BUILD AN F - 4 SPEED!
It is the consensus of all knowledgeable connoisseurs of Chrysler 300 Letter Cars that the 300 F 4-speed cars are the ultimate collectible; the pinnacle of production, the very embodiment of the Letter Car Idea Bob Rodgers had, simply put: the utmost, supreme, ideal, transcendent, ultimate, preeminently desirable 300. So why don't we all have one in our garage?
The answer is a little matter of production numbers. There is no microfilm documentation that ANY were built at all! That's right, there was no code for the option package of 400 hp motor and 4-speed transmission. The cars were produced as standard 375 hp, torqueflite cars and then modified in a special building sometimes referred to as "Header House" after they were completed cars. So, the microfilm record shows a standard power train F. Your "project" to duplicate such a car is home free, almost! The only indication of something out of the ordinary comes in the time span between the "schedule" building date and/or actual "date built". Where a few days are common for a production car, several weeks time span is found for cars that are special. And that is why the correct model name of an F 4-speed car is "300 F Special".
So, what is stopping you from owning one of these cars other than the astronomical prices one hears? LET'S BUILD ONE!!!
- restored 300 F (hardtop or convert; your choice!)
- second-series Pont-à-Mousson steel-cased 4-speed transmission (the automotive press of the era said "aluminum-cased" incorrectly as the trans is painted Chrysler aluminum silver)
- special cast bellhousing to adapt motor to trans
- truck flywheel, clutch assembly, disc to accept P-a-M shaft, truck linkage
- clutch and brake pedal set from a stick Plymouth or Dodge
- set '60-62 short rams (part #s 2129986 + 2129987) complete with brass hot water fittings ('63-64 short rams are a different casting and are exhaust heated)
- pair Carter 3084S carburetors w/ manual chokes
- four long air cleaner studs
- two Chrysler # 1670694 air filter elements
- set silicone spark plug wires (mauve in color)
- set '60-61 3" 4-bolt cast iron headers (part #s 2129998 + 2129999) ('62-64 headers are a different casting with exhaust heat ports)
- 24' of 2.5" exhaust pipe and low back pressure Arvin mufflers
- '60 Imperial alternator
- radical camshaft and solid lifters
- 2.93: 1 Sure-Grip differential
- reproduction console aluminum insert without ashtray cutout
- 1/4" aluminum plate
- 10' bowden (choke) cable, steel to make brackets, water manifolding T-fittings, 12' HD heater hose, hose clamps, exhaust clamps, etc. etc. as required
Remove and Replace (R&R) factory cam and hydraulic lifters with the radical grind cam and solid lifters. R&R long ram intakes and 2903 carbs with short rams and 3084s. Run manual choke bowden cables from each carburetor into custom hand made brackets to tie two into one, and continue through firewall; mount to left of steering column. R&R air filter short studs with longer studs and change to new taller filter element. Drill spot welds from rear of hood corner braces and remove for air cleaner vertical clearance. Remove hood insulation pad for air cleaner clearance. Install heater hoses from motor heater outlet to right ram manifold front fitting, then from right manifold rear fitting to T-fitting to pick up heater inlet, then Tee into heater outlet to run hose next into left ram manifold rear fitting, then from right manifold front fitting to motor heater water return fitting. This is the only way to heat the intakes because the '60-61 headers have no heat riser port like the '62-64 headers have. R&R original spark plug wires with silicone type. These wires necessary because of interference with and excessive heat from the headers. R&R generator with Imperial alternator. Remove torqueflite and torque converter from motor. Remove emergency brake assembly and adapt to rear of Pont-à-Mousson. Install custom cast bellhousing and adapt truck linkage to limited space available remembering the geometry is critical to proper operation. Remove original power brake pedal and install small manual shift car pedals. Install stick-type flywheel, clutch cover and disc. Modify transmission tunnel braces by torch and hammer to allow clearance for the Pont-à-Mousson. Remove center interior console from car and remove its front ash receiver and aluminum insert. Repair fiberglass at ash receiver and cut new hole for manual shifter in proper location of fiberglass and new aluminum insert. Fashion a shift bezel for the stick shifter access with a lever boot. Hand stamp R-l-2-3-4 on bezel. Attach 4-speed to motor. Original transmission crossmember and mount are reused. Replace console in car. R&R factory exhaust manifolds, head pipes, mufflers, tail pipes with cast iron headers and 2.5" new system. Do not install a cross-over pipe between head pipes; allows maximum flow and maximum noise! R&R differential to install new ratio with Sure-Grip. Add premium gas with octane booster (required). Run motor 15 minutes to get sufficient intake manifold hot water heat. Tune, tune, tune!
Problems you will encounter:
- The '60-62 type short-ram manifolds are in extremely short supply as we only know of nine 1960 400 hp cars built and perhaps as few as one 1961 400 hp car, and there weren't many '62 short-rams either.
- The '60-61 type cast iron headers are in extremely short supply for the same reason.
- Carter Corporation disavows ever having built 3084S carburetors, thus there is no parts list or specifications and they are therefore in extremely short supply at swap meets.
- There are no original specifications known for the "radical" camshaft grind of the 400 hp motors.
- The second-series Pont-à-Mousson transmission was only available as an option in Facel Vega Excellence and HK-500 models, and the 300 F Special. The 400 hp Gs (if built) had a Dodge manual three speed. Few of these Facel models were built and the vast majority of these few had the reliable torqueflite automatic.
- Once you find the Pont-à-Mousson, you will need to engineer, cast and machine, 1. a longer top shifter cover for proper placement "at hand" of the shift lever in your 300 application and internal shift shafts and 2. a longer tail shaft with properly located pad for crossmember mounting and flange to adapt the original emergency brake assembly and new trans output shaft, speedometer drive, seals, and bearings. The F Special was the only car to use these.
- The Pont-à-Mousson is "bullet-proof' except for the cluster gear and first-reverse slider gear and shaft. If you need any parts, please be aware the transmission company went out of business thirty years ago and all the extra clusters were used up quickly.
- The original equipment Arvin mufflers are obsolete.
- In cool to cold weather the car is virtually impossible to keep running.
- A well-trained left leg is mandatory to pull a recalcitrant 4300 lb. car away from a stoplight with a 2.93 rear gear, especially if sitting on the least bit of an uphill grade.
- The factory brakes are grossly inadequate for a car now capable of 165+ mph. Riveted high-metallic linings at a minimum are recommended.
- The neighbors tend to complain when you start the car at Sam Sunday morning to get to "the show". And restart it. And restart it.
- As if a winged 300 did not stand out in modern econo-box traffic to begin with, there is the additional problem that use of the vertical right pedal now redefines the term "loud pedal".
You now have a car that will run 100 mph OVER the federal speed limit, needing a half mile to slow down, with no historical documentation of its authenticity, that looks and sounds like a Daytona entrant, which you'd better not fully tell your insurance company about. Or, you can keep looking for the other five cars that were probably built, but may not survive. So THAT's why the people who own the four existing 300 F Specials value them higher than some Duesenbergs. And the very next time one sells, they will be proven correct.