by George Riehl

Reprinted from the Chrysler 300 Club News Spring 1984
Volume X Number III

There it was, “1963 Chrysler 300, 2 door coupe. Best offer.” The Ann Arbor News listed this in the classified section of “Used cars for Sale”. It just couldn’t be a letter 300J, naw . . . but just to make sure, we had better get in the car and go take a look. Just about a mile and a half away we saw this black Chrysler sitting in front of the address that was given to us over the phone.

I could see the small 300J emblem on the rear roof panel and thought, “This is too good to be true”. Someone else had already arrived and was looking the 300 over pretty good. “Shucks”, I said to myself, “this guy has already decided to buy it.” Well the owner of the J said, “I’ll take you all for a ride, so that you can see how it runs”. To say the least, this young pre-med student gave us one hell of a ride.

The other guy in the J with us just kept raving about the performance and that it was an extremely rare car because of the 400, production figure. Neither had he seen or heard of another J for sale until now. The fellow just wouldn’t quit running his mouth.

Finally, we got back to the house and this guy was still talking a blue streak. I went over to him when he eventually ran down and asked him if he was going to buy the car. “Oh, no.” was the reply, “I don’t have any money.” Had I had a clear shot at him, my fist would have relocated his teeth.

Now the owner said, since this was such a rare car, he was going to reconsider selling it or it would go for much more than he originally asked . . . $600.00. Disheartened, we blew a fond farewell kiss to the J.

A few days later, I decided to call the owner back to see what the status of the J was. He said that someone was coming over to look at it and was going to put it up on a lift to check the underside. Without thinking, I asked just how much CASH it would take to buy the car at that moment. The $800.00 figure was struck and I ran right over with CASH in hand and bought the car.

While there, his wife was heard to say that they would have taken $400.00 for the car just to get rid of it. GREAT! But, what the hell . . . I got the J.

One reason they decided to sell the J was that they had taken it to the local Chrysler dealer to get a tune-up. $185.00 was the price after the mechanic got a look under the hood. Besides, they were only getting about 6 miles to the gallon and he as a pre-med student could not afford the gas.

The history behind the J was that the student’s father, a doctor in Traverse City, Michigan, had purchased the J new and when the son started school in Ann Arbor in 1970, he gave it to him. The car had about 60,000 miles on it when he sold it to me in September 1970.

Nothing much was done to the J, except to give it a real good cleaning out. Papers, foam rubber, sandwich wrappers, coffee cups, sand (lots of sand) . . . you name it. The fellow was not too neat. We drove the J to many meets and after one night ride to the east attending a meet, the poor old engine got to using 2 to 3 quarts of oil per fill-up of gas. On the way back 3 to 4 quarts of oil. So, the restoration of the J started during the next year and a half. As usual, engine, brakes, carbs, radiator, hoses, belts, transmission, electrical and what ever else one can think of was replaced, refurbished or cleaned up. Bodywork was done in Cleveland by an old friend who had helped me do a paint job on the brown C coupe. He also repainted the lower half.

Then for the next few years the J attended many meets, and won 1st in Class at the Fall Meet in Toronto in 1976. But again, it was time for a more concerted restoration. Thank goodness that it was in almost original condition and not too many original parts had been replaced. Not having a service manual to work from, the J slowly returned to the way she left the factory. Many hours of labor went into it and into scouring the local junk yards for some of the original pieces needed to upgrade her looks. All the mechanical, electrical and detail work was done by myself. Again, more bodywork was done to straighten all those little dings and nicks. Bodywork was done in Ann Arbor and then it went to (please forgive me) a Ford dealership body shop that had been doing some repair work on some of our company trucks. A long story short, they did me a favor and painted the J with a black Imron paint at . . . no extra charge. I had specified an acrylic enamel. I knew that any repair after that would be a major and costly undertaking. Imron has to be ground off and the whole panel that is to be repainted must be ground down to bare metal.

The J finally went home with a super paint job and it traveled the show circuit again and then was retired in favor of the upcoming restoration on my G coupe that was waiting patiently under a couple of feet of snow. But that’s another story. Woefully, the J now reposes under a car cover in a building with my other 300s. It hasn’t moved in the last four years.

Thanks to Bill Elder (Wild Man of the North) for preparing this article