Chrysler 300 Club International

George Riehl
June 8, 1931 - August 7, 2012

--- Well, what can be said. So many stories I could tell. All the things Dad taught me in his special way. Left hand lug nuts at the age of 12 on the C with Mom watching, shaking her head as I struggled. Dad showed me and kept saying "now watch". I did but not close enough. He kept saying "watch". Then, finally, I got it! Something I will never forget.
After Laura called me this morning to tell me Dad passed, I cried, I cursed. Then I did the most meaningful thing I could think of; I went to the barn, wrestled the door open, climbed into the J. She was a bit grumpy, but finally settled into that familiar idle. I took her out of park, pushed R, got her out of the barn and let her warm up some. As the sun was coming up over the horizon, I pulled out onto Jonesville Road.....pushed first gear.....planted my foot to the floor and the J shuddered a bit. Then that sound that is all too familiar.....she started to track a bit sideways and as the tach went past 6000. I hit second and she started to gather forward momentum. The cabin filled with smoke and I just steered to keep her straight. 6000 came again and I pushed drive. Dad would be proud of the rubber we put down this morning. I came back to the farm and put the J back in the barn. Rev'ed her a few times, then turned the key. Once again silence. All for you Dad, my hero. I will always love you and miss you...
George III

J tire marks on Jonesville Road

click to enlarge

--- There would probably not be as strong and vibrant 300 Club without George and Eleanor Riehl’s long term commitments to it. George has now joined Eleanor. As a club we mourn the loss of such dedication.
When I think back to all the times spent with George, the one time I want to remember is sitting in the back seat of the black J. George was driving of course and Eleanor was his co-pilot. We were at some meet or other, the only thing making this one different was the two-lane hilly and windy roads. When George climbed into his J, he didn’t sit in it and steer it - oh no, he joined it. He knew exactly how fast he and the J could slam through a turn and roll out the dips and turns of a road. He also left his mark at many a meet in rubber tracks. After this particularly hair-raising ride, Eleanor turned to him and said, "Oh George." She always said, "Oh George" and he always grinned.
George did things his way. It wasn’t always the best way, but it was always exciting. And he really enjoyed his ride.
Allan and Gloria Moon

--- In the years to come I hope I can carry with me just a little bit of George's sense of humor. I have so many memories of George that make me smile even as I mourn his passing. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
Bob Merritt

--- Despite never meeting him, for years and years I know another George. A long time ago there was a magazine feature on George and his 300s - about 4-5 full colour pages in one of then World's largest collector car publications. It features him and his yellow 300F, 300Cs, others. I got my first 300 in 1980 and I still have that magazine. I will fish it out and scan it tomorrow.
Read it here
George was only old at the end - when he really had his 300 bug, he was young/younger. He was into 300s before anyone else woke up to what they were - plus obviously loved driving them as they should be whenever possible.
Time clearly can be cruel to both 300s and great men.
Christopher Beilby, Australia

--- Very sorry to hear of George’s passing. I’m sure he is with Eleanor now, cruising in the J and doing burnouts and driving fast. I’ll always remember when he “decorated” Jeff Miklas’s driveway at the Pittsburg meet. Many many memories of Georges stories from meets gone by. He will be missed very much.
Don Verity

--- A terrible loss. George WAS the 300 Club. And, the 300 Club was his, we were just allowed to be members, well cared for. He, and Eleanor nurtured, pampered and oversaw the Club to make it what it is today. Never a scandal, never a thought to it's health. It was a major part of his life and all but the total focus of who he was. We will truly miss him and offer our profound condolences to his family,
Ray and Jo Ann Jones

--- Mr. Jones, you could not have said it better. I had met and spoken to George only a couple of time since membership in the 300 Club, and George was one fine guy! He sure will be missed by all of us.
Steve Schieser

--- On August 07 at 4:30 AM my cell phone rang and I knew what it was. Rob Kern was on the other end to advise me that George had passed. Rob and I had spoken the night prior and agreed to keep each other posted.
I wasn’t shocked as many of us knew it was just a matter of time and I think we all wished a peaceful passing for George and it sounds like that was the case. For that I’m thankful.
In September of 1987 my first face to face meeting with George and Eleanor took place although I’d had phone conversations and correspondences prior. They were both totally dedicated to the mark and this club’s membership. Did they always do things that didn’t raise an eyebrow, not even? I learned at an early age leadership involves controversy sometimes but usually it is necessary.
There are so many stories I could tell about my adventures with George but I’ll just share a couple. I remember a gathering at Mike and Linda Burke’s home at the Coldwater meet. George fired up the J and I became his co-pilot. He pulled up in front of the crowd with that long driveway, lit a cigarette, power braked the car, put his foot in it a bit and the car started to creep sideways.
With that cigarette hanging from his lips he looked over at me and said “that’s for effect”. Then he buried his right foot and smoked the tires almost to the road which was a far piece down that old driveway.
Some years later we were at a meet in Kentucky and returning back to the hotel George threw me the keys to the J and said “you drive”. Shortly there after we pulled up at a light next to a then new Corvette. No one was around and I was instructed to “go off with that guy”. The light changed, tires smoked and away we went. To my amazement that old black J blew the doors off the Vette. I’ve often wondered who was more surprised, the Vette driver or me but I know it wasn’t George. At the end of the run I got a “that a boy” from the master.
My last thought I’ll share is George’s 65th birthday celebration at the Chicago area meet. For those of you that were at the banquet I’m sure you remember the “gals” getting George for all of those pranks he’d pulled on them over the years. Well, it was payback time and my wife Christie was the instrument of torture for George. I can’t tell you about it as you need to watch the video but it was one time he was really lost for words. From that time on he always referred to Christie as his daughter and when ever he phoned he would always ask for her that way.
George is physically not with us anymore and I’ll miss the phone calls, spending time with him at the meets and listening to those stories that only he could tell. I’m sure that he and Eleanor are together again and I thought I just heard a tire bark in the J as they drove into the sunset.
God’s speed George, we will miss you.
John & Christie Lazenby

--- I think back to 1981 when bought my first old car… That K convert needed everything and I knew nothing. The seller mentioned some people in nearby Ann Arbor were part of a 300 club. Sure enough, my first copy of Hemmings listed the Chrysler 300 International club ad with George and Eleanor’s phone number. During our very first phone call they invited me out for a visit. What a visit! They welcomed me with open arms into their home and into the club. Over the years I spent a lot of time at their house soaking up all things 300. My first 300 ride was in George's F – which like the Moons, I’ll never forget it. Next I learned about Killer K's and saw all kinds of neat letter cars at the Quonset hut. I vividly remember there was always a pot of coffee percolating and other great people named Cunningham, Dupin, McTaggert, and Del Grande would call or stop by. George was my mentor and Eleanor had the kindest heart. Together, they left us so much more than a hobby. It is a legacy. They left me with some of my fondest memories.
Jim Krausmann

--- The thing that I admired about George was his commitment to stop the cloning of our great Marque. Even though the bad guys attacked him, at a personal cost, he continued and succeeded in assisting the FBI who intervened and stopped these scams.
Tony Rinaldi

--- Hello 300'ly to all: I was very saddened to learn of George's passing this morning from Gloria Moon. I spoke with Michael Burke last night and was prepared for the inevitable. Dr. Collins chatted with me about George's status the day he was released to be transferred to Coldwater. As objective as one can get about medical facts, the subjective impact of learning of the passing of a friend and confidant is never received without shock. George and Eleanor are in Heaven and will be at all the Meets and never have to worry about mechanical failures, meet attendance, dash plaques, hard luck awards, banquet speeches, etc.,etc.etc. They can bask in glory of what they GAVE to all of us. Forty-Two years ago they gave birth to an entity that has touched the lives of thousands and brought joy to the hearts of many. George gave us more than a HOBBY. He was the patriarch of a family. Sure he behaved at times like that role, much to our chagrin, but acted with a vision for what he felt was best for our group of 300 disciples. I always felt so comfortable to query George about technical and administrative issues regarding our cars and the Club. George supplied the tartness in the bowl of strawberries and cream. You wouldn't want it any other way. He showed us how to enjoy our cars even to the point of sacrificing his beloved J in a parking lot in Maine. 135 MPH on a Sunday morning in his J and being stopped by one of Michigan's finest didn't deter him from exercising his 'Brute. How he finessed getting off with a warning is only what happens to Legends. I could go on for the length of some of our more popular list server threads but I won't. We'll save that for hospitality suite and parking lot time at future Meets. I must state how I was struck with the irony that the last Meet George attended was where else but....Lake GEORGE! Also, that he passed away in the location of a previous 300 Club International Meet...Coldwater, Michigan, is very apropos. Thanks for the ride George! We are praying for the immediate Riehl family and that of the Chrysler 300 Club International.
Marnie and Rob Kern

--- Good friend Tom Miller forwarded the passing of George this morning. Immediately there were 3 different events came to mind.
First, I joined the Club in 2000, soon after purchasing the first G. Around that time, I attended my first Meet. I think it was in Pennsylvania and we connected at the drag strip. I got there just in time to see a black J going through the lights somewhere in the 14 second range at right around 100MPH. That may not be fast for the drag strip, but it is blazing fast for these brutes. Of course I learned that this was George and at that time I decided I needed to learn from the guy who could make a heavy beast roll like that!
Next memory was arriving to a Meet hotel late one evening only to see a large plume of white smoke engulfing the parking lot. This was the result of George in the J yet again. Resurfacing the parking lot 2 tires at a time. Don't ever lose the fun.
Finally, once I began the restoration of the G Coupe, I called Eleanor to order new leaf springs through the club. She took the order and the new springs showed up the very NEXT day. Needless to say, I was very impressed with the service and wondered if it was just because I was a new member. I called her to thank her for the great service, I'm not sure she ever believed me that I received the springs in less than 24 hours, but I did. We had fun with that.
I learned things from him, both mechanically and that you should never become too old to have fun with your car. Thanks George.
Richard Osborne

--- When I first met George in the early 1970's I was just a lad. I remember many hours spent talking cars when he would come visit!
I blame George for being part of the inspiration for me doing what I do today. He was one of my first auto parts customers. His wit and wisdom will be sorely missed! Thanks for everything George!
Murray Park

--- Were it not for George, it's likely Judy and I would never have been able to buy our old dating car back - a dream so few have the privilege and joy of realizing. In 1962 I bought a Gauguin Red '57 300C coupe after having fantasized about owning one ever since reading Tom McCahill's review of the car in Mechanix Illustrated in the spring of 1957. Judy and I dated in this car for nearly two years until we had to sell it to get enough money together to get married in '64. It was a sad moment watching Fred Luther of Muskegon, its new owner, pull out of my Dad's driveway with it that cold April day, but priorities had to be observed.
Well, Fred hung on to the C for 17 years, I later learned, but sold it to Vic Millis of Elyria, Ohio in 1981 just three months before I reestablished contact with Fred. I immediately called Vic to tell him he could name the price, but I had to have the car back. Vic wouldn't even discuss it. So I went to George and Eleanor Riehl and gave them my tale of woe, asking them to help me find another 300C. And I tried to annoy Vic into selling the car to me by calling him from time to time over the next two years.
Then came the moment of that call from George Riehl on a Saturday in October of 1983 telling me Vic had just phoned an ad in to him to sell the car, and asking if I didn't want it for some reason. I immediately called Vic to ask what was up. He claimed he "forgot" I might be interested, but assured me he had to sell the car immediately because of a change in his circumstances which, shall we say, put the very existence of the C at risk. I took the earliest flight out to Cleveland the very next morning, gave Vic the cash, and drove "my" car back home where it belonged.
In the last couple of years I undertook its complete restoration and it's hitting the road again now, helping us relive the memories of our early years and what this very special car meant to both of us. The impossible dream of owning it - hopefully for the rest of our years - would never have happened but for that one serendipitous phone call from George, my friend forever. 300 thanks to you, George. We'll always remember.
Keith Boonstra
Holland, Michigan

--- George meant a lot to us Chrysler-guys over here in Sweden. George had always an open mind and did come over a couple of times to see how big interest there is in old American iron on this side of the Atlantic and especially Mopar products in Sweden. Even if Sweden is far away we will miss George,
It`s just heavy to put it down in words.....our thoughts go to the family.
Arne Nilsson

--- Hello to all in 300sville.
I am too sad to put an exclamation mark after 'ville'. WHAT!? George passed away? Yes, he will be nearly missed. My deepest condolences goes out to George's family. He started this club in 1970 I believe? (someone can correct me if I'm wrong). Life is too precious and we all (and I know this sounds cliche) have to live each day to the fullest as if its the last. Well, I don't want to ramble on and on but George has helped me greatly several times. He will be dearly missed!!
Also I want to add that I've been off the listserver for a while and SHAME on me! I could have helped a lot of people out there. Just because Melissa (my G), is still down and out with a new tranny being built with ENGINE troubles to boot, doesn't mean I have to avoid the listserver. I feel as though I've been a 'poor sport'. Anyways, my family and my little girl Lorelei (who just turned 4), is doing great.
George Verberkmoss (hope spelling is correct), suggested that Melissa's tranny should be fixed at a place called 'Valley Transmissions', in El Cajon, Ca. and that is where she is right now! I will all keep you all updated on Melissa... and George R., again you will be dearly missed!
Sincerely & 300ly, Brandt H J with a G.

--- Bonnie and I were new to the club last year, and the first meet we attended was at Lake George. That was the one and only time I ever met and talked with George Riehl.
During our conversataion, it struck me how friendly and approachable George was. He talked with us like he had known us for years. He made us feel very welcome and included. We talked about Chryslers, of course, and also about the condition he had, which he termed "The Disease." With tounge-in-cheek, he went on to say The Disease was a terrible thing and it was the reason he moved out to a farm where there were a lot of out-buildings, so he could fill every one of them with Chrysler cars and parts. I think he said he even had additional overflow space in friend's garages. He talked about a 300-L he recently acquired and that the owner generously installed a set of new tires on the car - after George bought it - so George could drive it home safely.
I also must say that I really enjoyed George's reminiscing during the night of the awards banquet. I know most of the folks at the banquet had probably heard George's stories before, but they were fresh and new to us. Looking back on it now, it almost seems like George was saying goodbye. . .
I'm thankful for those few moments we spent with George Riehl, but at the same time I'm very sorry we will never talk with him again.
Our hearts, thoughts and sincerest codolences go out to George's family and to his many friends.
Caroll and Bonnie Ripley

--- I am saddened to hear of George’s passing, we have lost a great person, I only wish I had could have known him longer. I so enjoyed his stories about past meets and the mischief they got into back in the day. I was amazed when at the St. Charles meet he could tell that the J we were standing next to had something wrong with the cam timing, just by listening to it. The owner was on the phone calling the machinist that assembled the engine only to find out that he had indeed advanced the cam. George did not need a vacuum gauge, he could just tell by the sound of the engine, it was talking to him, cool stuff, gave me goose bumps. When we were at the Branson meet he disassembled and reassembled the cast iron torqueflight in the conference room all the while discussing each piece, the failure points, and the differences between the standard parts and the heavy duty 300 components, truly Dr. Crankshaft. Once time when I called George to order the springs for my L, we ended up talking for over an hour, I filled several pages of notes as he advised me on the finer points, suppliers, and the detail I should observe while I restored the car. Thanks George for all you have done, you will always be remembered at every meet because you were such an intrinsic part and fabric of this club.
Jamie Hyde

--- George reached out to us downunder as well! Helped us out with our Aussie 300's! Sure he'll be cruzin' in that big cloud white 300 in the sky.
Sean & Stu Morgan, Melb. Australia

--- When I first met George Riehl, I was 23 yrs. old. That was a long, long time ago. The date was July 18, 1970, and Gil and I, Duane and Donna DeButts, and Terry McTaggart were hosting the first Chrysler 300 Club meet on our front porch in Holly, MI. Cars started arriving around 11 o'clock, and one of those cars was a two-tone 300C. George, Eleanor, Laura, and young George had arrived and nothing would ever be the same. That was the beginning of a 42 year friendship with far too many memories to recount here, so I'll just mention a few.
Back when Gil and I lived in Michigan, we would often caravan with George and Eleanor to meets. The most memorable of these was in September of '75. On our way to Elmira, NY, we were caught in the aftermath of a hurricane and got into some serious flooding in upstate PA. The rescue squad told us we couldn't go back and to watch out for the bridge up ahead. Oh Joy!!! I'm sorta afraid of bridges. Well, when we got to the bridge, all we could see were the railings. The bridge itself was under water!! Gil said, "If the railings are there, the bridge must be there." So over we went----Gil and me, with Duane and Donna, and then George and Eleanor in the J. Five minutes later, the bridge washed out. We all went home and wrote out our wills. And George had to put a muffler back on the J.
Then there was the 1st Boston meet in 1984. We were a bit more, shall we say, lively back then, and there was an incident in the hotel bar that involved some shaving cream. Long story short, George, our president and fearless leader, ended up explaining to the hotel manager who he was and that, yes, indeed he did belong at this hotel-----all the while, unknowingly, with a pile of shaving cream on his head. No more meets at fancy hotels.
And the memories just keep popping into my head-----Dubonnet should ring a few bells; burn outs in parking garages and anywhere else there was pavement; unexpected, hilarious, roasts and toasts; 3:00 AM parking lot sessions; and, of course, hunting for the "lost" J in Williamsburg; and on and on and on. You will be missed, old man. I'm hoping George III will pick up the torch and help us build some new Riehl memories.
Carol Cunningham, Tallahassee, FL.

--- I met George & Eleanor at the Spring Meet in Louisville, KY in 1975 after buying my 300C. They were very enthusiastic about the people and the 300's. That certainly inspired me. I had spent a year and a half to do kind of an amateurish restoration on the C - George was there anytime I called to give direction & words of wisdom (sometimes lengthy words) -he helped me find parts, which weren't as abundant as today, during my restoration process.
George & Eleanor adopted me into their family -(token Canadian- but I learned their language). I spent countless weekends at their place in Ann Arbor during the 70's, 80's and 90's. I saw Laura and George grow up over those years. George was always a very caring and giving person.
I remember in June of 1976, one day after I completed the restoration of the "C" I was to drive 600 miles from Toronto to Indianapolis - George suggested I drive to Ann Arbor and we would travel together with his car, to make sure I made it.
We had spent many great times together. I will miss your sense of humor, wit & wisdom, George.
Goodbye my dear friend.
Paul Del Grande

--- Although a relative newcomer to the Club, I'll think of George's hands rebuilding the 413 in my F every time I fire it up. When purchased in '05, it was in sad shape - would barely accelerate to 45 mph. At the St. Charles Meet, I asked George to test drive it with me riding shotgun, Bob Brown and George Collar in the back. The three of us were convinced that we wouldn't survive this Riehl road test! Great stories, great resource, great carrier of the 300 torch. My condolences to the Riehl Family.
Noel Hastalis

--- I still have a mental image of a Copper Brown 300C showing 300 acceleration muscle as it arrived at our home in Holly, Michigan, July 18th, 1970 for the first meet of what would become the Chrysler 300 Club, International. In that car were George Riehl, his wife Eleanor, and their two kids, Laura and George III. That would be the start of a long, long association, friendship, and many more 300 accelerations. George sure did love those, and his affinity for them grew dramatically when he acquired his favorite, the famous black 300J. I do not know how many meet venues still may bear the tire marks from that car!
There are many George stories, and I have enjoyed reading those the members have written. One, which depicts his wit was alluded to by my wife, Carol in her contribution to this site. It happened in an Ann Arbor restaurant, the Red Bull (I think) after some 300 activity. Drink orders were being taken, and when the waitress came to Paul DelGrande, he ordered a Dubonnet. "Dubonnet!!", George howled, "What kind of a wimpy drink is that? Get a real drink!!" Paul reordered. When the waitress got around to our George for his order, he of course said he would have a Dubonnet.
As many have stated, George was always ready to help, so when it came time to drag my blue 300F convertible back from Louisville, he was there to accompany me and the tow bar in my old '64 Plymouth. Everything went fairly well until the next morning in Dayton where we had stayed overnight with member Bob Wieland. Rain. Worse, the "F", without an engine, had its own idea about which way to go on those wet streets, and it wasn't the same as the Plymouth's! Yep, George was elected to ride in the F and steer it around any corners we encountered in our quest to get back to I-75. Oh, did I mention the top was mostly missing? You know a very wet George was really happy to get back in the dry tow car, but I'm not sure I was ever totally forgiven for that one!
Well, this is getting a little long, but that is what happens with 42 years of experiences. Stories will be told at many future 300 Meets----Searching for the lost 300J at Williamsburg, the incredibly realistic impersonation by Christie Lazenby of an old girlfriend at the 1996 Chicago meet, and on and on. However, the most important thing to be remembered about George Riehl was his UNWAVERING DEDICATION to the Club. He loved the Club, and because of his leadership, we have never had financial difficulties, nor scandals, nor any situations that would reflect negatively on the Club or the Chrysler 300 automobile.
Thanks for the memories, old buddy, and rest in peace.
Gil Cunningham, Tallahassee, FL

--- I remember in 1986, I lived in Southern California and had never seen another 300 or gone to a meet. I read in the newsletter that a California meet was possible, so I called the club. I talked with George for more than an hour, he was a fund of knowledge and extremely helpful. Later, I was chosen to host the 1987 spring meet, the first in California, and I was really worried. When I met George and Eleanor, they were so nice to me that I finally relaxed, and we all had a great time. I videotaped that meet, still have the VCR master. He was one of a kind, and will be missed.
Nathan Harris

--- I was very saddened to hear of the passing of George Riehl. On my first trip to the USA in 1987, I dropped into the carpark of a 300 Club meet in Indianapolis. I had a passion to own a 300. Having only ever seen one before, I worked my camera furiously whilst my friend Paul went to talk to owners now beginning to accumulate in the carpark. He returned with the names and addresses of two friendly, helpful people. One of course was George Riehl.
I've enjoyed George's wonderful sense of humour, both personally and through his stories in Club News since. As Eleanor always did, George always added a personal note to any club store purchase. Somehow he managed to attend to people's enquiries, sharing his great knowledge with people even from the other side of the world.
Is it true that Georges dedication to other people, who in this case enjoy Chrysler 300's, has spread throughout the Chrysler 300 Club community? I truly believe so. A fibre that has woven throughout the club membership. Keep the fibres strong folks. George Riehl----- wonderful man, greatly missed but he lives on through our memories.
Peter Wait

--- It was my pleasure to know Mr. Riehl who always made time to answer a question and share his automotive knowledge with anyone. The club lost one of its a greatest member.
Joe Gross Cleveland, OH.

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