I’ve been taking in the January Scottsdale collector car auctions for nearly ten years now, and they’ve become my mid-winter escape from Calgary snow and cold. At one of my first RM Auctions, I spent about half an hour going over a 1960 Chrysler 300 F in Alaskan White. This car among 120 mostly Packards, Deusenbergs and V-16 Cadillacs captured my attention. I looked for a "Big Brute" for several years after that.
The F’s claims to fame are numerous, which some argue make them the most sought after Chrysler "Letter Cars". (Others will point out the tall finned pre-1959 Hemi cars are, but I digress). 1960 was the first year for Chrysler’s unibody construction, purported to strengthen as well as lighten their cars.
It was the second year for the Golden Lion 413 c.i. wedge, rated in the 300 F at 375 hp (495 lb. ft. torque) with an automatic transmission and 400 hp (465 lb. ft. torque) with the optional Pont-à-Mousson 4speed. The car was tested by every automotive magazine of the day, and best performance by a stock 375hp automatic was 0-60mph in 7.0 seconds; ¼ mile in 16.0 seconds at 85mph.
Standard F equipment included power steering, brakes, windows and seats, a console mounted tachometer, 150mph speedometer, and Golden Tune radio with touch tuner standard.
My car was also ordered with factory Conditionaire air conditioning ($570), rear window defogger ($21), power antenna ($26), rear seat speaker ($17), and Solex tinted glass ($43).
Only 964 hardtops and 248 convertible 300 F’s were produced. Base price in the U.S. for the hardtop was $5,411 and $5,841 for the convertible.
F’s were built on the New Yorker 126" wheelbase, are 219.6 inches long and weigh in dry at 4,270 pounds (4,310 for the convertible). About 320 300 F’s survive today.
At the January, 2012 Russo and Steele auction, I spotted a 300 F done in Polar Blue (DDI). Not a stock 300 F colour I learned, but a period correct Chrysler colour all the same. The car was originally Alaskan White (WWI). F’s came in a choice of only four colours: Formal Black, Alaskan White, Regal Red and Terra Cotta.
My F was purchased in 1992 for $12,500 US by a guy in Reno, NV and restored by a shop near Houston over the next year at a then cost of $42,000 US. It’s travelled about 6,000 miles since, and I was impressed at how well the paint and interior fared over 20 years. The restoration is fully documented, as is the ownership history and work done since 1992.
In the February, 1960 issue of Motor Life, they concluded their review with "it could be necessary to search a long time to come up with any one single automobile that has all the attributes of the 300 F.
For high speed cross country touring, there’s nothing even close that carries a "Made in USA" tag, and few if any, foreign machines that qualify as competition for this car." Hot Rod Magazine, April, 1960 put it more simply, "the 300 F is ideal for the man who wants everything."
Editors Special Note: Image at top of page courtesy of TIM ADAMS , THE MAGNET GUY
Chrysler Historical confirmed my 300 F was sold new in Indianapolis, Indiana at O’Brien Motor Sales, Inc. The previous owner to me was John Staluppi Jr. who owns five car dealerships in Las Vegas and kept the F in a warehouse collection for five years. His father is the infamous Florida car dealer, yacht builder, museum owner, who bids from the Barrett-Jackson skybox with his miniature poodle, Killer.
John Jr. was very obliging after the sale, even covering $1,600 in minor repairs (two power window rotors, wheel cylinders etc.) that I required to get the car through the Alberta out of province check. Hemmings Motor News highlighted my car in their review of the 2012 Russo and Steele auction, stating the hammer price was a fair deal for buyer and seller.
The F was the first Letter Car equipped with Chrysler’s 30 inch cross ram intake manifolds supporting dual Carter AFB 4 barrels. 300 F’s captured the first six places in the Daytona Flying Mile competition that year, with a top speed of 145mph - on nylon tires running in the sand!
The F was the first Letter Car to offer four leather power/swivel bucket seats and a full length chrome console, as well as the AstraDome instrument cluster and push button automatic found in all ’60 to ’62 Chryslers.
The AstraDome’s electroluminescent "floating" gauges are truly cool at night. Lexus adopted similar instrument lighting technology a few years ago.
The F’s body is distinct from other ’60 Chryslers with its vented hood and simulated continental kit in the centre of the trunklid, a one year only feature dubbed "the toilet seat" by its critics. 1960 Chrysler styling, nearing the end of the Virgil Exner era, sport angled fins, "boomerang" taillights and large V bumpers.
Although thirsty for premium fuel, these cars weren’t intended to be economy cars.
They were built in limited numbers for affluent Americans who could tolerate a stiff suspension and wanted luxury and performance in one package.