In this hobby, there are so many different types of Mopar® vehicles; there are highly optioned rarities and plain jane baselines, there are all-original survivors and fully rebuilt customs. In a world of such diversity of cars, there is, of course, a similar diversity in owners and the attitude they take into the hobby. In the case of my husband, Luke, and I, we build cars for one thing and one thing only, to be driven! This may sound like an almost amusingly obvious statement, but in a crowd full of show poodles and trailer queens, rocking an old-school road warrior is an odd (though increasingly popular) approach.
Together, we began our first full-fledged build, this heavily modified 1971 Plymouth GTX clone, when the two of us were just 18 years old. To me, the car serves as a true embodiment of the philosophy we bring into the hobby; the bug-splattered grille and half-melted tires make it clear neither of us are afraid to drive the wheels off of it. And the heavy rake and shiny side pipes scream that we’re having fun while we do it! The car has been on the road for a little over a year now and has served as a daily driver, Sunday cruiser, a test and tune track car, and an all-purpose street brawler. After a full year of shakedown runs, failed road trips and troubleshooting, we decided to pull the trigger on our first big adventure and, on a whim, drove her 500 miles, across three different state lines to the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Now, the Carlisle Nats is a show I’ve heard raving reviews of for years; I’ve been told the swap meet is huge, the attractions incredible and the car show second to none (more on the Chrysler Nationals at Carlisle here). For years, my husband and I have been trying to get one of our classic Mopar muscle cars running reliably enough to make the drive all the way out from Motown, so you can imagine our elation when we actually got through the 10-hour drive without the GTX having so much as a hiccup! Brimming with glee, we probably spent the first five hours at the show catching up with friends and boasting about our old Mopar vehicle’s dependability! Up mountains, down dirt roads, through pouring rain and across the interstate, many called us crazy for driving this car as much as we did, but we called them crazy for missing out on their own car’s true purpose.
There is nothing more thrilling than a cross-country road trip, and one in a high-impact hellraising muscle car that is relatively unpredictable, well, that’s about as riveting as it gets! To be frank, it baffles me why all enthusiasts don’t take every opportunity to capture that same thrill like we do. Cars are made for driving, I understand there are a few exceptions; low mileage survivors or numbers-matching rarities should be safeguarded as much as possible to preserve their historical value. I suppose my beef is that the vast majority of drivable classic cars out there have already been restored with aftermarket parts and are one of thousands just like it, so there is really no good reason not to go out and enjoy your car as much as possible. Take it on a trip, drive it to work and get it out on the road as often as you can. Now, if you truly get your kicks loading up your 1 of over 18,000 4-speed Roadrunners onto a car trailer and putzing through the slow lane in your Ram pickup, then more power to ya, but I worry that a majority of my fellow Moparians have simply forgotten the exhilaration that comes with living life in the fast lane behind the wheel of a muscle car. The name of the game is experiencing your car, and if driving brings you as much joy as this GTX brings us, then it is truly depressing to see the rows of hundreds of car trailers at every Mopar gathering we attend.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s not just about you, but the future of the hobby, as well. Basking in the stunned reactions of other drivers as I fly past them in a yellow blur, I know I’ve made an impression, but catching the thumbs up and cheers from their kids in the backseat, I know I may have just corrupted, errr I mean influenced, a moldable young mind!
Demonstrating what these cars are and what they’re built to do is what spreads the Mopar addiction and evolves the future of this hobby. What sounds more exciting to you? Passing an old car atop a trailer on the highway, or feeling the growing rumble in your seat as a big bad muscle machine soars past you in your mom’s lifeless little SUV? I know which one I would remember.
Now, I’m not saying all this to put down those who are reserved about driving their car, I’m saying it to bring them up! Let this be a call to action; Luke and I are asking that you not deprive yourself the simple thrill of driving your car, whether it be a 1,000-mile cross-country adventure or just back and forth from work a few times a week. Jump behind the wheel at any opportunity, not just because it’s fun and I know you’ll love it, but because as two young enthusiasts, we know it’s what encourages the next generation to join in on the hobby! After our wild ride to Carlisle, it’s hard to decide what was better, the amazing show put on at the Chrysler Nationals or our free-spirited drive there and back. No doubt, we’ll be back next year, maybe again in the GTX, or maybe it will be in my husband’s ’70 Challenger or my ’70 Bee. One thing is for sure, whatever we show up in, you know damn well we’ll be driving there! Catch you guys next year!