My 300K Story, Full Circle

By Bill Elder

My 300 K Story, Full Circle:

My first car was a 1964 Chrysler Windsor, two door coupe that I bought in 1970. I chose that car because it belonged to an older couple and I thought that it was a classy car that had never been abused. I was thinking of the hoops I had put my Father’s poor little Plymouth through as a young teenager and learning to drive. More importantly, I liked the styling. When I got my first job, the muscle car era was still in full swing, so the Chrysler was sold in favor of a 69 Mach 1 and after that I went through a succession of cars besides my daily drivers that included a couple of TR6s and a couple of Plymouth Cudas. Of course you never forget your first love or your first car. I was actually at the local hot rod shop one day and I came across a book entitled “Letters from Chrysler”. This was my introduction to the famed 300 Letter Cars. I was overjoyed to find out that the series extended into 1964. I was amazed to read about the rich history of the mighty 300s. I considered myself to be a Mopar expert and I had never even heard about these cars nor had I ever seen one.

In short order, I had convinced myself that I needed a 300 K in honor of my first car. I bought a copy of Hemmings Motor News and that is when I discovered the Chrysler 300 Club International. At that time the club’s home address was Ann Arbor, Michigan, just a stone throw across the border from my home in Windsor, Ontario. I made an application for membership and shortly after that, I had a nice phone conversation with George and Eleanor Riehl. George was the club President and Eleanor was the club Secretary and they had a 300 K convertible for sale. I bought the car and had a full body and paint treatment done to it at RM in Chatham, Ontario. While they had the car for a year, I had the motor rebuilt and had detailed all of the under hood components. So I had a beautiful Sable Tan 300 K to take to the 300 Club Meets. With experience comes knowledge. Even though I loved the K it was a single four barrel 360 HP engine and I became drawn to a 1957, Black, 300C Coupe. The 300K made its debut at the 1989 Spring Meet in Des Moines, Iowa. Don Rook, a club member from Pennsylvania was in the midst of moving his extensive car collection from Pleasant Valley to Mena Arkansas. He was driving the C to Arkansas and stopping at Des Moines along the way. He asked me to chauffer him and a few other friends around the meet. I was in love. At that time the car had been in storage for 20 years or so and was still wearing its original paint, the seats were torn and the dash pad was sagging so badly, the glove box could not be opened. But, wow the howl of that hemi and the torque were music and adrenaline. So after that adventure Don and I entered into, on again and off again negotiations over a couple of years. Finally a deal was struck and I sold the K and flew to Arkansas; with a return trip home scheduled to coincide with the 1994 Spring Meet in St. Louis Missouri. I got it home on a wing and a prayer, second gear had failed on the transmission and there was a slow coolant leak out of one of the frost plugs. The summer passed by with a new dash pad, original style seat covers from Legendary, new carpet and a trunk detailing kit from Gary Goers. The car had been painted in a black epoxy and it sanded and polished up to a nice finish. I spent more than one day under the car, descaling and painting the under carriage. Finally there was just one universe to conquer. The engine and trans. came out. The engine bay was stripped and painted, transmission rebuilt, cylinder heads overhauled with new valve guides and I changed the timing gears and chain. With everything detailed, it all went back together and my wife and I took it to many meets. The 25th Anniversary club meet was in Tallahassee Florida. I remember getting in the car in the parking lot at 5 AM and being home and in bed at 10:30 PM. The big hemi just ate up the miles; not even breaking a sweat to cruise all day at 70/75 MPH. Then I had a brain fade. Everyone has an Achilles’ heel. I live in the pleasure boat capital of the world. There are more boats per capita in the Detroit area than anywhere else in the world. I sold the C to a club member, Bob Merritt and I used the money to buy a boat. After that we attended a few more meets just to see our many friends and then finally I allowed my club membership to lapse.

We went through a series of boats. It’s called “footitis”; where you keep trading up to get bigger and bigger boats. Finally work demands exceeded the leisure time and cleaning the bigger boat was a chore. So we decided to sell the boat, no easy task with the price of fuel. One day I clicked on the 300 Club website and I was excited to see, a new to me, feature, E-News. Electronic news letters with pictures of old friends and video footage of old meets. I was watching myself and the C at a number of different meets. I showed the films to my wife and I reapplied for a membership. Here is the great thing about the 300 club. Yes we are all enthusiastic about the cars; but the people are the real deal. They are steadfast friends, always willing to support and help. I knew the moment my application was received; because I started to receive welcome back e-mails from many old friends. One of the e-mails was from Bob Merritt; who I had sold the C to and he told me that he was looking to “thin the herd” if I was looking for a club car. Well I still had the big boat so I was on hold for buying a 300. I saw that the fall meet was going to be held in Mystic Connecticut. I convinced my wife that we should at least go and see old friends. We did that and had a great time as always. Meanwhile I was keeping an eye on the classified section of the club news, with an idea towards hunting down a Ram K. My hunger for anything 300 had me reading through the tech articles and in the E-news section there were a number of You Tube tech. videos by my friend Bob. Then I saw one that really got my attention. Bob was taking delivery of a beautiful Roman Red 300 Ram K coupe from Florida. I had two thoughts A: Lucky Dog & B: This is the opposite of thinning the herd.

I work for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Transport. FCA is the only auto manufacturer that runs a fleet of their own transport trucks for delivering parts to the various assembly plants. Recently we opened up a new division of auto transports. The car hauler guys sent me a video for a commercial that Dodge had made, showing the fleet departing Brampton Assembly, convoy style, all loaded up with new Hellcats. I passed the video on to all my car buddies. Bob immediately fired back with a note saying there was too much snow on the ground to buy a Hellcat; so he had bought a Ram K. Hold the phone, I replied back, asking him if this was the Florida K. He assured me that this was another new addition, a Roman Red 300 K coupe from Buffalo, New York. I had two more thoughts, A: Double Lucky Dog & B: Maybe he would part with one. In the spring of 2015 the boat sold and I planned on attending the 300 meet in Macungie PA. I made arrangements to visit Bob enroute to the meet. I wanted to see if either Ram K could be bought. Unfortunately Bob became ill so that was a no go. I again hoped to speak with him at the 2016 Spring Holland Mich. Meet but he could not attend. After I got home, I called him and enquired about the possibility of purchasing the Buffalo K and made arrangements for my wife and I to visit him. So the appointed date arrived. After a ride and drive and some deliberation, I agreed to buy the Buff K, as we started calling it. After touring Bob’s home town, we met another club member, Jamie Hyde for dinner. Remember what I said about the great people in the club. Jamie volunteered to deliver the K to me with his own truck and trailer. Once I was back at home, I sent Bob payment and arranged for a broker to assist with importing the car into Canada. There were various scheduling conflicts; but we finally selected a date to get the job done on Friday July 22. Jamie went to Bob’s the Sunday before and loaded up the car. On the Thursday, he took his truck, trailer and the K to work. After work he left for Detroit. He slept in his truck at a service center on the highway that evening and we met at another travel center near Monroe Mich., early on Friday morning. I rode with Jamie to the Ambassador Bridge, got through customs on both sides of the border and the car was delivered to my house. Jamie would only take money for fuel and the road tolls, his costs. He gave up a vacation day and would not hear of me paying for a motel for the Thursday night. That is a friend indeed.

So, I set about getting the car safety checked and plated. There were some items to be addressed. When I bought the car the clear coat on the roof was peeling off and the trunk lid was cloudy. So I took it to a body repair shop. The idea was to paint the car from the character line up; but then we noticed some tiny paint bubbles on the rockers and the right door was sagging. It turns out that there had been an improper repair done to the door at the lower hinge area and under fluorescent lighting the car showed several different shades of Roman Red, on various panels. In for a dime, in for a dollar as the saying goes; so all suspect areas were cut out and replaced with new metal and the entire car was painted. There is a panel that runs from inner fender to inner fender that supports the top or the big cross bar grille. That was removed and used to get a color match as it was unmolested and had been out of exposure from the sun. I am totally pleased with the paint. The stock pin stripping lines still need to be done; but after three months I was happy to have the car home. At the present time I am knee deep in cleaning and detailing the engine. Most of the components have been removed and cleaned. The left side motor mount was split, so both mounts have been replaced. On the ninety degree days last summer, the car showed a tendency to run too hot. I verified this with an infrared heat gun. So the radiator has been sent out and boiled, I opted for a Mopar Performance eight blade water pump and I found an anti-collapse spring for the lower radiator hose in my stock of old parts in my garage attic. Hopefully the overheating has been addressed. The radiator shop claimed there was a 20 percent blockage in the radiator.

And so it goes. I have broken out most of the tools in my tool box, which I haven’t used in years and I have visited the garage attic looking for 300K parts from the convertible. I hadn’t been up there in years. In short, I am enjoying every moment of flogging on the Ram K. The goal is to make it totally reliable for long distance running to the 300 meets. Curiously enough the spring meet is being held in Geneva, New York and being hosted by Messers, Merritt and Hyde. So I feel that I have come full circle in the 1964 Chrysler department, from my first car to this beauty with its exotic ram induction.

May 2017 update:
The engine is painted and reassembled. We are ready to go
once warmer weather arrives.