This is the story of two men, two cars and one birthday! Hoyle and Doyle Chanler grew up in Minden, Louisiana. They have the good fortune to be identical twin brothers. Both have always had a love for cars and fixing things. Hoyle works at the G.M. Plant in Shreveport and Doyle works repairing boat motors a few miles from Minden in Sibley, Louisiana. I have known the Chanler families for many years. Bill Chanler, Hoyle and Doyle’s brother was the father of one of my good friends, Sharon. We will get back to Sharon and her part in all this later in the story!
Hoyle had owned a 1966 Chrysler 300 years before and had always wanted another one. Back in 1979 Hoyle was working in Springhill, Louisiana at a paper-mill. One day he spotted a Chrysler 300 Convertible sitting under a shed at a house in Springhill. The home belonged to a truck driver that just happened to be home from a road-trip. Hoyle asked him if he wanted to sell the car under the shed and he said, “I sure do, I’m from Pennsylvania and I’m about to move back there.” Hoyle asked him, “How much will you sell it for?” to his surprise the man said $150.00! Hoyle seemed pretty pleased with that price, to say the least. He told the man, “let me go ask my wife if she has any money on her.” Needless to say they managed to come up with the $150 between the two of them. They finished the paper work on Monday and the journey began.
The car would crank but it was out of gas. They got some gas together and fired it up and headed down the road to get a little more gas for the 30 miles back to Minden. After 7 gallons of gas and only about 10 miles the car ran out of gas. Hoyle got out and checked out the problem. A cracked gas tank was the culprit. Hoyle being the industrious fellow that he is went and got a quart mason jar and put a little gas in it and unhooked the fuel line from the fuel pump. (Don’t try this at home!) He then would stick the line down in the jar and let it suck up the gas and drive as far as he could then he would get out and repeat until he made it the next 20 something miles to home!
When Hoyle got home he started checking out the car and looking through the glove box and under the hood. The original owner’s manual was still in the car. This traced the car back to a Lt. Colonel Walter Osborn. The car had 67,000 miles on it when Hoyle purchased the car and from the records in the owner’s manual it had around 42,000 when Colonel Osborn traded it in at a dealership in Shreveport, Louisiana. This was done when the Colonel retired from Barksdale in 1972. Seems Colonel Osborn had purchased the car from a dealer in Hobart, Oklahoma in 1966 while the Colonel was stationed at Clinton-Sherman AFB in western Oklahoma from 1959-1966. He said he had seen an ad in a magazine for a 1966 300 convertible and the only place to order one was this small-town dealership. He went down, ordered the car and the rest they say is history. But Hoyle did not know all of this yet! He would not find out all about the car until several years later. All he knew so far was that he was probably the third owner of the car.
Then the work began. A re-paint of the original red color, new top, new seat covers, and new carpet was about all the entire car really needed. Oh yes don’t forget the gas tank repair! It took about 2 ½ years to complete the restoration. The car on a scale from about 1-10 was at least a 5 or better before the restoration started.
Now the plot thickens and really gets good. When Hoyle’s twin brother Doyle saw the car he wanted one too. As most of you know Chrysler 300 Convertibles are not on every corner or in every barn! In 1981 Hoyle was working at General Motors in Shreveport, Louisiana. One of his co-workers told him one day that he had an old convertible just like his. Hoyle wasn’t sure if he was correct but figured it was worth a shot to check it out. Sure enough he went to look and it was a car just like his. The guy had already told him he would sell it for $1000.00 but when he was ready to make the deal he went up on the price by $200 more dollars to $1200.00. Hoyle was getting pretty aggravated at the way the deal was going so he decided to get his brother involved. Doyle agreed to pay the man his $1200.00! Now the man wanted $1500.00! Doyle thought about this for a week and decided that he really wanted a car like his brothers so he called the man and said, “OK I’ll give you the $1500.00!” The price had now gone up to $1800.00 and both the Chanler brothers were getting pretty feed up with this guy! The man finally agreed to sale the car for $1700.00 and would agree to shake on it. Doyle still just wanted to pay the $1500.00. He told the guy that if his brother didn’t have one he wouldn’t give the man 100 bucks for it. That’s when Mrs. Chanler, Hoyle’s wife got in the picture! She called Doyle and said she was going to take care of the matter. She had Doyle come with his $1500 and she added $200 of her money to the car money. All this took place in 1981.
When they got home with the car they went all through it and come to find out the original owner, a Mr. Vaughn had been a coach at Minden High School. The brothers called up Mr. Vaughn and asked him if he had owned a Chrysler 300 convertible. He told them yes and that every time he saw Hoyle in his around town it made him sick to his stomach that he had gotten rid of the car. Doyle told Mr. Vaughn that he had just bought the car! Of course Mr. Vaughn was anxious to see the car after all those years. The brothers went right over and the Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn came out to check out the old car that they had once loved. Mr. Vaughn said, “Doyle I don’t know what you paid for the car, but I’ll give you $2500.00 right now for it!” Well, did the brothers get to have the last laugh on the so called friend at the plant the next day! Hoyle said he loved being able to go up to this guy and telling him that Doyle had been offered $2500.00 for the car just the way it sat!
Then the restoration on the second car began. The car was originally a lavender color. They wanted matching cars so the car was repainted and restored to match the first car. The only difference in the cars is one came with cruise control and one didn’t and one came with power windows and one didn’t. Other than that they look the same and so do the brothers!
The first big show that the cars were shown at was the 1984 World of Wheels show in Shreveport, Louisiana. Both cars placed and a spark of attention was lit about the twin cars and the twin brothers. Channel 3 came out and did a story about the cars and the brothers after the 1984 show. Another amazing thing happened at the World of Wheels show. A man came up to them at the show and asked them if the car had been owned by a Colonel. They opened the hood up and pulled the original owner card that is in a small pocket mounted on the car and sure enough Colonel Osborn had been the original owner and this man knew him. He told the brothers that he had been stationed with the Colonel at Barksdale years ago and that he knew the Colonel had moved to Hawaii after retirement. He even had the Colonel’s address and phone number. Hoyle contacted the man and they talked about the history of the car and how much it had meant to Mr. Osborn. The car was for his wife that had passed away years earlier. The Colonel was remarried and living happily in Hawaii. He sent Hoyle the history along with some pictures of himself to go along with the car. Now the story and the history of the car were complete.
Shortly after the show a terrible accident happened with Doyle’s car. While out driving one day a woman slid sideways and right into the 300 totaling it out. Lucky for Doyle he was okay but the car wasn’t. Insurance helped and the brothers happened to have another hardtop car that they could rob parts off of for the job that lay ahead of them. Five years and many, many hours later the cars were back on the road together.
Now back to my friend Sharon and her part of the story. Sharon had twin boys back in the 80’s. Clint and Craig are their names and they are also identical. Hoyle and Doyle always participate in area parades and to really confuse the folks years ago each one would get one of the twins to ride with them. One car would go by and then a few minutes later here would come another one or was it the same car?! You never knew!
If you would like to see the twins and the twin cars be sure and make it to Minden May 14th for the St. Jude Cruisin’ For A Cure Car Show. Hoyle and Doyle are new MOTAA members thanks to this interview! I’m still working on their young great-nephews Clint and Craig Fondren to join us at the shows. They also have the love of cars and own their own garage in Bossier City, Louisiana. You may even see them on the mountain this year! If you have to take a double take you will know that it is the twins!