- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

Dolores Ehrmann successfully taught her sons, Rick and Bruce, to share their toys. The lesson must have been well received because they are still sharing toys, the latest being a 1964 Chrysler 300K convertible.

Over the years Rick Ehrmann has developed a fondness for Chrysler products and has owned several Mopar models.

Like most automobile aficionados Mr. Ehrmann, now living in Landover, and his younger brother, Bruce, of Manhattan, N.Y., were attracted to the legendary letter-series Chryslers of the 1950s and 1960s.

The law of supply and demand is clearly illustrated by the limited supply of letter-series Chryslers and the high demand by collectors. Prices of well-preserved or restored letter-series cars tends to be on the high side.

Nevertheless, the brothers found a way to acquire one of these Chryslers by applying the lesson learned at their mother’s knee when they were growing up in Toms River, N.J. By pooling their resources they could afford one of the cars and then share it.

Rick Ehrmann was given the task of locating a good, solid Chrysler. He investigated several cars that weren’t up to the high standards the brothers had set before locating the beautifully restored 1964 300K convertible in Danville, Calif., near San Francisco. It had been restored in 1990-1991.

Lengthy telephone interviews with the owner and detailed photographs were convincing evidence that this car was the one.

“I love the styling of that car,” Bruce Ehrmann said. However, he said, “I was dubious,” after seeing pictures of the original door panels showing signs of wear.

Only 3,647 Chrysler 300K models were built and of that total just 625 were convertibles, of which fewer than 100 are known to survive.

Bruce sent Rick his share of the money and Rick then flew to San Francisco where he was met by the seller who took him to see the Chrysler. As soon as the garage door swung open, he was smitten by the beauty of the Roman Red convertible. “It was exactly as he had described it,” Mr. Ehrmann said.

“It was so clean and free of rust I asked if it was a California car,” Mr. Ehrmann recalls. He was told the car came from Pennsylvania and both quarter panels were so riddled with rust that they had to be replaced with rust-free panels from a donor car.

Chrysler had boasted in 1964 sales brochures that their cars received seven rust-proofing dips.

The purchase took place Nov. 13, 2002, and to avoid trucking fees Mr. Ehrmann climbed into the driver’s bucket seat behind the squarish steering wheel and began the 3,100-mile drive to the East Coast.

Misfortune came calling at the end of the first day in Turlock, Calif.

A long bolt that supports the alternator cracked off at the cylinder head, which allowed the alternator to drop down to where the spinning fan blade struck it.

Each blade of the fan now has a small notch chipped out in exactly the same location, which conveniently keeps it balanced.

Mr. Ehrmann coasted to a motel that fortuitously happened to be next door to the Turlock Tire Co., a full-service repair shop.

The next day the wizards at the tire company extracted the broken bolt, found a replacement bolt in the back of the shop and reinstalled it in the alternator with a spacer to prevent a recurrence.

He was back on the road before checkout time at the motel.

With the top down he cruised into Arizona on the second day of the eight-day odyssey.

Because of the time of year, a snow-free southern route was chosen, which traversed 10 states including:

• California.

• Arizona.

• New Mexico.

• Texas.

• Oklahoma.

• Arkansas.

• Tennessee.

• Kentucky.

• Virginia.

• Maryland.

Later, when the brothers traded custody of the Chrysler, three more states were added:

• Delaware.

• New Jersey.

• New York.

Until Arkansas the route roughly followed old Route 66. Mr. Ehrmann had the car washed three times along the way because a letter-series Chrysler shouldn’t appear dirty, even on a crosscountry trip.

The weather gods cooperated until the penultimate day when rain fell hard.

That’s when he learned that the top leaks across the top of the windshield.

“It fits as well as it did when new,” Mr. Ehrmann said of the third top that has been on the car.

Features that were standard equipment on the car include:

• Backup lights.

• Electric clock.

• Power brakes.

• Dual exhausts.

• Power steering.

• Windshield washers.

• Deluxe steering wheel.

• Torqueflite transmission.

• Glove box and trunk lights.

• Firepower 360-horsepower V-8.

• Performance indicator console.

Each convertible weighs 5 pounds short of 2 tons and sold with a base price of $4,522. The standard engine is a 413-cubic-inch V-8. Previous letter-series Chryslers had tachometers, but “K” models have a performance indicator, which is really a vacuum gauge that measures manifold vacuum in inches of mercury.

“It’s a relatively low optioned car,” Mr. Ehrmann said of the extras that include:

• Power windows……..$107.40.

• Conditionaire heater…. 101.90.

• Leather bucket seats…..93.30.

• Golden tone radio……..92.80.

• Sure Grip differential…..51.70.

• 8.50x14 rayon white tires .46.25.

• Tinted windshield……..28.90.

• Left remote mirror…….18.00.

• Undercoating/hood pad..17.85.

• Safety pad lower dash ….13.70.

• Front color-key seat belts..7.05.

• Antifreeze……………..6.40.

The big car, less than an inch shy of 18 feet long, rides on a 122-inch wheelbase. A four-barrel Carter carburetor feeds the big V-8 at what the brothers call a rate that is “pathetic.” They report highway mileage of about 11 miles per gallon.

On the coast-to-coast excursion, Mr. Ehrmann found the hydraulic drum brakes adequate and the power-assisted steering was 3-1/2 turns lock to lock.

Amazingly, the driver’s seat is rigid while the passenger has a choice of five positions.

About the crosscontinent trip Mr. Ehrmann said, “It was all risky, but I wanted to do it.”

Besides, he said, “I called my brother every day.”

So far, so good. Now the only problem to be solved is who gets the car on the weekends.

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