Introduced in 1955, the Chrysler 300 “letter series” is one of the greatest production cars from the era. Gorgeous, luxurious, and motivated by V8 engines that put it into muscle car territory, the “letter series” cars are also rare classics, regardless of whether we’re talking about the C-300, 300B, or the 300C. But there’s one that tops them all.
I’m not talking about the limited-edition, 390-horsepower version of the 1957 300C (15 horses more than standard / only 18 built), but a full-blown concept car based on the platform. It’s called the Ghia Super Dart 400 and came into the spotlight at the 1957 Turin Auto Show.
One of two Chrysler 300-based concept cars built by Ghia, the Super Dart 400 followed the Dart, which was unveiled in 1956. An evolution of the latter, the Super Dart 400 was one of the most flamboyant designs of the era. A notable departure from 300C it was based on, it arrived with massive rear fins (yes, they were larger than the already oversized fins of the era) and a stylish razor-type grille. More importantly, it had an intriguing wraparound chrome trim.
But the Super Dart 400 wasn’t just about a futuristic, expensive look. It was also powered by a beefed-up version of the 392-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) FirePower V8 engine found in the 300C. While the latter was available with 375 or 390 horsepower, the concept car came with 400 horses on tap. That’s only 25 horsepower less than the mighty 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8 that Chrysler launched in production cars almost 10 years later.
On top of that, it also came with some ground-breaking technology for the era, including the company’s Highway Hi-Fi record player. An in-car vinyl player, Highway Hi-Fi was introduced by Chrysler in 1956 and found its way into various Mopars. Developed by Peter Goldmark, it played at half the speed of a regular player, and the discs featured twice as many grooves.
As a result, each vinyl was able to store nearly two hours of music in total, which was revolutionary at the time. However, Highway Hi-Fi was very expensive and record availability was limited to what Columbia Records was willing to print at the time. The players weren’t very reliable either, so Highway Hi-Fi was discontinued after only a couple of years.
But while the player was a revolutionary flop, it’s quite outstanding that the concept still sports its original unit, which is 63 years old as of 2023. The car itself is just as impressive though, looking spotless inside and out and showing only 50,000 miles on the odometer.
The video below shows the Ghia Super Dart 400 at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won an award in the Preservation Class. Oh, and this stunning concept car is also scheduled to go under the hammer on January 27, 2023, and it’s estimated to fetch up to $950,000.