I am a Charter member (#11) of the Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club.

This club is open to owners and anyone who likes the vehicle.

Woodward/Brampton Rendezvous 2002 -

Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club

The centerpiece of my 2002 vacation (in terms of miles driven, time, timing, and purpose of the trip) was the Woodward/Brampton Rendezvous 2002 put on by the Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club from August 17, 2002 through August 19, 2002 in Detroit, Michigan and Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

The events for the meet included:

  1. attending the 2002 Woodward Dream Cruise and dinner at Benihana's in Dearborn, MI on Saturday.

  2. a club car judging event, a visit to the Henry Ford Fair Lane Estate in Dearborn, MI, a group drive to Brampton, Ontario, Canada and dinner at La Capannina Italian restaurant on Sunday.

  3. a visit to the Chrysler Factory in Brampton, Ontario, Canada on Monday.

I have been a Charter member of the Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club since its inception. We are primarily an online club but we have several regional events and one national event each year. This was the first time that I was able to attend an event. I had a great time. In fact, I had such a good time that I am going to coordinate an event for members in the Southeast (all members are welcome of course) either in Atlanta or Daytona.

Friday night in Dearborn, the collection of 300Ms begins to grow.


We had 30 club members and family attend from all over of the US as well as some members from Canada. The locations represented by attending members included: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ontario Canada, Quebec Canada, and as far away as Florida and California. Not all members were able to attend all of the events, but we averaged at least 20 at each event. In all, there were 20 300M's in attendance as well.

I left from Tampa, Florida on August 10th. I drove up through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee,  Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan on this leg of the trip. I stopped to visit family, friends and various NASCAR racetracks (Bristol, Indianapolis, and Chicagoland) on the way up. By the time I arrived in Detroit, I had already driven 2000 miles.

We met in the Hampton Inn parking lot in Dearborn, MI on Friday evening. We introduced ourselves and checked out each other's vehicles. No two were the same. Everyone had some kind of modification on their car whether it was different wheels and/or tires, spoilers, custom dual exhaust, special badging or reduced or no badging, as well as custom interiors. In fact, I think I had the least modified vehicle of the entire group.

On Saturday morning, the majority of the group was out washing their vehicles starting at 0730. We were headed to downtown Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise. This year's event featured over 30,000 custom and classic vehicles and 1.5 million visitors. It is the largest single-day car event held each year.

The 2002 Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday.

Many of us drove the full length the 16 mile Cruise route and back in a long conga line. This short trip took about an hour and a half because of  the heavy traffic even at 0900. By the afternoon, the same trip was taking 4 to 6 hours because the traffic volume had increased so much. We then walked a good portion of the route checking out the overwhelming number of beautiful vehicles on display. You name it, it was there. Our heads were spinning by the end of it.

We went out to dinner at Benihana's. For many members, this was their first time at the this type of restaurant. There were drawings for great door prizes and most if not all members got something. The food was fantastic and the chefs put on quite a show.

On Sunday morning,  the majority of the group was again out washing their vehicles starting at 0730. This time, they were getting ready for the car judging portion of the event. Awards were given to:

  1. Doug Bourque (#276 from Brampton, Ontario, CA) for the Most Clean (Clean and Polished, Stock or Near Stock)

  2. John Wyche (#290 from Alexandria, VA) for the Most Custom (Interior, Exterior and/or Performance)

  3. Mike Martin (#238 from Glenshaw, PA) for the Most Classy (All Around Cool and Buff)

  4. Doug Bourque (#276 from Brampton, Ontario, CA) for the Best In Show

  5. Don Hanesworth (#327 from Sebastopol, CA) for the Most Cruisin' (Greatest Distance Drive to Get to the Event)

[ I thought I had a shot at Most Cruisin' having driven from Tampa, Florida. Thanks, Don for blowing the curve on this one! We have to give Don a special nod because he only had 3,000 miles on his 300M when left for the trip from Sebastopol, California. He put about 6,000 miles round trip just to attend this event! ]

This was also the one time that we had most of the participating vehicles stopped in a single location for any period of time. A perfect chance to get some great pictures of all of the members and vehicles at the Club's largest event to date.

The winners and judges for the car judging event held as part of the  Woodward/Brampton Rendezvous 2002 put on by the Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club on August 18, 2002.

Dinner at Benihana's on Saturday night.

Here is a half million dollar's plus worth of fine Chrysler 300Ms lined up after the car judging event. Quite a sight indeed!

We then moved on to the Henry Ford Fair Lane Estate for a guided tour. Considering the great wealth of Henry Ford, the house was not a mansion. It was beautifully appointed but was not, by any means, ostentatious. The house has its own hydroelectric turbines, one of which not only produces enough power to run the home, there is enough left over to sell to the city of Dearborn. The Ford's were determined to make the entire facility self-sufficient and Fair Lane is a fine example of high tech from the early 20th century.

We then headed out for the trip to Brampton, Ontario, Canada, home the Chrysler factory that produces the Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde and (of course) the Chrysler 300M. At this point, I hit the only snag on my journey. I was the only member stopped coming through customs into Canada. The 30-minute delay while my vehicle was thoroughly searched and I was questioned was a little disconcerting, but not really a major problem.

We had arranged to meet at a specific truck stop if we got separated for any reason. I arrived there with just enough time to make a short pit stop and just as everyone was finishing lunch. The rest of the trip to Brampton was uneventful, but we did get quite a few puzzled looks from the other drivers as we passed each other. I am sure it was quite a sight: a long line of 300Ms traveling as pack.

On Sunday night, we had dinner at La Capannina Italian restaurant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. They are normally closed on Sundays, but Russ Klass (the event organizer) had previously arranged for them to open for us if we could guarantee at least 20 diners. Not a problem since I think we had least 30 people there. The food was excellent and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

On Monday, we headed en masse to the Chrysler factory that produces the Chrysler 300M. Several members were invited to bring their modified vehicles into the factory. The factory worker and managers checked out all of the vehicles whenever they were on break.

We got to see the entire manufacturing process from rolled steel to completed vehicles rolling out the door (every 46 seconds!). There are more than 20 miles of conveyor belts in this place. I always assumed they produced a run of similar vehicles: a bunch of 300Ms, a bunch of Concordes and a bunch of Intrepids. That is not the case at all. All vehicles with all options are all intermingled. The right bodies with the right paint jobs were married with the right motors, dashes, seats, tires, wheels, windshields, suspension, option packages, etc. It was quite a site to see!

Our tour guides were all line workers and were quite proud of their work and the vehicles they produced. What is normally a two hour tour took over four hours because we had so many questions and wanted to take our time to take it all in. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures inside the factory. Bummer. If you ever get a chance to tour a modern automobile factory, take it. I am sure you will be impressed.

At this point, I said my goodbyes and assured everyone that I intended to the event next year. I enjoyed the entire weekend, I met a lot of new people, made new friends and had a fantastic time.

Henry Ford's Fair Lane Estate

Dinner at La Capannina's in Brampton, Ontario, Canada on Sunday night.

This was by far the longest road trip I have taken in my 300M. Previously, the longest trip had been a drive from Tampa to Atlanta and back for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons game in November of 2000. While I have always enjoyed driving this vehicle, this trip quite was an eye opener. Living in Florida, I do not get a chance to drive my 300M through tight twisting roads with good elevation changes.

While driving through the Carolinas and the Virginias, I was impressed with how the handling, power, balance and comfort of this car made short work of anything the road threw at it. In fact, while driving on a virtually empty state highway in West Virginia on my way to my sister Lori's house, I had to take a break from the aggressive driving because the repeated back and forth, up and down, twists and turns of the road were like a roller coaster when I started to feel a little dizzy. Needless to say, that had me grinning from ear to ear!

My final trip odometer reading was 4606 miles of thoroughly enjoyable driving through 20 states and 2 countries spread out over 16 days and 85 hours. Whether I drove a couple of hundred miles or eight hundred plus miles in any given day, through mountains or flat land, high speed driving in the middle of nowhere or stop-and-go traffic in a major city,  I never got out of the car sore from the drive or thinking 'I cannot take any more of this'. Quite a testament to the fact that the Chrysler 300M is one fine vehicle. If you've never driven a 300M and are in the market  for a new vehicle, you owe it to yourself to take one out for a spin!

I have put together a little show for the Rendezvous' social events, the 2002 Woodward Dream Cruise, the Club car judging, the visit to the Henry Ford's Fair Lane Estate, and since so many of us drove a good distance to attend the event,  phase 1 and phase 2 of my road trip. The shows are web based and are greatly reduced versions (about a 1/16 size) of the disk based versions. Even so, this presentations over 10MB each so if you are downloading them via a modem, it will take a while so be patient. The disk based versions reduce the images to 800X600, while my original pictures are 2100X1600. My intent is to burn CDs to be sent out to all of the members who attended the Woodward/Brampton Rendezvous 2002 event. I used some of the pictures taken by Mike Martin and Robert Powell to have enough pictures to fill out the shows. Thanks Mike and Robert!

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Thursday, January 01, 2009 11:55:48 -0700

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