The end of the '70s was somewhat bleak for performance enthusiasts. Political turmoil, a recessing economy, and a general sense of despair due to inflation and energy problems made things look grim. If you were a Mopar person, the 400 and 440 would disappear in 1979, leaving only the 360 as the big-inch hunter of the day. Chrysler was on the ropes, with declining sales and increased competition from imports. Still, one could buy vintage musclecars pretty cheap due to the second gas crisis of the decade, and for those individuals looking for a new car, some nice machines were available.
While Plymouth's Road Runner and Dodge's R/T (based on the N-Body platform introduced in 1976) models were considered "performance" cars for 1979, the Chrysler lineup also returned to the past with another fabled name, the "300." Now a package on the Ricardo Montalban-promoted Cordoba, many would agree it was a far cry from the premier models that ran from 1955 to 1971, but it was a highlight vehicle from the waning days of the "old" Chrysler Corporation.
The 300 of 1979 started out as a standard SS-platform vehicle which was coded A74 for the RPO. The cars were all painted EW-1 Spinaker White, and began the conversion process with a dcor package that put special "300" emblems on the grille, door panels, taillight lenses, and wheel centers. Red, white, and blue pinstriping down the sides, edging the decklid and around the remote sport mirrors gave the car additional character, while gold "300" numbers were etched into the fixed rear quarter windows with a decorative pad attached beneath the opening. The eggcrate grille was painted black with the 300 medallion mounted to its center instead of the stand-up hood ornament on the Cordoba, and a set of front fender louvers rounded out the exterior. Inside the car, red leather bucket seats were accented by a leather-wrapped steering wheel, factory tachometer package and a gauge package trimmed by an engine-turned dash applique.
Meanwhile, under the bonnet was a 195hp 360, one of the highest ratings that engine ever received from the factory in the post-'75 era. The Torqueflite was put through its paces via an upright shifter mounted in the console, and the 911/44--inch rear directed power out to a set of light aluminum rims. Indeed, part of the 300 package included upgraded suspension and handling pieces, the most obvious being the outline, or raised, white-letter (OWL) Goodyear Radial GT GR60x15 tires.
Nonetheless, Chrysler sales continued to decline, and soon it would be Lee Iacocca's job to secure federal funding to keep the company from going the way of the Packard and the Edsel. Only a little over 3,800 '79 Cordoba 300s left the dealerships, and one buyer was Larry Galaske, whose example is seen here.
A welding engineer by trade, Galaske didn't buy the car until the following year, 1980, paying $6,600 for it from a factory-owned dealership in Niles, Michigan. He knew it was something special, but the car accumulated 62,000 miles as a daily driver for his family, which included winter rides (meaning corrosion damage). In 1987, Larry started locating NOS parts for the 300 to do a proper restoration on it. While there were certainly some pieces available, the limited production numbers and big changes at Chrysler the previous decade meant that many items were now hard to locate. Plus, soon after the car was repainted, he began taking some time to restore a Barracuda with his son, so the 300 project got put on hold. By 1996, once he began working on it again, he knew what he wanted to do.