A White 1958 300D
My Memories From 30 Plus Years Ago

By Bill Elder

How many Chrysler 300 Letter cars come up for sale in Canada and one practically in my backyard? Not many and in the late 1980s even less! So, when David Underwood, a club member, advertised his 58 300D for sale, I was compelled to buy it.

I sent away to Gil Cunningham for a read out from the 1958 microfiche. Based on the read out, the car was very impressive. It was listed as a Factory Drive Away, meaning that the first owner picked it up directly from Jefferson Assembly. However, the selling dealer was listed as Brewster Shaw’s San Juan Motor Sale’s, Daytona Beach, Florida. As Gil and I discussed it was too late of a build date to be involved with the 1958 Speed Week Time trials. Original equipment was listed as automatic transmission, Air conditioning, the complete option package for tinted windows, including tinted and shaded rear window, AM radio and sure grip. Time and old age are preventing me from remembering if it had power windows and seat.

So, that was as built, but here is the reality as I bought it in 1989. There was evidence that it was on its fourth color change, from its original white to a dark green, to all yellow and back to white. When I say all yellow, I mean even the bottom of the car had been painted yellow. There was no dash pad and no headliner. A look inside the trunk showed where some lower quarter panels had been poorly grafted onto the body. The seats, though badly worn were at least not torn. A look under the hood revealed that most of the air conditioning parts were missing and the original dual quad WCFB carburetors were not there, along with the air cleaners and the dual quad intake manifold. A Holley four, barrel carburetor and a cheap chrome air cleaner were in place of the OEM parts. I also noted that the vacuum switch for the neutral safety start button was disconnected and a push button starter switch was hanging in the interior.

Arrangements were made for Dave’s father, John, to deliver the car to me. I lived in Windsor and Dave and his parents lived in the small rural town of Ridgetown, about 40 miles away. John’s father was really nervous about driving the D into Windsor, so it was agreed that he would deliver the car to me at a friend’s house, in Russel Woods. This was about ten miles closer to Ridgetown and very scarcely populated. The car arrived and money and documents were exchanged. It was time now to really explore what I had purchased. I started the D up, opened the hood and had a minute or so to note that the carburetor was leaking like a sieve. The car shut down and would not restart. Can you believe that it was out of gas? The drive home revealed that the transmission was in need of an overhaul. It was really idling fast and it seemed to dance on its tires. It reminded me of a double A fueler. Braking was hindered by the high idle, so I was putting it into neutral when I was coming to a stop. Putting it into drive was harsh and I figured this was the reason for the transmission’s coming failure.

Back at home, I reconnected the stock neutral switch starting system. It worked perfectly except for the fact that pushing the neutral button would cause the starter to engage if the button was held for a second too long. The culprit was a radical camshaft, giving the motor almost no vacuum at idle. I noted the carburetor numbers off the Holley and I had one of our truck drivers who had been racing stock cars at our local track and was on a first name basis with the owners of a speed shop in Detroit, the numbers and some cash to buy me a carburetor rebuild kit. I also called George Riehl and told him that I had a transmission to refresh. A couple of days later, the truck driver came to me and asked me what car that carburetor was on. When I told him it was on a 1958 Hemi. He asked me if it bogged or skipped on acceleration? I told him no that was one thing the car did quite well. He told me the engine must be modified, because the carburetor was a 900 CFM, three-barrel, Super Stock carburetor. In the next week, I pulled the transmission out on the driveway with the help of my brother-in-law. I used my floor jack and balanced it on a piece of 2 X 4. Noy the best idea, as it rolled off the jack and landed on my chest. It sure knocked the wind out of me. I hauled the tranny out to George and he made quick work out of overhauling it. So, with the transmission back in and a kit in the carburetor, I was able to get the idle down to around 800 RPMs and the D and I were ready for some adventures. Remember what I said about the yellow paint, rumors from other club members filtered back in that the car had been heavily drag raced somewhere down in the Carolinas.

I drove the car in its crude state for a couple of years, while I gathered some pieces for it, including the proper intake manifold, some original air cleaners, that needed some body work and paint. Rene Kroger found me a couple of WCFBs at a swap meet somewhere. Unfortunately, the throttle shafts were seized. Fortunately, the throttle shafts are stainless steel and after a couple of months of soaking the throttle plates in WD40 a slight tremor turned into full movement of the throttle shafts.

At this time, I still had my 1964 300K convertible. There was a car collector, Fred Sersin, who had seen the D around town and he had asked me if I was interested in selling the car. Finally in Sept. of 1992, he gave me a great offer for the car, providing I gave him a satisfactory test drive. In those days, I lived quite close to Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly plat. The plant occupies a space some 8 city blocks long and is boardered on the east side by a six-lane roadway. There is very little traffic during shifts. I thought that this was the closest roadway to home, where I could treat Fred to a little wide open throttle. I headed the D down the road, stomped on it and it was just getting into its act when lights and a siren began to chase me down the street. I pulled over and the cop said, “I didn’t think anything this big could move that fast!” So, I got a ticket and Fred bought the car. As it turns out, he didn’t have it long. He flipped it to a guy in Michigan, who was willing to give it the full restoration that it deserved. George Riehl told me that owner had the car soda blasted as a first step in the restoration and that is the last time that I ever heard of it. I believe that Gloria has crossed paths with information on the car several times in the past, but not for a long time. So, If any one knows the whereabouts or the current owner of LC41766, I would be glad to hear about it.