Mopar Memories -- yarns spun, stories told!
How the Mopar bug bit!
Michael Harding writes:
Back in my military days I was stationed in Rantoul, Illinois, and saw this old Dodge that I fell in love with. In elementary school, my best friend's father drove the Bob Banning Dodge Challenger funny car, so I had always been fond of Mopars, and this '70 Coronet 500 was very kewl looking. It had a Superbee hood, a pedestal spoiler from that era, and new paint, interior and vinyl top. The car sat on 14 inch Cragar S/S mags with fat tires on the back and pizza cutters on the front, and it just looked fast. I was up to transfer so I bought the car and soon learned that the entire drive train was from a '74 Cordoba...a rebuilt 360 with stock 2 bbl carb and 727 trans. The guy who sold it to me installed a Sure Grip with 3:92 (?) gears and dual glass packs. While transferring to North Carolina and heading down the highway there was a guy in a Roadrunner that wanted to play a little. Within a few seconds I had buried the 120 mph speedometer and decided to back off and let him go on without me.
When I finally got settled in at my new base I installed an Edelbrock performer manifold and Holley 600. The car already sounded pretty healthy with the duals, and was pretty quick, despite the lack of headers, cam, etc. I quickly became very notorious around town for doing burnouts all over the place. One guy, Scott, who later became one of my best friends, saw the car and told his friends that he, "just had to become my friend so he could ride in my car." Scott was later even more protective than I was, often lecturing people about (trying) to smoke in my car.
Now here's the part that most people don't believe...and I still have a hard time telling this...but one day after "warming" my tires around town we ended up at a red light. I toyed around and loaded up the tranny and brought the rpm's up a bit...you could just feel the car biting the pavement. When the light turned green I launched and the front end lifted. I looked at Scott, who still had his jaw resting on the dash pad, and asked him if he saw what I had just seen. He responded with, "you mean sky??" Neither one of us could believe it...I still can't.
We proceeded to the local pool hall/arcade and Scott jumped out and went directly to a guy that owned a 65 Mustang, who was constantly ragging on my Mopar. Scott told him about the "wheelie", and immediately I was challenged. I told him, "I don't think I can get both wheels up in the air, but I'm pretty sure I can get one up." I knew I was gonna fail, but gave it a shot anyway and raised the front end a couple of times with the throttle pedal. I asked, "did I get at least one of them up in the air?" "No," came the reply, "you got both up three times." He walked away disappointed. Man, I loved that car!
Well, a couple of years later I moved to California and left the car behind in North Carolina to be sold. Another friend, Ron, never tried very hard to sell it, so I flew back one fall to retrieve it and drive it back home to California. I made the trip cross-country in 3 and a half days, all with a leaking radiator and one stripped hole on the intake manifold. I drove the car for another year until I reluctantly sold it to get something that wouldn't kill my wallet. (tires and gas wise, for the most part) Hey...I was still only 24 years old!!
Here's where it gets even more interesting...I drove it to a Dodge dealership to trade it in on a used economy car I wanted to buy. They not only gave me $1800 for the Coronet (street value was only about $800), but they also took $2000 off the asking price of the car I wanted. Only thing I can figure is that they saw me driving up in a 70 Superbee, me not knowing what it's "true value" was. The windshield was cracked, the electrical needed some serious work, and the rear tires were bald. Who was I to argue?
A few months later that year, I saw my Coronet "wanna-bee" on a small, corner used car lot across the bay for $900. I darn near bought it back, but I knew that I was headed for trouble if I did...so I passed on it.
So, here I am now, almost twenty years later and I'm back in the seat of an old B body...my 1965 Belvedere II...and feeling like a kid again. Only, this time around, I'm a little less interested in frying my tires.
Well, so far, anyway....
Do you have a story about a 1962 to 1965 Mopar that you previously owned?
How about a story about one of these Mopars that somehow changed your life and made you fall in love with these beauties?
Or how about suggestions for links to other web sites with historical references and stories about these years' Mopars?
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Thanks for contributing!
February 4, 2002