MotorCities National Heritage Area

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection
Posted: 01.03.2017

file 20170103192738 1957 Chrysler
During the 1950s, the Chrysler Corporation had manufactured many great looking vehicles for the consumer market. The late Virgil Exner Jr., was the corporate director of styling in 1957, and he had designed many great looking cars and trucks for that model year.

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For 1957, the Chrysler line of newly designed cars offered a forward-thinking design with a light, clean design that many consumers really had enjoyed. More importantly, the new Chrysler models gave the company a competitive edge over other popular-selling vehicles at the time.The model years 1955-57 brought impressive sales gains to Chrysler which was attributed to the great, new styling features.
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One of the most impressive design features for the new models were the iconic, Exner-designed tailfins, however quality control became a huge problem as consumers complained about early stages of rust on many of its new vehicles.

The Chrysler 300-C was considered America’s highest-performing automobile at the time outfitted with a 375 horsepower engine. The Chrysler 300 model was shown to the public for the first time at the New York Automobile show on Dec. 8, 1956. The models were very impressive and great looking vehicles.
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The motoring public thoroughly enjoyed the models with their “Forward Look” designs. The styling of the 300-C models featured low lines, sleek metal work with an overall height of only 54.7 inches accentuated by those great-looking, high-swept fins.

Some of the models also featured dual headlights that were featured as standard equipment which had provided the driver up to 75 feet more night visibility. The Chrysler 300-C was available in Cloud White, Gauguin Red, Black, Parade Green and Copper Brown. No large hood ornament was used as a design feature and the models offered very little chrome designed treatment as well. The 1957 Chrysler models offered new styling, new power, new suspension and a new transmission. The 1957 line were manufactured in the New Yorker and Windsor series, along with an all new Saratoga series which was in the middle price range for the consumer market.
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E. C Quinn, president, Chrysler Division, said “In setting out to create the most glamorous cars in a generation, we have advanced Forward Look styling by creating a car with the motion feeling of a poised dart.”

The Saratoga series was the newcomer to the Chrysler line in 1957 which was manufactured between the Chrysler Windsor and the Chrysler New Yorker models. The models were available in a four-door sedan, a two-door hardtop and a four-door hardtop for the consumer market.
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The Chrysler Windsor models were the most modestly priced out of the new auto line; options included a four-door sedan, two-door hardtop and a four-door Town and Country station wagon. The Chrysler New Yorker was offered in a four-door sedan, two-door hard-top, four-door hardtop, convertible coupe and a Town and Country station wagon model.

During the 1950s, dual headlights had become optional in certain states where the laws had permitted this new feature on the new automobiles that were being manufactured. Another new feature available on the new 1957 Chrysler products were the new revolutionary Torsion-Aire suspension system which offered the consumer a smoother and quieter ride for the driver as well as the passengers. Torsion bars which had replaced the coil springs in the front end provided a new and comfortable ride control.
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For 1957, Chrysler had manufactured a total of 118,733 models and also as a style leader regained the 10th place in the top-10 record sales for the model year in 1957. At the time, a consumer could purchase a new Chrysler Windsor model 4-door sedan for $3,088 or perhaps a great looking Chrysler 300-C convertible for $ 5,359 of which only 484 were produced and manufactured.

In conclusion, the 1957 Chrysler models were a big hit and offered a great design, and on a historical note, never before had a Chrysler new model introduction sparked so much spontaneous enthusiasm – not even the unveiling of the first Forward Look cars in the fall of 1954. It was said that Chrysler dealers in New York City were so enthusiastic during the preview of the show, on Oct. 5, that consumers had mobbed the new Chrysler models on the runways and had stopped the show along with the performances for 15 minutes.