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Fletch's Annual Road Trip to the USA - Part 1: Classic Restos - Series 42

By Shannons - Published on 22 November 2019

Fletch returns to his beloved USA for his annual road trip, starting in Los Angeles travelling across ten states to Pennsylvania. Travelling with Mark Behr from Shannons who as you will no doubt be aware, is an avid collector of American Classics. 

First stop is in Bakersfield in California, to take a look at one of Mark's latest acquisitions, a 1960 Chrysler Imperial Le Baron. A top of the range model with a 413 V8, push-button Torqueflite auto transmission, power windows and seats. It was a significant competitor to the Cadillac and Lincoln in its time. Mark admits this is a full restoration project that could take some years to complete but believes it will be well worthwhile. 

Fletch finds a road marker that signifies the point three states of America cross - Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.

When buying a classic car in America, you have to consider how it will be transported to the West Coast in preparation for its transportation to Australia. Of course, you could get it transported to the shipper, but that would be too easy. Learning about these old machines and driving them across America is where the fun is, well that's according to Mark Behr. 

This year Mark has purchased a 1968 Chrysler 300 4 door pillarless sedan, with a 440 V8 and Torqueflite auto transmission.  Apart from what you would typically expect to find on a car that has been sitting in a shed for 40 years, this one has a significant oil leak. Further inspection requires Fletch and Mark to get on the tools with Chrysler Collector, Murray Park. So it can make the trip across America to the shipper.

Mark reflects on a previous purchase from Murray Park, a 1959 Chrysler Imperial 413 V8 and his plans to restore it to its former glory. Murray Park also recalls when they extracted the Imperial from his garage and tells how Imperial between 1955 and 1975 was a completely separate division from Chrysler and known as Imperial and not Chrysler Imperial.

For enthusiasts considering importing cars to Australia, the current legislation dictates that only vehicles up to January 1989 can be imported. Any newer LHD model cars have to be converted to RHD before being imported. Shannons led by Mark Behr lobbied to change this legislation. The good news is that the Federal Government have adopted the proposal of a rolling 25-year rule to be introduced in December of 2019. Effectively meaning cars 25 years old can be imported, allowing for a lot more modern vehicles and those emerging classics to be imported, Mark Behr explains.

Fletch catches up with Danielle Park, just 16 years old and the proud owner of a 1986 Chrysler 5th Avenue Sedan, it's a little different from what her other classmates are driving. Still, she is a self-declared enthusiast and loves the older classic cars, it must be in the genes.

The road trip continues, with more to come in the next episode