Gunners Garage

TALES of 40 YEARS #22 – CHRYSLER 300

When we lived in New York I rode a bicycle and dreamed of fixing my ’54 Chevy and ’53 Pontiac sedan. After we moved to Iola in 1978, I did not have a useable car and you need a car in rural Wisconsin. We went to a dealer in the next town and bought two cars for $1,000 each — a 1970 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon and a 1963 Chrysler Sport 300 hardtop. The latter car came from Arizona and had been repainted in the original white color. It had a red bucket seat interior, push-button automatic and a big 383 with a two-barrel carb. It wasn’t a Chrysler “letter car” but it looked like one and, despite the small carb, it was still a very fast car. Our first winter here was a very rough one and the starter went out on the Chrysler, so it sat in front of the house in the snow all winter. In the spring, all the snow melted and everything turned into a bog. I spread cardboard over the mud, slid under the car and changed the starter. The car was in a muddy spot and I tried to drive it out, but couldn’t. It would only go backwards and each time I did that, it went deeper into the mud. Finally, I decided to use the big-block Mopar power to do the job. I got in the car and really gunned it. Mud went flying everywhere, but somehow the tires grabbed something and the car shot out of the mud and raced uphill towards the gravel driveway. I drove that car everyday, all year round. I drove it very fast. One winter all the OCW guys were in it and we decided to drive over the snow-covered car show grounds in winter. We hit an ice mound and it launched all four wheels of the 300 off the ground with four people inside. When it came back down to earth, it was a very hard landing. The car always had a “special” look to it, even after the trunk floor started getting rusty. Jerry Kopecky, who restores Chrysler fin cars in Iola today, told me he remembers the car from when my son Tommy drove it to high school. I think it might have been the car that turned Jerry onto big Mopars. The car also inspired me to join both Chrysler 300 clubs and to write one of my early books on Chrysler 300 letter cars. Eventually, the 300 got pretty tired and I wound up donating it to a charity so they could fix it up and resell it. I never found out who bought it and I have no idea if the new owner fixed it up. For all that I know, it is still out there today. It was a neat car and I have only seen one other in all my years of bouncing around the old car hobby.

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