FEBRUARY 2024: 1962 CHRYSLER 300H CONVERTIBLE—HE WAS DESTINED TO OWN THIS RAREST OF A RARE BREED

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Fate gets in the way of car deals—sometimes you win and sometimes you lose—every car guy has had that experience.

In most cases, the car is sold and that’s the end of the story, but there are a high percentage of cases where an initial offer didn’t work out–but the car eventually ends up in the right hands.

This 1962 Chrysler 300H convertible followed that pattern. Chrysler only built 123 of these classics, so they are highly sought after in the Mopar community. You could easily hang the muscle car label on this car because they came with 413 cubic inch, two four- barrel V-8s that pumped out 405 horsepower. They were legends in their day, so the prices have soared on these big, bad Mopars.

Muscle car purists may bristle at this statement, but there’s a solid case against the Pontiac GTO’s status as the first muscle car.

The Hudson crowd will put the Hornet in that category, the tri-five guys will put the ’57 fuelie Chevy in that category and the Ford guys will vote for the supercharged ’57 Fords on their list.

Chrysler guys will head directly to the C-300 letter cars because those ’55 Chryslers were built to dominate at the track, and they led to a long line of large-and-in-charge Chrysler performance cars.

This 1962 Chrysler 300H was built the year after the wild Virgil Exner styled fin cars exited from the Chrysler showrooms. Exner was also on the way out, but his fingerprints could still be seen on this car because it was blend of ’61 sheet metal with a new back half.

Ken Rice is the proud owner of this classic piece of Mopar muscle. He saw it was for sale because the owner “had no room for it”.

He had to sell two cars at a time when the economy came to a standstill. Unfortunately, someone else bought the 300H before Ken could sell his cars–at that point he thought he’d blown his chance to own this legendary Mopar.  That could have been the end of the story on the big Chrysler convertible, but things changed overnight.

The car gods smiled on Ken because he learned the next owner “wasn’t feeling well” so Ken had a second chance at the ’62 300H convertible.  This time Ken closed the deal on the spot, so he finally got the one that got away.

Ken knew this car was rare because–as mentioned earlier–they made 425 hardtops and 123 convertibles in 1962 with 300H designation. That puts this car in the stratosphere for collectability—according to Ken, the 1-of-1 Silver Lilac paint makes it the most unique letter car ever built in ’62.

The car wasn’t the factory correct color when Ken acquired it, but he knew he had to take the car back to its factory glory. Ken said, “It was painted Massey Ferguson red”, so—with all due respect to the farming community–he had to correct that color change and bring this piece of history back to life.

The interior was a mess, so Ken brought it back to life with factory-correct replacement covers from a legendary supplier. This car has four bucket seats—typical of the letter car series because they were built for comfort and performance.

Ken’s car had air conditioning too because convertibles can get too hot in the summer and letter car buyers weren’t the kind of customers who wanted to suffer heat stroke. They were bank managers, executives—high end buyers—not sixteen-year-old kids.

The 413 cubic inch, dual-quad V-8 runs like a Rolex watch because Ken believes a car should look great and perform like it did when it was brand new. Ken likes to drive it regularly because he knows cars thrive on exercise.

This 300H sees a lot of highway miles. He likes to take it to shows on the road—not in a trailer. He said the 413 has massive torque so it, “has an unreal passing gear”. Ken says it’s incredibly solid on the highway plus the big-block 300H convertible loafs at freeway speeds.

Ken said it easily handles higher speeds and has no problem keeping up with traffic. That’s no surprise because the letter cars shattered speed records over the years, so freeways are a light workout for the 300H convertible. Ken doesn’t feel like he’s taking any risks in the Chrysler because these cars were engineered for the (then-new) freeway system, and they were built for performance—then or now.

Ken is the kind of guy who should own a one-of-one car because it’s not hidden in a garage—it’s out there in the real world showcasing automotive history. Ken thought it was over for the 300H but this is one example where destiny took over and put him behind the wheel of a legend.

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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