What could be better than a cross-country adventure in a car that we've shown you in our recent tech stories? So what if it was lacking in just a few creature comforts?
On the run north, Dave and Garrett Struck of Inline Performance would drive the C-Body, while Randy and I took the company dually (towing a 28-foot enclosed trailer, which later hauled our 2012 AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge contestant engines to Memphis) from Florida to Ohio.
At least the rains we ran...
At least the rains we ran into washed a lot of bugs off the Newport’s grille and windshield. I hope the duct tape on the top holds.
Dusters were the featured...
Dusters were the featured car of the 2011 Mopar Nats.
Awaiting OEM Certification...
Awaiting OEM Certification judging is this ’70 Duster, a late-year build restored by Mike Mancini’s American Musclecar Restorations, Inc. shop. It won O.E. Gold and Best of Show.
Northbound, only two small problems cropped up with the Newport. One was the oil pressure gauge's sender line came in contact with one of the exhaust manifolds, melting it and causing an oil leak that was spotted at our first refueling stop-and temporarily fixed with a small pair of clamping pliers before we got underway again. The second was a clogged fuel filter-an easy fix.
At the show, one thing keeping me going (along with water) was the energy and enthusiasm that our fellow Mopar folks showed all weekend. It was great meeting up in person with people whose cars I've written about, and seeing some of those cars in person. Also, it was great to talk about Mopar history with fellow Nats-goers.
If you think that judging at the Nats is for over-restored cars, think again. I chatted with Keith Rohm, the head of the group that does OEM certification judging, and he says their standard is the condition of the car as it was built by Ma Mopar back in the day. (Think what a brand-new Plymouth, Dodge, Imperial or Chrysler would look like while sitting in a dealer's new-car delivery area after it was unwrapped and made ready for its first owner). Keith pointed to the '70 Duster that awaited their attention when he said. "One mistake that people make-and I hate to use the word mistake-is 'over restoring.' A prime example on this Duster is how nice and glossy the paint is, even with the correct orange peel in it. But, if you look in the engine compartment, the paint is dull, which is correct." An "over-restored" car would not have the dull engine bay, or the orange peel-but wouldn't be in an identical condition to a brand-new (back then) Mopar, and would not receive as high a score as a car that had the same "patina" as the brand-new Mopars had back in the day.
No matter what flavor Mopar...
No matter what flavor Mopar was your favorite, there was one in the show field for you!
If you made it to the Nats...
If you made it to the Nats this year, you saw that we debuted our just completed ’70 Superbee. Stay tuned as we cover the build in the pages of Mopar Muscle magazine.
Among the Young Guns at the...
Among the Young Guns at the Nats was Cohen Marschall’s ’49 Plymouth, powered by a ’72 400 under its “black suede” finish.
For the trip home, Dave and I took the Newport back to Florida. Everywhere we went, the Newport turned eyes, and at each stop people came over to talk with us about it, and about the vintage Mopars they had (and wished they still did).
The Newport ran great and rode great. The lack of air conditioning, carpets, and a sound system other than the Newport's exhaust note weren't problems to me. (Though riding in a car with a black top and interior without A/C in the summer in the South gave me an appreciation for the job that barbecuers do in the heat they work in!)
Would I do a trip like this again? Yes! Likely the Newport will be a lot closer to completion next year if it isn't all done, and whoever rides in it will just have to get used to the attention that a "fuselage-look" C-Body draws these days!
If there is one thing I took away from the Nats, besides my new T-shirt, it's that the Mopar hobby is doing well. I heard from a couple of people that they thought the people count might have been down a little, but I couldn't tell it. There were a lot of vendors there showing off some new products, and I heard about some great new product that will be coming out soon, so stay tuned. One thing that really surprised me was when I realized that there was no Mopar Performance trailer or exhibit set up. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised about that.
What didn't surprise me this year was the fact that Brice Road was nothing like its former self. Apparently, all of the action has moved to Heath, and I hear of one resounding reason why, and I am sure all of you have as well. Also, I think this is the first year that I can remember that the weather wasn't hot and miserable, or rainy. Finally, I don't know if this could be considered a good thing or a bad thing, but I was impressed with the fact that I didn't even buy another project car. Someone did, but I'll let him tell you about that.
Gold enough for you? Mike...
Gold enough for you? Mike & Patty Patterson’s ’65 Barracuda sports a stroker 408 under its DuPont “Hot Hues” Honey Gold paint.
The Mopar Village Club’s tent...
The Mopar Village Club’s tent made show-going easier for members and friends. Your club can also get a specific club parking area. All you need to do is contact the Nats organizers before the show and make plans.
Back then, they couldn’t fit...
Back then, they couldn’t fit “GET IN, SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, HANG ON!” on a license plate.
I always look forward to the Mopar Nationals, and this year was no different as we drove our '69 Chrysler Newport project car from Florida all the way to Ohio, for the event. As I outlined in a series of blogs on the website, the trip up went pretty well other than a couple of minor incidents with the Newport. We made decent time, however, and began seeing other Mopars on the way to the Nats when we got into Tennessee.
Once arriving at National Trail Raceway, I was a little concerned at the lack of activity on Thursday. It seemed there weren't as many vendors setting up as in years past, and the local television stations were predicting a rainy weekend. Fortunately, Friday saw decent crowds and everyone seemed to enjoy the event. Seven of our eight AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge competitors showed up with their engines, and it was nice to see the diversity of big-blocks that will run in this year's contest.
The highlight of the trip for me, however, had to be picking up my latest project, a '64 Dodge Polara hardtop. Between high school and college I had a '64 Polara and built the car into a pretty respectable street/strip machine. The mid '60s B-Bodies are well balanced, and make nice drag cars so I've always wanted to build another one. For the past 4-5 years I've been looking for the right deal, and this year I found it in the car corral at the Nats. The one I bought is a very solid piece, but a bit of a basket case as it had been disassembled several years ago for paint and body work. There's no engine or transmission, but the car itself is super clean and will make a great foundation for a Mopar Muscle project car. We're not sure what direction we'll go with it yet, but I'm really considering building a Nostalgia Super Stocker out of it. Let us know what you think, and we'll see you at next year's Mopar Nationals. mm
Charlie Caldwell gives a couple...
Charlie Caldwell gives a couple of Nats-goers a quick history lesson about his one-of-five-built, 426 Street Wedge/four-speed ’64 Dodge 440 hardtop.
Exotic? How about a Leaning...
Exotic? How about a Leaning Tower of Power with three Weber carburetors on it?