The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Hyfire, Aug 11, 2015.
Pair of '58 Pontiacs and a '58 Corvette as well.
WOW... amazing history of the 3oo!
I own a '57 Chevy Utility Sedan the PO built as a 'Black Widow' tribute car - 283 FI engine, black and white paint. I'm always HUNGRY for mid-50's NASCAR history.
A lot of things were done back then with a wink and a handshake from 'Big Bill'... the B-W cars were allowed to race at Daytona Beach with FI, BEFORE it was OKed for production in early-March, 1957!
Don't know if it will help in your research but here is some info on these people:
Groat owned a towing business in Wyandotte, Mi.
Toia founded/owned Gratiot Auto Supply.
Fields owned an auto junk yard in Wyandotte, Mi
Townsley was a driver at Flat rock Speedway
Fritch may be connected to Fritch's Concrete in Wyandotte, Mi which might be a connection to the Hayes, the concrete guy, you mentioned.
Hayes did make his money in concrete and in 1955 founded the National Asphalt Paving Association.
Excellent point. How Chrysler got away with building just 2 actual cars and entering them in "production class" is interesting. Those Black Widow cars are amazing. They are also relevant if you've got a photo of your tribute. Would love to see it.
Excellent info!!! That helps a ton! All these seemingly insignificant bits can solve some big questions down the road. Thanks for the input!
I spoke to Don Petty for about an hour and a half today. Don is well known in the Chrysler 300 clubs and there are both positive and negative impressions of him out there. I won't get into anything other than what pertains to my conversation.
Don is a 1st cousin to Richard. His Father was Lee's brother and helped facilitate the building of Lee's race cars. Don told me there was a falling out between those two in the 1950's, but Don himself kept in touch and still had very good knowledge of what went on.
I've got to say I was super impressed with what Don knows and how willing he was to talk about everything. He's a very intelligent guy. He also could recite extremely accurate details of the '55 Daytona races from memory. He seemed very factual and was generous with his time.
Don's opinion of the Chrysler New Yorker block is something I never considered. He thinks Lee most likely wouldn't have taken the whole engine from the 300 at first, only the top end and the few other 300 specific parts. Not the entire engine. This would mean AFTER the race he just swaped the entire assembly into the 300. That would jive with how both cars left Daytona AND how Vin 001 sits today.
How this may change the story??? It would mean that the NY engine in this car is Petty's actual Grand National race engine, as a whole. (Not just the 300 parts).
That is an interesting thought, huh?
I've got a couple ways I think I can confirm or deny that theory....
I better document here, in case I get run over by a bus. I've got some new photos.
I followed-up with James Gilley's grandson. He said he thought he had some photos but was in the process of moving. He also told me that the car was owned through a partnership of Brewster Shaw, James Gilley and possibly a 3rd individual. He also told me James was friends with Bill France and Lee Petty. Fast forward to yesterday, I sent an email checking in. Today I received good news.
Mr. Gilley had the below 8x10. I've only seen a small low resolution version of this before (Brewster lined up for his Flying Mile run in 1955). The interesting thing is the inscription. Included with it was also a note referring to Gilley as his friend. It's from Bill Tuthill. Mr. France owned 50% of NASCAR. Mr. Tuthill owned 40% of NASCAR. The stories about all these guys being intertwined seems to be correct.
(This photo was sent to James by Bill in 1971).
He also found a few slides. These ones look very close to the earlier prints and appear to be when James was planning on selling the car.
JAMES GILLEY: Race car owner & Fisherman
There were (and are) a lot of false stories circulated in Detroit, but Vicki was certainly not held in high esteem among those at Chrysler Central Engineering in the fifties. This attitude might be the result of another one of those false stories. What was circulated was that Vicki was told not to exceed a certain rpm as she went through the gears, but she did and a C300 engine was destroyed. Supposedly, she blamed some trivial matters. The story was that Chevrolet engineers got to her with some money. Again, this might have been a false account, but it resulted in a general dislike for the lady among those at Chrysler Central Engineering in Highland Park. Incidentally, Vicki was described as a typical housewife at the time, unlike Betty Skelton.
Where to start? That is incorrect. She didn’t blow up a C300 engine. She never actually blew up an engine.
It sounds like your rumor is a backwards version of the fact in 1957 a transmission exploded in an experimental FI car and it was determined that it was a bad part by Engineering, not over reving. Burt actually corrected this story.
To have a “housewife” come in and beat almost 200 male drivers was an insult to some of them. A “housewife” didn’t belong. And she kicked ass for many years. That was about as welcome as a Black man doing the same at the time.
I’m not the social justice type, but it’s clear that she threatened a lot of men.
In regards to comparing Vicki to Betty. Vicki was a true housewife first. God bless her!
Betty was amazing and a different type of person. Apples and oranges.
Vicki is an amazing lady with an amazing story. She did rub some competitors the wrong way because she doesn’t take shit and couldn’t be bullied, but that is their problem, right?
Love reading the history of racing and the people involved. Very neat.
Any chance you could put up some pics of your car?...unless I missed one, they were all red X's for me.
Great thread by the way!
I don't know why the photos disappeared, but I just went through all the pages and re-inserted them again.
I'll get some current photos over the next week. I've been working on the car, so there is some progress.
Man that is a shame to allow it to get in such a state of disrepair.
I agree, it was a shame. But at least it was sheltered overhead (for the most part). You should see Chrysler C300 VIN# 004. That car is literally a pile of rust.
Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I'm convinced this car can still can be a mostly original car. I can tell you right now that the "100 point restoration" guys will turn their noses up at this car when I'm done. I'm going to preserve everything I can. It won't be a beautiful car when I'm done, but you'll be able to sit on the same leather seats that Lee Petty did and drive with the same engine that a young Richard Petty worked on.
I'm getting pretty excited about getting it fired up. My fingers are crossed that there are no major engine issues.
I remember your cars well. Great stuff!
Grind that rust off of the hood and front fender to start after the brakes,brake lines,gas tank and fuel line are replaced.Engine may need a rebuild,carbs will.New radiator,hoses dizzy plugs ,wires points etcl
Painted my model a custom color,
She isn't going to win any beauty pageants, but she's progressing.
A lot more work to do.
I'm really torn on the rear fender rust. The metal needs to be fixed and the paint job is pretty horrible... but it is factory paint. The body rust WILL be fixed, but I don't know how to do it without making the car look worse.
I'm open to any suggestions....
If you want to keep it that original, fix the rust with as little as possible paint damage. Then have the paint custom matched and blend it in. It will look repaired but so what, it's just repaired...
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I too, think you will have to fix and paint the lower quarters, no way around it at this point. There is only rust now where factory paint once was.
Sometime in the cars life the water pump was replaced. Not uncommon of course, but they didn't replace it with the same type pump that would have originally been on the car. The two bolt bosses to the passenger side of the thermostat opening were only tapped for bolts on the water pumps of the cars that had air conditioning. They were untapped on the ones that did not have A/C. Shown below is a non A/C pump.
Good eyes! I thought I had seen it with this style in an early photo, but I think I may have been looking at the 1960's photo. I'll have to go through them again.
The car also had a really old electric fuel pump when I got it. That went into storage. James put a good 30K+ miles on the car during his 15 or so years of ownership, so I'm sure these things were done by him.
Caked on Tennessee Red clay. It’s everywhere.
I know Chrysler cheated a little and put larger Imperial wheels and brakes on the two "stock" race cars at the factory.
I don’t know if the spindles would be Imperial as well?
These are the optional Imperial limo disc brakes circa 54/55/56 I've heard that these were used on some of the 53/54 PanAm race cars and called "export models" The story behind the C-300 is much larger than most people know and can get even a large crowd of people snoring, if told properly.
Good observations. The car is a Powerflite. There is rumor of only one manual C-300 made for Karl later in ‘55, but the VIN number associated with that car has a build sheet (IBM card) which doesn’t clearly show a manual trans. To cloud the story, the race car drivers kept confusing ‘56 cars with ‘55 cars in later years, so someone is going to have to dig deeper to uncover what that all means.
That limo brake part is incredible! Talk about rare. I’ve seen them in the parts books, but never photos.
I’ve seen several cars claiming to be factory. Two of them for sale so I got ahold of their build cards. Both ended up being fakes, done with factory parts. The third I traced back to the Harrah collection and found photos of that car unrestored as an Automatic around ‘79-‘80.
The conversion is so easy that without a build sheet I’d be skeptical. Doesn’t mean it’s not, just saying that build sheet is crucial.
Do you still own any Chryslers? Man, I wanted that white one when it was for sale!
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