John And Mary Cailey’S - ’27 Ford Roadster & ’79 Chrysler 300


I’ve always loved cars. I remember riding the school bus to high school in Indiana in the mid ’60s and looking at the cars lined up at a nearby Ford dealership. I always looked at the early 1920s truck with the wooden slatted truck bed and huge chrome grill used as advertising for the dealership and thought what a cool ride that would be.

As time went on, with marriage and kids and moving to Illinois, I forgot this love of cars until the kids were in high school themselves and I got my first Mustang convertible in 1989. I kept that car for 10 years and then bought my second Mustang convertible in 1998. Oh how I love driving around with the top down!

In 2000 I had the opportunity to purchase a 1978 silver anniversary edition, L82 Corvette. It had T-tops, so I still had the wind blowing in my hair. What a ride! Two years later I learned how to ride a motorcycle and in 2003 I bought a 1450 cc Heritage Softail Classic Harley. Now that was a ride, and talk about the wind in your hair, well, almost, I always did wear a helmet.

By 2004 I had sold the Corvette and I sold the bike in 2005. In the meantime, in 2004, we had an unbelievable opportunity to buy our second 1979 Chrysler 300 (only 3,811 were ever built, and all but 5 were painted the signature “Spinnaker White” color) and with only 26,000 original miles. My husband, John, already had one, so this second 1979 Chrysler 300 was bought for me. We had ‘his’ and ‘hers’ matching cars. John did a restoration on my car, fixing the ‘moon roof’ (1 of 256 with this option), replacing the dented right front quarter panel, and after sending it out for painting, he replaced the red and blue pin striping. We turned many heads when we both drove our matching cars to local cars shows.

Midway through 2012, John told me he’d build or restore another car for me of my choice. I still had the love of old trucks, such as the late ’40s and early ’50s Chevys, but more so was my love of the wind blowing in my hair, so I knew I wanted a topless car. I started looking at hot rods and when the annual car auctions came to the Valley in January of this year, we decided to look into the cars being sold at the Russo and Steele auction. I signed up for a “bidder’s” pass and two weeks before the auction, I started looking through their list of cars to be auctioned. A bright yellow, 1927 Ford Roadster caught my eye. When we arrived at the auction on the first day, I looked for this yellow car and, finding it listed to be sold that day, I made sure we were in the bidders’ stands when it went up for auction. It looked so pretty under those big lights as it was driven into the auction hall. I had a set price in my head that I wasn’t going to exceed and, luckily, I was within my limit when that gavel came down and “Sold, Sold, Sold” was announced. John was sitting next to me in the stands, but was looking the other way when the gavel came down. I turned to him and said, “Well, we just bought another car!”

Come see our matching his and hers “300s” and also my ‘new’ ’27 Roadster, which I’ve named “Buttercup” at the Rim Country Classic Automobile Club Beeline Cruise-In Car Show. We’ll be parked with the other Rim Country Classic Car Club cars in the Zane Grey Museum parking lot on Green Valley Parkway.

By John Cailey

I started drag racing back in the ’60s when I was in my 20s and flagmen were used to start the races. I drove a ’63 Plymouth Max Wedge 426 and did quite well at the many Midwest tracks, such as Union Grove in Wisconsin, Rockford Dragway (now Byron Raceway) in Byron, Ill., as well as at many of the now gone tracks such as Oswego Race Track in Oswego, Ill.

In the late ’60s I teamed up with two other local racers and professionally raced the same 426 Max Wedge engine, but in a 1964 Dodge 330 in the AHRA (American Hot Rod Association) Midwest Division. In 1968 this car held the ET (Elapsed Time) and speed records for the ‘5’ Stock Automatic Class.

After getting married and having kids, I stopped racing in 1970.

My Dad called me 1994 and said he could no longer drive and if I wanted to have his 1979 Chrysler 300, I could fly out to Washington State and drive it home.

As I drove the car home to Illinois, I decided to work on it a bit and then sell it. However, as I put time into the car, I decided to keep it and try racing it. So here I go again, 32 years later, driving my Dad’s ’79 Chrysler 300 down the quarter-mile asphalt of Byron Dragway in 2002. This car weighed 4,000 pounds and it felt like driving a box of Velveeta cheese. My times were OK, starting with an ET of 13.50 seconds and speed of 99 mph with the stock 360 engine.

After a year, I bought a 360 engine out of a motor home and built a 408 stroker motor. Eventually I was able to put the big 300 into the high 11-second range.

As time went on, I got tired of my 11-second car, so in the fall of 2012, with the blessings of my wife, I decided to make my 300 go faster and installed a blower on my 408 motor. I then pulled some of the weight off the car, removed the front and back seats, and installed an 8-point roll cage.

As with anything, I’ve gone through a series of trials and errors with my blown Chrysler 300, but to date, my best time is a 10.50 ET at 128 mph.

Look for my 300, the “Moby Dick II”, at the car show!


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