Next-Gen Mopar® Enthusiast

Despite what you might read, the future of the Mopar® car hobby is alive and well. Yeah, we know it’s currently populated by aging Baby Boomers going crazy emptying their 401K accounts to purchase their dream muscle cars that can run well over six figures. They have somewhat of a fatalistic attitude. They live with the premise that while they still have a pulse and can dress themselves in the morning, they’re buying that fully restored 1971 Plymouth HEMI® ‘Cuda at any price. Vintage muscle cars defined a generation and vice versa and their popularity remains strong even in the 21st century. Since the advent of the modern HEMI engine-powered machines like Challenger and Charger Scat Packs, SRT® Hellcats, Redeyes and other hot machines now pushing over 1,000 horsepower with a factory warranty, the allure for old-school muscle among the under-30 enthusiasts is stronger than ever. You could say the two diametric opposing automotive cultures feed off each other. For the youth, old-school machinery has many advantages. Cost, ease of doing modifications, father/son projects and individualistic expression from their peers check all the boxes. Sure, the current crop of Dodge muscle trends more to a younger crowd, if you consider under 50 young. But the United States has an aging population, so we’ll take these numbers and run with them, demographics be damned. But it’s not all gray-haired men reliving their youth by burning rubber when the secondaries in the four-barrel carb are flung open. While at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN), we ran into a young man whose passion for old-school Mopar vehicles equals hardcore enthusiasts three times his age while he proudly displayed his vintage ride.

Meet Kryzysztof Kozlowski of Detroit. He goes by “Krz” and is proud of his family’s Polish roots. He might be 14 years of age, but he has already set his sights on building a cool ride. “I got into Mopars from my dad telling me stories about his dad’s cool cars and having fun with friends. My very first recollection of the car hobby came when I was five years old and sitting on my dad’s lap and steering his 2010 Dodge Challenger around a cemetery. From there, it spiraled out of control into my huge love of Mopars and everything about them, especially the older cars, but the new Challengers and Chargers are cool also,” said Krz. 

The current project Krz and his father, Gary, are working on is a 1965 Plymouth Barracuda that was a Christmas gift from his dad when he was just 10 years old. It’s powered by a 225-cubic-inch Slant Six but that won’t be for long. “My father and I are building a 383 big block that will end up being a 432-cubic-inch stroker motor. We’re also going to put a four-speed behind it,” said Krz. When asked why he chose a first-generation Plymouth Barracuda for his project car and what influenced his decision, he had this to say: “Bob Riggle, who drove the Hurst HEMI Under Glass wheel-standing ’66 Barracuda, was a huge influence on me and one of the reasons I got this car. I just love the shape of the early Barracudas, especially the bubble shape of the rear window. My dad and I actually got Bob (Riggle) to sign the dash of my Barracuda!” 

Of course, not one to go with the flow of the current car trends, Krz has resisted the temptation to update his Barracuda with a modern HEMI powertrain and stayed with a traditional old-school Mopar big block V8 for power. “I’m not a big fan of resto-mods, I feel they’re kind of overdone and there’s so many out there, it’s become a fad. That’s why we’re building a 383-based engine with a Max Wedge dual quad intake and carb setup,” noted Krz. When asked why a Max Wedge, Krz informed us he’s a huge fan of the Ramchargers and their 1962-64 Max Wedge-powered Dodges that set many records and claimed many victories. This had a huge impact on his grandfather and dad, and it has seeped into Krz’s young mind. “The setup looks so cool, and every time I see a Max Wedge Mopar at a show, it further reinforces my decision to put one of these on my car,” noted Krz.

When asked what his goals for his Barracuda project were, Krz did not miss a beat. This young man knows exactly what he wants under the hood. “My dream for my Barracuda is to be painted grey primer along a black fiberglass front fender and hood. I want it to look like the 1968 Super Stock HEMI Barracudas that Chrysler built. The engine will make around 600 horsepower and 750 or more on nitrous and we’ll run it on the street and strip.” While at the MCAN show, Krz was not the only hardcore gearhead enthusiast under 21 who had their vehicles on display. “I met a lot of nice guys at the show. One was Gary Thomas with his 1970 Super Bee, and it was a really cool car. It’s really great to see people around my age get into this awesome hobby,” exclaimed Krz.

Another major influence of Krz’s love of all things Mopar is his father, Gary, who also grew up in the hobby. When Gary’s father returned from Vietnam, he bought a 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda but didn’t have much luck with it. The ‘Cuda was replaced three months later with a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner convertible that he special ordered in a unique color – Moulin Rogue (that’s Panther Pink under the Dodge paint codes). It would become his street car for many years, but he, like many young men of the era, did some street racing, got in trouble and eventually sold it. “My dad always talked about his Road Runner and regretted selling it until the day he died. I’ve been obsessed with that car since I was five years old, it planted a seed in my soul while I listened intently to my dad and uncle’s street racing stories,” said Gary. As he grew up, his love for fast Mopar vehicles continued to grow. “I grew up a fan of the Ramchargers as my dad told me how they’d kick everyone’s butt on the drag strip. When I came of age, I got a job at one of the Ramchargers’ retail stores in metro Detroit. It was a dream job and even though I didn’t work with the race team as the brand became a chain of speed shops, I was still proud to be a part of the Ramchargers’ legacy and continue promoting the iconic name by helping AJ Berge and his Ramchargers sponsor Challenger Drag Pak,” said Gary.

So relax, you older Mopar fans who live in fear of the classic car just fading away. There’s fresh blood reinvigorating the hobby with new ideas while carrying the legacy and passion that brought us into the same hobby. Their music tastes might be different, and the vernacular they speak may sound strange, but when it comes to cool cars, this next generation of car lovers is just like us!