Alan Kalter and his wife, Chris, were determined to find a Chrysler C300 for their next project after seeing one at the Woodward Dream Cruise a few years back. Flipping through Robert Genat's 50 Years of Mopar Muscle, Alan saw the car that was destined to be that project. He tracked down the car's owner in California, a deal was struck after two months of negotiating and pleading, and the 29,500-mile car was his. It was all original and in great shape, but in need of a restoration. While a simple resto job was the most obvious choice, Alan opted to go the route that the original Chrysler engineers did when the car was first designed-but with a twist.
Back in 1955, Chrysler had a hit on its hands with its 331ci Hemi engine, and the engineers knew they could extract 300 reliable horsepower with a few tweaks; however, there wasn't a model in the Chrysler line to showcase such performance at the time. Enter the Chrysler C300. Billed as the "Beautiful Brute," the Chrysler team mated an Imperial's nose onto the two-door hardtop body shell of a New Yorker with Windsor rear quarter-panels and dropped in a modified, dual quad-fed 331ci Hemi to produce one of the quickest and best-performing production cars of its time, in spite of a curb weight of about 5,000 lbs!
With the intent of the original engineers and designers in mind, Alan decided that what the old 300 really needed was an upgrade into the 21st century. The old iron Hemi monster would be replaced by a massive new crate engine, and the antiquated, but well thought out, suspension components would be replaced by more modern counterparts. The end result would be a stock-appearing '55 C300 with all the upgrades that modern technology would allow; the Beautiful Brute would be born again.
To get the ball rolling, Alan contacted Randy Clark at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, California, who immediately appreciated Alan's idea of building a modern-day '55 Chrysler C300 and agreed to undertake the project. The 300 was then shipped over to Randy with the understanding that their plan to modify the car would not be divulged to the selling party, a restorer from Palm Springs. With sealed lips, the car was handed off to Randy and his crew, and the updating games began.
The first task on the list was to upgrade the suspension under the Chrysler with a more modern design. Due to the car's 5,000-plus-pound curb weight, a typical Mustang II IFS was out of the question, sending the HR&CS crew looking for other options. Studying a variety of modern front suspension designs, they settled on one that has been proven under thousands of police cars and taxi cabs across the country-a '95 Chevy Caprice. To fit the wider Caprice clip under the Chrysler sheetmetal, the crew narrowed it the appropriate amount before mating it to the already amputated stock Chrysler frame. The resulting frontend consisted of a much beefier A-arm suspension system, as well as a Detroit Speed & Engineering worm-gear steering box rather than a more delicate rack-and-pinion unit. A pair of Eaton Detroit Spring parallel leaf springs was slung off a Currie 9-inch Ford rearend with QA1 shocks to handle the rear suspension duties, and slide-a-link-style traction bars were also installed on either side to keep spring wrap under control. SSBC disc brakes were installed at all four corners to slow the 2 1/2-ton behemoth and covered with wide whitewall radial-shod Wheel Vintiques wire wheels.
Of course, all the chassis upgrades were being done to facilitate the massive 528ci Indy Cylinder Heads Maxx aluminum Hemi engine. Like its 300hp/331ci predecessor, the ACCEL DFI-equipped engine represents the latest in modern Hemi power. Originally equipped with a carburetor, it took Alan all of about 100 miles to decide the motor needed to be injected. Departing from California, Alan left Randy with only a few demands: "Fuel-inject it, tear it apart, and paint it red." Randy happily obliged, sending the motor to Indiana to be converted over to fuel injection while the interior was reupholstered, the gauges restored, and the body painted '55 Chrysler Tango Red.
Although excited about the build throughout its entirety, Alan remained skeptical about what the real Mopar fans would think of what the crew did to the original car, of which less than 2,000 were ever built and very few survive to this day. His answer came when he and his wife were attending a car show at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum with the C300. An older gentleman was meticulously looking over the car, including the details of the undercarriage and especially the modified suspension. Introducing himself, the man informed Alan he was an engineer on the suspension for the Chrysler C300 back in 1955 and was an original member of the Ramchargers, working on the High and Mighty drag car. He then proceeded to tell Alan that he loved what he had done to the old Brute. Alan had his answer, from not only a diehard Mopar fan but an authority for that matter, and he couldn't have been happier.
An ACCEL direct fuel injection system feeds each cylinder via port-mounted injectors and a
The stock Chrysler dashboard was given the once-over twice, while a few subtleties, like t
While the stereo head unit is mounted in the glovebox, the stock radio has been converted
A trio of VDO gauges mounted under the dash keeps tabs on the engine's vitals.
Sand-colored leather was stretched over the stock interior accessories, including the seat
|F A C T S & F I G U R E S |
|Alan Kalter |
|Ann Arbor, Michigan |
|1955 Chrysler C300 |
|Frame / Manufacturer ||'55 Chrysler |
|Wheelbase ||126" |
|Modifications ||Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (Escondido, CA) |
|Rearend / Ratio ||Currie Ent. (Anaheim, CA) 9" / 3.70:1 |
|Rear suspension ||Eaton Detroit Spring (Detroit, MI) parallel leaves w/ QA1 (Lakeville, MN) shocks |
|Rear brakes ||Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. (Clarence, NY)12" disc |
|Front suspension ||narrowed '95 Chevy Caprice clip w/ QA1 shocks |
|Front brakes ||SSBC 13" disc |
|Steering box ||Detroit Speed & Eng. (Mooresville, NC) |
|Front wheel make, size ||Wheel Vintiques (Fresno, CA) Nostalgia Wire, 17x8" |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Wheel Vintiques Nostalgia Wire, 17x8" |
|Front tire make, size ||Whitewall Candy Store (Orange, CA), 255/60R17 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Whitewall Candy Store, 255/60R17 |
|Make ||Indy Cylinder Heads Maxx Hemi Crate Legend |
|Displacement ||528ci |
|Crankshaft ||Eagle 4340 Steel |
|Rods ||Eagle 3D H-beam |
|Pistons ||Wiseco (Mentor, OH) |
|Camshaft ||COMP Cams (Memphis, TN) |
|Water pump ||Chrysler |
|Cooling fan ||Be Cool (Essexville, MI) |
|Radiator ||Be Cool |
|Heads ||Indy Legend |
|Valve covers ||426-12 |
|Manifold / Induction ||ACCEL (Cleveland, OH) DFI 426-2 |
|Ignition / Wires ||MSD (El Paso, TX) |
|Headers ||custom by Robert Butler |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||Flowmaster (Santa Rosa, CA) |
|Make ||Chrysler 727 TorqueFlite w/ Gear Vendors (El Cajon, CA) overdrive |
|Shifter ||hand-fab'd reproduction by HR&CS |
|Converter ||TCI Automotive (Ashland, MS)StreetFighter |
|Driveshaft ||Oceanside Driveline (Oceanside, CA) |
|Body style / Material ||C300 / steel |
|Body manufacturer ||Chrysler |
|Bodywork ||HR&CS |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG / 1955 Chrysler Tango Red |
|Painter ||HR&CS INTERIOR |
|Stereo / Speakers ||Alpine CD changer in glovebox |
|Wiring ||Painless Performance Products (Fort Worth, TX) |
|Upholsterer ||HR&CS |
|Material / Color ||leather / sand |
|Carpet ||black loop |