ALL-CHRYSLER NATIONALS: MOPAR MADNESS!

Carlisle hosts its 23rd Annual Woodstock for Mopar fanatics.
The second weekend in July brought Pentastar fans from both here and abroad to Carlisle, PA. No doubt the Net, Blogs, Message Boards, EBay and all, have changed our hobby forever but there is still a place for a big single-marque gathering like this one. The knowledge and experience available at one is not easily duplicated in an electronic environment. The ability to share with similar minded folks and to see and touch things can’t be beat. We need to support those who support our hobby by attending and sharing at these events. And when it comes to events like this, nobody does it better than the Millers who run Carlisle!

Bob Dotta’s ‘34 Chrysler Street Rod, top, had all the touches of the 1980s thinking with its non-narrowed rear end, solid aluminum wheels and big-block with ram manifolds. Also note original touches like hood ornament, stock headlights, grille, full fenders and running boards.

My favorite in the Car Corral was this Gen ll Hemi-powered ‘64 Plymouth Belvedere wagon with OD transmission, AC, redone but still period interior, modern wheels and tires, disc brakes, etc. Very well finished, it carried a $55,000 asking price. It did not go home with me!

Richard Talbot’s ‘55 Plymouth is one of those detail-rich vehicles that require a second look.  With just the right stance and wheel/tire combination, it featured a 1950s-style two-tone paint job. Underneath, everything was redone. The engine compartment was cleaned up, the firewall smoothed and the engine had a NASCAR-style cowl induction air cleaner. His choice of powerplant was as unique as his choice of base for his creation. He used a race-only V8 from Chrysler’s defunct NASCAR program, carefully adapted to street use.  

The resto-mod crowd was also well represented, with cars like Ronald Ciarmello’s ‘57 Plymouth Fury. This car is unusually well optioned and was special ordered for a dealer’s wife. In addition to a long list of options, it also sports a 45-rpm record player and air conditioning, both unusual for 1957. A clock resides in the center of its steering wheel.

In the late-1950s/early-1960s the “Big Three” U.S. automakers dipped their toes into the compact market. Chrysler’s entry was the Plymouth Valiant/Dodge Lancer. NASCAR jumped in and began their “Cannonball Compact” series to offer these cars a place to compete. Class of that field was the early Slant Six-equipped Valiant with Hyper-Pak engine and “Export Suspension.” Thomas Chapel’s ‘62 model takes us back to the day!

Each year the Nationals selects a particular Mopar model/category to celebrate. For 2013 it was the Max Wedge. These cars propelled Dodge & Plymouth to the head of the Muscle Car wars. They followed the accepted performance model at the time with light bodies housing big multi-carb, radical-cammed engines. The factories turned out all sorts of goodies in an effort
to, “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.” And, they did!

Dodge’s Li’l Red Wagon was a bright spot in the emission’s strangled era of the late-1980s.
The trucks drove through a loophole in regulations allowing reduced controls on light-duty trucks. Dressed with dual truck stacks, chrome wheels, varnished wood and graphics plus a Hi-Po driveline, it all came together to offer the enthusiast a thrill ride.

For those with late-model tastes but with a nostalgic feel for past Mopar moments of glory, we have this new Challenger fitted with an aftermarket kit. There were a couple of them there, one in the Petty Garage tent and this one in the HPP display.

Words & photos: M.M. “Mike” Matune, Jr

For more information about the All-Chrysler Nationals, please visit our friends at Carlisle http://www.carsatcarlisle.com/events/chrysler-nationals/

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