Chrysler club lights ‘em up at Mopar Under the Lights

Crowds filter in at dusk for Mopar Under the Lights | William Hall photos
Crowds filter in at dusk for Mopar Under the Lights | William Hall photos

Not so long ago, most classic car gatherings took place in the evening. Drive-ins and parking lots served as afterschool cruise spots, and no one wanted to go home to bed. Nowadays, it seems that classic car owners would rather meet for a morning coffee or stroll a manicured golf course concours than brave the dark.

Which is why the 10th annual Mopar Under the Lights show seemed both unique and edgy while being wholly familiar. More than two-hundred Dodge-Chrysler-Plymouth products crammed into the Dodge City dealership parking lot in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for a warm summer night of cars and camaraderie. Organized by the Wisconsin Mopar Muscle Club, the participants fully embraced the dusk setting which has become a novelty in the club’s event calendar.

Judges scrambled to determine class awards before the sun went down
Judges scrambled to determine class awards before the sun went down

For the viewer, the event was illuminating in many ways. Light and shadow brought out hidden details of sculpted bodylines, and interiors glowed from their warm incandescent lighting. It’s easy to forget that engineers spent countless hours designing unique headlights and taillights that few of us really get to see anymore. There is a satisfaction in seeing glove box, dome and license-plate lights functioning on a well-restored car. The sensation is vividly evocative of youthful nights spent around such vehicles.

Dave and Laura Cornelius braved more than darkness on their 75-mile shakedown cruise to the event. Dave had just rebuilt the dual-quad carbs the night before on their newly-acquired 1966 Hemi-powered Plymouth Satellite survivor car, and made the trip from Green Lake, Wisconsin, without a hiccup. The car was the sensation of the show, showing only 57,000 miles and wearing the rusty scars from many Wisconsin winters.

Remarkably, the Satellite’s corrosion occurred when the car was plowed-in one winter under salted snow, leaving the underbody and structure of the car clean and solid. Dave and Laura are the fourth owners, grateful the car had avoided restoration all these years– which affords a unique look at the aging process of these old B-bodies.

“I never thought I would own a Hemi car,” Dave said. “I always thought they were out of reach of the ‘normal’ car enthusiast.”

Mason Scarpace shows his scale-model Plymouth Superbird collection
Mason Scarpace shows his scale-model Plymouth Superbird collection

Fifth-grader Mason Scarpace brought out his 1:64 scale Plymouth Superbird collection to talk Mopar with his fellow Superbird owners. Mason’s mom, Teresa, is a club member who displayed her two Chrysler Shelby CSX’s, and enjoys sharing the old-car hobby with her son.

Leave it to a young man to show classic car owners how to enjoy every last hour of the summer car show season –and to not be afraid of the dark.

Dave Frydach attends the event regularly with his black 1970 Barracuda Gran Coupe. The fading light provides a great setting for Dave’s beautiful triple black E-body, and he and his wife thoroughly enjoy picnicking with friends and soaking up the warm summer night.

“If we are not the last car to leave, she’s not happy,” Frydach said.

Chris Bailey has owned his 1970 Hemi Charger R/T for more than 17 years, also resisting the urge to restore the car. It’s one of only a handful of factory sunroof-equipped Hemi Chargers and it remains a benchmark-original example. He owes that awareness for preservation to his father, a long-time member of the Antique Automotive Club of America.

Bailey, who is a manufacturing process engineer by trade, is fascinated by the production differences found on Mopars. Processes varied between assembly plants, and suppliers changed to meet production demands. Inconsistency was a byproduct of necessity.

“These were consumer products –they only got paid for what got out the door,” Bailey said.

Photos by William Hall

 

Winged Mopars lead $20 million Mecum auction in Harrisburg

A low-mileage 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird was the star of the show | Mecum Auctions
A low-mileage 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird was the star of the show | Mecum Auctions

Led by a pair of Mopar “winged warriors,” Mecum Auctions claimed $20 million in sales (not including auction fees) from its collector car sale this past weekend in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which included a Gone Farmin’ auction of vintage tractors and equipment.

The collector car auction boasted a 74 percent sell-through rate with 636 vehicles going to new homes. American muscle cars from the 1960s and ’70s dominated the results, with seven of the top 10 sellers coming from the muscle era. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1967 Plymouth GTX

1967 Plymouth GTX
1967 Plymouth GTX

The Plymouth GTX was first offered in 1967 as a performance variation of the standard two-door Belvedere, and it combined performance and style to achieve its status of “gentleman’s muscle car.” It came standard with Plymouth’s 440 cid V8 or the acclaimed 426 Hemi, along with heavy-duty suspension. The car’s sharp-edged design made it stand out.

Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe

Special Deluxe was top-of-the-line Plymouth in pre-war '40s
Special Deluxe was top-of-the-line Plymouth in pre-war ’40s

Plymouth updated and upgraded its passenger car line for the 1940 model year. “Low Priced Beauty with the Luxury Ride” was the advertising motto for a car built on a longer wheelbase and with 10 cubic feet more interior room than the previous version. Other updates included a significant increase in window glass to further enhance the new and more spacious interior.

7593927-1941-plymouth-roadking-special-deluxe-std-c
Fastback design adds elegance

The car was available in basic Roadking or Deluxe versions. For 1941, Plymouth added an even more upscale Special Deluxe model. Our Pick of the Day is one of those 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe two-door sedans that the private seller says has been fully restored. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1967 Plymouth Barracuda

The Plymouth Barracuda has been upgraded with performance components
The Plymouth Barracuda has been upgraded with performance components

The Pick of the Day is a restored and resto-modded 1967 Plymouth Barracuda coupe that looks like it was done right, with performance upgrades for power and drivability.

The private seller in Port St. Lucie, Florida, says in the ClassicCars.com advertisement that the car was completely disassembled for restoration in 2010 and is now completed and ready to go. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1950 Plymouth Flower Car

The Plymouth Flower Car looks retro chic  with its windshield visor and fender skirts
The Plymouth Flower Car looks retro chic with its windshield visor and fender skirts

While Australians might call it a ute, the Pick of the Day is one of the most interesting little sedan/pickup trucks that I’ve ever seen. The seller describes the 1950 Plymouth as a “flower car,” which are vehicles – usually Cadillacs – used by funeral directors to dress up graveyard-bound processions with their open beds brimming with fresh blossoms.

Flower cars have long been collector items, and while researching this one, I stumbled on the Facebook page of the Flower Car Club, made up of aficionados who collect and restore such things. Another posting I saw described his Caddy flower car as a “funereal El Camino.” Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II

The Plymouth Belvedere packs a 440 cid big-block V8
The Plymouth Belvedere packs a 440 cid big-block V8

The Pick of the Day is a classic piece of big-block Mopar muscle, a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II hardtop that looks like it just rolled off a ’60s drag strip. Powered by a 440cid V8 with performance tweaks, and its body and interior in stock trim, this Plymouth looks ready to blow the doors off all comers.

The midsize Belvedere has a great look for a no-nonsense performance car, with its razor-sharp body design and stark roofline. The unadorned style only adds to the implied message of massive power lurking within. Continue reading

Mopar performance muscles in at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction

This restored 1963 Dodge  330 Max Wedge Lightweight is one of just nine built by the factory | Bob Golfen photos
This restored 1963 Dodge 330 Max Wedge Lightweight is one of just nine built by the factory | Bob Golfen photos

‘You don’t usually see these kinds of muscle cars here.”

That was the comment from a passerby at RM Sotheby’s auction as she walked by a group of vintage Mopar performance machines at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, where the sale is being held.

Big pre-war classics and high-end sports cars are what come to mind at RM Sotheby’s, although the Arizona auction generally features a fairly wide range of collector cars. Still, a solid contingent of mighty 1960s muscle cars is somewhat unexpected in such polite society. Those more likely are found headlining the boisterous Barrett-Jackson or Russo and Steele auctions, both of which specialize in American ground pounders. Continue reading

Mecum opens Kissimmee with muscle-flexing weekend

1969 Plymouth Hemi GTX convertible is one of 11 | Mecum Auctions photos
1969 Plymouth Hemi GTX convertible is one of 11 | Mecum Auctions photos

Muscle cars were what bidders wanted during the opening weekend of Mecum Auctions’ huge sale at Kissimmee, Florida, where a 1969 Plymouth Hemi GTX convertible led the “sold” parade, hammering at $230,000 (Mecum does not include buyers’ premium fees in its price reporting). Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1969 Plymouth Barracuda fastback

The Plymouth Barracuda was restored to its original red-on-red motif
The Plymouth Barracuda was restored to its original red-on-red motif

Plymouth Barracudas have the distinction of being produced for exactly one decade to the day (April 1, 1964 to April 1, 1974), with the third and last generation of ‘Cudas becoming best-known among muscle car collectors.

The Pick of the Day is from the final year of the second generation, a 1969 Plymouth Barracuda fastback, all dressed in red, from its body to its interior to its red-line tires. The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, private seller describes it in the ClassicCars.com ad as a true H-code car powered by a high-performance 383 V8 as well as a Formula S car with improved handing. Continue reading