By on January 23, 2009

The brutal sun finally started setting as I headed up the Grapevine. Since my plan was to go for broke, I had opened the taps. According to the speedometer, I was pushing 75 mph. It had only been 50 miles since Bakersfield, but with the gas leak and increased RPM I decided I needed to refuel one more time before making the big downhill home to Los Angeles. This of course meant engaging in my own personal stupidest act of 2008: adding gas with the engine still running. I found a nice, empty looking station near Gorman. Long story short, I’m still here. And the drive into LA turned out to be cathartic.

Anyway, I’d done it. Obviously, there’d been much discussion between me and Murilee regarding the prospect of just saying “hell no” and sending the cash back to Prague. Especially after the Chrysler refused to start. His argument was, “You need to do this. Every car guy needs to have an adventure like this with a beater in the middle of nowhere.” Cruel? A bad friend? Insane? A little of all three, sure. But also wise. I did need to do this. As an automotive journalist, how could I not? Like Camus said, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.”

There is something near-magical about cruising Los Angeles at dusk in a gigantic American convertible. The provenance is spot on. Whatever other reasons there are for this car’s existence, they’re little more than hollow echoes. The Chrysler was as at home as any of the palm trees lining the freeway. Passing Dodger Stadium I actually felt near human again, after six hours of (sweaty) suffering. But you see, this was just a trick of time and circumstance. The damn Chrysler was cursed.

I drove the behemoth to a deserted street and called my lady, “Pick me up. Come pick me up, now!” Honestly, I wanted to pour gas over the 300 and strike a match. At least beat on it with a hammer. She got me home, I showered, and quite honestly forgot about the horrible car for the next few months.

Well, tried to forget. See, the Czechs still wanted the blasted thing. The problem, or precisely one of the problems, was the shipping facility’s hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Not exactly a convenient time frame, especially since it would take two drivers to tango. Also, by then, I hated the 300. I didn’t want to go anywhere near it; it’s able to produce more headaches-per-mile than any car, well, ever. Still, I had to hold up my end of the bargain and eventually blocked out a day when both me and my poor, sweet, innocent fiancée were free.

After forty-five minutes of wrenching, hammering and straight-up cussing (plus jumper cable), the once mighty 440 turned over. Victory! Now all I had to do was pilot the ship 20 miles down to the port and wash my hands of the evil bastard forever. Ha ha ha! As I began gaining speed I heard a “thwap thwap thwapping” sound. I thought it must be the roof, but it got louder as I went faster. I pulled over and — voila! — the good ole bias-ply tread had separated from the tire. At least I live two blocks from a tire shop, right?

Oh so wrong. Not only didn’t they have a suitable tire in stock, but they couldn’t think of a single tire shop in town that would stock such a size. Even the competitors three blocks away. Pricks. Well, I’d simply drive. Just kidding! The damn 300 refused to start. Then the shop monkeys told me I couldn’t park there. I’ve rarely felt so violent in my life. I raised the white flag and called AAA, explaining that I needed a flatbed. Forty-five minutes later I get a call, “Our driver’s down at Figueroa and 45th street. He can’t find you.” As calmly as possible I explained that the Chrysler was broken down on the corner of Figueroa and 45th AVENUE, you retarded motherfuckers! Come get us, now

The flatbed grabbed us and dropped us off without incident. Of course, seeing as how that Chrysler is for evil, the port facility had no record of the car or the buyer. Another 90 minutes of frustration right there. My girl and I did get a great tour of the shipping joint’s “good stuff” that was waiting to be sent off to Europe. But even that wasn’t worth the heartache of this Chrysler. Have I learned my lesson? You betcha. I’m looking at a 1969 Ford Torino Convertible in the morning, but this one “runs good.”

[Click here to read Pt. 1]

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28 Comments on “Chrysler 300 Convert Pt. 2...”


  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    That tire looks like a retread, and a radial tire at that. It probably would have gotten you down the road a ways once it shed its “new skin”. But it might have made a mess coming off. It’s like all those truck retread skins you see on the highway. They just keep on going.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Jonny,

    It sounds like a lot of pain for you, but a great story for us. Keep this up as it reminds me of all things I want to do if I had the time off from work and the money to pick up something crazy like this.

    Also, prior to reading the editorial I looked at the pictures. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how you grew that much facial hair on a road trip. You leave that thing parked on the street for a few months while you forgot about it?

  • avatar
    AKM

    Jonny, thanks for the chuckles!

    If you want to, I’m currently trying to start a 2000 jeep wrangler manual, and the damn thing is flummoxing me. Maybe you can come to NJ and have fun with it.

  • avatar
    GeeDashOff

    I like posts like this, very entertaining.
    More please…

    /that is all.

  • avatar
    rottenbob

    In a few years you’ll be laughing about this! I’ve been there, and have had a few experiences like this. Yes, they were frustrating, but now when I look back on it I realize the hilarity of it all.

  • avatar
    BobJava

    Shouldn’t you be flipping off the car (or the Czech Republic) rather than us? Or just not at all. Only Johnny Cash looked good flipping off the camera.

    Nice write-up though. Very entertaining and very California.

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    Paul,

    The idea that a sedan might have retread tires would never occur to any North American under the age of 45.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    BobJava:

    That’s called the Double Whammy. I save it for special occasions.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Yeah, I learned about retreads from experience too. Bought them from the same outfit that my father swore by for truck tires for the dump trucks and lowboys. They grew eggs in the sidewalls and started thumping. I didn’t wait for them to fly apart.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    This part 2 post reminds me of the time I put in disc 2 of Goodfellas and my buddy and I started watching away. Couldn’t for the life of me understand how a movie could start out like that and have both of us wondering what we missed. It was about 30 mins into it that we realized that there was a disc 1. Same here. Oh well, funny stuff even for the second half.

  • avatar
    eastaboga

    Dr. Gonzo Award of Excellence

    The award’s actually an old electric typewriter that’s taken multiple rounds from a nickel-plated 45, but hey, you’re a winner!

  • avatar

    Very enjoyable to read your account, since it’s not happening to me.

    I know the new policy is no T&A, but why isn’t your lady in any of the shots?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Karesh:

    I sent Farago a shot of my lady giving the single whammy inside a Porsche 356…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Beautiful car. I miss the mile-long quarter panels of those days.

    Great adventure, too.

  • avatar
    cc-rider

    Excellent prose! This is what makes TTAC the best car website out there.

    Lose the caveman beard! A porn stache would be much more befitting…

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    That tire IS a radial. In the close-up pic of the tire, I can see the size is P215/75R15. The R stands for RADIAL. That’s a fairly common size; how could the tire shop NOT have any in stock?! …and what happened to the spare? …and when did you figure out that the studs were left-hand threaded?

    If you ever need to deliver another big ol’ Mopar for your Czech friend, I’ll ride copilot if you pay for my plane ticket to California.

  • avatar
    mikey

    They used to call that tred seperation.Years ago they would recap a tire,it involved glueing a new tred on, scary stuff indeed.

    Anyway, great story.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Wanting to beat it with a hammer reminds me of a funny incident with a friend.

    I was sound asleep and heard someone knocking on my window (about 4am). His hand me down Renault 5 (who would do that to their kids) had left him stranded just off the highway. The gas gauge had stopped working. It had been a long walk to my house. I dragged myself out of bed, got a gas can, went to the station and filled it up, and off we went. I parked the car, and just as we walked up to the car my friend had what can only be described as a seizure of anger. He walked around the car, kicking it and screaming obscenities. Then he snapped the antenna off and proceeded to whip the car with it. Finally, exhausted, he threw the antenna into the bushes and screamed ‘There! What do you think of that?!!!’ I am not sure who he was addressing, really. Then we filled it up and off he went. Not long after the clutch failed and that was that.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    So do tell us what the “good stuff” was?

  • avatar
    scartooth

    I would love to have that car. AMERICAN cars have style and hold their value. Thats the difference between American cars and those not American cars. American autos have a STORY. Foreign only have an END.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Re the drop top Torino. I hope its retrieval is a little more uneventful than the 300′s was. Remember what Ford stands for. And I dont mean First On Race Day.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    …and when did you figure out that the studs were left-hand threaded?

    I wonder about that.

    Any average male could twist off a stud with a regular tire iron let alone two guys on a long bar. Try it, they break very easily.

  • avatar
    bumpy

    “Remember what Ford stands for. And I dont mean First On Race Day.”

    Driver Returns on Foot. Wear comfortable shoes.

    As for the retread, I had the delightful experience of riding around on dry-rotted radials on the Citation. When the tread peels off, just cut off the loose bits and keep it under 20 mph.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    bluecon: “Any average male could twist off a stud with a regular tire iron let alone two guys on a long bar. Try it, they break very easily.”Maybe on today’s cars. Back in ’69, things might have been a bit different. I would even venture a guess that Chrysler anticipated what was likely a common error and designed the left-hand studs to be stout enough to withstand the nominal abuse without breaking.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    @ rudiger

    I have broken them 60′s lugs off. They break easy. I still have a couple 60′s Mopars.

    No they didn’t design them so you couldn’t break them.

  • avatar
    scartooth

    REMEMBER what FOREIGN made means. It means sending your jobs to foreign countries where they endorse slave labor and have unregulated industries that pollute at will and fish the oceans unrestricted for whales,fish, and endangered species with no concern for man or earth. So Buy American WHERE WE HAVE LAWS AND WE CARE.

  • avatar
    chanman

    I think Johnny needs to start packing a revolver with him. His next delivery can be delivered with complimentary speed holes.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Yo Johnny, this story touched my heart. All through my twenties I owned and drove:

    A ’68 Fury I
    A ’68 Fury III
    A ’68 New Yorker
    A ’72 Newport

    I loved these cars and I drove them (collectively) many hundreds of thousands of miles. They were all second owners, I purchased them from the people who bought them new.

    I wonder what sort of history your 300 has? Who drove that thing brand-new off the dealer lot? Your story is a great read, more please!


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