- 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst Edition *Image Courtesy: Mecum Auctions & Chrysler Corp.

Hot & Heavy

6d ago


1970 for those interested in the forefathers of today's performance vehicles leaves its mark as the final year for all out, torch the road muscle lit up by leaded fuel. Just about everything American had an option to appease a heavy foot. Just 15 years prior a kid would be happy to get some flat head or if they were fortunate an early OHV mill pushing between 80-140 horsepower. Now 300, 375, 425, even 450 rated horsepower beasts shook the pens off of sales desks across the land. Anyone with enough dough could purchase what was only a few steps from race trim.

The Clean Air Act spelled a looming end to the party and Chrysler Corporation in all of their punch to the gut attitude produced another brutal behemoth. 1970's iterations of the Chrysler 300 had been preceded by the impressively performing "letter cars" of the 50s and early 60s. Looking and standing more like a reasonably accomplished father manning the grill at a barbecue rather than a slick banker, Chrysler aimed to stick some motivation between the 300's fenders once more. Try a 440 cubic inch plant capable of slinging this 18 1/2 foot sled through the 0-60 trap in below the 8th second tick.

Curious enough, none of the performance can be directly attributed to Hurst's touch. Famous for their work on the Oldsmobile Cutlass, Hurst entered the room looking to bolt on upgraded oil pans, ignition systems, and shifters to the Chrysler, yet out the door only cosmetics had been handled by the company synonymous with real power. Such was the era when "packages" without any true benefit sold positively. We must admit the 300 has just enough gold to break up the metal slabs without appearing too busy.

Looks just as good leaving

The 300 sits strong between competitors in the Monte Carlo SS available with GM's hulking 454 cubic inch plant and Mercury's Marauder X-100 pushing a 429 cubic inch lump. Its 375 horsepower shared with the likes of nephews Charger, Challenger, and Roadrunner gave Chrysler the razor beneath its sleeve. A TorqueFlite three-speed auto would process the beef and send it to a 3.23 rear gear. Probably not a go on green winner, but a pull from a roll ratio. Being a preferred engine for street use, the 440 was practical as it was powerful. Now if only Jr. could sneak a set of headers on before Dad gets wise.....

Ready for the power trip

As much as the mechanical components sought to throw lightning through the road, the luxurious interior would isolate passengers from the rigors of travel. Chrysler refused to sacrifice comfort for the performance like so many had in other segments. They simply couldn't with a price tag topping $4400. Plush saddle leather front seats delivered the comfort of a nice worn in den recliner. Both driver and front seat passenger could adjust their throne with full power controls. Behind them laid a rear bench they might as well call the couch...among other things. Accessories we take for granted like the aforementioned power seat control, power windows, air conditioning, power trunk-lid release, clock (analog then), and full interior lighting complete the setup.

The boom

The 300H was truly a limited effort as a mere 485 rolled out. Interestingly, even in the day these were perceived to be worth revering. If not for appreciative caretakers, there could easily be no more than a few performing examples today. Nowadays an automobile is expected to run well, look good, and feel good without concessions in any respect. Even as the 1970 300H would have been viewed as a star of American plush performance, compared to a modern muscle Chrysler, there's got to be a rawness here even through the leather. Nonetheless this was Chrysler's handsome hot rod that growled along without concessions in its prime.

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