|The 1955 Chrysler New Yorker and Windsor models shared massive “twin-tower” taillights that could be seen for a country kilometre.|
After a 40-day layoff at the end of the 1954 model year run that included ten days of holiday time and plant setup, production of the 1955s got under way in Windsor, Ontario on October 11, 1954. A total of 5,175 Chryslers were built during the model year run that ended on August 10. All but the convertibles and station wagons were built in Canada. Prices ranged from $2,150.50 to $2,582.00.
The Chrysler Custom Imperial was not listed as a separate make in Canada as it was in the US. The ultra posh luxury liner was portrayed in the Canadian Chrysler line folder right after the Windsors and New Yorkers. Built in the Jefferson Avenue plant in Detroit, the imported flagship cost a cool $5,123 for the four-door sedan and $5,495 for the Newport two-door hardtop coupe.
|The distinctively elegant face of the 1955 Chrysler Custom Imperial impressed all.|
The most distinguished Chrysler of all was readily identifiable from its lesser kin. It boasted a large eggcrate grille, parking lights and turn signals wrapped in chrome and partially tunneled into the front bumper. Then there were the love ‘em or hate ‘em gunsight taillights mounted high atop the rear fenders. Chrysler bragged that they were “unique and daringly different.” Fred Hudson, the rookie stylist who dreamt them up, told this author in an interview that he still hates them to this day.
|The 1955 Chrysler Imperial Newport hardtop coupe cost $5,495 and weighed in at 4,490 pounds.|
|In all its glory, the 1955 version of Chrysler’s famed hemi was likened to the custom-built engines in the world’s fastest racing cars.|
|The 1955 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Estate Wagon tipped the scales at 4,430 pounds and listed for $4,709.94 for the two-seat version.|
|The face of the 1955 Chrysler New Yorker. The Newport hardtop coupe sold for $3,772.|
The New Yorker’s interior could be upholstered in a choice of sturdy woolens, patterned nylons or new milled broadcloths, each accented with pliant leathers or vinyls. No matter what fresh and vibrant combination was selected, they all promised to deliver “a symphony of colour, texture and sparkle.”
|Close-up of the 1955 Chrysler instrument panel. Note the gearshift lever’s unusual position.|
|The face of the 1955 Chrysler Windsor. The least expensive Chrysler was the four-door sedan, listing for $2,907.50.|
For folks ready to move up from mid-priced DeSoto to join the prestigious Chrysler family, there was the modestly appointed Windsor DeLuxe. In this entry-priced series one found a four-door sedan, the convertible, the Newport two-door hardtop and the estate wagon. Windsor owners were promised a truly big car, broad and solid, strikingly graceful—all designed to make travelling an adventure.
|Interiors of the modestly appointed 1955 Chrysler Windsors were finished in “miracle” fabrics.|
Windsor shared a grille with the New Yorker but the heavy chrome bar beneath the grille was deleted in favour of a simple chrome lip. Round parking lights and turn signals were housed in the fender, directly blow the headlights. Its interior was appointed with “miracle” fabrics. Beneath the hood was the 301-cubic inch Spitfire engine.
Extra cost items for the Windsor included heavy duty springs and shock absorbers,, electric window lifts, Full-Time Coaxial Power Steering, power brakes, Solex glass, the four-way electric seat adjuster, an exterior moulding package, the cowl vent heater, a cigar lighter for the rear compartment of the four-door sedan, four- or six-ply white sidewall tubeless tires, oversized tires, six-ply blackwall tubeless tires or tires with tubes.
The union and Chrysler reopened negotiations on December 1, 1954 after a Concilliation Board recommended that workers not receive a pay hike. The union had asked for a raise, retroactive to June 17. On the 15th, the union countered with a demand for a $50 Christmas bonus.
In mid-1955, a $41 million, 800,000-square foot factory expansion at the Windsor plant was completed. Now, a half mile long, the facility was capable of producing 600 automobiles a day. Final touches on the new $21 million V-8 engine plant were being made and would be put into production for the 1956 models.
Late in the selling season, the Chrysler 300C was unveiled. The fastest production car on earth, it was mightily impressive on road and track.
Chrysler did very well for its 1955 model year. Production rose sharply to 5,175 units compared to only 3,685 units built in 1954. Still, it had a ways to go to catch up to the competition. Workers at GM in Oshawa built 23,762 Buicks and in Oakville, workers at Ford built 8,567 Mercury passenger cars. Definitely up to the challenge, 1956 would be even better for Chrysler Canada and a banner year for the Chrysler Division in particular.
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Copyright James C. Mays 2005
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