The Car That Started the Club
by Robert E. Dupin, III

reprinted from the Spring 1988 Club News XIV Number III

Throughout his life my Father, Robert E. Dupin Jr., was known for two things; being very pro-Chrysler and having a very heavy right foot. He was so pro-Chrysler that at work his nickname was “Walter Chrysler” Dupin. His big dream in life was to own a Chrysler Imperial. But one night, fate dealt him a hand that would change all that.

We routinely made trips from Louisville to Cincinnati to pick up my Grandfather, a dinning car steward for the L & N Railroad. His train would lay over in Cincinnati for the night and deadhead in empty the next day. This way he would beat the train home and sleep in his own bed at night.

So one night we headed up to Cincinnati in my father’s 1951 Chrysler New Yorker four door sedan. He had had this hemi-powered Chrysler flat out like all of the ones before it and all the ones to follow it. By the Stewart Warner tach, all it had was 5,500 RPM and 127 MPH.

Right outside LaGrange KY, on old U.S. 42, we were held up for about 30 minutes because of an accident on the road. As we started back down the road again, a white ’55 Chrysler raced by us. My father, not being one to back down from a challenge, gave chase. Heck, he had driven that road on numerous times over the years and knew every crook and bend in it and how fast he could press his car through them. We chased this car, he called a 300, all the way to Cincinnati and we never did catch it. Being only eight years old at the time, I didn’t know what a 300 was; but I would find out later. I just knew it was the first and only time that my father had been outrun on the highway and I had cheered him all the way.

I noticed one change in him after that; he no longer wanted an Imperial after that episode. He now wanted a 300. Whatever that was.

I found out on August 19, 1960. Why do I remember the date so well? Well, August 18th is my birthday and I had a group of my buddies over to spend the night and see a movie. We were still up when my father came home after working the late shift at the post office; talking about this 300 that he had found and how he was going to check on it the next morning. We all wanted to go with him. That’s just what he needed! A group of young boys with him. He out-foxed us all and was up at 6 AM and was at the lot before it opened. It turned out that he had not only out foxed us but two other prospective buyers of the white 300D coupe. He now owned a first edition of Chrysler’s Firepower hemi and the last. He had traded his "back and forth to work" $50 ’49 DeSoto Club Coupe in on a new love. One that would win out to be the love of his life.

A love that came with a heritage. The car’s previous owner had been Susan Hayward, the movie actress. She had married a doctor and semi-retired and moved to the South. The manager of the car lot had bought it at auction for transportation home from his vacation. Hence the car ended up in Louisville, Kentucky. The car had some small stains in the headliner and in the center of the driver’s seat -- stains that everyone speculated was from a bottle of bubbly being opened after some movie premiere or something.

But he hadn’t bought it for any of these reasons. He bought it for the way it ran and drove. Now I could sit here for hours and expound on his adventures with this car and all of the 300s that followed it. The 328 mile trips to Springfield, Illinois that were made in 4 hours flat. Or one trip from Springfield to Madison, Wisconsin in one hour. The return trip was accomplished in the same time. Or the tale of the hitch hiking sailor who after seeing the speedometer hit the 150 MPH mark and go past, decided that he would get out at the next town.

But all of these are just stories compared to the landmark part in the birth of this club that the car was to play a part in. For it was this same white 300D Coupe that a group of 300 “nuts’ from Michigan spotted when rolling into our fair city. A sighting that led to the birth of the Chrysler 300 Club International.

I like to think that Susan smiles when she looks down on us and remembers her days with this car. I also like to think that she loved this car as much as my Dad did.

August 2019 update by Elizabeth Wieland (sister of Robert E. Dupin, III)

I don't know when my brother wrote this story but I feel you need to know while the thread of truth runs through this article, there are also exaggerations as well.  I think this article should have a disclaimer that this is for entertainment purposes and may have inaccuracies.
Additionally, while the car was sold to my dad with the pretext of Susan Hayward having been the previous owner, Jim Bartuska (the current owner) has researched this and has been unable to verify this information.  This does not diminish the mystic of the car being the keystone of the Club.
Now, please enjoy the photos.

This photo of Bobby Dupin was taken at the New Philadelphia, Ohio meet on August 28, 1981.

This photo of the group was taken that first weekend (probably that Saturday in April 1968).  From left to right:  Daddy (Bob Dupin, Jr.), Terry McTaggart, Pat Teague, Duane DeButts and sitting down, Gil Cunningham.  Terry, Duane and Gil had come down with Pat in his 1960 F.

Thanks to Bill Elder (Wild Man of the North) for preparing this article