Rough But Rare: 1965 Chrysler 300L Convertible

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Located in the town of Aviston, Illinois, is this very rare variation of Chrysler’s popular “300” model. This one is rough and will look like junk to many who see it, but Mopar aficionados will recognize how scarce it is. Find it here on craigslist where it’s listed for $1,200.

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The regular 300 was Chrysler’s “personal luxury” car, similar to what Eldorado was to Cadillac. This is a 300L. The letter series cars, introduced with the 1955 models, progressed one letter per year (skipping the letter “i”), until the “L” model in 1965. Chrysler did not return to using these letters to denote the higher trim level 300s again until the 300M was introduced in 1999. The 300L hardtop was by itself a rare variant with just 2,405 copies produced in 1965, but this convertible much more so, with a total production run of just 440 cars.

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Sharing body panels with the far more common Newport and New Yorker, the 300L was Chrysler’s top of the line, with more trim and standard equipment than the others. The glass headlight covers shown above were shared with the Imperial, but the cross design on the grille was unique to the 300. The standard engine was a 413 with a Carter four barrel carburetor, coupled with Chrysler’s very reliable 727 automatic transmission. This seller says the engine in this car is stuck, but doesn’t mention whether he has made any attempt to free it up. Clearly it has been parked for decades.

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When I first saw this photo of under the hood, I thought the car was probably a re-paint. But closer inspection reveals the electrical cables, brake booster, heater, and wiper motors are all painted this same color – which appears to be 1970s vintage Chrysler engine light blue. The correct color for this engine is light turquoise, and the fender wells and firewall are supposed to be regular exterior body color.

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This car shows some great options like factory air, power steering and brakes, power windows, even power vent windows, and please note that that’s a tachometer in the console, and not a clock. (The clock is located just to the left of the glove compartment). The red-white-and-blue “L” logo appears on the console lid, as well as on the rear of the car.

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Needless to say, this car needs a total restoration of the interior, and most likely extensive repairs to the floor. But at least it’s all here to work with. Except perhaps for the exceptionally rare AM/FM monaural radio.

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The dented fender shown, interchanges with other ’65 Chryslers and isn’t hard to find, but both lower door trims do not interchange, but possibly, hopefully, these are located in the trunk. Acquiring a parts car might be a tremendous asset towards the restoration of this very rough example. Common Newport sedans, even of this vintage, are cheap and easy to find.

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The gold on white was very popular in the sixties, and this car lends itself well to that color combination. Better quality photos of the body would be nice, in order to see how rusty it is. It would be an intensive and expensive restoration, but a very collectible car when finished. Even more so this rare variation with great options. If only I had the room…

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Comments

  1. Chuck

    This would be a very good & profitable opportunity for a body/paint, mechanic & upholstery guy/gal to purchase & flip. If it were me I would want to keep it—I am a rag top guy.

  2. randy

    Back in the day, us rednecks would jerk out the RV-2 A/C compressor and shave .2 off the 1/4 mile time!!

    This car is asking kindly for a new home, will anyone here it?

    • Jason Houston

      “hear”.

    • Horse Radish

      here hear it

  3. Jason Houston

    It’s rough, but I’ve seen much worse. Without knowing how extensive the Illinois rust is, it look like a good deal, at least on first view. The white interior should be a snap to redo, and lends itself to replacing that dung gold with a really great exterior color. Chrysler made some gorgeous turquoise, red, yellow, black and light blue colors.

  4. Horse Radish

    I have always had a soft spot for the “light covered” 300 coupés and convertibles…
    but why does this pop up now and not 20 years ago…,

    And worse yet,
    it’s at the other end…(in more ways than one…)

  5. Charles H.

    If people would just do something with these rare and wonderful automobiles, before they let them get so far gone! It’s just not in me to ever let a car like this sit out in the elements to ruin…..would have tried to to keep as nice as possible, or let it go to someone who would have.

    • Wayne Thomas

      My wife has contacted three old people here in Japan who have cars just sitting outside wasting away while they delude themselves into thinking that they will ever restore them. Its a mental issue with people who believe that they will ride to rescue one day….but very very few ever do.

      The best one can hope for is the keep circling the car of their choice and wait till the old guy dies and the widow wants nothing to do with it. That is what I’m doing with the 1960s Land Cruiser, 1968 Isuzu Bellett, and 1970s Lotus Europa.

  6. junkman Member

    Definitly be a nice ride when done, and the ad has been taken down so somebody stepped up. I’m more interested in what the coupe in the pile is in the first picture upper right corner???

  7. 64 bonneville

    had a 65 300 L coupe back in 72, gave 995.00 for it. I only bought it since it had air conditioning, and with a pregnant wife in a hot humid Oklahoma summer, it was worth the money. Sadly a job lay off and medical bills forced me to give the car up. But, man, that thing could screem, lighting the tires up in both 1st and 2nd gears when punching the throttle hard in drive. and it got about 12 mpg, even driving like that.

  8. Charles

    For the price no doubt someone grabbed this one quickly. As for restoring the car, there is no way anyone will ever see a fraction of their costs recovered in the event of a sale. As much weather damage as is visible, one can imagine what the floor pans look like. An since it is a unitized body, floor pan replacement will be extra difficult. 300 specific parts are difficult to find, and everything on this car needs restoration or replacement. I think that there is a strong possibility that this car will never drive under it’s own power again and will probably end up as a parts car.

    • randy

      I agree Charles, and as bad as being a “parts car” is, it would be way worse to let it finish rotting into the ground.

      • Charles

        I agree Randy. Becoming a parts car is far better than rotting into the ground. A numbers matching turn key 65 300 L vert with a factory 4 speed recently sold for 25K at Gateway Classics. The car did not have factory AC, but it is complete and nice.

  9. piper62j

    The top is gone and the frame is rusted up,, Interior is shredded to ribbons and the cushions washed out.. My guess is the floor pan is el-gonzo….

    Parts car..

  10. Mark

    Lower bodyside moldings are shared with the same year New Yorker. Legendary Interiors makes an upholstery “kit”. If the rust is not extensive, this one is reasonably fixable.

  11. Dave Wright

    I owned and drove a 65 Newport 2 door hardtop for many years. They are great cars, but by the time the 300L’s came out, they were pretty boring, the uneque cross ram carburators and high compression engines were gone. It was more of a trim package. My brother and I have owned several letter series cars and they are wonderful….but this was the least interesting year for them.

  12. Brian

    Does anyone have information on the owner? I see the Craigslist ad is deleted— I’m very interested in the car.

  13. Mike Gleeson

    The ad has been deleted by the author. Hope it went to the home of someone to restore

  14. Marty Member

    The comments about it being a rough parts car are unfounded. From lots of experience I can state that the condition of the seat covers is not a reliable predictor of the condition of the floor pans. The only way to properly gauge the condition of the floor pans – is to look at the floor pans. The seat covers could have gotten this way in a single season of exposure to the elements.

  15. Slickimp

    Looks like a rare car to me with only 440 with the looks of this one there are most like not to many left its worth restoring

  16. Keith

    I’m just 50 years old but to the older readers of Barn Finds who may know. Was this the same model convertible that Britt Reed drove as his everyday car on The Green Hornet TV show?

  17. Terry

    I think that one is a 66 or 67.

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