My Black 1961 Chrysler 300G
by Bob Hager

When did this love affair really began I thought!
Am I guilty of cheating !!

Guaranteed it wasnt my first vehicle, but this is where it first started

Actually my Dad was a Buick lover and for my first stab at a good used car was non- other than a 1950’s something Buick, after all he knew the manager at the Bay Ridge Dealship in Brooklyn. So that early spring Saturday afternoon I sat down with my Dad, and he said let’s see if we can’t get you a deal on a used car today So off we went to visit the Buick dealership. As we pulled into the parking lot there was this slightly built gentleman stood by the front door with an ear to ear smile on his face and greeted my Dad and Introduced himself to me, Hi I’m Dominic your Dad’s personal Buick salesmen, nice to meet you Robert. Let me shake your hand and see what we can do for your son today. He smiled at my Dad as we all walked over to the Buick used car lot.

A half hour later and $700.00 carefully spent, we were on our way back home with my Dad leading the way in his shiny Robinegg Blue car. And I was following in that recently acquired used 2-door Buick Special and nervously tagging behind him.

I think it was love at first sight

One big giant step some years later my friends and I decided to take a walk along one of the main avenues in our neighborhood in BayRidge. That summer evening was bathed in salt air coming off Coney Island beaches. There we were checking out the girls, stopping for a Good Humor ice pop along the way on that Saturday night in July back in the sixty’s.

To make this weekend venture complete as always was to mozy over to one of the car dealerships and gaze at the many dazzling new chrome killers lined up in a row behind those giant picture glass windows. Those sleek cars in the show room windows wow! These women catchers that we couldn’t naturally afford. Tonight it was the Chrysler Showroom’s front window. There was this black brute. resting on a rotating pedestal, with ceiling spot lights bouncing off her stream like design with those high finned body ready to capture the road.

WOW! I know it was love at first sight but I also knew she was unattainable then.

You have to place yourself back in 1960 when you could buy a new car for about $1,900.00. This piece of dynamic steel had a sticker MSLP of $5,700.00. That could have been your down payment on a house back then, but looking and hoping doesn’t cost you a red dime. Maybe just maybe someday you’ll be mine, I thought to myself.

I guess you got to crawl before you take that giant step…

In today’s world we all own family cars, but the fun is top draw when you’re sitting first seat and piloting that one car that grips you with those memories of that bygone era of chrome, powerful designs. Married with horse power in the renaissance of the automobile history and that’s my 300G…

Over the years I began to collect auto magazines that would feature the 61 300G.

Each with a history, combined with colorful powerful stories such as NASCAR or having it become the official Chace car for the New Jersey State Police and that was the fuel to ignite the embers and fired me up to really get the show on the road.

To add to my now growing interest was collecting magazines that specialized in letter cars such as The Classic Car, Automobile Magazine, and one of my all-time favorites was Photo Stat. Which devoted the entire issue to these letter cars, especially the 300G.and all of its interesting history.

As my library grew that featured the 1961 Chrysler 300G, so was the crowded shelf where they all lived. To add to that group was Hemming Motor News issues.

As a subscriber I was able to purchase original Chrysler Auto dealership catalogs used to promote one of last of the fin cars the 300G

A good friend and neighbor of mine Peter and a member of that great vintage car club

The Rusty Restores here in New Jersey mentioned to me that there is a club magazine devoted to the letter cars it was The Chrysler International 300 Club, I became a regular subscriber, even though I did not have a letter car at the time. As each issue arrived I would carefully go through the For Sale of car ads.

Then back in the early 90’S my eyes narrowed in one particular Ad.

Which had all the makings of what I always dreamed of, “1961 Black 2-Door HT 300G”. This car was located in Mass. I contacted the owner and after several phone calls, of which he supplied me with a series of pictures, I knew he who hesitates is lost, so I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He sent me directions to where we would meet and I used Lenox Towing flatbed to bring her on board to tow her back to New Jersey.

At that time my company was still actively based at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. I contacted Bill the owner of Lenox Towing. We used this company because if any Jet happened to skid off the runway. He had the smarts to gently handle these million dollar aircraft and so I knew he would be the guy to carefully bring my treasure safely home to New Jersey.

As we approached the Tappan Zee Bridge, he slowly exited 95 South and drove into a parking area. Got out of the cab and said,” before this flight ends I’ve got to record this Black Beauty, with those fins he said that could reach the moon. He pulled out of his canvas bag a 35mm Minolta and began to photograph my 300G from every angle. This six foot giant danced around his flatbed truck like a crime photographer, what a sight I’ll never forget. Smiling… Bill said to me when its road ready, pick me up and we will go for a ride, maybe a real long ride Hager !


ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES….. The restoration begins, only time will tell

Before finalizing the purchase that day. I really took the time to kick the tires. Body wise the car was really in good shape even all of the chrome was outstanding.

Naturally I knew that from under the hood forward to aft was to be something of a step by step process and the length of time would have no boundaries.

I really never knew what the final pages of this once in a life time adventure were to finally spell out, time to really flip the pages for finding NOS parts, to searching for items that may no longer be available. Someone once jokingly said it’s like treasure hunting and at the end of the tunnel who says you’re going to find what you’re searching for, and so the next chapter is about to be written. For this sixty year old charmer its going about meeting so many new people along the way, plus communicating with some of the members within the 300 Club, that are always there to help you.

From day one it has been a great trip that had so many avenues to drive through. There were new friendships cultivated searching for NOS parts. Great advice from club members like Don Verity, to help locate parts and pieces for hard to find parts. And always with satisfying success when another piece of the puzzle was solved, not to mention Bob Merritt’s advice, as well as Andy asking to write this story about the journey I’ve been through owning my automobile.

When the time was right I left the smell of jet fuel at Teterboro Airport and started by

Own business, American Restorations Unlimited, ta, which evolved into a manufactures Rep for classic vehicles which boosted my capability to achieve my restoration of my 300G “S rebirth.

For those like myself who had experienced so many restoration ups and downs lucky there were more ups than downs.

When we were trying to find a pinion gasket for the Deferential, I located an NOS one with a leather gasket, small but a great find. This NOS oil pump still in the manufacturer’s original Box, now living in my car, what a home run that was.

Again to the rescue my buddy Pete introduced me to a company located nearby and Steve the owner had a 1960 DeSoto; loved MOPARS helped me to complete the restoration from every corner of my car.The bottom line was all of the mechanical rough edges which were once major challenges were now replaced with all correct parts. He is a great find and someone I will continue to rely on to keep my 61 on the road.

From Rags to Riches

I was very fortunate to find a company that would do the restoration; Coachworks, located In Garfield, New Jersey. Seeing them start with a total train wreck and slowly and lovingly restore the interior to a wow! From the polished chrome to the magnificent leather seats and totally rebuilding it from an ugly duckling to this brand new finished product that one could imagine its 1961 all over again. And believe it or not they even sprayed it with the new car aroma. This the final completion for my Sunday driver.

First Prize… The End of the Rainbow
The annual show was finally here again at the Bergen Community College parking area. As the long lines of classic cars and trucks began to file into one of North Jersey’s most attended auto shows, hosting hundreds of these classic beauties in a day long pride of Americana. As the crowds swelled with families, plus would be new owners looking and possibly wishing they could own one of these. Many of the participants were explaining the virtues of their cars and trucks to the many great people enjoying our heritage. As the morning went into the late afternoon judges of the Rusty Restores start to make the rounds to single out the categories of a car or trucks who shall receive awards.

To end that day was without a doubt the zenith my scenario. I was totally unaware that my Black 1961G was awarded first prize as the rarest and original vehicle attending the show. The award was sponsored the Upper Saddle River fire department. “EDWARD G. ANTONELLI Memorial award”, sits proudly on my shelf balancing my library of the letter cars. The part of this story I was not expecting and was totally blown away, especially when I was asked to lead the parade of winners.