the most important Chryslers of all time.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more