Obsession with the Best
By Phil Irish

Reprinted from the 1987 Club News Volume XIII Number II

Hi! Phil Irish here, just a little background on my mania for 300s, and specifically Bs. I was 11 when my Dad bought a ’56 Windsor coupe – geranium red body with silver gray spear and top, and the top of the line fabric interior. You talk about excitement for an impressionable kid having a yen for cars that was already developed! None of my brothers or I was permitted to ride in that car unless personally inspected for cleanliness and in the first three years I can count on one hand the number of times I realized that privileged status of “Going in the Red Car.” The family wagon was the regular transport for my large family.
Nine years later, when in college, and a new Chrysler had supplanted the “Red Car” as Dad’s vehicle, I was able to con that car to go to college – only with the proviso that it be returned upon graduation in the same or better condition as lent in. Although not new at that point, it still gave that appearance and undoubtedly played a part in whatever social success I enjoyed Junior and Senior years. I suspect that the four and a half hour drive from home to college helped stamp me indelibly with the belief that truly, here were the sensations of motoring magnificence. Not quite enough GO with the smaller motor, but otherwise the size, comfort, style and security appropriate to the top of the automotive “pile.”

I was forced to give up that car when I left college for the military, but Dad did not part with it and has it still. 1975 saw me out of the military, married and living in Memphis, TN. In some publication I stumbled across a reference to the 300 Club and wrote for membership. With help from Al and Gloria Moon – YES they have a long record of helping members – I located a 300B in the D.C. area that was available. Several letters and phone calls finally lead to agreement and as my wife and I had to be in Virginia for a family wedding, I decided to go ahead. The car was not billed as perfect, “the usual rust” if I remember the phrase! In person it was not too bad, but had clearly had some lower body work and a repaint from the trim line down. It ran strong though and I was delighted.

Traveling southwest from D.C., up and over the mountains on a secondary highway, with the intention of picking up I-81, we encountered our first “experience.” The right side muffler and tail pipe departed from the Brute with a “WHUMP” followed by the tremendous bellow of an unmuffled Hemi. It was raining, there was no shoulder, just steep vegetation slanting down to the road on the passenger side and a goodly drop off on the other, and no prospect of help of any sort. Getting a rag from the trunk, I salvaged the muffler and got rid of the remainder of the exhaust pipe, right up to the point where it failed under my wife’s feet! I am certain that the scarcity of original mufflers, which this was, crossed my mind as I heaved it into the trunk; probably mixed with some thought of having it rehung in the next town. As we passed through New Market, VA the foolishness of that idea became apparent. It was 4:30 PM on a Saturday, having left after the wedding, and I had to be back in Memphis on Monday. “Press On Regardless” became the motto. My wife alternated between, “I never like the idea of this foolishness, why did YOU buy this big clunky old thing anyhow?” and “Easy on the gas, there is another policeman and I don’t want to spend the night in jail.”

We made it to Knoxville before calling it a night, and the next, on into Memphis, still sans muffler etc. but I enjoyed it tremendously and Mary was thankful for the reliability, if nothing else.

The next few years saw more activity, attending meets, although not with the Brute, meeting club members and getting to know more about my car. Research revealed that it has been sold originally in North Carolina. Inspection revealed he drove on the beach and did not wash off the underside of the car!!! “The usual rust” kept ringing in my ears. But I kept it looking as good as I was able and enjoyed driving it regularly, always to the appreciative smiles and waves of onlookers.

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 1984 was the get the white Brute fixed. I had met Ray Beaumont and been impressed with not only the results of his ability but his dedication to doing things correctly. If I was going into this, I wanted to come out a contender in the show circle. I drove to Ray’s house in North Florida to deliver the car, again feeling that this was clearly the top of the pile, even left a few newer types in the dust on the Interstate along the way. On the road, I saw a bumper sticker that summed up the trip perfectly – “55 MPH, Aw Shucks!”

Before that trip I knew I could not be without a 300B and had looked at several around the country. The finest by far was a red one with wire wheels that member John Sheets had brought up to an excellent state of repair. And it was sound underneath–HALLELUJIAH! I purchased the red B telling Mary it would be cheaper than fixing the white B, probably, but we would let Ray Beaumont tell us the answer to that. A measure of how far she has come in the lack of complaint when there never was further mention of “Ray telling us the answer…” Ray has done a tremendous amount of work, and is not finished yet, but real progress is evident and I am optimistic the future is bright.
The Red B keeps me happy for the present, although as with all cars there are a few details I would like to upgrade, and a broken spoke I have no choice but to repair so as not to ruin the wheel altogether.

Remember the Red and Gray Windsor? My Dad had met Ray and watched the progress of the White B, and the Red and Gray has an appointment with Beaumont’s Magic to undo the ravages of many upstate New York winters.

Now all I need is a really nice Black B to round out the collection. Perhaps a high serial number, with a Torqueflite, or a stick shift, if one such exists

Mania? Did I used that word earlier??? I prefer to think of it as an obsession with the Best. The Letter Series 300s were, and to my mind, still are, THE BEST.

2013 update

Jonnie Slayton of Akron, Ohio did a major "overhaul/restoration" of my Dad's geranium red and grey Windsor, after completing the"rebirthing" the white B from a large pile of parts and a rolling chassis, over several years. Within a restircted budget, the engine, transmission and rear axle from an 83,000 mile parts 56 New Yorker sedan were installed in the Windsor. It had been a tired 375,000 mile car, that still held nostalgic connections for me having driven it to college and then passing it on to several of my brothers for that same purpose - I had to keep it going! Jonnie had a "spare" 300B manifold and 2 carbs which I traded for to add yet more "oomph" to the now 354" Hemi powered car. It is now a real fun toy, and conversation piece. I drive it to our local Mopar club monthly meet and just out and about on weekends but don't worry about leaving it in the parking lot as someone is always looking at, and watching over it. Its dual carbs often lead to long discussions about my Bs as well, and not a few invitations to display locally all three. Good PR for our hobby.

As an aside I also have a low milage, pink, black and white '56 New Yorker St. Regis 2 door hardtop as well. It is a story in itself but is completely original, having gotten it from the original little old lady school teacher who bought it as her 1st and only new car, and drove it until she was 94 years old. It too attracts a lot of attention - the ladies love it. Do I sound like I'm "stuck" on '56s?

All the best 300ing,