The Chrysler 300 letter-series is one of the most famous and collectible post-war cars in the hobby, but do you know what the rarest model year is? If you’re a casual enthusiast, you may be surprised to learn that the 1963 edition is the answer. Our Pick of the Day just so happens to be one of those cars: a 1963 Chrysler 300-J listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Torrance, California. (Click the link to view the listing)
Of course, the Chrysler C-300 began the tradition for high-horsepower “banker’s hot rods” at Chrysler. These were premium cars that were for the select few. For many years, they featured strong styling and design courtesy of Virgil Exner, though by 1961 they started to look like a 1950s remnant when the industry trend was for a cleaner look. After weak sales of the 1962 300-H, Chrysler had hoped the redesigned 300-J with the “crisp, new custom look” would make up for it.
Virgil Exner was responsible for the 1963 Chrysler line before he retired, which was a nice way to ride into the sunset considering his issues earlier in the 1960s. However, the 300-J had lost some distinction because, for the 1962 model year, Chrysler introduced the mid-line 300 series to replace the Saratoga (though the nameplate continued in Canada for several more years). Though often projecting a sporty air and even sharing the same grille with the letter-series, the 300 was in no way up to the level of the 300 letter-series, which was a high-spec two-door featuring a high level of horsepower. Was brand cannibalization involved? Possibly.
The 1963 300-J offered more standard horsepower than any 300 letter-series vehicle before it. The FirePower 413 V8, which had powered the model since 1959, offered 390 horsepower and an astounding 485 lb-ft of torque thanks to long-tube manifolds and the twin four-barrel carburetors that feed them. Standard was Chrysler’s famous push-button TorqueFlite automatic with console, with the optional floor-mounted three-speed specified by seven customers. Instrumentation included a whole host of gauges to satisfy any sports car nut. The paint color selection was limited, all matched to a red leather interior featuring adjustable bucket seat up front, with the driver’s side being power-operated. When the model year concluded in July 1963, only 400 300-Js had been built. Apparently, styling didn’t make up for it.
This Black 1963 Chrysler 300-J is typical among the 400 built, featuring the 413 with short-ram intakes, and TorqueFlite transmission. Options that distinguish this one include Airtemp air conditioning, defroster, push-button AM radio, and Solex tinted glass. There’s no other full-honking coupe available in America from this time period that can compete with the 300-J’s mix of performance and luxury, so the $55,500 required for purchase will put you in an exclusive club.