Chrysler Saratoga Hardtop Hemi

Like classic rides? Back in the day, automobiles were all about engine size, horsepower, and how fast that car could get up and go. The bigger the vehicle, the better – there was no conscience for fuel consumption here. In 1939, the first Chrysler Saratoga was introduced by Chrysler Corporation as their least expensive full-sized eight cylinder model. In fact it was cheaper in cost than that of the “New Yorker Special” and the “Imperial”. This model continued to use the Saratoga nameplate off and on from its inception until 1960, at which time it retired the name from U.S. markets.

Chrysler Saratoga Hardtop Hemi

1957 Chrysler Saratoga Hardtop Hemi

In 1951 the Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe was introduced and it was cited as the sportiest and most collectible model of this line’s history. And so started the speed wars to see which car manufacturer could come up with the fastest car. It was much lighter in body style while also introducing a V-8 engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, or as we know it, the “Hemi”. A technology perfected by them to increase the horsepower of an engine. This kind of power under the hood made it a sweet ride for those people who had the mindset that “bigger is better” and was Chrysler’s “hot rod” that went for a then price tag of $3,348. Not a bad price huh? Well that was 48 years ago. But still a good price for that time because of how much car you were getting.

Hot rod racing had gotten popular as Oldsmobile introduced the “Rocket 88” as the standard for high-performance. Not wanting to be outdone, Chrysler came out with Saratoga Club Coupe as the answer to go up against Oldsmobile’s hot rod. And boy it was fast. A speed demon that could go from 0 to 60 mph in 12 seconds! It was faster than the Rocket 88 which timed in at 12.5 seconds, and Cadillac’s version the “Le Mans”, which clocked in at 13 seconds for that distance. So Chrysler won the title that year. Back then it was touted as the fastest car in North America. But 1951 would be the only year Chrysler would score a victory.

Since then auto manufacturers have changed their priorities to focus on fuel economy. They’ve taken the fun out of it. You can still find those speed demons today but it will cost you. 1951 was truly a banner year.

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