Inside Chrysler: 300X and 300; personal stories

300E adI cannot make any claim to accuracy for the materials that I have used to make these articles. In some cases, the journals go back 50 years. — Curtis Redgap

The Chrysler 300x: watering down the top Chrysler

Then, on top of all else, Dad picked up a rumor that there was some sort of plan to introduce a "watered down" version of the Chrysler 300 in the spring, either March or April to coincide with the usual upsurge of sales when warm weather arrived. Supposedly it would consist of only a hardtop and a convertible built on the Windsor chassis with the small wheelbase of 122 inches. It was to be equipped with upgraded interior, special identifying trim packages, and a high performance version of the new RB 383 c.i. "Golden Lion" Chrysler V-8. He hit the roof. “Here we are not being able to sell the real thing, and some knothead over in marketing wants to swamp us with a weak-kneed cousin that you probably couldn't give away!”

He spent the next two weeks practically living on the telephone to nail down this “300-X” project. When he did confirm that plans were in the works for just such a car, he mustered his dealership forces, along with the heavy hitters in stock holdings, and got the idea and the car nixed.

Funny thing, though. About the time of the January introduction of the 300E, we got a bunch of phamplets describing the 300-X. It set Dad off all over again, until we discovered that it had all been a mistake. The things we got were supposed to have been burned. We should have received the new Chrysler 300E brochures, but, guess what... they went to the incinerator!

Still, there were some people that wanted that car, and wanted it badly. When they figured out who was truly responsible for its demise, a sort of state of war occured. They kept right on beating that drum which resulted in the decision, shortly afterwards, to introduce the Chrysler 300 (no letter) in 1962.

1959 Chrysler 300E

1959 Chryselr 300EOne last discordant note:

For 1960, Mr. Exner had one model called the Plymouth “Super Sport” (Chevrolet hadn't caught that one yet) that was a two-door hardtop coupe with a semi-fastback style that would have been a real showroom traffic generator, had it come to fruition. It was up to full scale clay, before things changed in the Spring of 1960. Things were fast coming to a head.

Curtis buys a car

I can remember seeing the next car that I would own come in the dealership in 1959. It was an all black on black Sport Fury, completely loaded with options, including that silly spare tire thing on the truck lid. Called the "toilet seat", it held some sort of fascination for Virgil Exner in some of his designs. I never saw much use for it except as an excellent spot for rust to start. Shortly after I acquired the car in 1964, I had the trunk door replaced with a plain model. I thought it improved the looks of the rear of the Plymouth. Funny how things work out sometimes.

I was really enjoying my '58 Belvedere during 1963. However, every once in awhile I would see that '59 Fury around town, and I couldn't help but fall in love with it all over again.

Along about May1964, my brother shows up from his station in Virginia Beach. He and 3 other drunken sailors came whizzing home in a 57 Pontiac Star Chief that he thought was the hottest ticket on wheels. No, he and Dad never did see eye to eye, and anything other than a Chrysler was what my brother would drive. Dad never said too much after the argument they had when my brother was about to graduate. One afternoon as I was coming home from school, my brother blasts up beside me. I have to admit that I was a bit ticked off at him anyway. However, he was about 1/2 in the bag and trying to show off to his buddies. He wouldn't leave me alone. Finally, my temper got the best of my reason and I stuck my foot straight into the carburator on that rebuilt 361 I had in the Plymouth. Never saw my brother again. Oh, he hung on the left rear fender until the Torqueflite hit second gear... then it was adios! I was determined to give him an earful the next day, but fate stepped in. I guess after getting shot down by me, he and his friends continued on their daily activity of trying to drink all the bars out of booze while they were here. Very late, or early, depending on your perception, and very tanked, they all piled into the Pontiac. My brother was way beyond driving, being passed out in the back seat. One of his companions came under severe scrunity of the local law enforcers. He managed to give some of our finest the "slip." As he eased his way out of town, he took a country road that had a severe 90 degree turn in it. At about 50 miles an hour, they left the road, flew about 100 of so feet over a small embankment, and ended up in a grove of scrub trees. By then, everyone was awake. Not too sober, but awake. Recognizing that their predicament could get them all in big trouble, not only with the law, but with the Navy, my brother goes down the road and got a farmer that lived along there to come with a tractor to get the car out. He charged them $40 too, which served them right. Had a heckuva time getting them out. When it was all over, the Pontiac was not drivable. So, hat in hand, dragging that piece of junk along, he goes to Dad for help. The prodigal returns, right? Not. Dad tried to arrange financing, but the bank said "no." Then my brother comes up looking at my car!

I was so livid, I wouldn't even talk to him. However, after sleeping on it, I came up with an idea of my own. Early the next morning, I went over to see the owner of that '59 Fury. Still in beautiful shape and it only had 23,000 miles on the odometer. Of course, the people that owned it knew me. They had been thinking of a new car, so I came at the right time. They wanted $500 cash. I smiled all the way home. When I got there, my brother was still at the breakfast table. I told him if we wanted my car, I needed $750 for it, but it had to be right now! He whined and complained, but I didn't budge. Call that professional training from watching all those car deals.

He coughed up the money. I went over and got my '59 Fury. Turned out not to need much at all. I changed the brakes to the non-organic linings. I also increased the wheel size to the Police 15" wheels from the Dodge package. It had started to bubble from rust around the top of the fender "eyelids". I some bondo and fixed them on a Saturday afternoon. I ended up replacing the dual exhaust system. It was still basically in place, but just paper thin. I knew that with a couple of my maximum performance take offs, I would probably blown the mufflers into the next county. I don't think in the 5 years that the car had been on the road that the secondaries to the 4 barrel had ever been opened up.

On my first heavy throttle application, the engine sputtered, bucked, hiccupped and refused to run much over 45. I knew what I had to do then. Took it in and had Mr. Greene give it his master touch tune up, which, by the way, I did NOT get a price break on! It cost me 28 bucks! The spark plugs were choked with carbon. So, when he got it all tuned, he took it out back and ran about a quart of kerosene through the carburetor. It created a huge cloud of white smoke, but the carbon was gone. I backed out into the ally and with a heavy single punch of the accelerator, the 361 c.i. roared up to 45 in first gear! Man, was I ever happy! So, my brother went back to Virginia Beach in "his" 1958 Plymouth Belvedere, and I had my 59 Fury. My Dad didn't ask too many questions for some reason. But, he smiled a lot the next few days. Little did I know that in less than a year, things would drastically change.

Go back to the prior section • Comment on this page in the forums

Other parts of this series

  1. 1946-1953: The story through 1950; Hemi engines and Virgil Exner.
  2. 1954 and Plymouth’s independence, and automatic transmissions.
  3. 1955 — hot cars, NASCAR’s roots, Daytona, and more
  4. 1956 and the Plymouth Belmont
  5. 1955-56 police packages and CHP testing
  6. 1956 Plymouth Fury and Daytona Speed Weeks
  7. The stunning and disastrous 1957 cars
  8. 1957 engineering, Daytona, and pursuit cars
  9. The much more reliable 1958s
  10. The Pettys and Bill France; creating the ’62s
  11. The 1959 Chrysler Corporation cars
  12. NASCAR and the Pettys; Engineering vs Marketing
  13. Losing DeSoto, 1957-1960
  14. Dodge and Valiant clobber Plymouth, 1957-1960
  15. 300 and 300X; personal notes
  1. The hot new 1960 Valiant
  2. The new unit-body 1960 cars
  3. 1960 Chrysler fleets and squads
  4. Chrysler racing, 1960
  5. The hot Chrysler 300F
  6. Corruption and incompetence
  7. The 1961 cars
  8. 1961 police cars and racing events
  9. The 1962 cars
  10. 1962 Police Pursuit cars
  11. 1962: Hot Performance
  12. The 1963 cars
  13. The 1964 cars
  14. NASCAR racing — 1964
  15. End of the series

More by Curtis Redgap:

Racing

Police cars

Military and space

Don’t miss Jim Benjaminson’s Plymouth 1946-1959
or our other Chrysler heritage articles and racing coverage

Chrysler HeritageHistory by YearChrysler People and BiosCorporate Facts and History

We make no guarantees regarding validity, accuracy, or applicability of information, predictions, or advice. Please read the terms of use and privacy policy. Copyright © 1994-2000, David Zatz; copyright © 2001-2016, Allpar LLC (except as noted, and press/publicity materials); all rights reserved. Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, and Mopar are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.


One more last chance to order a new Dodge Viper

Giulia overlaps Chrysler, Dodge

Where’s the PUG?

Pacifica starts vacuuming awards

All Mopar Car and Truck News



Dodge Challenger GT AWD Honey, we screwed up the truck High torque, long life: Jeep 4.0 The always-future Dodge Dakota pickup

Will the Wagoneer be Grand? Shelby Dakota: hot or not? Washer fluid bags! Chrysler Crossfire: fauxpar?