The Kid Who Won the Chrysler 300 Lottery

 

It was 1955 and I had previously discussed with my parents that the following year I did not want to attend camp in Waupaca, Wisconsin as I had done for the previous four years.  Camp Waupaca was an eight-week summer camp and during that time there were two allotted weekends for parent visiting days.  Don’t misunderstand I had great parents but they had a habit of always being late.  On parents visiting day the parents were allowed to arrive at 9:00 a.m. and most of them did but by my watch it was now 9:30 a.m. and me and only a few other kids were still waiting in the parking lot for their parents to arrive.  I was trying to entertain myself with thoughts and distractions and not dwell on the fact that my parents had not arrived when there it was…white and it was gleaming and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

 

But first let me tell you that since I was eight years old my second bicycle was an old newspaper delivery bike.  What made it a delivery bike was that the rear wheel was the standard 26” but the front wheel was about 16” making way for an extremely large basket to deliver the newspapers.  I never delivered newspapers but used my bike to go around to all the car dealers on the different “new and used car rows” in the Logan Square area of Chicago to collect sales car literature on all the newest cars.  I was so well known that the car dealers at the end of the year would save boxes of unused sales car literature to give to me to take home in my bike basket.  By the time I was thirteen I had filled a large closet in my bedroom with boxes of car literature and car advertising brochures from 1950 to 1955 it was a really fantastic collection.

 

But back to my story at camp there it was I had already collected literature on it from the local Chrysler dealer but had never seen one in person.  Yes, one of the parents had driven up and parked a 1955 Chrysler 300 to Camp Waupaca to visit their child.  At this point I remember that my mind was entirely off the fact that my parents were running late and my eyes were running wild over the broad shouldered Chrysler.  Back in 1955 very few cars except convertibles had full leather interior but of course the Chrysler 300 had a beautiful interior and it was leather.  This was my first real experience with a Chrysler 300 and I never did forget it.  My parents did show up and were not at all surprised that instead of talking about the camping experiences for the last few weeks I started giving them a tour of the Chrysler 300 in the parking lot.  I remember my mother interrupting me and letting me know that while I was at camp they were in the process of remodeling the kitchen at the apartment that we lived in and they blew out one of the kitchen walls and it expanded the size of my bedroom.  I remember thinking, “wow, more room for more of my car literature, that will be great”.

 

By the time I was sixteen years old I was already collecting cars, my first collector car being a 1928 Chevy Landau padded top coupe and my daily driver to high school, a 1950 Olds bubble top 88 business coupe.  Like most of my friends I of course graduated high school and went on to college but unlike most of my friends I became a serious car collector and years later became the owner of a 1957 Chrysler 300, one of a very few that had been painted in a medium green from the factory.  As some people may have heard I became involved in collecting concept cars and in the process acquired two of the most important cars in my collection.  These two cars seemed to continue the thread that originated on my first sighting of a 1955 Chrysler 300 at Camp Waupaca to my 1957 green Chrysler 300convertible and consummated with my acquiring of the 1955 Chrysler Ghia Falcon, the show car for Chrysler done on a shortened 1955 Chrysler 300 chassis.  This was to be Chrysler’s sports car – the top executives would never give it the go ahead so it ended up not being as lucky as the 52/53 Corvette roadster that went into production at GM.

 

So there you have it the story of the kid that won the Chrysler 300 lottery.  The kid who at age 13 had his first sighting of the first Chrysler 300 in 1955 and thought he had found heaven when he owned his 1957 Chrysler 300convertible in the 1970’s and ended up winning the Chrysler 300 lottery with the 1955 Chrysler Ghia Falcon.  Now it is interesting to note that after acquiring this car in the late 1980’s that in the very early 1990’s it was featured at Pebble Beach along with some other concept cars that I had acquired at that time to test the public’s reaction to showing cars at the Pebble Beach show that were not certified by the Classic Car Club of America.  The public gave a resounding call of approval and the following year more concept cars were on display from the 1950s and the 1960’s.

 

It is my considered opinion and many others agree with me that the best design period in American automotive design was the 1950’s and the 1960’s and during that time the greatest designers were doing there best work that resulted in such examples as the Chrysler 300’s in general and also the Chrysler 300 concept cars in particular which epitomize the enthusiasm from Chrysler in the Falcon.

 

But wait I didn’t finish the story about the thirteen year old that won the Chrysler 300 lottery from Camp Waupaca.  When I got home from camp in 1955 I did find my bedroom newly remodeled with lots of extra space – even totally extra space in my closet that had been filled with my car collection of new sales brochures that had filled my closet.  My mother in her enthusiasm of remodeling decided to get rid of all that “crap” that was in my closet which in her words she considered a fire hazard and didn’t want it cluttering the newly remodeled bedroom and closet so she decided in her infinite wisdom to toss it all out.  Needless to say my depression over the situation lasted a long time but in retrospect I still believe I am the kid that won the Chrysler 300 lottery; yep, still a kid at 68 years old, putting on a couple hundred miles each year on each one of the Ghia Chrysler 300 cars and still trying to forgive mom.