Not often is the sequel ever as good as the original. It's rarer still when follow-up projects exceed the first effort. When it does happen, though, the results speak for themselves. Such is the case with the '56 300B when compared to the '55 C-300, the first of the legendary 300 series models. Credit is due to both the engineers and the stylists at Chrysler Division and to Carl Kiekhaefer for his dominance at the racetracks that enabled the 300B to surpass the high standards established by the C-300 in 1955.
Of course, touches such as the 150-mph speedometer, the beige leather bench seat interior, the Imperial two-piece grilles, and the front bumper with guards were carryovers from 1955. However, the 6-volt electrical system was upgraded to 12 volts, sculptured fins grew out of the quarter-panels, and the 12-inch Center-Plane brakes became a necessity as the FirePower V8 was getting bigger and more powerful. The extra-cost options list grew as well. The 300B, like all '56 Chryslers, was an automobile of definite improvements and refinements.
Piston displacement was now up to 354 ci. Compression was raised half a point to 9.0:1 and a forged and hardened crankshaft replaced the forged-only unit from 1955. The 3.36:1 standard gearing was supplemented by ratios that ranged from 3.07 to an unreal 6.17:1. Despite log-style exhaust manifolds that dumped the spent gases into a low-restriction dual exhaust system, horsepower jumped from 300 to 340 and torque went from 345 to 385 lb-ft. The vast majority of 300Bs came with the push-button-actuated, two-speed PowerFlite automatic, while a handful had either the three-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearboxes. As a result, 0-60 mph could be accomplished in about 9 seconds with a 130-plus-mph top speed.
Meanwhile, creature comfort items bordered on the extravagant. Air conditioning; Highway HiFi; Benrus steering wheel clock; outside rearview mirror; Instant Heat gas heater; power steering, windows and seat; and chrome-plated wire wheels afforded the customer the opportunity to personalize "America's Most Powerful Car." Power brakes, a windshield washer, a trunk dress-up, multispeed wipers, and a glovebox clock were standard equipment.
The Cloud White 300B shown here is owned by John and Christie Lazenby of Garden Grove, California. Ordered new at Harger Haldeman in Los Angeles, the car has stayed on the West Coast its entire life. The 300B ($4,312.25) was ordered with power steering ($96.80), power seat ($79.20), power windows ($114.60), Solex glass ($32.30), Instant Heat (gas) heater ($1259.10), Electro Touch Tuner radio with rear shelf speaker ($138.10), power antenna ($26.90), and driver's OSRV mirror ($4.40) for a total price of $4,933.65. Equipment added since the '60s include a three-speed TorqueFlite auto transmission, hot water heater and, more recently, chrome-plated wire wheels.
The two-door hardtop was a multiyear, body-off restoration, with Kevin Holme of Uptown Auto Craft performing the body and paint work (Sikkens' Old English White, which was a perfect match to the original Cloud White). The interior was completely refurbished, entire front end disassembled and overhauled, brightwork rechromed, rear leaf springs re-arched, engine rebuilt, stainless trim polished, and dual exhaust system fabricated. Attending swap meets netted hard-to-find parts, including N.O.S. taillamp lenses. The finished car has since joined its stablemates, including a C-300 and 300F for cruising and shows, and the 1:18 scale model by Maisto was based on the Lazenbys' B!
Chrysler 300 Club News
Fall '92 issue