Ron Johnson's '58 Chrysler...
Ron Johnson's '58 Chrysler 300D convertible, restored by Muscle Car Restorations, on its way to Best of Show and OE Certification at the '96 Mopar Nationals.
Benefits of Judged Show Competition
By now, those of you who have debated the pros and cons of entering judged competition at the Mopar Nationals probably have a better understanding of what the showfield can offer you. Aside from providing the competitive outlet we all need from time to time, and an opportunity to share restoration war stories with fellow enthusiasts, perhaps education is the single most important benefit of having our cars judged.
Think of it this way: Unlike the Mustang or Corvette worlds, where restoration details for nearly all makes and models are well documented, Mopar enthusiasts have no "Holy Grail" to follow on their journey to restoration perfection. A significant amount of research (sometimes weeding through questionable sources), comparison and talking with various experts is required just to get to first base. The judged showfield offers restorers the most concentrated collection of Mopar restoration knowledge anywhere. For three days the most knowledgeable folks in the hobby are on hand to share information and lend assistance to anyone who needs it. They evaluate your car, tell you what's right and wrong, and suggest ways to improve it. This is budget restoration at its finest!
"I've always been a believer," says Rohm, "that the judges don't judge the cars on Friday and disappear. Judges try to make themselves available to answer participants' questions. Most participants know their shortcomings before they enter. They just want to be assured that someone else found the shortcomings. It's not usually a place for big surprises. When there are surprises, the participants learn, and that's why they're there."
Michael Laiserine's '70 R/T...
Michael Laiserine's '70 R/T is proof positive that the judged show scene can benefit everyone who is interested in improving their Mopar-even if show points and competition are the last things on their mind. Michael, a resident of Long Island, New York, bought this R/T in 1995 for use as a parts car. When he learned it might be the last SE Challenger R/T built, he decided to go for the resto. The '99 Mopar Nats was his first showing of the car, and represented an attempt to get more and accurate restoration details before setting the car on the road as a driver.
Just Do It
One of the great aspects about the Mopar Nationals is that it offers something to everyone. For some folks, that means driving hard and having fun. For others, it's the personal challenge of returning a car to showroom condition. "The judged show arena," explains Rohm, "is a good place to show your efforts to the world. You're competing against the best competition in the country. I know that may intimidate some people from trying it, because they think 'well, my car isn't good enough.' But for those who aim to bring your Mopar back to vintage form, consider judged show competition as an effective, fun and cost efficient way of getting there. And who knows? You might already be better than you think, but you'll never know until you try it."
OE Certified On The Cheap (well...sort of!)Many folks (too many, actually) have the view that judged show cars are just the high-buck restoration projects of well-heeled owners paying big dollars to top-name restorers in order to turn their classics into national points champions. Again, myths and misconceptions serve only to inhibit the potential fun factor of a restoration project. A case in point is Dave Holderied of Davison, Michigan.
Dave, a former tool maker for General Motors, spied an ad for a '69 Hemi Road Runner in a Detroit Newspaper in September 1991. Sporting pretty much everything he wanted in a Road Runner (color, Hemi engine, and an automatic transmission), Dave wasted no time in securing the car for his own.
In 1995, Dave began the job of returning the cobbled up Road Runner to its former glory. In his way of doing things, that meant doing everything as correct as possible right from the beginning. Dave says he goes to great lengths to find correct and original parts, and pays the money that is necessary to get them. He says that this way there are never any regrets-better to pay too much than to later kick yourself for passing something up.