Chrysler 300 Club International
Fall Meet in Coldwater, Michigan
September 14 - 17, 1994

Linda & Mike Burke

Mike Craw, Don Warnaar, Bob Merritt

Christie & John Lazenby, George Riehl

Bill Spear, Ray Jones, George Riehl, Rene Kroeger, John & Christie Lazenby

Pat and Don Cole

Jo Ann and Ray Jones with Andy Mikonis

A restoration for the ambitious.

Terry McTaggart

Jerry Kocur, Don Warnaar, Gil Cunningham

At Mike Burke's farm

Dave & Carolyn Schwandt, Betty Astroth, Linda Burke, Angie Phillips

Monte Gillespie in his 300F with Dave Werner

Chrysler concept cars at George Riehl's farm

Bob Lutz and his 55

Helicopter of Bob Lutz

Photos by Bill Elder

24th Annual Fall Meet, Coldwater/Jonesville, Michigan
Hosted by Mike and Linda Burke & George and Eleanor Riehl

“Down on the Farm”

Michael and Linda Burke came over to our farm one evening for a visit and during the evening’s conversation, the idea of hosting a meet in our area was talked about. Well, it seemed like a pretty good idea, but what kind of activities could we plan for in our rural area? Then the wheels started to turn. How about the Auburn-Cord-Duesenburg Museum? O.K., then what? What about the company called “Gentle Blast” that uses baking soda to sand blast auto bodies? A call to owner, John Dooley, got a day set up for a demonstration. The business was only about 20 minutes away from the motel headquarters.

Our rural area has a small village called Allen. This village has been named the “Antique Capital of Michigan” and almost every home or building deals in antiques. There is also another antique center just outside of Allen proper that has close to twenty building filled with antiques. This could easily occupy a whole day for some.

So now we had at least two days of activities planned. Then Michael said, “What about the people who are planning to arrive early on Wednesday – let’s have a hog roast!” Eleanor and Linda just rolled their eyes and groaned. Since it was decided to have the concours at our “Long Ram Acres” farm on Saturday, the roast should be held at Michael and Linda’s farm another day. Plus, this would give club members a chance to see Michael’s extensive car collection. O.K., now four days were arranged for activities.

Our farm needed some sprucing up. Tear down some old fencing, build new fencing, paint the pasture fencing, mow the lawn (5 ½ acres), start organizing the one building for the “surprise” exhibit, move cars, parts, equipment, sweep up, hang banners, put new lights up, go, go , go! Eleanor trying to hide books, magazines, parts, etc. in the house. “We must have been crazy” she kept saying to herself.

Gil and Carol Cunningham arrived a few days early at the Burke’s and found Michael armed with broom and shovel to help Michael reorganize the buildings at the farm. Move fenders, doors, bumpers, hoods, engines, car bodies, clean the shop and finally locate all the tools that Michael had “lost” somewhere in the shop. Linda, in the mean time, trying to get the house in order, wondering what to do with the car parts (fenders) in the front parlor along with four seats from a 300F. Ah-hah, Michael has just opened up a spot in the wood barn.

With the phone calls and registrations coming in to the club office, this looked like it would be a big one. What had we created? Were or is there enough rooms at the motel? Thank goodness, a Motel “8” was only a half a block away from our headquarters at the Quality Inn Convention Center in Coldwater. Some members had to check in there.

With the theme of the meet “DOWN ON THE FARM”, our place met the criteria. Hopefully the local farmers would not be spreading “natural” fertilizer in their fields on concours day. With three Holstein bulls and four steers in our pasture, fourteen cats, deer, wild turkey, pheasants, grouse, possums, racoons and hopefully no woodchucks (open season on them) and corn and soybean fields surrounding us, it really looked like a farm.

Over half the members attending came in on Wednesday, the first official day of the meet. Guess Linda will have to order a larger pig for the roast! All who registered were presented with a fall meet t-shirt with the front view of a 300C on it, designed by Sara Bagley, Mike and Linda’s artist friend. The motel forwarded a phone call to the registration room and we got some bad news. Brian Frank, his Mom, Dad and son would be delayed. It seems that just after filling the gas tank, they were waiting for a red light at an intersection in Indiana when a pickup truck ran right into the rear of their 300G coupe. Brian’s “Hard Luck” story is further on in this issue. Another phone call came in – Tom Turner became ill on his way to the meet and had to return home.

Being country, we have our share of Amish farms in the area. Very gentle folk they are. Warnings were given to be careful driving. The Amish travel in open buggies in our area but do have flashing red lights on the rear and yellow flashing lights on the front when driving at night.

On Thursday morning many of the group left to drive the short distance to Allen to spend money on antiques. Later in the afternoon, the hog roast was well attended along with a continual tour of Michael’s many building and car collection. The farm house sits back of the road about 700’ or so. Michael had parked his yellow F out at the roadside along with a banner that welcomed the club members. Some one put a “For Sale” sign in the window of the F and Michael had to turn down some mighty good offers because the F wasn’t quite ready to get a new owner. After a little prodding George’s 300J did the proverbial “burn-out” on Mike’s 600’ driveway with John Lazenby hanging on for the wild ride – John’s comment, “Wow! Js really do go fast”. Then a short trip to the town of Litchfield to visit “Gentle Blast”. A demonstration of paint and rust stripping was done. Low pressure, high volume “Armex”, a product of the Arm and Hammer Company that makes baking soda, cleaned down to bare metal with ease and no distortion. A very dusty process though. Later, sitting around the parking lot, talking about life, automobiles and the pursuit of happiness. Terry McTaggart was heard to say, “Just like the good old days.”

Friday morning arrived and a convoy of 300s and Brand-Xs headed south on I-69 to Auburn, Indiana. The 45-minute trip was interrupted by a terrible accident that had traffic backed up for miles in both directions. Once past that, all arrived safely at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenburg Museum, “Home of the Classics”. What a beautiful building! Built in 1930 and restored back to its original Art Deco theme, it was the original headquarters, offices and factory of the Auburn Automobile company. Touring the collection was awesome! Most all of the cars were in beautifully restored or original condition. One car in particular attracted our attention. A freshly restored 1931 Chrysler Imperial dual Cowl Phaeton – in yellow. It had just been restored and was waiting for the owner to be picked up in just a few days. What a marvellous grand automobile.

On the return trip, Don Cole and Jeff Miklas (Don in his K convert and Jeff in his ’67 Plymouth convert with 426 wedge) tried to outdo each other in a maximum performance run. Needless to say, my J passed both of them easily when Jeff’s Plymouth blew an oil sender and Don’s K had a bad u-joint vibration. Quick temporary repairs were done and they were on their conservative way again. Those kids!

The motel parking lot was a sight to see. 300s all over the place. Diesel pickups with enclosed trailers. Other cars with covers on them. Rumors were flying as to what was being hidden. Then the ultimate happened. Andy “Running Hot” Mikonis arrived in his fire chief’s Plymouth station wagon, hauling a trailer that carried something that looked like a 1960 Chrysler convertible. The convert had complete air conditioning – front, sides, back and bottom. One could have thrown a bowling ball through it without hitting any metal. Andy said that with a ground up restoration it would (or could) make a nice parts car. The Friday night business meeting was over in record breaking time (1 hour) without the usual extended discussions of sometimes interesting, some times boring topics. (Meeting minutes can be found elsewhere in this issue.)

George and Eleanor left the motel late Friday night to go back to their farm and prepare for the “surprise” and concours Saturday morning. Up at the crack of dawn to make sure the big red metal barn was ready. At 7:30, the large semi tractor trailer arrived. Unloading started and we waited to see which surprise vehicle would be first to emerge. First the Chrysler 300 Concept Car, then the VTS Viper-engined Dodge Ram pickup, then the Viper GTS coupe and lastly the Prowler Roadster. Wow! What a sight. Carefully guiding them into the building and placing them into their respective display areas. The throaty exhaust of those V10s really got your attention. Gentle dusting did the final touches.

Then 300 after 300 began to appear up the road heading for the farm. Concours cars over here, display cars over there, miscellaneous vehicles back there, over to the side road for the others. Would we have enough room – sure, no problem! With 16 acres we could have a landing field.

With a rented Porta-Potty in place (out here in the country, septic tanks are the norm) to handle the additional use. With almost all of the vehicles parked, the judges got their green hats and instructions for the day’s judging. The red metal barn was being used for undercarriage judging. Many 300s were being dusted off and members were wandering around, ogling the cars, taking videos and snap shots to record the meet.

Then came the thump-thump-thump of a helicopter. Approaching from the east, a slick, somewhat black chopper dropped out of the sky and gave a light buzz over the farm. Circling around, it approached the hay field by the back building. Gently, it touched down and the jet engine slowly shut down.

Now, who in the world could this be? It is Bob Lutz, (President of Chrysler Corporation), his beautiful, charming wife, Denise and Denise’s son Elliott. What are they doing here? Well, Bob is a club member and had brought his red 1955 C300 out to the farm the previous weekend. Some fixing was needed and he had left it here for the winter for me to work on. When delivering the C300, Bob had brought his red Viper #2, asked me if I had driven one and I said yes – number 14 a while back. He then gave me the Viper keys and said to take it for a spin. Oh, boy – here we go! Down Jonesville Road a-ways then turn it around and “NAIL IT”! Got it up to around 130 in 3rd and slowed down coming back to the farm. Bob was at the road edge and waved me on – down a gear and wide open we went, catching 4th gear – how fast? Don’t really know, too busy hanging on and watching the road. Slow down turn around and head back to the farm. Just cooled it back, parked it and wiped the sweat off my hands. “How’d it go?” asked Bob – just great I said, not knowing that Bob had had the engine horsepower significantly upgraded over stock. On a previous conversation, Bob asked if he should “Vipe or helo” into the meet. Since “Red” Mc Fadden of South Haven, Michigan (a Chrysler Dealer there) promised his red Viper to be at the meet, it was agreed that the chopper was the way to go.

Bob was introduced to the group and cameras started clicking. Denise and Elliott started to mingle with the group and look at the cars. Then, another friend and ex-Chrysler executive showed up, Jim Bennett (of Chrysler’s Peru S.A. operation) and good personal friend of the Lutz’s.

Bob, Denise and Elliott were unable to attend the awards banquet that evening due to a prior commitment. So I presented Bob, on behalf of our club, with a special wrist watch with our club logo on it and a hat pin depicting the front view of a red C300. The pin went onto his cap immediately. Shortly there after, they had to leave for home. The chopper was warmed up and lifted off among the goodbye waves from the people present. Up into the sky westward then a slow turn and making a swoop over the farm to the glee of the crowd. Then disappearing into the eastern sky. WOW! Do we do things right or don’t we.

Judging progressed along quite well even though there were a few very light drizzles. The underbody judges liked the idea of being inside the concrete floor building. As the judging came to the final 300, members who had toured our farm buildings and 1800s farm house headed back to the motel for the banquet.

A couple of days before the meet, a u-joint went out on my pickup. Then the rear joint on my 300J went. Don Cole had the rear joint on his K fail (just happened to have one in my parts room) and then the Moon’s Hurst, Thirsty decide to mangle its joint. All were replaced with no further problems.

The banquet was going along quite well when Eleanor, daughter Laura and her fiancé David and I arrived late. We had to stick at the farm while the show cars from Chrysler were loaded onto the semi transporter. Making sure everyone had left, we cleaned up, dressed, turned off the lights and closed up the buildings with a good sigh of relief. The cats slowly reappeared, one by one, from their hiding places.

Eating as fast as I could – most everyone had completed their meals – it was time for the awards presentation. A belated meet host award went to Bill and Bev Spear for hosting the meet in Chardon, Ohio in the fall of 1993. Then a special award went to Ken Mack for his in-Chrysler efforts for the club restoration projects.

After the awards program, door prizes wee handed out. Year One, Playford Auto Parts, Carquest Auto Parts (Loveland), Brothers Products Inc., NAPA (Woodside Auto Parts) and Rene and Donene Kroeger donated some great items. The evening was completed with a gathering in the parking lot and in the small hospitality room – still talking about cars, parts, wild goose chases looking for that C, D, or F convertible that was found in some old barn. Reluctantly, a few old die hards, the Cunninghams, Moons, Macks and Burkes, finally decided that the sun coming up meant it was time to go to bed.

Sunday morning found members heading home with a few lingering on to see more of the local sights or to just rest up. Gil and Carol Cunningham were getting ready to haul their ’58 Fuel Injection D back to Florida behind their Buick. The D had to have a rear spring transplanted before taking off and George, Gil, Brian Wolfe and Mike finished the job at 4:00 in the afternoon. Allan and Gloria Moon stayed over to do some minor repairs on the Hurst. John and Christie Lazenby were going to tour more of the state for a few days before returning to California. First time for them in Michigan, ever!

Since the meet, we have received phone calls, cards and letters complimenting us for the “best 300 meet that was ever held”. We’ve printed some of them in the Letters Column in this issue. Mike and Linda have received many at their house, also. Gil and Carol say they are planning a “Bang-up” celebration for the Club’s 25th Anniversary in Tallahassee, Florida next May. We’ll be there – will you?

Thanks to all who attended our meet, Mike & Linda Burke, George & Eleanor Riehl

P.S. A total of 69 members (pre-registered or just showed up for the day on Saturday) attended the meet along with family and friends. We had 34 Letter Series 300s and Hursts – 10 of them in concours – and 6 non letter 300s, plus many other beautiful Mopars show up. There were 93 people at the awards banquet and a total of 76 made the museum tour.

This was one of the best attended national meets in many years, with people coming from Canada and the four corners of the United States. We enjoyed having you all here. We hope to do it again sometime!!

Concours d’Elegance

Class II 1st Place Bill Spear 300C coupe 872 points
2nd place Bob Nitz 300C coupe 758.5 points

Class III 1st Place Jon Rose 300F convert 886.5 points
2nd Place Joe James 300G coupe 853 points
3rd Place Monte Gillespie 300F convert 781.5 points
Ribbon Bob Merritt 300H coupe 743 points
Ribbon Gabe Knapp 300G coupe 715.5 points
Ribbon Len Astroth 300F coupe 668 points

Hurst 1st Place Buck Maupin 300 Hurst 824 points
2nd Place Roman Robaszewski 300 Hurst 678 points

People’s Choice: Jon Rose, 300F convert

Long Distance: Bill Woodman, 300C coupe, 1,527 miles from Pueblo, Colorado

Hard Luck: Brian Frank, 300G coupe, rear ended on the way to the meet

300s attending the Meet

C300: Bob Lutz
300C: Ken Mack, Bob Nitz, Bill Spear, Bill Woodman, Bill Elder
300D: Jack Wiltse, Bob Hays
300E: John Dokos
300F: Len Astroth, Mike Burke, Monte Gillespie (cvt), Jon Rose (cvt), Dave Schwandt, Galen Wollbrink
300G: Joe James, Andy Mikonis, Gabe Knapp
300H: Bob Crawford, Bob Merritt, Ed Phillips (cvt)
300J: George Riehl
300K: Don Cole (cvt), Pete Fitch, Vern Graber, Jerry Kocur (cvt)
300L: Bob Cornett (cvt), Mike Craw (cvt), Frank Driscoll, Don Warnaar
Hurst: Buck Maupin, Roman Robaszewski, Allan Moon, Howard Stoll
1962: Gary Hitchins
1963: Mark Raynor
1966: Jim Krausmann
1967: Dave McMurren (cvt)
1968: Murray Park, Sham Walker (cvt)

Other 300s on display: Mike Burke’s numerous 300s at his farm,
George and Eleanor Riehl’s 300C & 300F, Tony Rinaldi’s 300F (cvt) and Jerry Olson’s 300 Hurst.

Thanks to Bill Elder for typing this article for the web