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By Brian Frank

Reprinted from the 1989 Club News Volume XV Number III


My first recollection of seeing a Chrysler 300 Letter Car was in approximately 1970. I was riding my bicycle with friends along a route I had not traveled before and sitting behind a small lawnmower sales and service shop was what looked to be a customized ’57 or ’58 Chrysler. It was white with unique red, white, and blue medallions on the side. It also had a grille which I had never seen the likes of before. I was aware of the more recent offerings of Chrysler, (RT, Super Bee, Roadrunner, GTX etc.) and had recently seen a line of three or four Hurst Three-Hundreds sitting at the local Chrysler dealership when my grandfather went to purchase his new 1970 Chrysler. I didn’t check out the mystery Chrysler any further at that time but remembered it as time went by.

Over the next few years, I became more educated to the history of the Chrysler 300 Letter Cars. Only then did it dawn on me that what I had seen earlier had been a C or D. When I went back to try and track down the old Chrysler I had seen earlier, it was no longer there. I often wonder what happened to it and whether it still is around sitting in someone’s garage.

Once I became aware of the cars, I tried to find out more about them and hoped I could own one of these cars myself. Over the years I have come to appreciate all of the Letter Cars. Each year is unique in some respect. However, my favorite ones are the 300F and 300G. I love fins on cars and feel the interiors on the 1960-62 models cannot compare to any other car with their astrodome instrument panels and four individual leather bucket seats. Because I like the canted headlights and feel they further set the car apart from the crowd (not that any Letter Car is part of the crowd), I lean towards the 1961 300G.

My particular car was purchased in the fall of 1980. It was pictured in the Spring 1983 Club News with the details of how I acquired it. After bringing it back from Rochester, New York, there was some minimal bodywork and repaint done. The car was very solid to begin with as there was no rust in the floor boards or the trunk. Mechanical work has been done as needed. Although the car is not in mint condition, it has been substantially upgraded so that it has won a few trophies at the local car shows. It also gets looks of approval from many people as it goes down the road.

Through the help of the Club and Gil Cunningham, I was able to obtain the breakdown of the factory options which my car came with. I was happy to find that it has not been altered from its original production specifications. My car is black and comes equipped with power door locks, power antenna, rear speaker and tinted glass. In the 1983 Club News, I stated that the odometer showed 39,000 miles. Because the car is not stored at my home, I don’t get to use it as often as I’d like. Consequently, it has yet to turn 40,000 miles!

When I do drive it, I’m always amazed at the ease in which it reaches highway speeds. One is easily deceived into believing that you are going slower than you actually are. A pleasant change from my daily transportation where the sound of a straining engine under even moderate acceleration is always there to remind you of the relative lack of power. Because I was not of driving age when the Letter Cars were still being used for daily transportation rather than as collector’s items, I can only wonder what it must have been like to drive one on an everyday basis.

Despite the majority of spectators at local car shows having a loyalty to other makes, I can always count on a lot of favorable comments and a few who will snap a photograph for their picture album. Many who are seeing under the hood for the first time question whether the cross ram set-up is something that has been added later. They’re surprised to learn it is all standard factory issue.

The unique style of the 1961 Chrysler, combined with the extra features of the Letter Cars, make the 300G very special. I like many of the Chrysler products from the 1950s and 1960s, but in my opinion, few compare to the 1961 300G. My favorite, if given a choice, would be a red 300G convertible. For those who look for Chrysler products in the old movies, a red 300G convertible can be seen in the 1961 movie “Bachelor in Paradise” with Bob Hope and Lana Turner. It doesn’t seem to be in the video stores but shows up periodically on the late night movies. As for now, I guess I’ll be able to make do with my hardtop.

2013 Update by Brian Frank

It has been about twenty five years since I wrote the first article for the club about my black 1961 300G coupe. I still have the car and have now owned it for more than thirty three years. Over the years the car has had restoration work done, sometimes more than once. The chrome has been re-done, the paint has been re-done and the stainless trim has been polished. George Riehl had rebuilt the motor and transmission for me. I bought an interior from club member Tom Cox which has been installed. Overall, the car has had most components restored to a very high quality. However, the car is generally driven to a show.

I've taken the car to a number of club meets, driving it to Michigan, northern Wisconsin, southern Illinois and Indiana. The car was the featured 300 G for July in R.J. and Rob Kern's 2012 Chrysler 300 calendar. The vehicle drives fantastic and it's always a thrill to get out on the highway and open it up a bit. I've even had the car on the drag strip when club member Jim Bartuska hosted his meet and arranged for the club to have access to his local track. That was a once in a lifetime experience racing against fellow members like Gil Cunningham and Dave Schwandt.

I take the car to local car shows and the 300G never fails to draw a crowd. The 1961 model still impresses with the canted headlights, cross ram induction, four leather bucket seats and, of course, the fins. There's nothing else like it on the road in my opinion.

I can still remember when my father and I went to pick up the car back in the fall of 1980, outside of Rochester, New York. It seems like yesterday. We drove it back to Wisconsin. As an aside, when discussing the history of the car with club member Jamie Hyde, I found out he actually grew up knowing the family in New York who owned the local car dealership where my 300G was sold at one time as a used vehicle.

This 300G was the second car I ever owned. It was my first collector car. I have many great memories that surround the car as I went through college, got married and raised a family and built my career. I have some other collector cars but none can take the place of the first one.

I've made a lot of great friends in the 300 Club and in the hobby because of this car. I guess what has been the most enjoyable is having met many people with similar interests that I can talk to about cars, and specifically 300s. I've gone to many club meets where I've spent time hanging out with club members until the wee hours of the morning. I've gone to many sights and had numerous experiences at the meets that I probably never would have done if I didn't join the club after acquiring the 300G.

Back in 1989, when I first wrote the story about the black 300G coupe, I indicated I wanted a red 300G convertible. Well, I do have a 300 G convertible, but it is a cinnamon color coded vehicle. Not a red car. Oh well, life doesn't always work out like we plan.


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