It’s 1955. Do You Have Wife, Children, Dog, Hemi?

·1 min read
Photo credit: Chrysler Corporation
Photo credit: Chrysler Corporation

In the American automotive world, 1955 is best-remembered for the new Chevrolet and its revolutionary small-block V8 engine. Meanwhile, Ford sold more than 1.4 million sharp-looking cars that year, many with the modern Y-Block overhead-valve V8. Chrysler introduced the "Forward Look" at the same time… and built by far the most powerful V8 engines to go into Detroit production cars for '55. Here's a centerfold magazine advertisement for the new Chrysler Corporation cars and the Forward Look.

Photo credit: Chrysler Corporation
Photo credit: Chrysler Corporation

The car pictured is a 1955 DeSoto Fireflite, equipped with the 200-horsepower, 291-cubic-inch FireDome Hemi V8, but the advertisement covers all Chrysler Corporation cars from the lowly Plymouth Plaza (and its flathead straight-six) all the way up to the majestic Imperial. The hairiest Hemi for '55 was the 331-cubic-inch FirePower with twin carburetors, dropped into the Chrysler 300 and generating— not coincidentally— 300 horsepower. The meanest factory '55 Chevy engine was a 265 rated at 195 horses.

Photo credit: Murilee Martin
Photo credit: Murilee Martin

Strangely, the wraparound windshield and allegedly contemporary styling get a lot more ink than the Hemi engines, which are mentioned in passing as using "airliner engine principles" (Chrysler designed hemispherical heads for some experimental aircraft engines during World War II). And what about the wholesome DeSoto-driving family's dog, which appears to be a mashup between an English cocker spaniel and a golden retriever?

Chrysler was the sponsor of the TV show Climax! at the time, and the show gets a shoutout in this magazine advertisement. If you want to see a truly puzzling dance number celebrating the Forward Look, skip to about 17:00 in this video.