A few days ago Tom Klockau coldly and cruelly stole my thunder by posting a most excellent capsule on the 1965 Chrysler 300 hardtop land-yacht. How did Tom steal my thunder, I hear you ask? Well, he had no way of knowing it, but here on the other side of the world from him, someone local to me has a ’65 300, which I see around quite a bit. I took photos of it last November, thinking ‘These will make for a nice CC Capsule one day soon’. Upon reading Tom’s post, I immediately thought ‘Oh poohs, now I can’t use the photos I took.’ Until, that is, I read comments from BigOldChryslers and psfm, whereupon I realised that Tom may have the thunder, but the car I found is the lightning on top, because it’s no mere 300, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a genuine bona fide 300 ‘L’. Beat that Mr Klockau! And for everyone’s viewing delectation, some more pics and info follows.
As Tom noted, 1965 was the final year for the original letter-series 300, with a solitary 413 V8 on offer in either convertible or hardtop coupe format. It seems that buyers preferred their numerically-named cars devoid of alphabetical suffixes, as the 300L sold just 2,845 units in ’65 – 440 convertibles and 2,405 coupes – versus the non-L 300’s 27,678 sales. Over half of the 300-non-L’s sales were 4-doors, but comparing like with like, there were 1,418 convertibles and 11,621 coupes released into the wild.
So back in the summer of
’69 ’65, what did a 300L buyer get that a 300 buyer couldn’t? Very little in the way of exclusivity it seems, as most of the 300L’s features were options on the 300-non-L. There was a different grille insert upfront though, as the non-L had an exclusive red cross insert. The rumour I just started that this red cross was a promotional consideration paid for by the Red Cross is completely untrue. The L lost the Red Cross connection in favour of doffing its crown towards the British Motor Company, with a round tri-colour badge in the grille centre that lit up like a Christmas Tree Wolseley. The Wolseleyesque badge on the feature car is damaged, but because it’s American, Prince Lucas of Darkness probably isn’t to blame. Thankfully the inter of nets have provided us with the slightly less-damaged example above.
So the front badge is different, but what about the ones out back? Well the rear-quarter badge announces your 300ness to the world – although ironically it reads only ‘Chrysler 300’, neglecting to mention the ‘L’ that the owner paid extra for!
The badge on the fuel filler lid does, however, proclaim the Lness of the 300 to which it’s attached. This particular L also features the spectacularly scarce Misaligned Chrome Trim And Wonky Fuel Filler Flap (MCTAWFFF) option. It’s estimated that only 2 cars were so optioned, and even then by accident, making the feature car incredibly rare.
I’m not actually certain what differentiates the 300-no-L and 300-with-L inside. But going by the feature car, I suspect L-for-Leather may be one thing, as well as L-for-‘Lectric windows, L-for-extra-Lights, L-for-Lovely-dashboard and L-for-consoLe-gearshift. Overall, the featured car’s interior gave off a strong L-for-Luxurious vibe, with a sense of soLidity which is rare today.
Speaking of L-for-Lights, the covered headlights may have been shared between the 300L and the 300-I-can’t-believe-it-isn’t-L, but they are a standout styling feature of the car and deserve mention. I especially love the little crown emblems between the lights – subtle and classy. And what’s that hint of red to the right of the lights?
As noted last week by BigOldChryslers and psfm, the main visual feature that clearly distinguishes the 300-yes-it’s-an-L from its Lless sibling is the Nissan Pathfinder that accompanies it everywhere. Oh L, my bad, the main visual feature is actually the red stripe that runs along the centre of the side trim. When I first spotted the feature car a year or two ago, I assumed its red stripe had been added by an owner, so well does it accentuate both the lovely blue paint and the chrome trim. Thanks to BOC and pfsm, I now know better. I don’t know what the inspiration was for that red stripe, but IMHO it’s the standout design feature of the 300L. It is subtle but tasteful touches like that that make the 1965 300 – both Lfull and Lfree – a standout for Chrysler and for 1960s car design. So, Tom may have stolen my thunder with his 300, but I’m sure we all agree that a beautiful exampLe like this is the 300L-ightning on the cake!