Chrysler 300 Club International
Fall Meet in Auburn Hills, MI

September, 2021

2021 Fall Meet Report – the belated 50th Anniversary!

For me the meet started much earlier than September. Originally planned for 2020, I was able to keep the same format, but with state restrictions on size of gatherings, would 2021 be a bust also? Fortunately, things started to open up, and, it was time to let the fun begin!

Wednesday finally arrived, with two years of on and off planning over - It’s Showtime! The Marriott Auburn Hills was our host. The hotel volunteered their lobby to host one of our vehicles. Randy Guyer, who brought two letter cars agreed to display his F convertible once he and his crew finished eating greasy chicken and stolen bread in Frankenmuth. The car was driven through the front door, and the hotel maintenance folks seemed reluctant to proceed. Too big, won’t fit was the word. These are not the things to say to our members, who, after some strategic maneuvering, with an inch to spare on each side of the car, placed it perfectly under the lights.

With the hospitality room set up in the 11th floor lounge, things were rolling. 300’s started coming in from West Virginia, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and beyond, the lot was starting to fill. Members from all over were rekindling friendships after the last years’ craziness. New attendees were making friends - it was a happening!

Thursday was a beautiful sunny day and we caravanned down Woodward Avenue to the Piquette Museum was on. Driving over the remaining burnout marks from the Dream Cruise, we eased through the center of Detroit. The museum is in the second factory that Henry Ford built, before the creation of the assembly line.
It started operation in 1904, with the last cars produced there in 1910. We gathered in the courtyard, and the eager crowd rode the ancient freight elevator up to the museum. There docents described the cars built at the plant, as well as the unique build process of the time, which was batch building with several groups of workers. The docents did a great job of fielding questions from our group, such as why did our early cars start with right hand drive and yet we have left hand drive. There were also competitors’ cars from the era, as well as history displays of the early auto industry in Detroit. The railroad tracks adjacent to the plant, known as the Milwaukee Junction, provided parts and supplies to several of the early automakers, Packard, Brush, EMF, amongst others. It was a great peek at the fledgling auto industry in Detroit.

Now it was lunchtime. And where do you take 100 of your friends to lunch in this era of erratic restaurant operations? Why Hamtramck, of course, the Polish enclave in Detroit! After driving through the heart of the city, past the Kowalski sausage factory, we arrived at the Polish Village Café. I heard people asking what is city chicken? Dill pickle soup? Really? This restaurant has not changed in several years, it is reminiscent of the days of the narrow streets and small eateries and corner bars. Something different, and enjoyable.

The next stop was a tour of the Chrysler car collection at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant. Not a functional assembly plant anymore, it was home to the Viper and Prowler production. A corner of the plant is now home to over 120 cars, several from the former Chrysler Museum, the remainder from the Detroit Trim Plant storage facility. We were the first outside group to visit the facility, which required several internal approvals, and it didn’t disappoint.

Everything from the first Plymouths, to the Airflow, to the La Comtesse, to Sergio Marchione’s Demon, the whole gambit of Chrysler in one area. There were production as well as concept cars to see. The Atlantic, one of the hot concepts from the ‘90’s, a late ‘50’s Chrysler wagon, trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps, all eye candy to Mopar enthusiasts.

After dinner, it was time for the business meeting. Then back to hospitality and the parking lot to check out the cars. As the hospitality room overlooked the flock of 300’s below, the party atmosphere went on into the early morning.

Friday morning – destination Stahl’s Museum. Stahl’s is an eclectic mixture of cars and music machines. We entered the music room first, to a mechanical accordion playing the Beer Barrel Polka. Mechanical devices of all types are on display, from player pianos to a machine that played violins. Club member Bob Brown, who helped set up many of the musical machines in the museum, provided many details about how the machines operate. Several organs, one from the Wurlitzer home, provided entertainment. One of the docents, who played one of the huge organs, wowed the crowd with several musical requests. A Chrysler turbine car, which came from a former collection in Indiana, was staged and ready for start-up. Unfortunately, technical difficulties prevented that, but seeing it up close was cool. Only a handful of turbine cars that were not destroyed when the Ghia program wound down. Other cars were on display, a Pierce Arrow owned by Fatty Arbuckle, a wrought iron VW beetle, a Graham sharknose, a Terraplane convertible, and on it went. It is truly a great place to visit, so many unique cars and music machines!

After lunch, it was time for the Road Rally. I wanted to have a driving event which was entertaining and provided a tour of the area. As this was something out of the norm, many members came to the hospitality room to see what this was about. Teams went out to tour and answer questions, with prizes awarded to the one who answered the most questions correctly. A friend of mine and I modified an existing rally and added several touring spots to get people out to see the area. With stops at the Meadowbrook Mansion, Oakland University (there were co-eds out there which slowed down some teams), the Chrysler Tech Center (if you can’t get a tour of the place, next best thing is a drive around the outside), through Pontiac and into the Cranbrook Museums. A driving event like this can result is some spirited discussions amongst the teams. Several people were reluctant to do it, but many came back to say, that was pretty cool. Something to keep in mind for future meets.

Back at the hotel it was time to board the bus for the Princess River Boat cruise on the Detroit River. We boarded and sat down to a buffet dinner. Everyone went out on one of several decks to see the sights as the boat cruised to Belle Isle, then down to the Ambassador Bridge and back to the dock by Cobo Hall. The weather was perfect, 75 degrees and no wind. The sunset was terrific. The city looked great under the lights. The bus ride back to the hotel was full of happy people. Unbeknownst to us, member Bill Elder from Belle River, Ontario, unable to cross the border, did the next best thing and parked his K in a park by the river with the Princess in the background. As they say Bill, if you can’t stop, honk and wave!

Saturday morning and it’s time for the Concours. The show was held in conjunction with the Michigan Mopar Muscle Club at the Hub Restaurant. Two cars were judged, Bill Golling’s G convertible and Greg Piche’s K hardtop, both beautiful cars! While the judges were attending to their duties, the rest of us had the difficult task of voting for the People’s Choice Awards. With 34 letter cars, 3 sports and 2 Newports, voting was quite difficult. So many great cars, Joe Jordan’s F 4spd, Mark Obermann’s hunter green B made its debut, Herb Grube’s F, Keith Boonstra’s C, Tom Haberek’s ‘70 (with about every option known to Chrysler), and on and on. A super turn out!

In addition, during the show, Dave Coston, who is assembling information on a new 300 Story video, was interviewing members about their cars. We even found a former Jefferson Assembly Plant Area Manager, now 85 years old, who also was interviewed about the plant and building 300’s. Dave and his crew will be using this information to create another stellar video on our cars. Stay tuned, this will be a must have for all 300 enthusiasts.

Peggy Lee says, the party’s over, it’s time to call it a day… but wait, there’s more! We’ve got a banquet to do. Diverting from the hotel, the Lafayette Grande in downtown Pontiac was the chosen site. This was originally a Masonic Temple built in the 1920’s. We were able to park our cars on the adjacent sidewalk and parking lot, all picked up on video by Dave Coston’s crew.

As this was our club’s 50th Anniversary, Terry’s Mc Taggart talked about the details of the founding of the club and how Gil Cunningham was instrumental in the formation of our club. We recognized the founders in attendance, Terry McTaggart, Carol Cunningham (Gil was unable to attend), Jim Bartuska and Arnold Lueth. Then it was on to the results of the judged cars and the people’s choice awards. Jim Krausmann, outgoing president, was roundly applauded for his efforts for the club.

It was a great meet, for the first time I can remember, the weather was perfect, no rain. Those of us with convertibles really appreciated it. It was great to come out of lock down, to get out, talk, ride in cars, repair cars, dine together, meet new members and do the things we love.

I enjoyed meeting the first time meet attendees, Dave and Kya Mason (Virginia), Rick and Carol King, Wayne and Sue Simonson, and Greg and Jill Piche (Michigan), Jeff and Kim Bailey (Oklahoma) and Bob and Nancy Kelley (Wisconsin). Welcome aboard, it was great to meet you.

I want to thank several people who helped with the meet, Gary Runkel, road scout and parking assistant, Noel Hastalis, registration, Jamie and Dawn Hyde, meet packets, Costco shopping and brake light repair and Jim Bielenda, road rally and general advisor. This was my first meet to host I enjoyed it. With a great group of people, great cars and great weather, this meet was a real hit. If you weren’t able to attend, I am told there are lots of pictures that will be shared on the website.

Photo credits: Carl Bilter, Keith Boonstra, Brian Frank, Joe Gross, Jamie Hyde,
Bob Kelley, Mick Kreszock, Noel Hastalis, Jeff Miklas, Gloria Moon, Mark Obermann, Tony Rinaldi, Caroll Ripley, Don Verity, Don Warnaar and Joe Williams.

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