The John Staluppi Collection
1 December 2012
1958 Chrysler 300D Convertible
To be auctioned on Saturday, December 1, 2012
Sold for $198,000
- Chassis no. LC41312
Model LC-3-S. 380 bhp, 392.0 cu. in. Hemi OHV V-8 engine, three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.
For much of its history, Chrysler was a frontrunner in building some of the most interesting and exciting high-performance cars Detroit had to offer. Foremost among them are the formidable early Hemi-powered Chrysler 300 “letter cars” of the 1950s, which, by virtue of their cost and long list of standard and optional features, were reserved for the wealthiest and most discerning buyers. Cloaked in handsome Virgil Exner-designed bodies and carefully engineered, the 300 series offered the ultimate in American luxury and performance. The year 1957 had been a banner year for all of the automakers, but in 1958, things changed quickly.
The staggering economy, coupled with an industry-wide strike, served to significantly reduce the number of 1958 models built by all manufacturers, and the Chrysler 300D production was no exception. Just 191 Chrysler 300D convertibles were delivered in 1958. Interestingly, Chrysler decided to offer Bendix's electronic fuel injection system as an option. Unfortunately, electronic fuel injection wasn't a great idea in an era when vacuum tubes still ruled the electronics world; hence, the relative handful of cars equipped with the Bendix system were recalled and retrofitted with carburetors. The single engine that remained was a 392-cubic inch Hemi wearing dual Carter four-barrel carbs and made 380 horsepower. That year was also notable as a 300D was driven to 156.387 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Due to low production and high cost, 1958 was also the last year that the company offered its Hemi in a full-size Chrysler; for 1959, it was discontinued with the 300E, which only came equipped with the less expensive 413-cubic inch wedge head V-8 engine. This example is painted white with a tan canvas top. It has excellent body contours and gaps with few, if any, detectable paint flaws, except for some scratches near the top of the driver’s side door, which otherwise fits and shuts very well. The lightly worn tan seats are in good condition, as is the black dash pad. The odometer shows 55,239 miles, which are believable original. Other interior finishes include the excellent black carpeting and the tan top boot with optional power steering, power brakes, windshield washers, a power seat, power windows, and an AM radio.
A previous body-off restoration, the engine bay displays very nicely with little wear of note and, like all of the examples in the Letter Car Series of the Staluppi Collection, utilizes correct materials and finishes. A look underneath shows that the body was removed for restoration, there is no undercoating, and the black chassis was obviously painted separately from the body-color floor pans. This Chrysler is a remarkably rare and beautiful example that awaits its next owner’s enthusiastic ownership, and notably, there were only 191 examples of the 300D convertible produced, and the Chrysler 300 Club International has tracked only 55 surviving examples. Almost four times rarer than a Model J Duesenberg, this nicely restored example warrants special consideration.
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