MoPar: Name of Chrysler Corp.s parts division, short for MOtor PARts, formed in the 1930s. Its emblem is the five-pointed star (pentastar). In the 1960s the abbreviation came to be used by automotive fans for Chryslers family of "muscle cars" competing, under various names, with Camaro, TransAm and others.
Hemi: another famous abbreviation, this one referring to the shape of the combustion chamber in high-performance Chrysler-built engines of the 1950s and 60s, marketed under the names FirePower, Red Ram and D500. The chambers in the cylinder head were hollowed in the form of a section of a sphere or hemisphere, with valves opening directly into the concave chamber above the piston. This shape markedly improved fuel combustion and performance, but it was expensive to build, because of the special castings and grinding, and the double banks of rocker arms needed to align the valves with their openings. The Hemi was dropped in 1958 but returned in 1965 with 426 cu.in. displacement. Nothing could match it on a drag strip or in sprints between red lights. Two years ago the MoPar Performance Division began offering new Hemi blocks and rocker-arm assemblies to devotees of the good old days - at a price of $12,500 each!
"Letter cars" designates the high-performance 300 line (see below) produced by Chrysler from 1955 to 1965. Every year except 1955, a letter was added to the number 300. For example, the 300B is from 1956, the 300C from 1957, and so on up to the 300L of 1965. There was no 300A - the 1955 was called C300, and letter I was omitted. Recently Chrysler, hoping to profit from lingering nostalgia, offered a new series of "letter cars" starting with the 300M. Time will tell if their decision was well founded.
300: Chryslers top line of sporty performance cars. Introduced in 1955, the name came from the 300 hp delivered by the original engine, the highest offered up to then in a mass-production car. The horsepower grew to 415 at the outset of the 1960s, but the name 300 was retained. In 1962 a 300 "sport series," without letter, was introduced in the hope of attracting more buyers. The price was lower but so was the performance, and these "false" 300s helped terminate the line of real 300s.
Adventurer (DeSoto), D500 (Dodge), Fury (Plymouth): The other Chrysler divisions, inspired by the glamour of the 300 line, soon introduced high-performance "personal" cars under their own names. Not many were produced, and time and rust have depleted the ranks of survivors, so these cars are quite rare today, with prices approaching those of the 300s. Recently a 1957 Adventurer convertible in top condition was sold for $75,000.
Ghia: Chryslers dealings with the Italian bodymaker date to the early 1950s, with orders for one-of-a-kind "show cars," a limited production series of "European look" cars (such as the "Dual Ghia" illustrated here), and Crown Imperial limousines - the name shouldnt be confused with that of the Imperial Crown, a Detroit-built production model in the Imperial series. The Crown Imperials first appeared in 1957 and expired in 1965, after a total production of just 132.
Custom, semi-custom: The term in English has little relation to "custom" as used in French automotive journalism. A custom model usually designates what is really an upper-end production model, such as (Dodge) Custom Royal, Custom 880, (Imperial) Custom or Custom Cruiser. It doesnt mean something like a Juva 4 body on an Airstream chassis. Transformed cars of that kind are called "customized" in the U.S. "Semi-custom" means a production model with altered body details done under subcontract by an independent firm such as LeBaron. Extensive modification done to order by such firms as Derham and Murphy is called "individual custom" design. Cars of that kind are rare and are generally done for celebrities who can afford the attentions of a sheet-metal fashion stylist.
N.O.S.: Abbreviation for New Old Stock, an awkward term meaning unused original parts, often in their original box. Such parts are demanded for show-car restoration. They are nearly always hard to find and expensive to buy, but they are far more desirable than copies made in Asia. You may also come across N.O.R.S., New Old Renew Stock, meaning replacement parts that are from more recent stock, but of quality comparable to the original.
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