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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Classic Car Stories - My Hemi Chrysler
All during my teenage years, I was a big fan of Chrysler products. About 1962, my dad bought a used 1957 Chrysler New Yorker with a 392 cubic inch hemi motor in it, so I naturally was really into the Mopar stuff! My best friend's dad owned a Ford, so he was a Ford guy and I was all Mopar. 

The New Yorker was the family car for several years and I kind of "inherited" it when I got my drivers license at 16 and my dad bought another 1957 Chrysler, this one a more luxurious Imperial with leather seats, power windows and the same 392 hemi motor in it. For 1957 the 392 cubic inch hemi came standard with a Carter 4-barrel carburetor and was rated at 325 horsepower. There was an optional dual 4-barrel setup offered on the Chrysler 300 that upped the horsepower to 375. The 1957 models also came with the TorqueFlite 3-speed push button automatic transmission and a Torsion bar suspension called Torsion-Aire that gave smoother handling and ride quality to the car. The '57 was also offered as a convertible and they are extremely rare (only about 1,000 produced).
The actual car!

Unfortunately, the New Yorker was pink with a white top! I remember my reaction the first time I saw the car. My mom and us kids were at my Aunt and Uncle's house visiting when my dad called and said he had bought a car. He announced that he was going to drive it over to pick us up and I was eagerly watching out the front window to see when he pulled up. Eventually he drove up in this huge 4-door sedan that was PINK with a white top. I was horrified! But my dad was so proud of his purchase. The car was actually so long that it would not fit in our garage on 19th and Chambers in Milwaukee! Dad had to extend the door hinges out a few inches in order to squeeze it in. He bought it from a retired couple and it was a very low mileage car. I think my dad's taste in car colors was questionable at the time. The Imperial he bought was kind of a weird burnt orange color with a white top!

Eventually, getting older and used to the color, I was very  impressed when I found out what was under the hood. That big car had a huge amount of torque and horsepower compared to the cars of it's day, and could bury that 120 MPH speedometer needle with no problem! If you gave it much more than half throttle starting out from a stop it would squeal the tires. The car had dual exhausts and I installed some chrome tips as well as “Hemi Powered” stickers to put on the sides. My dad was pretty amused and just shook his head! You wouldn't believe how many times I had to open the hood to prove to someone that there really was a hemi under there!

Dad lost his sense of humor though, after I discovered how to do "power-stands". That is when you brake with your left foot while flooring the throttle, thereby doing a very smokey burnout of the rear wheels. I was doing this in front of our high school one day, showing off and broke a u-joint! My dad came and we towed it to our neighbor's house, who was a mechanic. I had told my dad that the u-joint had just "come apart". Well, after the mechanic inspected it, he set my dad straight on what actually happened and I thereafter had to make payments to my dad for the repair bill!

I happily drove that car for quite a while, until 1970, when an electrical short under the dash burned all the wiring up while it was parked at the Clark gas station I worked at. That was the end, we had to tow it out to the junkyard. The motor was still running fine, I'm sure some drag racer ended up rebuilding it and had a lot of fun. Those motors became very popular drag racing engines in future years.

Other of my car story posts:
Classic Car Stories:1970 Pontiac GTO - Dick Hands me the Keys!
Classic Car Stories: My Buddy's 1968 Plymouth GTX
Classic Car Stories: My Hemi Chrysler
Classic Car Stories: My 1965 Buick GS400
Classic Car Stories: Mopar Man to Chevrolet
Classic Car Stories: My Second Corvette
Classic Car Stories: My First Corvette
Classic Car Stories: My 1993 Camaro Z28
Classic car Stories: My Three Camaros - One Good, One Bad and One Great!
Classic Car Stories: Mom's 1961 Plymouth Valient


  1. I can understand why you were such a fan. Chrysler cars are really fantastic! Their previous sedan models makes me think about the car chases in the old movies. Anyway, what really makes Chrysler different among others is the quality of their engine. They were excellent then, and still continued to improve over the years. Cheers!

    Rhonda Burgess @ Bob Dunn Hyundai

  2. Chrysler is one of my favorite brands when it comes to older vehicles. That was kinda funny with the long pink vehicle. I've had vehicles that horrified me. Among the things that horrified me about the vehicle was that it was a gas guzzler and it did not have air conditioning.

    Freddy Fields @ Jacky Jones Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram