We can’t seem to get enough of the 64th Detroit Autorama simply because there is a lot to feature beyond the great Pirelli 8, and of course the envy of all, the winner of the Don Ridler Award. For most local gearheads, it’s also an opportunity to get that long-hibernating inspiration to flow once again and to hit back to the garage and say to yourself; ‘if they can do it, so can I.’ Your long-pending restoration project may likewise smile back at your admirable determination.
While much of the attention at Autorama is focused on the Pirelli Great Eight and of course, the Ridler Award (named after the late Don Ridler who helped shape Autorama in its formative years), this is the arena that big name and lesser known car builders from around the globe compete with cubic dollar budgets to construct over-the-top street rods, hot rods, customs, and just about anything that will have the ISCA (International Show Car Association) judges working overtime.
Strip away the hype of the Autorama madness amidst all the celebrity appearance and music bands, then you will see several quiet and extremely cool Mopar muscle cars – like gems cleaned and polished, waiting to be discovered. They might be mixed among the rows of other makes and models, but their high-impact colors, wild stripes, and overall uniqueness make them stand out.
The Autorama, beyond its showmanship and flair, is for most, the expression of a lifetime’s work and achievement. For some, it’s only a matter of years and there are some who have build their lives for decades on that one car that proudly glitters in the limelight.
This year’s event saw three unique Mopars that were different on so many levels and yet still have very a common thread running through them – all three of these were built less than 10 miles from the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, home of Autorama since the 1960s.
Even though they were not included in the Great 8, they still worth a glance or two. Let’s take a look at these silently cool Mopars.
This freshly restored and visually striking 1969 Plymouth Hemi GTX is the baby of Thomas Klapp, a Michigan native. The Q5 Seafoam Turquoise paint job says it all. A classic barn find in Lapeer, Michigan, it took Thomas 10 years of blood, sweat, and tears (more of sweat actually) when it came to tracking down NOS (not otherwise specified) parts for the Hemi’s restoration. Looking back, we’re sure that Thomas feels pretty good that it’s worth it.
Another Hemi-powered machine saw its comeback as it sits proudly among some vintage race cars, was an original 1970 LO23M Hemi Dart by Ron Mancini. It was this car that cleaned house in Super Stock at the 1970 NHRA U.S. Nationals, along with other events during that era.
This last notable Mopar that literally stopped us in our tracks was a stunning creation from the expert builders of Weaver Customs at Salt Lake City. Based on a 1970 Hemicuda, it is powered by a twin-turbo 6.7L Cummins diesel. With over 1,500 horses under the hood, this ’Cuda gives a whole new level of muscle to its proud owner, Len Elfervig.
There are many other notable cars and trucks in attendance in the Autorama. So if you still have time to let go of that jack or piston, then be sure to find some time to check the Hotrod.com’s huge photo gallery, and perhaps it will keep your juices flowing and motivate you to crank those gears one more time.