|300F Special GT|
|Development of the 1960 Chrysler 300F Special Gran Turismo|
|M U C H I N F O R M A T I O N C O U R T E S Y O F W A Y N E G R A E F E N, G T O W N E R|
say as few as seven of these "ultimate" letter cars were
produced, others say as many as fifteen, based upon Chrysler having
purchase 15 Pont-a-Mousson Series II transmissions. Documentation is scarce and
doesn't really solve the mystery. One white convertible has been
documented, serial number 8403-141816. This car was originally sold to
George Kuehm of Milwaukee, and was later owned by
George Cone and Bruce Hoover. It was recently owned by Tom Turner,
and is now in the private collection of Milton Robson of
Atlanta, GA. This car was discovered in
a northern Michigan estate near Duck Lake in 1978, languishing in a garage
and showing only 11,040 miles. Fully documented with a bill of sale from
the Edwards Motor Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the car had a sticker
price of $7,158.30. It is the only 300 GT Special convertible in
existence. Much promotion was given to the idea this mileage is correct
and that the car is vastly original and untouched. That is
absolutely not true; it required major restoration and
parts replacement according to GT owner Wayne Graefen. Perhaps that was
111,000 miles, huh?
This car was listed for sale in Cars and Parts in 2000 with an asking price of $225,000. The car was advertised at numerous prices over at least a decade. It did not sell even close to the final asking price. One black coupe with air, 8403-141452, formerly owned by Merle Wolfer and Ken Diehl, is now owned by Wayne Graefen. One black coupe without air, 8403-110398, was originally owned new by Gregg Ziegler, and was sold the following year to Bob McAtee, who owns it to this day.
The fourth, a white coupe without air, 8403-111638, was owned by Don Petty in 1989 and was owned before that by Bob Wilkins, who bought the car in 1963. There is no microfilm record that even shows any were built because hey were created from fully assembled cars off the end of the assembly line. They then went to "Header House" where the engine and transmission were removed, engine hand rebuilt to specs with short rams, cam, headers, and the transmission replaced. There are original notes from the Gran Tourismo project in the hands of Jim Bartuska. Wayne Graefen has copies of these notes. The only serial number shown in them is that of his black F Special hardtop.
The 300F showroom brochure lists the option, but that's the only mention. These 4 specimens are known to exist today, and are among the most highly prized examples of the 300 marque. Wayne Graefen has tentatively promised to feed club president George Riehl a quart of Ouzo at the next national meet, and let him try to pull some wheelies with the GT. Should be worth the price of admission alone. In the gallery, serial number 8403 145511 is highlighted but should not be. This was a mistake from years ago, this is not an F Special, nor is it now listed as a 3 speed car.
The chief of the 300F Special team, known as The Gran Tourismo Project, was Chrysler engineer Mike Kollins. Seven cars were originally sent to Daytona Beach, one of which was supercharged and later used at Bonneville by Andy Granatelli. (The mule car was one and was not allowed to participate.) The convertible makes 7, the 'mule' car makes 8, and the air conditioned F currently owned by 300 Club member Wayne Graefen makes 9. That is the commonly accepted number, but who knows. There may have been a few more, knowing the way things could be "special ordered" back in the day.
Californian George Miller owned the mule car, a red 4 speed F coupe, and slides of it exist. The car had a popular sun roof conversion in the early '60s, was run off the road into the Arizona desert at high speed by Miller's son, and was also converted to a Torqueflite. When Chrysler Engineer Paul Mallwitz spoke at a Chrysler 300 Club meeting back in 1982, he indicated that a red 300F Special was at Daytona. A darker colored (probably red) 4 speed convertible is pictured in a black and white Chrysler showroom brochure made for the New York Auto Show, but this is just a modified picture. I have the original Chrysler press glossy, and have made a comparison photo. (See gallery)
The Gran Turismo project was quickly cancelled, probably in cooperation with the AMA's ban on sponsored racing, not to mention the fact that the monster just wouldn't run well on the street and Chrysler didn't need any more adverse publicity after the Bendix fiasco of 1958. Also, the transmission and the sanity of the drivers could not be warranteed! The 300F's did well at Daytona and gained lots of publicity for Chrysler, which was the main objective.
The F Special's $800 option price doesn't sound like much today, but in 1960 it was a hefty cost, equaling nearly 20 percent of the car's base cost. (They lost money on every one they built) Today, that would be like a $5,000 option on a $30,000 car. Ouch. The floor pans had to be modified, among other things, which added to the cost. Was it worth the money? Depends on how fast you wanted to go. For the average Joe, no way. The car idled and ran rougher than the normal F and had a rather hefty appetite for premium fuel. But for the race car drivers, yeah........... gimme one of those. Then get out of the way. Be sure to see more of the GT in the Gregg Ziegler section at Chrysler Racing. Wanna see how it ran? There's a road test of the 300F GT Special in the road test section. It's the white coupe later purchased by Bob Wilkins. His story is in the gallery.
Here's a list of what was different about the 300F Special GTPont-A-Mousson steel-cased 4-speed transmission painted Chrysler Aluminum color, modified floor pan.
Special cast bell housing to adapt motor to transmission.
1.74" exhaust valves
No hood padTruck flywheel, clutch assembly, and disc to accept Pont-A-Mousson shaft, truck linkage.
Clutch and brake pedal set from a manual transmission Plymouth or Dodge.
1960 - 1962 short rams ( part numbers 2129986 - 7) complete with brass hot water fittings. 1963 - 1964 short rams are different castings and are exhaust heated.
Carter 3084S carburetors with manual chokes.
Long air cleaner studs (4)
Chrysler part number 1670694 air filter elements (2)
Silicone spark plug wires (mauve in color)
1960 - 1961 3" 4-bolt cast iron headers ( part numbers 2129998 - 9) 1962 - 1964 headers are different castings.
2.5" exhaust pipes and low back pressure Arvin mufflers.
1960 Imperial alternator.
Mechanical racing camshaft 284 - 284 - 55 degrees and solid lifters. Some say there were no published specs for this cam.
2.93 : 1 Sure-Grip differential
Console aluminum insert without ashtray cutout
Ribbed aluminum plate to block off automatic transmission pushbuttons with toggle switch for backup lights
10' Bowden choke cables, (2) steel choke cable brackets, manifold water T-fittings, 12' HD heater hose.
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