1. Bob Rodger and Burt Bouwkamp Date: 17 Nov 2006

From: "David Coston"

Club members: I thought I'd share with you part of an email I received from Burt Bouwkamp today regarding Bob Rodger and the DVD we recently produced. Burt was kind enough to allow us to include him on the DVD as he was the banquet speaker for our meet in Pontiac, MI during the spring of 2005. He also provided us with quite a few statistics that we utilized in the movie. If you were privileged to be there and meet Burt, you know what a great guy he is. Here is what he said:

David, I received the DVD. I watched it and enjoyed it. Thanks. I was particularly pleased to see how much footage there was on Bob Rodger. He was a great guy and deserved the recognition for the "300".

Bob died of Leukemia in 1969 or 1970. He worked for me when he died - although I had worked for him from 1954 to 1962. I'll always remember when I was promoted to be his boss - he was one of the proudest guys in the office. That's the kind of guy he was. I arranged for a company plane to fly him to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York to try to save him but it was too late.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] Center Plane Brakes [Imperial-Club] Date: 24 Mar 2009

From 1954 to 1960 I was a product engineer (called "resident engineer") at the Chrysler Jefferson Plant. During that time Chrysler came out with center plane brakes. It was a great concept on paper - the shoe web floated between two aligning plates and the friction material aligned itself with the drum on application. I think the merchandizing name was "Total Contact Brakes".

Center plane brakes worked fine as brakes - but they were noisy! Brake squeak!!! We tried lots of different linings but it didn't help. (Although, it did give us an answer for top management. When they asked why the brakes squeaked on their personal car we answered, "you don't have the latest lining"). Finally - in desperation - we added raised plateaus to the backing plate to touch the side of the brake shoe. The idea was for the shoe/backing plate contact to work like putting your finger on the side of a vibrating tuning fork. The problem was that in production the dimensional variations in the brake were so great that on some cars this fix worked as intended and sometimes it resulted in dimensional interference that caused shoe returnability problems and/or shoes that would not align themselves with the brake drum unless something deflected - obviously compromising the "total contact" concept.

We fought this problem for years - and finally gave up trying to make the center plane brake concept work. We decided to join the rest of the industry in using the "Lockheed" brake design.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] Sylvania [Imperial-Club] Date: 3 Jun 2009

Burt Boukamp is talking with members about the 1981-1983 Imperial. Burt mentions our electroluminescent dash of 60-62 was by Sylvania.

The bumpers were chrome plated because that's the appearance the Styling people wanted. They usually want all the exterior bright trim to be the same luster and color - especially on an Imperial. I had forgotten that the bumpers were aluminum. Aluminum was selected for weight savings even if it was a cost penalty. Our rule of thumb then was that if the cost penalty was less than $1 for a weight savings of one pound - go for it.

Huntsville did not make the 1981 Imperial instrument cluster. I don't remember the vendor but our first electroluminescent lighted cluster (1960 Chrysler) was done by Sylvania. (I don't think it was Sylvania because they "retired" from the automotive cluster business by 1981.)

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] another gem from Burt on engine cooling

Date: 30 Jun 2009

Regular vs premium gasoline will not affect engine heat rejection: i.e. engine cooling.

At high speeds destructive preignition (due to using low octane gasoline and/or too much spark advance) could increase heat rejection but that condition would probably cause piston failure before you knew that you also had a cooling problem. By "destructive preignition" I am not talking about "spark knock" on acceleration - I am talking about the aluminum piston head getting so hot - and soft - that combustion gases blow a hole through the top of the piston. This happens when the fuel air/mixture in the combustion chamber explodes from self-ignition rather than burning from spark ignition.

Before we had all the electronic instruments that we have today (the 1950's) we use to set ignition timing just short of borderline knock on acceleration and we set carburetor mixtures 5% richer than borderline lean. You could tell borderline lean because the engine seemed to miss at road load. Actually, borderline lean provided the best economy but we went 5% richer than this because we knew the customer would not like an engine that didn't run smoothly.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] development of the 57 models Date: 28 Jul 2009

The recent letters regarding the 1957 4 dr HT Imperial exhaust system reminded me of an Engineering road trip in the summer of 1956. We (Chrysler product engineers) took the 1957 model prototypes on an extended road trip as a final check that the cars were ready for production. There was one prototype model for each carline - Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler and Imperial. The trip route was from our Proving Ground (Chelsea) to the West Coast and return. Jerome (AZ) grade, Pikes Peak and San Francisco were on the itinerary

On the way out, before we got to Albuquerque, we knew that we had a big problem. The body shake in both the New Yorker and the Imperial 4 dr HT's was so bad that it was pointless to continue the trip. After consultation by telephone with Central Engineering management we were told on Friday to return the New Yorker and the Imperial to Chelsea ASAP. Jim Shank (Director of Body Engineering) and I (Chrysler Division Resident Engineer) were selected to return the two cars. Jim and I left Albuquerque Saturday morning and arrived at the Chelsea Proving Ground on Monday about 11 AM. 1,600 miles in two days and before interstate highways! It was an exciting trip. It was before the 70 MPH speed limit and we crossed Kansas at 85 MPH+. One time the Imperial ran out of gas and I pushed Jim at nearly 60 MPH to the next gas station. Jim, of course had no engine so he had lots of steering free play. I could see through his backlight that he had his hands full keeping the car in one lane of the highway.

Although the bodies were "loose as a goose" on rough roads, the cars were marvelous for high speed cruising and handling on winding roads. The unique torsion bar front suspension got the credit in the merchandizing literature and in the road test reports but the vehicles low center of gravity and the stiff front half of the rear leaf springs were responsible for the dramatically improved handling. After a few hundred miles in the driver's seat, we felt like we could thread the eye of a needle with the car or drift through any curve - which we did! The road characteristics were dramatically improved from our 1955-56 models.

The result of that road trip was that we added structure to the 1957 New Yorker sills and we put the convertible X-member frame (and dual exhaust) on the 1957 Imperial 4 dr. HT. I can't remember whether these changes made Job #1 or whether they were running changes. We of course had the X-member frame design (it was already released for convertibles) but I doubt that our vendors were able to increase production of frames and convertible dual exhaust systems fast enough to meet 4dr HT volume requirements. (In those days we started vehicle production on schedule whether we were ready or not!)

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] receiver drier/oil Date:10 Sep 2009

I am a retired Chrysler engineer.

MN Marshall's E-mail reminded me of a Chrysler research and development program that we "shelved' because it was too expensive.

We knew that we had to replace the RV2 air conditioning compressor because it was too noisy and it wasn't smooth. We did everything we could do to isolate it and insulate it but while it met the cooling performance requirements it vibrated and had no place on a luxury automobile. And it always presented an under the hood packaging problem to mount and drive.

In the Research Department we designed and built a three cavity Wankel compressor with each rotor indexed at 120 degrees. It was marvelously smooth and the over all package size was good and lent itself very nicely to mounting under the hood.....BUT it was so expensive even at production of 1,000,000 compressors a year that we stopped work on it and filed our work in the "nice try" category.

We decided to replace the RV2 compressor with a rotary compressor from Nippondenso after investigating the GM wobble plate compressor. (We called the Nippondenso compressor "rotary" - and I assumed it was - but I never looked inside of one.)

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] 1957 Air conditioning Date: 27 Oct 2009

I was a product engineer at the Jefferson Plant in 1957.

As initially designed the 1957 factory air conditioning system did not flow enough cool air so it would not cool the car on hot/humid days. The basic problem was too much restriction (not big enough duct cross sectional area) downstream of the evaporator; i.e. the ducts behind the instrument panel. In January 1957 we knew we were in trouble because the complaints started to roll in from Cuba. (The problem was worse in Cuba because the owner usually rode in the back seat of 4 door Chryslers).

This problem was one of the consequences of taking a year out of testing and development of the 1957 models. At that time A/C was one of the last features that was engineered on the car so it was short changed more than other car systems. Also, it was treated as an "add on" option and it should have been engineered into the car as it is today. Another example of the consequence of inadequate testing was the torsion bar failures that our owners experienced in geographical areas using salt to deice the roads. The bars broke near the end due to surface corrosion from snow/salt/mud packed around the bar anchors. THE MESSAGE IS - DON'T SHORTCUT THE DEVELOPMENT CYCLE BECAUSE OWNERS, DEALERS AND THE COMPANY WILL PAY FOR IT.

We ended up having to conduct a field campaign of all 1957 "C" Bodies built and already in service. The fix was to add a "snorkel" cold air outlet under the instrument panel. The snorkel bypassed the inadequate ducts. The snorkel design was fabricated by John Moren (head of the A/C engineering department) in his hotel room in Havana. When we realized how much trouble we were in the USA, engineers and service personnel were sent all over the USA to teach mechanics how to make and install snorkels. We called in all cars and added snorkels which we had fabricated in local sheet metal shops. They looked terrible but they worked!

I was assigned New Mexico and Arizona. The Director of Service (Claude McClure) said to me, "you are one of the S.O.B.'s that got us in this trouble - you are going to NM and AZ!" I was gone for a month and conducted schools in Yuma, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

My message to Chrysler 300C owners is - if you are restoring a 1957 "C" Body make the A/C system like a 1958 - or even better yet a 1959 - "C" Body.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. Re: [Chrysler300] 1957 Air conditioning Date: 28 Oct 2009


When we built your car (June 12, 1957) we had not solved the problem on production vehicles. If your car has a snorkel it was probably dealer installed. The snorkel worked - it just looked awful - especially if it was made by some local sheet metal shop. We specified that they be painted flat black to make them less visible. The components (compressor, condenser, evaporator, blower) were all the right size - we just didn't flow enough cool air through the system because the molded plastic ducts (behind the instrument panel) were not big enough. If you look under the instrument panel you will see that the snorkel was mounted to the back of the evaporator - thereby bypassing the distribution ducts.

I can't remember what we did on 1958 models but I think we installed a more professional looking snorkel in production - one that was designed by Engineering and vendor tooled and assembled.

By 1959 we fixed the problem by increasing air flow. If the instrument panel in 1959 was a carryover design, the 1959 parts should adapt to a 1957 or 8 model. What I can't remember is whether the instrument panel was carryover in 1959. It probably was because the 1960 Chrysler was an all new design and we didn't usually design/tool an instrument panel for one year's use.


  1. [Chrysler300] 8403110398 Date: 9 Nov 2009

I was the engineer in charge of preparing and running the six 300F "specials" at Daytona Beach in February of 1960.

The descriptive material that backs up the January 2010 Russo and Steele auction of the Gregg Ziegler driven 300F is amazingly accurate.

I only have the following "nit picking" with the accuracy of the write-up:

1. Tim Flock (not Warren Koechling) drove the 300B that set the record in 1956. That car was owned and prepared by Carl Kiekhaefer. Tim was Carl's ace NASCAR oval track driver. I was at Daytona in 1956 but I did not have anything to do with the preparation of this car.

2. Gregg Ziegler did not input the design of the special Blue Streak tires. That was solely a Goodyear responsibility and those tires absorbed only 10 horsepower per tire at a 100 MPH. (15 HP would be normal.) We had wonderful cooperation from everyone in the building of these cars. Perfect Circle volunteered special low tension piston rings. Chrysler Division Manufacturing willingly built the engines with high tolerance bearing and piston clearances and high limit compression ratios.

3. There were only six 300F "specials" in the speed trials at Daytona in February, 1960. Five were purchased cars plus the engineering prototype. 300F's did take the first seven positions in the Flying Mile but the seventh-place car driven by R. C. Wooten at 126.6 MPH was a standard production automatic transmission equipped 300F. (The engineering prototype was there as a parts car and I did not intend to run it in competition but when Bud Fauble arrived in Daytona with a sick 300F I relented and let him use the car.)

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] 300F "SPECIALS" Date: 6 Jan 2010

It was exciting to read this documentation. I was in charge of planning, preparing and running these six 300F "specials" on the beach (Daytona Beach) in February of 1960. After an embarrassing Chrysler showing at Daytona in 1959, my boss Chrysler Chief Engineer Bob Rodger assigned the job of getting the "top dog" recognition back for the Chrysler 300. We did it with the 300F after a team effort that took nearly a year. The next day after the speed trials, the Daytona Beach Morning Journal newspaper headline "CLASS 7 BEACH RECORD FALLS" brought tears of pride to my eyes. One year's efforts by a half a dozen engineers and mechanics had paid off!

I of course know Gregg and talk to him about once a year.

Three minor corrections in the documentation:

(1) Six "specials" ran at Daytona - not seven. The seventh fastest car was a standard production 300F driven by R. C. Wooten. At 126.6 MPH he was 15 to 18 MPH behind the "specials".

(2) Tim Flock (not Warren Koechling) set the old record (139.4 MPH) in a Carl Kiekhaefer prepared 300B. I was there in 1956 but had nothing to do with preparing or running this car. Bob Rodger sent me to Daytona in 1956 as an observer and to help Brewster Shaw (local Chrysler dealer) in any way that I could.

(3) Goodyear designed and built the special "Blue Streak" tires for these cars. I am unaware that Gregg had any design input. The tires absorbed less than 10 HP/tire at 100 MPH. Normal bias ply tire power absorption at 100 MPH is 15 HP. (Many of our suppliers made meaningful contributions to this flying mile effort. For example, Perfect Circle made low tension piston rings for the motors in the "specials".)

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] Fw: Experimental 300C at Daytona Beach

Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010

Here's what happened. I was there in 1957. We ran two manual transmission and two automatic transmission 300C's in the stock "Class 7" class. One manual transmission car (driven by Red Byron) finished second at 134.1 MPH to a Pontiac (136.6 MPH). Brewster Shaw (our local dealer) ran 139 MPH downwind but could not make the return run. I don't remember why. Vicky Wood and Warren Koechling in the automatic transmission 300C's were at 129.7 MPH and 128.3 MPH.

Chrysler planned a publicity event for Daytona during that Speed Week with the run of a 300C in the flying mile Experimental Class. It was a fuel injected engine of over 400HP prepared by our Research Office.

This project was derailed by two unexpected events:

1. We hired Buck Baker, a prominent NASCAR driver to drive the car on the beach. I remember that we agreed to pay him $1,000. On the day before the event Buck signed to drive for Chevrolet and he was a "no show". (With Kiekhaefer suddenly dropping out of stock car racing, Buck was looking for a "ride".) While the car was waiting in line to make its official run - with no driver - we hired Vicky Wood to drive it.

2. During the first run (heading South) the clutch disc exploded and that was the end of this effort. Examination afterward showed the failure to be due to centrifugal forces caused by high rotational speed of the clutch disk.

We never blamed this failure on Vicky - it is probable that the clutch disk would have failed no matter who was in the driver’s seat.

Had the clutch held together we would have exceeded 150 MPH but it is unlikely that we would have topped Hot Rod Magazine’s 1957 Plymouth Savoy with a fuel injected and modified Chrysler hemi engine. That car driven by their editor Wally Parks recorded 159.9 MPH in the Experimental Class. They worked next to us at San Juan Motors (Brewster Shaw's dealership) and Wally Parks and Ray Brock are first class people.

Ray said he wished that he had known that we needed a driver for the experimental 300C because he would have driven it for free. In hindsight, I wish that one of us - Bob Graham (Project Engineer) or I - had gotten in the driver's seat. But at that time factory people were supposed to have an "arm lengths" relationship to racing. We were there but always in the background.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. Re: [Chrysler300] Daytona Beach in 1956. Date: 22 Jan 2010


Perhaps you could answer other questions that I've had for some time.

I had read or heard somewhere that there were 5 different B's that had exceeded 2 way runs of 135 MPH at this event. One of them driven by a lady. Another had a one way run of 144 MPH. Are my memories correct on this.

Also, would you know the rear axle ratios that any these cars were running and were any of them considered the so called 355 HP option? Were they running stock Blue Streak Goodyear's and running thru the stock exhaust


This is all interesting, especially given that these large sedans had basically the aerodynamics of a sail running against the wind. Reminds me of an the old Bob Segar Song.

I recently have seen the outcome of its full total frame off restoration of the standard transmission 58 300D that ran at the Daytona Speed Weeks in 1958. Those of you who attended the Club's national event at Lake Tahoe a few years ago will well remember this car. At that time it was basically an old rusty looking body (but fairly solid) with the interior almost

completely gone and the factory 3 speed lying in the trunk. The car was for the most part complete but it was one of the sorriest looking things I'd ever seen. For those of you who remember Randy Hastie's 300 F convertible (hauled to a National event for the Western Club with hay bales hanging out it) before its restoration, it was likely a tie to which was more a sorry sight. This 300 D apparently was of very low mileage, claims of 17,000 miles stick in my mind.

The car is now spectacular and likely would win Best of Show at not only 300 meets but many other top pen Concours. It is white with the "PURE OIL" graphics posted on the side just as it was when it ran in 1958. I also saw a wealth of photos and news articles of the car just as it was when it ran. Also photos of the car when it was being delivered in Detroit, basically in a blizzard/snowstorm just before it was driven from Detroit to Daytona. Car was purchased new by a California man who picked it up and Detroit and drove to Daytona. Fascinating historical car.

I've taken photos of it that I will figure how to upload to our website. Timo Tanskanen and another restorer from Danville, Calif. worked together to complete the restoration. There are likely many photos of the car on our website as the car was before it was restored. These would have been taken by many members at the Lake Tahoe Nationals. Even in its miserable appearance then, it was likely the most popular car at that event.

Car is owned my a rice farmer who lives in northern California.

I'm going to forward this missive off to the Forward Look website.

Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

Roger Schaaf, 300 B

From: "Burton Bouwkamp" Sent: January 23, 2010

Here are my memories of being at Daytona Beach in February, 1956.

Bob Rodger (Chrysler's Chief Engineer) sent me to Daytona as an "observer" with no official duties except to help the Chrysler nameplate - with automotive writers for example - and help Chrysler drivers - like our dealer Brewster Shaw of San Juan Motors - in any way that I could. And also to serve in a liaison roll with Carl Kiekhaefer. We knew that Carl was going to run cars in the Sunday oval race (on the beach and highway) but we did not know that he was preparing a car for the beach speed trials to be driven by Tim Flock the NASCAR Grand National Champion.

Tim Flock raised the flying mile record by 12 MPH! The car had a manual transmission and was prepared to perfection by the Kiekhaefer organization for the beach run. Carl had the car painted with the Mercury Outboard logo because he knew that he was going to win - and set a new record doing it. He wanted to show up the factory effort - and he did!

After Tim Flock's two-way run of 139.4 MPH, Gene Carr (worked for me) and I went over to the Armory to observe the inspection. NASCAR required removal of the intake manifold and one cylinder head so that they could measure carburetor and port sizes, bore, stroke, valve sizes, piston head height and cylinder head combustion chamber volume to assure that the engine was within specifications. Without completing this inspection successfully, the results were not official. We waited - and waited - and waited but Tim Flock and the car did not show. NASCAR gave us a time deadline to "produce the car at the Armory or else" so Gene and I went over to the Kiekhaefer rented facility and there was the 300B. Carl said he wasn't interested in the inspection because he said that he proved what he wanted to prove. After some intense discussion Carl said "take the car". We did and we made the deadline at the Armory - but we did not have any mechanics to disassemble the engine. Gene and I were capable of doing it but we didn't have any tools. We borrowed tools from mechanics working next to us but it was obvious that wasn't going to work because we needed the same tools and were interfering with their work. So I called Carl Kiekhaefer and told him that we needed his help. He went through his standard dissertation that his efforts were not appreciated by Chrysler - but within ten minutes Carl came marching in through the open Armory garage door carrying a tool box in each arm and with two mechanics trotting behind him. We were the last ones out of the Armory that evening but the engine met all specifications and Chrysler had the official record - which was broken by six 300F's four years later.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. Re: [Chrysler300] Daytona Beach in 1956 Date: 23 Jan 2010

Attached are the results for the 1956 Flying Mile. There were no cars between first place Tim Flock @ 139.4 MPH and second place Warren Koechling @ 129.0 MPH. I can't explain Warren's and Brewster's speeds of 10 and 12 MPH slower than Tim Flock because that's a difference of at least 100 HP at the rear wheels. I want to say that the second and third place cars were standard production automatic transmission 300B's but two automotive journalists road tested Brewster's 300B and reported that it had a manual transmission. This remains one of Daytona's mysteries.

Vickie Wood drove the Tim Flock car to a new ladies speed record of 136.1 MPH. That was on a separate day which I will call "ladies day" because I can't remember how she got to drive the car.

I imagine that Frank Hedge, Chrysler's public relations man (from Young and Rubican) convinced Carl Kiekhaefer to give Vicky a chance to set a woman's speed record.

I don't think Vicky drove the 300B on the days that I was there. I was there for the Class 7 Flying Mile and I stayed for the weekend races on the old beach/road course. Convertibles raced on Saturday and Hardtops on Sunday.

If you go to the Daytona Beach Public Library you can read microfiche copies of the Daytona Beach Morning Journal for February speed weeks. Several years ago I did it three different times to research 1955 through 1961 speed week data and it was fun - it was a memory jogger and an opportunity to relive those exciting days. For example, I had forgotten that Danny Eames' north/south differential in 1960 was 12 MPH. All the other five cars had only a 5 to 7 MPH differential. (See the second attached chart.)

Danny was fourth overall but he was the fastest car downwind - nearly 150 MPH. Either the wind was different during Danny's downwind run or maybe he had a 2.76 rear axle ratio. I did know what ratios each car had but I don't know that now.


  1. Re: [Chrysler300] Gregg Ziegler Date: 25 Jun 2010

***Following is a copy of the communications between Burt and Brian Ziegler:

Thanks Brian. We are all going to miss [Gregg]. Whenever I think of the Daytona Speed Trials, I think of three things: (1) Gregg Ziegler, (2) six special 300Fs, and (3) a speed record. I will always remember Gregg as "Gregg Ziegler, AGG "(a good guy).

My assignment in 1960 was for Chrysler to win the Flying Mile at Daytona Beach. Gregg helped us do it - and he gave us a bonus of a new flying mile record.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] '62 Chrysler 300 4-door-Boukamp Response

Date: 27 Jun 2012

I was Chrysler Product Planning Manager in 1960,1961 and 1962 - working for Bob Rodger.

After we brought out the $2,964 Chrysler Newport (in 1961) to compete directly against the Oldsmobile 88, our dealers couldn't sell the Windsor.

We should have dropped the Windsor carline - but in desperation we (Sales and Product Planning) renamed it the "300" in 1962. It stimulated business a little - but at the expense of the 300 letter car image.

In 1962 I moved on to be Chief Engineer of Vehicle Planning at the Engineering Division. Carline Product Planning was a new department at Chrysler Corporation in 1960. The Engineering Division resented Product Planning's product authority so my new function in Engineering's Vehicle Planning Office was to improve relations between Engineering and Product Planning. I think I was successful because two years later (1964) the Corporation appointed me Chief Engineer and Product Planning Manager for Dodge cars.

The last product I planned at Chrysler was the 1963 Chrysler "reskin". The first product that I planned at Dodge was the 1966 Dodge Charger.

I was in Product Planning for 11 years (until 1975) and I loved it - but I was getting stale (ineffective) so I asked my boss to move me. He did – to Europe in charge of planning, styling and engineering Rootes (England), Simca (France) and Chrysler Spain products. We became Chrysler-Europe and the job was a "blast" until Chrysler ran out of money and our European companies were sold to Peugeot.

I then returned to Highland Park as Director of Body and Chassis Engineering.

Burt Bouwkamp

  1. [Chrysler300] 1963 Chrysler 300-T Date: 18 Jun 2013

There were two reasons we destroyed the cars:

1. To avoid Chrysler’s responsibility to support 50 vehicles in customer hands.

2. To get the bond back that Chrysler had to post to import the cars without paying import duty. I don’t know the size of the bond but it was based on vehicle cost which was substantial.

I was Chief Engineer of Vehicle Planning from 1962 to 1964 and the management didn’t know where to assign the responsibility for coordinating vendor body build (at Ghia in Italy) so they assigned it to my office. I had two people doing that follow-up – Dave Cahoe in the USA and Paul Farrago (sp?) in Italy. Follow-up means scheduling of parts shipments to Ghia, scheduling vehicle build at Ghia and scheduling complete body shipments to the USA – and shagging parts sometimes.

I drove turbine cars overnight/weekends several times. It was fun. I always cruised Woodward Avenue in the evening because the turbine car drove the performance car driver’s nuts. After idling through Ted’s Drive-In (Square Lake and Woodward) I usually had a caravan of cars following me – and challenging me to a drag race on Woodward Ave. I resisted because I knew that I would lose because most of these cars were modified and tuned for 1/4 mile drag racing.

I also awarded two turbine cars in the 90-day consumer research program. One in Indianapolis (I think?) and one in Jackson, Mississippi. They were mostly publicity events with local TV and newspaper reporters present. All Chrysler learned from the 200 respondents was that people loved the turbine car – especially because it was unique looking and free. And...the respondents became celebrities in their community.

Burt Bouwkamp

YES, there was one driven around Indianapolis back then! I saw it with Mine own 2 eye orbs!! (and heard it too)

  1. Re: [Chrysler300] Unusual DeSoto? 27 Jun 2014

My first job at Chrysler after I graduated in 1951 from the Chrysler Institute of Engineering was as the coordinating engineer in the Engine Lab for the 241 cu. in Red Ram Dodge V-8 hemi engine. We built about 25 prototype engines and my job was to schedule where/how the engines were to be used and to keep them up to date. We made many changes during the development and test program and those changes had to be incorporated in the engines still on test in the Carburetor Lab, Vehicle Testing, Dynamometer Lab etc. My job was to schedule those updates.


The three hemis (331 CID, 276 CID, and 241 CID) were unique. The only internal parts they shared were the hydraulic tappets. Our mentality at that time was that each carline had to have a unique engine. We cared about the engine pedigree  – but most customers didn’t.


When the Red Ram engine went into production, in 1952 I moved to the DeSoto Warren Plant to help this new manufacturing plant build the Fire Dome engine.


In 1954 I moved on to the Chrysler Division as the Resident Engineer for Fire Power engines.


In 1959 we changed to the B and RB engines because Management decided that the cost and weight penalty of the hemi engine wasn’t worth it. I guess we (engineers) didn’t do a good job selling customers, dealers and management the technical advantages of a hemispherical combustion chamber.


Burt Bouwkamp 

  1. [Chrysler300] Or would you rather drive a mule? Date: 17 Jan 2015 

Engineering builds prototype vehicles and chassis/powertrain “mules” for evaluation, development and testing. A “mule” example would be a 1959 prototype “B” or “RB” engine installed in a 1957 or 1958 production vehicle. Engineering did not sell these vehicles when we were done with them. We usually crushed them or crashed them. There were a few exceptions to this – some of my engineering friends convinced engineering management to sell them a test vehicle.

Manufacturing built “program” vehicles to get experience with the new design. “Program” vehicles were built with “tryout” parts off production tools. These vehicles – sometimes called “manufacturing pilot vehicles” - were frequently used as company cars or sold to employees that understood that the vehicle was a special build vehicle. Manufacturing did not usually build “mule” vehicles because the production experience was not of direct benefit to them since special “one off” parts were required to marry the new components to an existing vehicle.

 Prototype vehicles are built with parts off of prototype tools. For example, prototype vehicles would be built with fenders off kerksite tooling – or even hammerforms. Program vehicles are built with parts off of production tools.

  1. Email - A Chrysler 300-F question Date: 4 Sept 2021

I think I am the only surviving member of the team that set the 300F stock car flying mile record at Daytona Beach in 1960. After I retired, the only team member that I kept in touch with was Gregg Zeigler. By coincidence, he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of a retirement home (Wesley Willows) in Rockford, Illinois where my mother-in-law lived from 1985 until 1994. During that period, I saw Gregg a couple of times when we visited my wife’s mother.

All six 300F’s had 400HP short branch ram engines with Pont-A-Moussin transmissions. We probably built 10 to 12 400HP cars in total but only these six ran at Daytona Beach. We did not intend to build more than six cars but our Chrysler Division management insisted that we build a few more for their prestige “friends”. The “build” was completed in the “Header House” after assembly on the production line. (It was “build” because we had to make and install a floor pan patch to get the manual transmission in the car.)

I don’t remember building a 400HP car with an automatic transmission – but it’s possible. After the speed runs the team members went back to their regular jobs. We left Carl Pruehs (Manager of the Engineering Garage) with the problem of how to handle the executive requests for additional special 300F’s.

I hope you have good weather for your [Auburn Hills] 300 Club Meet. Say “hello” to all my friends. Burt