Chrysler Wiring for 58 and Later
An Interesting Historical Review - The Test of Time

In 1956, Packard Electrical Division (PED) introduced new and uniquely shaped electrical terminals with their respective single and multi-pole snap on type housings. They were an immediate success with the automotive industry but for whatever reasons Chrysler Corporation didn’t use them for 56 or 57 production.

In 1958, PED introduced a new female receptacle terminal which was distinctly different in appearance and retention form than the previous one (now named the 56 Series with the new one named the 58 Series). The characteristically shaped male tab was essentially the same for both Series. The new receptacle was designed to offer greater resistance to vibration failure. Chrysler Corporation made sweeping changes to adopt this 58 Series throughout their product line (except for Plymouth’s) and used it until the mid sixties. At no point, that I am aware of, did they use any of the former 56 Series receptacles.

The general usage of the 58 Series in multiple connector applications gave way to more modern technology and most of these connector housings are now obsolete. It is very significant that the earlier 56 Series components did prevail, are still available and are in demand despite modern technology! They HAVE passed the test of time which demands a high degree of performance from many aspects.

While this sounds good for our restorative purposes, the 58 Series receptacle is more compact and even though the male tabs are the same for both Series, the 56 housings will not properly mate with the 58 housings. In addition, 56 receptacles will not insert properly into 58 housings or vice versa. Since Chrysler only used 58 hardware, the trick is to incorporate these available components into our cars in an appropriate manner.

There is another problem. It seems that the so-called improved 58 Series receptacles when used in multi pole connectors only, did fail and were probably recalled! Our particular cars were probably too old at that time to have been subject to the recall. It is certain today that we must not and cannot carelessly reuse or reproduce the hardware that was originally used in the 4, 6 and 8 pole connectors. The currently available 58 replacement receptacle has a hidden burr or “nib” which gives an interference fit with the male tab and when used in 4, 6 and 8 pole connectors it makes connection and disconnection almost impossible!!! It is, however, an excellent choice for single, 2 and 3 pole connectors. Most original receptacles did NOT have this “nib”. Engineering used two “tricks” to increase retention with these multiple non-nibbed connections. One was to use locking type housings and the other was to use one only “nibbed” terminal along with the other non-nibbed ones. Locking housings are obvious but the latter, being hidden, is impossible to easily inspect and must be an essential part of our restoration where applicable.

I’ve spent most of the last year researching and working on this interesting project and the results are promising! I can reproduce wiring harnesses for 57 to 62 and retain the original appearance. There are, however, several different appearances. Starting in 58 for others and 59 for Chryslers there is clear evidence that some 3 or 4 wire combinations were made up separately by different suppliers and incorporated into the overall taped harness. This was also true for the separate wiring for optional equipment for all years.This certainly introduces variable terminals and insulators into the overall picture. I’m sure it was simply an on-going supply, demand and cost situation. They all met prevailing specifications, and to meet these spec’s and retain appropriate appearance must be our restorative goal.

Greg Leggatt