When I was a kid, I was particularly interested in the 1962 300H, and pestered my parents about buying one, although I had to “settle” for them getting a non-letter 1962 300. I still have that car as it took me through college and on to Detroit when I worked for Chrysler and went through the Chrysler Institute of Engineering program. Nonetheless, after graduating from college and going to work for Chrysler Corporation in 1969, (I subsequently moved to California in 1972 and worked at Chrysler's California Emission Test Facility in Santa Fe Springs) I acquired a “real” 1962 300H in 1976 that required restoration. Roland helped me a great deal in restoring that car, reminding me continually to “keep it original”. Interestingly, Roland was a car painter by trade at a GM dealership in Glendale, California. He confessed that he didn't want to work at a Chrysler dealership since he wouldn't be able to make any money because he would be too personally involved wanting the cars to look their best. In painting GM cars, though, he didn't have the affection he had toward Chrysler products, which allowed him to do only that which was required. Roland was the one who painted my 300H, which I still have, and which still looks like new some 25 years after completing the restoration.
Roland was also adept at making his own “brew” and so when I visited him on numerous occasions, he required me “to have some”. I really am not much of a beer drinker and truthfully, his brew seemed too bitter to me, but he and some of his friends sure liked it. I thought his home-made beans were much better and concentrated on them. We would often just bring out the F and sit around it admiring its lines and telling stories among all his friends, which he amassed easily. With Roland, you always knew where you stood, since he was a frank, honest person who wasn't afraid to express his opinion.
After some negative experiences at Chrysler dealers, he had maintenance on the 300F performed by myself and another friend, Bob Locke. I tuned the car, rebuilt the carburetors, redid the brakes (putting in silicone fluid), and some other maintenance over the years. I was really shocked when he let me take the F to my house to do the brake work since I had all my tools there. I can say I was really scared to drive the car in Los Angeles freeway traffic some 30 miles to my house since I knew how much he loved that car! But Roland trusted me over the years and I appreciated it.
Roland certainly knew what he liked and regarding the F, he made a few modifications to it that he thought would be more in keeping with the price class of the vehicle. For one, he carpeted the trunk side panels since he thought the factory should have done so for such an expensive car. He also thought it should have chrome air cleaners, breather, and power steering cap, which he added. One other modification he made was to the radiator support area, which he painted a semi-flat black since he believed when looking at the grille, one should not see a white radiator support in the background. He felt the black background emphasized the beautiful, deep-set crossbar grille. Other than these items, however, he insisted that the car always be kept stock.
About 8 years ago, in 1994, I received a call from Roland one night that was a real shock to me. He asked me if I would purchase the F because he was concerned that it was sitting too much and needed a home where it would be driven and cared for better than he was any longer able to do. I never indicated to Roland that I would sure like to have that car because I knew that I could never afford it and because I could never imagine him ever wanting to sell it, but I am sure he knew how much I liked that car. I told him that while I would certainly like to buy it, there was no way I could afford to given its real value. He indicated that he was more interested in finding a good home for it than getting a lot of money. So after some very brief discussion on what I could afford, I refinanced my house to buy it at much less than its value. Roland knew what he was doing, though, since he knew that I would continue to go to car shows with him and show the F and I frequently took the car over to his house to visit him up until his passing on Jan 1, 2000 at age 85.
The F now resides in my garage, though I do not cover it since I enjoy looking at it every time I go into the garage. The car is truly a fine example of this model. My biggest issue with it is whether to restore some of the items that have deteriorated such as the paint on the intake manifolds or the deterioration of the foam padding under the instrument panel vinyl cover, or leave it as is. For now, I am leaning on leaving it as despite the deterioration since the car is so original and untouched, and overall still looks and runs like new. I was more than pleased to have John Hertog come and photograph it for the sake of others trying to decide on how to restore their Fs to original condition. I feel that I am just a steward of this car and someday will pass it on to someone who will also preserve it for its originality and specialty. Detroit will never again produce a car so remarkably beautiful, bold, and competent.
by Steve Albu, Dec. 2001