Thursday, June 11, 2015

1958 Chrysler Saratoga 4-door Hardtop

"Step up to the Mighty Chrysler. Walk around it — let your fingers follow its clean and lustrous lines. Here, you sense, is a car that almost demands to be driven. Ease behind the wheel. Lounge and feel the deep pile carpeting underfoot. Survey the eye-catching world about you. Could any throne be more commanding?

Alert the engine and feel, ever so faintly, this Mighty Chrysler bridle for action. Push a button and head for the open road. Never have you dominated motion, space and time so completely! As you glide over rough spots and straighten the tightest curves, you give a silent salute to Chrysler's Torsion-Aire Ride. Let Chrysler prove its power. Touch the accelerator and surge ahead."

This view nicely shows why Chrysler's "Forward Look" design was so cutting-edge in the latter 1950s. The impressive front end really seems eager to eat up the road. With the annual facelift, the grille became even cleaner and wider looking than in its introductory year 1957. The subtle winglets at the outer tips of the bumper and massive tailfins — so dominant that Chryslers copywriters even invented the term "Directional Stabilizers" — create a purposeful, aerodynamic impression. Effective or not, if you have seen one of these Chryslers roaring down Cuba's autopista, you can sense that these cars were a different animal than your average chrome-monster of that year.

Best of all, that look wasn't just a promise, as these cars were truly serious driving machines, too. The advantages of Chrysler's "Torsion-Aire" torsion bar suspension — superior road holding and compact construction — gave an extra edge to the Chryslers: no one else could achieve such a low-slung silhouette with conventional suspension. Did we mention "Constant Control Power Steering" and "Torque Flite" transmission with "Push-Button Control" to bring the 310 horses of its 354 cubic-inch (5.787 ccm) "Spitfire" V-8 engine down to the tarmac, or the "Total Contact Brakes" to stop them?

Even without its original engine, the pictured Chrysler Saratoga is a regular award winner for its complete and authentic condition. Its owner, Reynaldo, is pretty proud of his car, and likes to display it whenever possible. The annual assembly of Havana's renown Escuderia de Autos Clásicos — A lo Cubano at the discotheque "Macumba" in Havana's La Lisa suburb is such a welcome opportunity. Here, period cars and people in period fashion nicely recreate the flavor of past times when these cars still were la última moda.

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