It's not just Mopar's cars that are collectible, so are its spin-off items, such as literature, dealer signs, neon clocks, and plastic promo cars. But one area that has escaped widespread notice is records-those quaint black discs we once used to store sound. Mopar has its share of cool records. We've put together a nice little overview, showing you some rare and some not-so-rare records from nine different categories. Some basic rules of record collecting are:
• Hottest years are 1962-1973. Prices fall off dramatically before and after.
• Condition and completeness are king.
• There are still plenty of hot deals on eBay.
• Prices can swing wildly. One record can bring $80, while an even better copy may not break $20. You can usually get a lot for less than $25, or even $10.
Bottom line, there is a lot of good fun in collecting records without dropping a ton of cash. It's an area of Mopar history that's yet to emerge. So here's a look at some of the records out there.
Soundtracks Soundtrack albums...
Soundtrack albums from movies that featured Mopars, like these from the '83 movie Christine and the ever-popular Vanishing Point, feature musical compilations and lots of stills from the movies.
The Vanishing Point album...
The Vanishing Point album is a gatefold with a huge photo of our man Kowalski and his Challenger inside.
Because Mopars were so hot on the street and track, they were also hot in popular music. The Beach Boys kicked off an explosion in car music that ran hot and heavy through 1965. In "Shut Down," the epic story of a dragstrip battle between a fuel-injected Sting Ray and a 413 Super Stock Dodge, the Corvette came out the winner, but in an actual race in the early '90s recreating this famed musical event, the poor Corvette was lucky to escape with its life. The mighty 413 ran circles around it.
A Super Stock Dodge also stars in the Jan & Dean hit, "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena." The song has her driving a Super Stock Dodge and "the terror of Colorado Boulevard," despite a photo on the back of the album showing her in a '64 Dart convertible.
New Model Announcements
For years, standard practice was for the manufacturers to throw elaborate shindigs to introduce the year's new models. Typically, they would commission original music from prominent writers, hire Hollywood or Broadway stars to sing it, and host their dealers and the motoring press. Some call it "Industrial Theater." The recordings were handed out to insiders.
Chrysler's '65 Announcement...
Chrysler's '65 Announcement show record played up the new Plymouth, Chrysler, and Imperial models. Dodge apparently had its own separate show. It's common for the record to become separated from its original jacket, as this one has. As with cars, completeness and condition have a big impact on value.
Dodge rounded up lots of sports...
Dodge rounded up lots of sports stars as celebrity endorsers, including NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton, golfing legend Lee Trevino, and entertainers Joe Garagiola and Don Knotts. All contributed to this record announcing the '70 Dodge lineup. The record, a 7-inch 33, is pressed in red vinyl, and the jacket features vivid period art. This one is on the rare side and can cost well over $100.
On the right is the record from Dodge's '64 Announcement show. This was Dodge's 50th Anniversary, hence the golden theme. "What a Thrill to Buy An Automobile," "Let's Write," and "What a Thrill to Sell An Automobile" are the tunes on the A-side. These records were produced in relatively low volume, unlike music for public consumption that was cranked out in the millions.
"Music for Modern Americans" is a promo from a Chrysler-sponsored tour of Thurlow Spurr and the Spurrlows, "...young and lively group of musicians and singers who are bringing music that 'really moves' to high schools across the country." Both are 7-inch (same size as a 45) 33s.
Top Mopar racers Richard Petty and Sox & Martin released their own albums in 1970 and 1971, respectively. "Meet Richard Petty" has sounds from NASCAR races and King Richard describing what it's like to drive those legendary Mopars. It came with a 26-page color booklet showing behind-the-scene photos at Petty enterprises, at the track, and around the Petty home. Also shown are the Petty staff, a centerspread of the No. 43 Superbird at speed, Petty statistics, and some promo shots of the '71 'Cuda, Duster 340, and road Runner. This copy is still in its original cellophane.
Sox & Martin released "The Drags" in 1971. It features sounds of Top Fuel, Top Gas, Funny Car, Fuel Altered, and Prostock, and a full side with the late Steve Evans (the voice behind the "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" radio spots) interviewing Buddy and Ronnie. Inside the gatefold jacket is a killer color photo of the Prostock 'Cuda in tire-melting action. This one is fairly rare and pricey.
Mopar's Vintage Vinyl Records
The photos and stories of drag racing's early days are in old magazines. The sounds were captured on vinyl. Massachusetts-based Fleetwood, a leader in recording races, captured the sounds of Al Eckstrand piloting the Ramcharges Dodge.
Audio Fidelity released sounds of the '64 Winternationals in a high-end package with a heavy vinyl disc, lots of photos, and a gatefold jacket. You can hear the dominant Chryslers in action, winning super Stock-A in glorious detail. Their recordings were made with high-end equipment, e.g., German tube condenser microphones and high-speed tape recorders. Microphones were setup at the 60-foot mark and run in stereo to capture the feel of the cars launching and coming at you.
Dealer Premiums Chrysler...
Chrysler signed Italian heart-throb Sergio Franchi to croon the theme song of its new-for-'76 Plymouth Volare. Motor Trend called the Volare its Car of the Year, but that didn't fix what ailed it. The record on the right is on a generic label and appears to have been a handout. The one on the left also appears to be a handout, but is on the RCA label and was sponsored by the Atlanta area Chrysler Plymouth dealers.
Mopar Commercials On Vinyl...
Mopar Commercials On Vinyl
When you heard a radio commercial for a Chrysler product back in the '60s, this is what the radio station was playing. These records, usually one-sided, were produced by the ad agency and distributed to radio stations for play during a specific time. The 7-inch 33 (right) has four 50-second spots for the '70 Challenger, Charger, Monaco, and General. Ten seconds at the end are left open for an announcer to read about local dealers' locations. The red LP is background music for dealers to produce their own spots. These were typically independently produced.
Large dealers produced their...
Large dealers produced their own spots. This record, from Bergeron Plymouth Chrysler in New Orleans, is a Christmastime '71 release with a comedy bit from Cajun comic Trosclair on the A-side and six spots on the B-side. Mr. Norm's did a mid-'60s record as a promo that is rare today.
Dealer Training Mopar produced...
Mopar produced a steady stream of dealer training kits that included filmstrips, printed booklets, and a soundtrack record. Some were to acquaint salesmen with the cars they were selling. Others, like these two, were to educate service personnel about the latest changes and upgrades, e.g., bugger exhaust valves, low-restriction exhaust systems, and revised settings for the Carter AFB for the '67 440 Magnum/Super Commando.
Hurst Golden 8 Grand In 1964,...
Hurst Golden 8 Grand
In 1964, Hurst released "Hurst Takes You To The '64 Nationals," a deluxe album recorded at the NHRA Indy Nationals. Typical of Hurst, gold colors are used extensively, and the record is among the best produced and packaged of its type. George Hurst himself gives the introduction, and Jon Lundberg narrates and interviews Don Garlits, NHRA founder and President Wally Parks, and then-Hot Rod Publisher Ray Brock to set the scene.
Even the paper sleeve is printed...
Even the paper sleeve is printed with pictures of the meet and full race results. The historic sounds of the dominant Mopars are throughout this record, as Hemis ruled the upper ranks. This was to be first in a series of eight records called the Hurst Golden 8 Grand, but even veteran collectors have seen only this one and a road racing record from Watkins Glen. The small 7-inch 33 (right) is an off-the scale rare promo for the series.