So You Want To Buy A 300D?
By The Gloria Moon

Reprinted from the 2000 Club News Volume 26 Number 2

When looking to buy a 300D there are certain things to look for. This is true of any 300, but for this article, we’ll just look at the D. You’ve chosen a remarkable 300D.

Matching the Numbers

Two sets of numbers will verify that this is a 300D. The VIN plate is located on the driver’s door hinge pillar. This tag is an aluminum rectangle with the serial number stamped on it. The first 3 should read LC4 followed by 4 numbers underneath. The L stands for 1958, the C is for Chrysler, the 4 designates the 300D model. The following 4 numbers are the sequential production numbers starting with 1001, the first 300D made and ending with 1810, the last 300D made. The tag is tack welded to the pillar. If it has been tampered with, attached with screws, re-welded, the stamping changed or is missing, beware of this car until you have more information about it. These tags can fall off or have been removed during a restoration, but more research is definitely called for.
The second set of numbers is the Body Plate. This larger tag painted over at the factory to match the body paint is located on the passenger side of the radiator yoke. Across the top of this plate are the following letters:

MDL         SCDL        ITM         PNT         TRM
Directly under these will be found letters or numbers.
MDL is the model of the car. 592 is a 300D special club coupe, 595 is a 300D convertible.
SCDL is the scheduled build date. For example, an early D built on October 22, 1957 will have a 1022 stamping. A late production D built on April 1, 1958 will have 0401 stamped.
ITM is a pretty useless number for us. It is the number of cars firmed for production on that schedule date previously noted.
PNT is the color the D was painted. In 1958, a set of three letters were used, e.g., XXX means Ermine White. If the stamping says 999, then that is a specially ordered color.
TRM is interior code. Standard leather interior is 016. Special order interior is 888.

The bewildering sea of letters and numbers in the center of the tag show exactly which options the D came with. In the lower left corner of the tag are the letters SRL. Below this are 4 numbers. In 1958, these numbers are a repeat of the car’s serial number. If these numbers do not match the VIN plate, beware. Over the years and for obvious reasons, many 300’s were involved in front end collisions. The repair shop would source a new front end and many times did not replace the tag or they would install a good used front end from a junkyard 300C, D, or E with the wrong body plate information from that, a different 300.

If you are serious about purchasing a 300D, check with the club’s Microfilm Research to verify the authenticity of the car. You will have to make a pencil rubbing of both plates to send to Gil Cunningham. The club’s Archive Files is the place to find out the known history of a 300 letter car and is also a very sound investment of time.

The Engine

We will not try to tell you how to check the mechanical condition of the car. It should have the 392 engine with two 4 bbl carburetors. The engine number stamped on top of the block behind the thermostat housing should start as 58N3. The 3 indicates 300D. Other 392 hemis don’t have a 3. Again check for number tampering. A factory short block 392 hemi will have a red tag flimsily attached to the passenger’s side of the engine. 0133 may be stamped on it. This block will have no engine number stamped on the top boss. It will be blank. An easy clue to check if it is a high po engine is to see if the valve covers have the valve stem clearance “bump” only found on high po hemi engines. The valve covers should have Chrysler Firepower stamped on them. The Carter WCFB carburetor numbers are on a too easily lost aluminum tag attached to an airhorn body screw. Numbers should be 2741S front and 2742S rear. These carburetors are hard to locate. The 300D air cleaners are also hard to locate items. They are oval and the same as 300E and 300H. Neither the valve covers nor the air cleaners should be chromed; they are painted gold.

The Body

The body of the car looks remarkably like a 300C but there’s lots of differences. The windshield will always be compound curved at the top which is only found on the 300C convertible and 300E. There is no spoiler as with a 300C coupe. The smaller red plastic with “silvered” housing area exterior to the tail lights is an obvious giveaway to the car’s year – but we’ve seen with the greater availability of the ’57 tail lights, sometimes ‘57s will be in use on ’58 300Ds (these housing assemblies will fit perfectly.) The side medallions contain the letter D. The wheel covers have the 300 medallion in the center with a chromed pot metal spinner housing. A fairly common option was stone shields in ’58. Look for stainless dress trim forward of the external rear wheel house opening.
And there is the rust. Always take your magnet to check for body filler. Common exterior body rust spots are front fenders (over the headlights), hood nose, front fender bottoms, rocker panels, rear quarter wheel openings. Check the frame for rust. Inner body panels should also be checked. Pull up the trunk carpet and check the trunk floor. Inside the car check the floor especially where you put your feet front and rear. Also, check the front seat track wells.

The Interior

The leather interior is unique to the 300D. In fact, almost every item in the interior is s 300D only item. Check the condition of the leather, rot and sun scald cannot be overcome. Gary Goers is a Legendary Interior dealer and offers very nice interior parts. The dash instrument housings are chromed. Check that you have a 150 MPH speedometer. All other models with have a 120 speedometer. The headliner is usually a cloth one that did not hold up well. Two holding strips will run from windshield to rear window. If the headliner is not badly soiled, leave it alone! It is fragile and often disintegrates when cleaned. So far there is no source to replace this version of headliner. Any missing interior pieces will also be hard to replace.

The Test Drive

Start it up, see if it goes and most importantly see if it stops. If you are not familiar with a 300, we urge you to attend our twice annual meets. Take a look at the cars and ask to drive one or more. If you decide you absolutely want a certain year 300, take lots of pictures. Ask the owner questions about the particular weaknesses of that year and you will most likely learn more than you ever thought possible. If you have found the car you want but feel unsure as to its condition or authenticity of parts (after checking the numbers), check your roster for a club member near you owning that model 300 and ask if he will come with you to see the car. Some trip expenses and a good lunch may save you a lot of grief down the road. Most of us are very willing to help. Just ask!

Other Numbers To Call

In your latest newsletter you will find the phone numbers of the Club Technical Consultant, George Riehl and consultants for each model year. Give them a call and they will all be glad to help. That’s why they’re here. Happy Three Hundreding!!