Too often, I see big, brand specific events as a giant product placement shot to get people to buy more of the product. At Moparfest, it really is all about the fans of the cars getting to show off their rides and to appreciate work completed by other enthusiasts. Sure, Chrysler has all of their new cars on display but they were tucked into a corner of the event with the main activity being the ability to walk among the seventeen hundred odd cars on display.
For me the real treat came with talking to the owners about their rides. I love to see the pride each person has and to hear about the time, money and love that gets put into keeping their car rolling. I already covered the basic details about Moparfest in my Friday article so I’m dedicating this post to sharing photos and stories I collected during the day.
The first person I stopped to talk with was the owner of a 1935 Plymouth PJ Coupe. We stood together, watching the stream of Mopar’s best rolling into the show talking about his car. I was originally expecting to hear how the car had been found in a barn and restored to its current condition or lovingly preserved through the generations. The story I got was how he purchased it this way and that he simply enjoys the car. With the rumble of passing muscle cars I could appreciate wanting to be a part of this fraternity of enthusiasts. I know that I appreciated him sharing this beautiful car with everyone.
The next car I stopped to investigate proved the scope of the show. The 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T was made over three quarters of a century after the PJ Coupe rolled off the line and still provides its owner with a source of pride. While he was happy to talk about the option package he got with the car, he really became animated when talking about the Toxic Orange paint job. From what he told me, someone found a source of this color in Japan that had enough to do a limited run on the Challengers. He continued by telling me that his is one of only three that were sold in Ontario graced with this paint. I particularly liked the rumor that one of the names that was considered for the color was “Can’t Catch Me Copper”.
While Dodge has a history of great paint (Plum Crazy and Sublime are the first to come to mind) there was a car that stood out for the paint job it received after it left the factory. A 1969 Plymouth Road Runner received a one of a kind paint job in the early 70s that has survived the rigors of time. This car has been featured on the covers of Mopar Magazine and Canadian Hot Rods and draws a crowd wherever it goes. The biggest frustration for the owner is how often people want to run their hands over the paint as if they could feel the sparkles. This hands on approach to appreciation has led to blemishes starting under the paint. It’s not easy to find someone capable of restoring something this unique.
Thinking about restoration reminds me of a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible that was up for sale. The owner clearly loved the car and told me she had spent approximately $80,000 over the past 17 years bringing it back to mint condition. I was a bit confused that she would want to sell her car after putting so much effort into it. The car has a lot of the original equipment still in place and includes the original hood, rims, hub caps and carb for someone looking to make it truly factory complete. As we talked, it turns out that she loves the horsepower put out by the 383 Magnum engine a bit too much and has racked up a few tickets taking it out for drives. She’s channeled her love for horsepower into real horses and needs to sell her project car to take care of her living steeds.
Having told these brief stories, I realize how many stories there are to tell. I could tell about a General Lee signed by George Barris (I was good enough not to bring that up with the owner). There’s the Black Beauty that was in the arena without a sign to indicate if it is a first rate reproduction or one of the actual movie cars. Or I could go on about the Dart with the alcohol burning engine that turns 2,300 HP at the wheels. None of this touches on all of the vendors that were set up or the wings eating competition or the cheap helicopter rides or the engine blows or the burnout competition. I plan on going back again next year to spend some more time with this great crowd of people. I hope that freakish van comes back so I can find out what’s possessed its owner to create it.
I did my best to capture a fair range of the cars that were on display this year. I hope you enjoy the photos.