Here’s the thing about the weather in southern Nevada. Mother Nature has big mood swings in the Spring and the Fall. If you catch her at the right time, there are few places better to be. If you don’t’ she can mess you up! The 10th annual Mopars at the Strip event was held April 13-15, 2012 and despite challenges from Mother Nature turned out to be a really enjoyable weekend!
The competitors who decided to stay and participate as well as the fans that came out despite some uncomfortable weather conditions at times were rewarded with a first-class automotive event! Some of the big drag racing draws that appeared at MATS 2012 were the always entertaining SS/AH Hemi cars, Nostalgia SS and A/FX racers. There were also some nostalgia Nitro funny cars, along with a front-engine fuel dragster and a fuel altered.
Autocross was available free to competitors and spectators alike. You could drive your own car on the Autocross course or ride along with one of the Hotchkis Suspension Autocross Team drivers in one of their awesome cars. If you happen to come across this at any event you attend, I would suggest that you take advantage of this experience if you can. I can almost guarantee that you’ll leave with a big, silly grin on your face!
We’re sure that the weather conditions for the weekend kept down the turnout for the car show events at Mopars at the Strip. However, what was lacked in quantity was more than made up for in quality! Each day of the event you could find great examples of vintage tin, muscle cars, drag racers, pickup trucks, rat rods and late-model Mopars in the show area. However keeping with the criteria of 1964 and earlier models and street legal, these are some of the weekend’s best:
David Williamson’s ’63 Dodge Polara
David Williamson, of Lancaster, California built his 1963 Dodge Polara as a tribute to the original Ramchargers. But despite the fact that this Polara is not an original, it most certainly is as fine a representation as you could ever discover. It is almost impossible to ignore the vibrant red paint that adorns the exterior. It does not ask for your attention it demands it.
The interior is done in the popular red color available at that time and the seats, dashboard and steering wheel have all been restored to their correct form. Almost every detail has been reproduced right down to the Ramcharger literature found in the stock glove box.
The big 426 Wedge resides in the engine compartment as a king sits upon a throne! Everything is beautifully detailed and immaculately maintained. Whether you call this vehicle a copy, a clone, or homage, you must call it stunning.
Mike Weber’s ’62 Plymouth Savoy
This meticulously restored 1962 Plymouth Savoy is owned by Mike Weber, of Bakersfield, California. Beautiful in its simplicity, the Savoy was originally one of Plymouth’s less expensive and sparsely equipped offerings in the early 60s, which is apparent by its lack of chrome accents.
Weber’s restoration has stayed faithful to that original concept. Yet the quality of the detail in both execution and finish really shines through!
But what really makes this a superb offering is the immaculate restoration of its cross-ram fed, 413 c.i. super stock engine.
Every part in the engine bay was spotless! It’s hard to believe that this car is currently licensed and occasionally used on the street.
Although the tires and wheels are not as they would’ve come from the factory, they are representative of what would be in vogue and available at the time.
Ray Mark’s ’64 Plymouth Valiant Barracuda
Ray Mark of Buffalo, Missouri brought out his rare 1964 Plymouth Valiant Barracuda to display at MATS. It’s often forgotten that Plymouth got involved in the pony car wars in the same year that Ford introduced the Mustang.
This was an immaculate restoration that has attention to detail nothing short of artistic. The exterior fit and finish was superb. The interior was completely true to the original.
The power plant was in its original configuration and the engine compartment was clean enough to do surgery! That is really quite an accomplishment on a vintage car that is fully licensed, legal, insured and driven often.
Blaine Bylik’s ’62 Dodge Dart
The next entry on our list of favorites is neither a restoration nor reproduction. According to the owner Blaine Bylik of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, this 1962 Dodge Dart is 93% original!
When you’re looking at Bylik’s Dart, you almost get the sense that you’re looking into a time capsule. Everything is as it was in 1962 when it was first purchased in Helena, Montana. From there it moved across the border into Canada where it has remained its entire life. Considering that this car has spent all that time in the frozen North, the fact that the body is in such amazing original condition is astounding.
A peek under the deck lid reveals the original instructions for bumper jack use and tire changes. Look closely under the hood you will find the original stickers that recommended the use of Mopar anti-freeze and the directions for connecting and disconnecting the battery. Even the original directions for the maintenance and use of the original oil bath air filters still give us a feel for the early days.
Then there is that mighty 413 Ramcharger engine residing in the engine bay. It remains in its stock form. It’s clean. It does not leak. It’s as powerful as it ever was! Yet it shows the chips, dings, and normal wear you’d expect to see on a proud old warrior.
The interior remains stock as do the suspension, wheels and covers. However, mounted on the drive wheels are a set of period-correct cheater slicks. While their effectiveness for better traction at the time was questionable especially when trying to hold the power of a brute like this to the ground, their design helped keep the police at bay.
Sil Branber’s ’59 Plymouth Belevdere
A crowd favorite of the weekend is the 1959 Plymouth Belevdere owned by Sil Branber of San Jacinto, California. This bright red cousin of Christine was parked snugly in a row of what looked to be highly polished boulevard barges. However, the Belvedere had a little different look to it than the others around it.
Then we noticed the white shoe polish on the windshield announcing an entry number and a dial-in of 11.65. Could this shiny old beauty actually be competing in the drags today? Yep, she was entered in the foot brake class and piloted by its septuagenarian owner!
A peek under the hood shows that this 59 is not your granddaddy’s Belvedere. It sports 528 cu. in. of Mopar RB wedge containing lots of speed goodies that push this big girl rapidly down the strip. Power runs through the torqueflite transmission with a B&M shifter selecting the gears.
The interior is an eclectic mix of old and new as the stock bench seats have been restored with their original upholstery pattern and the dashboard remains stock except for a few added features to help keep track of that massive engine. The original steering wheel is retained along with the old school steering knob popular during the time this car was originally built.
We have been to other events that were larger in both scope and population. However the quality of some of those programs nor the professionalism of the production teams did not exceed what was put forward by those who presented this event. Despite the inclement weather which undoubtedly affected attendance and participant enthusiasm, Mopars at the Strip 2012 would have to be considered a success. Damn the Mayan calendar, we’re looking forward to next year’s show!