Chrysler, in actuality, was quite early to the “Super Coupe” game that really took off at the turn of the 1960’s. As a harbinger of obsession that would become the Personal Coupe market as the 1960’s became the 1970’s, Chrysler launched a very, very special “300” series in 1955 in anticipation of hyper personalized transportation for discriminating buyers.
By 1962, however, Chrysler was ready to cash in on the most exclusive in-house name they possessed by bringing it closer to popular price points for shoppers. Here lies the tale of the 300 Sport, inspired internally and externally to follow market trends by making something special out of extra trim. While this had a potency wilting influence over the true letter series cars, it proved an easily exploitative avenue to bring extra revenue to the premium brand.
Although the original Letter Series 300’s were still cars to envy, they were priced incredibly dear. They were priced at nearly $5,500 in asking price at the turn of the decade. Those price tags put the 300 into rather premium territory alongside Cadillacs, Lincolns and Highland Park’s own in-house Imperial. Given the stature of Chrysler being a direct rival of near-luxury stalwart Buick, it may have been a hindering point for sales to have the Chrysler name attached to the mighty 300 series.
Meanwhile, a number of other medium priced brands started fitting coupes and sedans with the burgeoning items of personalization: Bucket Seats and Consoles. Both Buick and Pontiac made such items available with performance options with their Invicta and Ventura models in 1960, respectively. Oldsmobile fired the most distinctively personal shot with their Starfire in 1961. Sensing that the true sales possibilities were in the $3,500-$4,500 range, Chrysler fired back with what they’d consider sportingly appropriate.
For 1962, Chrysler decided to offer up a variety of their most prestige nameplate. In Coupe, Hardtop Sedan and Convertible guise, the 300 Sport offered most of the external trimming of the letter series cars at a far less prohibitive entry point. The key difference was that you’d have to build to the super levels of the Letter series 300’s if you wanted one.
First off, the base engine was the (still very capable) 305 horsepower 383 V8, not the fire breathing 413 tucked away in the letter series. From there it took a build sheet to make a 300 more sporting than it was beyond the emblems.
The efforts paid off in the short term. Over 25,000 300 Sports found buyers in 1962. Though not as successful as some contemporaries that year, it did set the path of using a winning name to sell more common cars. Notably Buick would quickly follow this route, taking the Wildcat from being an exclusive 2 door Hardtop for 1962 to a full line of Banker’s Hot Rods in 1963.
These cars carried out a distinctive legacy of offering combinations of luxury, performance, prestige at price points that worked for a number of buyers for decades. Few models and brands have survived multiple motoring generations to provide the same basic motoring theory. The Chrysler 300, in any form, is truly one of a kind.