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Of Power, Mileage, and Being Set on Fire

Well, it’s now official. With the SRT 6.4L cars, Hellcats, Demons, Hellcat Widebodies, Trackhawk, Scatpaks and more, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has the most powerful model line of vehicles ever offered by a car company. I’ve always said that the thing I liked about Fiat’s purchase of Chrysler nine years ago was that Fiat, which owns Ferrari, Maserati and Alpha Romeo, understands performance. And performance is in the DNA of Chrysler-Dodge brands.


However, FCA bought a lot of bad with the good; after all Chrysler was in bankruptcy and the purchase happened in the teeth of the worst economy America has experienced since the Great Depression. The fact that FCA has brought our beloved Mopar brands to where they are today is indicative of the depth of business acumen that FCA possesses.


And now we hear rumors of FCA possibly selling their American brands to a Chinese investment firm, willingly or not. In fact, at least one such attempt to purchase FCA has been fended off by their board of directors. I personally hope such an ownership change never comes to pass. Mopar couldn’t have been in better hands the last decade; Fiat has certainly done a much better job than Daimler-Benz did when they had the helm.


Fiat, with its premier performance brands like Ferrari, has deep roots in the fertile soil of power and performance manufacturing and marketing. I’m not sure that any Chinese firm, so recently come to capitalism and still weighed down by excess government involvement and corruption in their private companies, could ever understand the “why” of Mopar. Would they understand “why” the Demon? Or the Hellcats? Let’s all root for FCA to remain the captain of the Mopar ship.




On the other side of having the most powerful line up of models ever is the lack of any car smaller than a Challenger in the Dodge/Chrysler line now. With the cancelation of the Dart and the 200, FCA understandably focused on the more profitable larger vehicles which they couldn’t make enough to satisfy demand. And yes, fuel prices remain low and relatively affordable for now. But anything can shock the oil markets at any time. War, unrest, market turmoil, etc., can rear up at any time and spoil the whole party.


GM and Ford have smaller cars in the dealership showrooms today. They both have hybrid cars available. The sales of the smaller cars aren’t what they once were, but they have a solid customer base. Millions of Americans are more interested in things like fuel mileage and electronics than they are about what kind of powerplant is under their hood.


FCA can’t live on the large LX/LC platform alone indefinitely. I am sure that FCA is smart enough to know that and has plans to adapt to an ever-changing future. My own wife is not interested in any vehicle FCA sells currently. She has a long commute in Los Angeles traffic and she wanted a comfortable, high fuel mileage car. FCA only offers a minivan currently in a hybrid configuration, but that’s not a vehicle that makes much sense for a solo commuter. Range anxiety ruled out the Fiat 500 electric car. So, despite our brand loyalty, my wife bought a new Toyota Prius last year.


I drove the first generation of hybrid cars and hated them. They were a one-trick pony, they got great gas mileage and that was it. Acceleration, braking, handling? Fuggit about it. However, I have to admit that my wife’s new car is just that, a car. It’s no more or less exciting to drive than other non-hybrid close to compact-sized cars out there and that’s the point. I recently drove from Santa Clarita to San Diego and back on business in my wife’s car, a round trip of nearly 350 miles. The car was comfortable, quiet and has all of the gadgets that modern buyers like. In mixed traffic varying from clear to slow-and-go to stop-and-go, the car produced 68 MPG on this trip. I look forward to the day when a similar car with a Mopar brand can be parked in my garage.




Jennifer Caputo-Armstrong at the 2017 Artemis Women in Action Film Festival prior to accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award.The one constant in life is change. The Mopar Max Maulin’ Magnum race car has a new driver. We’ll be continuing to test and review late model HEMI products on this 9.80 second test platform. Our new driver, Jennifer Caputo-Armstrong, was chosen from a very qualified field of female drivers that applied for the position. Jen, as she prefers to be called, brings a varied set of skills to the driver’s seat. She’s a former athlete, and, while no longer competing, keeps her fitness routine as any good driver should. Jen is a former professional motocross racer, having spent six years racing Pro Woman, the highest level a woman can race in motocross.


More interesting is Jen’s current day job, she’s a professional stunt woman and stunt driver. She has been involved in some of the most violent crashes ever filmed. She has the skills to control a car even while from the outside it looks totally out of control. She has a clock in her head, earned over many years of experience, and she can drive at the precise speed and rate of acceleration needed to hit her mark at speed in a car or a motorcycle. She’s been on fire, lots of times. She jumps off buildings and hits her mark.


Jen lives a Zen philosophy, her email signature says, “Life’s a garden, dig it.” She stays in the now as much as she can. She’s gotten so good at it that she said she can wake up from a dead sleep, hurl herself off a building, hit her mark and go back to sleep. Her husband, Andy Armstrong, told us, “She’s not kidding.”


Jen is going to be licensing in the Mopar Max Maulin’ Magnum at Frank Hawley’s school in Las Vegas and then will compete in at least one race this year in preparation for the 2018 season. It’s going to be fun watching Jen’s learning curve and seeing what she can do behind the wheel of our car.


The only thing we’ll have to keep reminding her is that her job at the track is to NOT crash the car into the wall or barrel roll it or… 

Jennifer in mid-stunt for 20th Century Fox's "Bang Bang" filmed in the desert of the UAE outside Abu Dhabi. Jen is in the airborne disintegrating BMW.

Jen at California's Perris Raceway riding a Suzuki RM125.

Jennifer with Academy Award winning actress Emma Stone on the set of “The Amazing Spiderman II” filmed in NYC.

MoparMax covers all automotive things Mopar. A new issue of MoparMax.com is published on or around the 15th of each month and is updated throughout the month.



CEO, Jeff Burk

Editor & Publisher, Richard Kratz

Managing Editor, COO Kay Burk

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