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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Mopars

For some-odd years I lived in Texas. I played some music, dropped out of school and never thought about cars. I skated everywhere, until my girlfriend lent me her Pinto wagon and I learned the pleasure of getting somewhere just a bit faster. After that all dried up I met a guy named Gary Smith. He had a ‘65 Olds 88. He was half-crazy; his stories taller than the tower that nut shot all those people from. Gary was droolin’ cool. His bicycle was custom and the 88 was lustworthy. The distributor cap was clear and the sparks were plain to see.  Rocket motifs adorned the car everywhere you looked. I was hooked but I didn’t know it yet.

Years later I wound up in ‘Frisco. The ironic thing was that I was in skateboard Mecca but I wanted a car real bad. I got one from my friend Alcina; a $500 ‘72 Olds Delta 88 Royale...emphasis on Royale. It had all kinds of rockets all over it and a two-barrel Olds 350. The torque had me in stitches. The grass growing out of the windshield molding and the chili blob baked into the hood from Tommy’s in LA really sealed the deal. That is, until my ex wife Krista got a Dodge Dart. Not just any Dart, a ‘69 GT convertible, a V-8, yes sir.

Don’t get all agitated now, the car sported a weak 273 two-barrel and newspaper under bondo anywhere within six inches of the lower extremities. Needless to say, the car gave up the ghost and became an albatross. Months went by with me thinkin, “Why didn’t we go GM?” Then it hit me. Man, that car had an ass. I mean it. Square, like a primitive sketch of a designers’ dream. I put the top down and it looked even better. I just had to try and get her back on the road.

After killing money on the car I decided I had to know for myself. A guy from Iowa taught me to gap the points with a match book cover and she fired. I struggled through my first brake job. I bought it off the ex and took it straight to Reno for a little fun and WHAM! Granny runs a red light and we went spinnin. Well, it wasn’t so bad. The insurance paid enough for a ‘68 notchback ‘Cuda with a 318.

The ‘Cuda was a grandma original and I fell in love with it. I was officially hooked on the Chrysler product. The more I researched the more I loved. My friends and I began to see more people with the same disease. This small group reveled in plentiful junkyard parts and seemed to be having more fun than the other car folk. At the height of it all I suffered another wreck and the ‘Cuda went down only to live on in other ‘Cudas (ask Bumbeck).

Insurance did battle with me and lost. With the money I bought a ‘66 383 four barrel Satellite, “the Old Girl”. I’ve had her since ‘94. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve done far too much driving. Not commuting...DRIVING. ‘Frisco to NYC and back, six trips to Bonneville, and the holes in the lower quarters prove it. I put in the discs and the Hemi suspension and she still gets her fair share of abuse to this day. The cool thing is that she takes the abuse and rarely, if ever, breaks. The car is tough and that’s thanks to the legacy of Chrysler engineering.

Many engineering and, believe it or not, styling firsts belonged to Chrysler. Sometimes they could be downright ugly and other times totally endearing. Look at any D-100 from ‘64 to ‘68 and tell me it is not the definitive example of a toy truck. Never mind it still had a rigid front axle. Don’t need one on the farm, do ‘ya?

If the street was your passion then the HP was there in full effect and the engines and drivelines were well matched. If you bought a “package” car then everything down to suspension and brakes was upgraded automatically with HD parts right off the shelves. The best thing about it was that it could be had at a reasonable price...a workingman’s’ muscle car if you will and I like that.

Nowadays it’s hard to call ‘em blue-collar muscle because the prices on the market are through the roof, and every day there are more and more people into Mopar. The exclusivity factor might have dropped but the plus side is that more and more parts are now available. More information is available and A and C bodies are still affordable.

I believe we’ll be seeing more and more of these cars restored and those handsome C-bodies are gonna get the custom treatment too. Face it, there are only so many ‘63 and ‘64 Rivieras to go around. Why not a ‘64 300? I’ve got my eyes open and I’ll be lookin for all you freaks out there.  

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