If you ask Peter Pellicani when was the first time he saw his beautiful 1961 four door Chrysler Newport sedan, he’ll tell you it was in 1961, when he was six years old and his father drove it home after picking it up from the dealership.
Peter tells the story of his dad factory ordering the Chrysler with a manual transmission. The salesman attempted to dissuade him, saying he wouldn’t be able to sell it because nobody would want that car with a standard transmission. Pete’s Dad said he’d eventually be giving the car to his son. The salesman scoffed at this, saying your son isn’t going to want this car. But the customer is always right and the car was delivered with a 361 V8 motor making 265 hp, a floor mounted manual transmission, power steering and Sure-Grip 8 3/4 rear. Chrysler made a special 3.58 to 1 gear ratio for the standard transmission cars.
In 1972, Peter graduated from High School and just as his dad predicted, the Chrysler was his. He tells us he received the car with 80,000 miles and now it has over 200,000. Over the years, the car carried him to three proms, two colleges, numerous vacations, and was used as a family car for many years. The car got its well-earned retirement from the family car in 1985 and from then on was used only on cruise nights and other special occasions.
Restoration of the interior started twenty years ago, beginning with the seats and headliner. The rest of the interior was mostly finished this year. He had to order the dash pad from Sweden. Painting of the car was completed in December of 2021 he’s been working on assembling it eight hours a day, five days a week.
Peter had always wanted to do a 413 cross ram engine build. This engine was an option for the Newport, producing 375 hp and 495 lbs. of torque. It took over five years to find and purchase the 413 cross ram engine and all the parts needed to complete the build. Some of the parts were only produced for one year and were very hard to locate. The engine was professionally rebuilt by Lawrence Racing Engines. The stock exhaust manifolds were too restrictive on the flow of the exhaust and did not allow the engine to reach its full potential. The engine was .030 over with larger exhaust valves, two Carter AFB 2903S and 30 inch intake runners. There just wasn’t enough room for the exhaust to go.
The two Carter AFB 2903S carburetors had to be rebuilt and Allstate Carburetors was recommended by his engine rebuilder. He tells us that as soon as he met Jim, he knew he had found the right home for those AFBs. He had a complete restoration performed on the carburetors and he was very happy with the results. As you can see in the pictures, the AFBs with the air filters complement the engine very well.
Peter would also like to give a shout out to JC Auto Restorations (West Coast). They gave him a tremendous amount of help with both parts and knowledge. Mopar made about 400 cast iron headers for this engine and JC Auto had a set. They are now installed on the Newport, solving the exhaust issue. Chrysler 300 Club International also contributed to the build, helping to locate parts and share their knowledge with restoration.
He reports that the engine swap lasted eight days, which included cleaning and painting the remaining areas of the engine compartment.
In closing Peter wants to say that getting behind the wheel of his car again puts a big smile on his face that can’t be removed until he parks the car.