Collecting Mopar models with Pete Hagenbuch: Ertl Chrysler 300C

If you've ever even looked at 1/18 scale diecast models, the chances are good you've seen an Ertl model. Ertls are everywhere. And they come in a never-ending variety of nameplates. And no matter how they camouflage the boxes, you can always find "American Muscle" on them somewhere. They rarely ever retire a name; it keeps coming back in different colors and/or different boxes. In the normal price range of $20 to $45 the inconsistencies in quality are huge; from GDAwful to Very Very Nice. As Mopar devotees we are lucky; Ertl makes some really sweet models. They also make some stinkers.

There are two areas where Ertl models are almost beyond reproach. One is their Classics. I don't mean collector cars, I'm talking about Classics as defined by the CCCA. There are three; Auburn 851 boat tailed speedster, Cord 810/812 convertible and the very rare Deusenberg SSJ roadster, of which only two were made. All three models are excellent. And then there is their Ertl Precision Line. These are all Fords except for the 300C and all but the Model T Ford are superb. Fully detailed interiors, trunks which even contain jack and spare tire and also the reinforcing in the deck lid, along with the sheet that explains jack and spare tire use. Engines and interiors overflow with detail. Most have working final drive gears so you can see the universal joints turning when you turn the rear wheels. Engine detail is also very well done. Ford models available include a 1965 Mustang convertible, a 1957 T-bird with removable hard top, and a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr business coupe, a strange choice making it a beautiful model of an ugly car.

But, let us get to the 300C, perhaps the most desirable of all the 300 letter series. This is a nice model! The massive grill, leaning forward like it was straining to move. The headlight pockets matching the slant of the grill. And fins like they all should have been, not huge but not apologizing for being there. I've been a model builder for more than 50 years and the only way I know to get a paint finish like this is hand rubbing. Door, hood and deck lid fits are good. All bright trim is sharp and well made and the glass in the wrap-around windshield is thin enough to keep distortion to a minimum. Headlamps have no pupils, so common in less opulently turned out models. Detail of grill, bumpers, wipers, and lights is excellent. When you lift the hood, you find that mighty 392 cu. in. Hemi reposing there. When I look at the twin oval air cleaners (unsilenced) I can just hear a bit of the roar. There are few things in life that sound better to these old ears than the deep-throated intake howl of a big engine running WOT and tuned for power! No, the model is silent. We can't have everything.

1957 300C model

In the engine compartment, few things are missing. The dash panel contains the heater motor and heater housing and the power brake reservoir. The battery is in its place at the left front, complete with terminal clamps and wiring and the caps are clearly visible. All five of them. I almost wish I hadn't noticed! The distributor should be at the back and the spark plug wires are covered by a conduit attached to the cylinder hear cover. I'm not going to say they aren't there. I can't see them. A finishing touch is the bright yellow windshield washer bag mounted on the right fender side shield.

The interior of this model is also very nice. From the carpeting to the fully finished headliner with lights and sun visors. Sill trim is well done, and the 60-40 folding front bench seat backs do fold. The seats are of a softer plastic which has no particular effect on their appearance. The instrument panel is well done and the steering wheel, lights and inside mirror are all copacetic. Transmission controls on this car must be pushbuttons and they're a bit hard to find. They are there, at the base of the A pillar but all black and a bit undersized. The retractable radio antenna really does!

1957 300C model

I bought my 300C at Great Lakes Hobby on Van Dyke in Utica, Michigan for $70 in 2001. The model has gained another color, green, and should be readily available for $70 or less. I don't know what prompted Ertl to build this one in their Precision Ford series but I'm surely glad they did. Come to think of it I can even forgive them for some of their really bad models. But not enough to keep me from telling you readers about them.

Whenever I encounter a collector, whether it be of toys, or models, or cars or whatever, it seems like it only takes a minute or two until the word "favorite" pops into the conversation. I've been thinking about this as I was describing this beautiful Ertl model. It sort of depends on how I feel at the time how I would answer the favorite question. First of all, I don't have an overall favorite in my 300+ 1/18 scale model collection. It varies. There is no doubt that this one is the best model I have of a Chrysler Corp. car. But is it my favorite? No. And that's because I don't think black models show off the details as well as lighter colors. Is the 300C my favorite Mopar car? Most days the answer is yes. But I also love the 300B. The 1967-69 Barracuda is another favorite of mine. And the 1971-1974 B Body cars were really beautiful. I particularly like the Plymouths of those years, may they rest in peace with all the other muscle cars.

All this talk about favorites brings me to a delicate subject. You see, I don't just like Chrysler cars. Please don't tell Juergen. As a kid growing up in the forties, my automotive dream was centered on one car, the 1940 Ford Convertible. Red. There, I got it out in the open. But there's more. When I was 19 I bought a 1939 Cadillac 60 Special. For $125. With some help from my friends and a bundle of money I got it running good and even looking pretty decent. Gas was cheap. It got about 7 mpg in the city and close to 10 on the highway. A great car. In side view the rear looked very much like a Lincoln Continental. You old geezers out there remember it don't you? No sidemounts on mine, they were an option. It had what then was a big V-8, 346 cu. in. It was different from Ford V-8s in that the exhaust ports were on the inside of the V, connected by a single cast manifold that began at the left front cyl. Then back and around to the right bank where it swept up to the right front cyl. And then down into the exhaust pipe. This was asbestos wrapped with stainless steel wire wrapped around the whole thing. The wrapped exhaust pipe than went rearward to the first muffler and finally to the second muffler which was crosswise just ahead of the rear bumper. The entire exhaust manifold had a black porcelain coating. The intake manifold was conventional, fed by a Stromberg 2-bbl carburetor. It didn't much like stop and go driving in warm weather. All that heat from the exhaust manifold would cause the carburetor float to stick. I carried a big wooden handled screw driver in the car which I used to beat on the float chamber whenever it quit. At that time I lived in Eastern Ohio near Wheeling, W.Va. There was a bridge across the Ohio River there which was very narrow with curbs on both sides about a foot high. Once my lovely Caddy quit in the middle of the bridge. I had to get out and attack the carburetor while completely stopping traffic. Very embarrassing. I got it going and drove on into Wheeling with a very red face!

And what did all this have to do with Ertl's 300C model?

I guess I just love cars. A lot of cars. I have models of a 1940 Ford coupe and a very poor model of a 1939 Ford roadster. One of the mints has a '40 convertible but so far I've resisted it. I have too many models in too many scales already!! Partly because of my '39, I have a weakness for most pre-1950 Cadillacs. In particular I love the 1949 2 door fastback sedan with OHV V-8 and fishtails. Currently, I am nearing completion of a collection of Land Speed Record cars. Wheel-driven variety. I see little connection between a wingless jet-fighter and an automobile. These are all in 1/43 scale for obvious reasons: my 9" long Goldenrod in 1/43 scale would grow to 21" in 1/18 scale.

For those of you who aren't up to date on LSR cars, the four Hemi engined Goldenrod held the absolute World Land Speed Record of 409.3 mph for piston engined vehicles from 1965 to 1991. At that time a single supercharged Hemi powered car moved the record to 409.9 mph. And in 2003 a turbine powered (wheel driven) car moved the record to 253 mph. I've only had the Goldenrod model for a short time. I'll cover the whole LSR scene when I have some photos.

Note: Now that Hemi is a registered trademark of Chrysler, if you see it here capitalized, it is automatically a Mopar (trademark of Chrysler Corporation).

See our page on the actual 1957 Chrysler 300C car

Ertl Chrysler 300C model

Model Reviews by Pete Hagenbuch:

Pete Hagenbuch, not content with designing the engines and fuel systems used in the actual cars, or in being a well-known slot car performance pioneer, has written reviews of numerous models:



Chrysler toys and models