'55-'56 "Shoebox" Mopars (All brands)
"The $100 Million Look" is what the ads called Chrysler's four car lines for 1955, as Plymouth, Dodge, De Soto, and Chrysler not only wore all-new sheetmetal, they were also built on all-new platforms. And in the opinion of many back then, they were the best cars that Chrysler had ever produced. That included new-car buyers-1955 was Chrysler's best sales year yet, and 1956 wasn't too shabby either.

These years marked the first-ever Plymouth V-8s, as the Poly first appeared as an option alongside the venerable flathead Six, while Dodge, De Soto, and Chrysler all carried over their Hemis.

Even now, 50-plus years later, these cars are still lookers. We've seen instances where someone parks a '55 or '56 Plymouth on a showfield next to a same-year Chevy, and the Plymouth gets all the attention.

The best-preserved ones make the best projects and cruisers, regardless of body style. Special versions to keep en eye out for are the '56 Plymouth Fury, the '55 and '56 Dodge D-500s, the '56 De Soto Pacesetter that was the Indy 500's Official Pace Car, and, naturally, the first "letter" Chrysler 300s: the '55 C-300 and '56 300B.

The "Torsion Quiet" '73-'78 B-Bodies
Starting in 1973, Chrysler added more rubber pieces and other bits to dampen road shocks and vibration, resulting in the "Torsion-Quiet Ride" of the late B-Body cars.

Even though the Hemis and Six Packs were off the options list, the '73 B-Body two-doors still sold well, especially the Charger SE (with its distinctive, gill-like opera windows). That sales pace didn't carry far into 1974, as the first "oil shock" of October 1973 clobbered sales of everything larger than the A-Body. The '75 redesign resulted in squared-off hardtops that looked better than their GM and Blue Oval sales competitors. sedans/wagons got facelifts that saw them share everything but grilles and nameplates. The year 1975 was the last year for the B-Body Road Runner, and the first year for the Cordoba/Charger SE, which were aimed at the Monte Carlo/Grand Prix end of the new-car market.

More likely than not, there's a 318 or 360 under the hood, with 400s a fairly-rare option and 440s only found in the cop-equipped Pursuit sedans. But the gear developed for the men in blue works on civilian rides-witness the B-Body cars of all types that now wear the 15 7-inch slotted wheels that were cop-only in 1978. Ditto for upgraded steering and suspension systems fitted with equipment scavenged off a parted-out ex-cop car.

One caution: The "Lean Burn" electronic engine-control systems, which first appeared in 1976, weren't the most reliable gadgets ever installed by Mother Mopar. If you've got a car that's ELB-equipped, count your blessings if that early onboard computer still works. Many didn't and were replaced with conventional ignitions.