Vintage Review: 1969 Chrysler 300 – Car Life’s Best Prestige Car; Luxury And Performance

In September 1969 Car Life magazine released its ‘Best Of’ issue, a title awarded by market segment and vehicle class. In the ‘Prestige Car’ category, CL declared the Chrysler 300 as the best of the class over three other models; a Buick Wildcat, a Mercury Marquis, and an Oldsmobile entry.

As CL points out, Chrysler’s 300 had gradually lost its distinctiveness over time; by ’69 the model no longer had special bodywork, nor could it be promoted as the most powerful production car in the industry. And with the advent of the muscle car era, the 300 wasn’t even Chrysler Corp.’s top performance offering.

Still, as a prestige car, the 300 retained its high-performance spirit thanks to its 440-cid V8 engine, power brakes, power steering, and TorqueFlite tranny. In general terms, the qualities of all four prestige cars tested were rather similar, they all had big engines, automatic transmissions, and power everything. And all four did what they were supposed to do; they possessed elegant envelopes, plenty of space and luxury appointments, and enough power to propel their hefty carriages with verve.

Where the 300 stood out from the rest was in handling and interior ergonomics. With weight and ride rates similar among all contestants, the 300’s front suspension and steering got praise while the rest ‘mushed’ on curves. In the interior department, the 300’s “switches could be deciphered at a glance…. Chrysler gets points for doing the obvious because the Marquis designers forgot to do the obvious.”

The selection of the 300 by CL’s staff was ultimately subjective; an ’emotional’ decision they admitted. Technically speaking, all contestants ticked the right boxes to fit the prestige car label. However, the 300 was the car CL’s drivers always preferred out of the four; “If one car was needed, and four were available, the Chrysler was picked. The solid ride, the responsive wheel, the logical controls, the combination of items, and good basic design made the car into a driver’s car.”


Further reading:

CC Outtake: 1969 Chrysler 300 – Tokyo Leviathan