Non-Letter Find: 1966 Chrysler 300 Convertible

The Chrysler 300 “letter series” of cars in the 1950s and 1960s were iconic, known for their blend of performance and luxury rolled into one package. For a time – 1961 through 1965 – Chrysler offered both letter and non-letter versions of the 300 before dropping the letter series altogether. This 1966 Chrysler 300 is a non-letter car, but that doesn’t mean it’s not special. The convertible saw only 2,500 copies made that year and this is one of them. This ragtop is now in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and available here on eBay where the auction has reached only $2,025, which means the reserve has not been met.

The Chrysler 300 “letter series” were high-performance personal luxury, 2-door cars that Chrysler built from 1955-65. After the first year was named C-300 (for its 300 hp V-8 engine), the ’56 models were designated 300B. Going forward, each year would carry the next letter of the alphabet as a suffix, reaching 300L in 1965. After that, the letter sequence was discontinued. During the middle of the run, Chrysler came with the idea to offer a non-letter version of the 300 with more common engines from the Chrysler arsenal and spread across more body styles. It was a somewhat cheaper version of the 300 “letter series.” I can’t help but think that this whole letter, non-letter thing could have confused buyers, so in 1966 the 300 had no letter counterpart. While Chrysler sold 265,000 cars for ’66, nearly a fifth of them or 50,000 units were the 300 and, of those, 2,500 were convertibles, like the seller’s car. So, it was in rare company then and is scarce 54 years later. A tip of the fedora to Concept Carz for the production history.

The seller has a 1966 Chrysler 300 convertible that appears to have been dug out of a barn in Missouri. I must congratulate the seller for his sales pitch – a 214-word run-on sentence. Folks, if you’re going to sell a car, please make it easy for people to read! And he confuses things a bit by referring to the car as both a 300 and a Newport. If I understand the seller correctly, there is rust in places such as the trunk and the corners of the car as well as the rear floor pan. The latter was likely caused by a leak from the convertible top. The external sheet metal was mostly straight until the seller was unloading the car from his trailer and the brakes failed, causing it to roll into a tree and doing some damage to the driver’s side corner. Both fender skirts will come with the car as will three of the four-wheel covers.

Inside the car, the interior appears to have survived better than it should have. The upholstery and dash look okay, but the carpeting on the floors and bottoms of the door panels will have to be redone. The console looks decent, as well. We’re told the motor for the convertible top works, although the top itself will have to be refreshed. Perhaps a 95% complete car by the time you take a complete inventory.

The motor would be the 383 cubic inch, 4-barrel V-8 mated to a floor-shifted Torque-Flite automatic. The seller says the motor does turn but he hasn’t tried to start it up. So, the condition of the motor and tranny are pretty much unknowns. 89,000 miles is said to be the correct mileage and the seller has managed to secure all the records on maintenance and servicing of the car while it was still in running condition.

The non-letter versions of the 300s are less collectible today than their pedigreed brothers. Hagerty says a 1966 “plain” 300 would likely top out at $20,000, which sounds low for what that amount of money will get you these days.  This rescued convertible is going to take quite a bit of time and money to restore. Maybe it was a flipper to begin with or the seller has had second thoughts.

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Comments

  1. Big_Fun Member

    It’s in Lee’s Summit, Missouri…can’t believe anyone going to Missouri then back to New Jersey just to flip a ’66 300, unless it was gifted.
    Maybe he was going to keep it until the “tree incident”. I’d be super deflated if that happened. Can’t imagine parts are going to be plentiful as say, a ’66 Chevrolet.
    That being said, I like that interior. Maybe a doner for your Grandfather’s rusty and mouse infested heirloom 300?

    Like 6
    • Russ Dixon Staff

      Thanks for the catch. I have updated the story. I swear the ad said Lee’s Summit, NJ when I started working on it. Either the seller corrected it in the meantime or I’m going crazy!

      Like 5
      • Big_Fun Member

        Well, if the seller was using voice to text, “New Jersey” and “Missouri” are both three syllables, and could sould similar.
        Although I have heard people over 70 pronounce the state “Missour-uh”.

        Like 3
      • Charles Hills

        It does have missouri tags on it so might be missouri 🤔

  2. Snotty

    Rear quarter damage really hurts, going by the photos all down hill after that. Should of used wood chocks to stop before the tree. Bad brakes excuse is unacceptable. I had a 66 low mileage Newport With the 383-4. And moved along nicely. 300’s should of had the 440 R.B. as standard equip. Read somewhere that Chrysler was toying with dropping the hemi in the C bodies?

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey

      Snotty,

      The driver forgot about rogue trees that jump out, seemingly from nowhere, when you least expect it!

      Like 4
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    The opening photo screams “flood car”. I’d pass on this car if it were free. There are plenty of C-bodied Chrysler’s out there in excellent condition for 10 grand, and the experience is the same whether it’s a Newport, New Yorker, or a 300. Why would you even bother with this car?

    Like 6
    • Arthur

      Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t do a standard restoration on this car. If I had the money and means, I would turn this car into a hot rod. In which case, a lot of parts on it would have to be replaced, anyway.

    • Phlathead Phil

      Rex, my first thought as well. It was in a flood. Dirt settles like that after the water recedes.

      Ask Noah & Moses.

  4. Jeff

    It’s a shame the tree got hurt…

    Like 6
  5. ROARRR

    The car seems overall to be pretty complete and undamaged, a good cleanup etc might make it a good start for a weekend driver–depends upon closer exam. The mechanicals are all bombproof and most of what needs doing can be done for the new owner. I’ve had a bunch of similar mopars and find there’s good support for them as well as interchangeability!
    Needless to say they can easily and inexpensively be encouraged to go very well!

    Like 2
  6. S

    Nice. Just go and hit a tree with it! Maybe you’d have been better off checking the brakes first??

    Like 1
  7. Jerome Kurek

    Have a 66 -300 2 dr hard top,parts are hard to find. The tail light bezzel is hard to find.

    Like 1
  8. SouthJerseyMike

    It’s not the original 383 engine unless somebody took the time to paint it orange from the correct color, turquoise.

    Like 1
  9. Little_Cars

    Lots of compound curves on that rear quarter panel, not an easy repair for anyone other than an experienced body man. And underneath you may find it the accident has separated things that were rusting off to begin with. I had an opportunity to buy a Newport like this sitting behind a boat repair shop thirteen years ago. Same interior, lighter blue exterior, exposed to the elements. The proprietor of the boat shop said he’d gladly take $10k for it. At that point, I wondered if there were a few gold bars stashed inside its massive trunk. Hard pass….

    Like 2
  10. DON

    Gee, the flipper at least took the car to a car wash before he snapped the obligatory ” car on trailer” shot. You’d think after he dragged it out of wherever it came from he could have figured the brakes wouldn’t hold ?

  11. Terry

    You should acknowledge the the last letter series 300 was the M of 2001 era built as an homage to the earlier letter cars. While it did not have three hundred horsepower and it was only available with 4 doors, it could still blow the doors off it’s earlier brethren.

  12. Mark P

    Just like the George jerk store response episode of Seinfeld years ago I started a job, a coworker heard I had a Mustang, he asked me about it. I said it’s a ’96 GT. He said eh, that’s not a Mustang. Weeks later I see him getting out of a 2004 300, if only I’d known, the response would have been, that’s really not a 300. His pos 300 was gone after three transmissions and all sorts of trouble. I still have the Mustang, runs great, 185K miles, biggest mechanical repair has been a recall on the intake manifold. Still has original clutch.

    Like 2
  13. Mike

    Seller should have never offered that dirty first shot. By itself it’s not a big deal. But, combined with the admission the rear floor pan is rusted (on a convertible) that’s a big flag.

    That and the carpet and lower door panels are shot? This things flooded.

    The model is a good one. This particular car had screaming red flags before to doofus butted it into a tree.

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