Atwell’s Attic

If you’ve been in the Mopar® hobby as long as we have, you’ve probably heard of Steve Atwell. His unassuming and unpretentious personality, combined with his working man persona, goes against the grain of wealthy individuals who buy and sell million-dollar muscle cars like Monopoly pieces. Steve might be a blue jean and hoodie-wearing guy, but he’s an influential guy in this hobby who likes to fly under the radar. His assortment of unique and rare examples of Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars and parts make the most ardent high-dollar car collectors jealous. But unlike many of these “one percenters” who house their cars in “Garage Mahals” next to their mansions while treating their machines like paintings from Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Cézanne or Vincent van Gogh, Steve drives and races his cars at every opportunity. He has no problem hopping in his 1968 HEMI® Plymouth GTX and driving across the country, cruising around Detroit in an original 1967 WO HEMI Coronet, or blasting down the quarter-mile in an irreplaceable and historic “real deal” 1968 Super Stock HEMI Dart. As Steve puts it, “That’s what these cars were built for!” 

Steve’s love of Mopar vehicles came at an early age helping his dad in the family’s manufacturing business, Erin Industries, located in Walled Lake, Michigan. The company was founded in 1974 by Steve’s father; unfortunately, that was when the domestic car industry began to implode. To survive, it was all hands on deck. “I began working at my family’s business when I was 13. The whole family worked at the business as it was tough going in the beginning. Even though we supplied the auto industry with a wide variety of parts and continue that today, it was tough in the early years. As the industry stabilized, we had the pleasure to provide precision chassis parts for the Dodge Viper, Ford GT and many other vehicles including the current-generation Durango and even the Corvette,” noted Steve. “When the Mopar restoration market began to take off in the late 1980s, we began making a wide variety of parts for the classic Mopar hobby.” Steve was able to parlay his passion and knowledge for classic Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars into a separate business. With his stash of original cars along with “New Old Stock” (NOS) parts for reference at his disposal, Steve went about remaking many vintage parts for enthusiasts. 

Steve’s first encounter behind the wheel of a fast Mopar vehicle came about in the early 1980s when he and a buddy went down to Tennessee to bring home a 1969 Plymouth GTX. Powered by a 375-horsepower 440 Super Commando engine and hooked up to a four-speed trans, the car was no slouch and a handful to drive. “I was working at night at Koffel’s Place, a Mopar race shop and Direct Connection parts distributor near where I lived. We modified the engine and I just got crazy on street racing the car. Eventually, the GTX was destroyed due to my recklessness, but we were all young once,” laughed Steve. Regardless, the die was cast on Steve’s young impressionable mind and from that point, many rare and cool muscle cars and vintage Super Stockers have passed through his hands. As he matured, Steve took his passion for old cars by taking them on cross-country road trips while adding dedicated racecars to his collection that still burn rubber and lay down quick ETs rather than collecting dust in some museum. Today, Steve can be found blasting down the quarter-mile in an old drag car once owned by “The California Flash” Butch Leal and sponsored by Direct Connection. 

“I always felt Mopars looked tougher than the GM and Ford muscle cars. They’re made to drive and race because they were so well engineered by the ex-Ramchargers guys like Tom Hoover, Tom Coddington and many others such as Ted Spehar,” noted Steve. But Steve has always been more than just an enthusiasts in the ever-changing Mopar hobby. Because his company was making production O.E. quality fuel and brake lines for the Big Three, he began to include older vehicle applications into the product offering. Along the way, and decades ago, Steve met another ambitious individual trying to manufacture parts for vintage cars, Mark Hedrick. “Me and Mark (Hedrick) bonded over our love for these old Mopars and formed a company, MSE. We went on a mission to reproduce parts for these old Mopar muscle cars. Eventually, Mark went on to focus on stamping sheet metal and would start AMD,” said Steve. As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, Steve was a major influence in the hobby, but his main business was growing and around the early 2000s, he decided to focus his energy on Erin Industries and continue to grow by doing more work for the OEMs. “My company comes first and has around 60-80 employees at any given time depending on how much work we have.” 

Now in his early 60s, Steve’s looking to spend more time racing. His business is on cruise control and recently purchased a large stockpile of vintage Chrysler parts that were being hoarded by an enthusiast who recently passed away. “A friend of mine called me about this and the Chrysler parts that were included in the sale. The estate company running the sale didn’t want to go through each part and assign a price it out, so I just purchased everything. It included 24 440 engines, 26 Rallye dashes, tons of Holley and Carter carbs, air cleaners, brake parts and other things. I knew the gentleman who amassed all these parts as I bought a Superbird from him decades ago,” remarked Steve. “After I got all the parts back to my shop, I sorted everything out, grabbed a few HEMI items for my projects and vintage speed parts because that’s what I’m into, and from there began selling off what was left over.” Because Steve is who he is, he gave away many parts to friends for their restorations and began selling what was left at modest prices. “I just want the hobby to survive and if I can help another enthusiast get his Mopar back on the road, that’s good enough for me,” smiled Steve. 

When asked about the future of the old car hobby, Steve had this to say: “The world is changing but people will always love muscle cars. Maybe it’s the big engines, wild colors, stripes, spoilers, who knows. But collectors will always want a car the other guy doesn’t have. That, combined with the fact many people are still racing these vintage cars in the NHRA, NMCA, FAST and other venues, resonated with a lot of folks. We also see this on the parts side as there’s still strong demand for many reproductions and NOS items for many restorations.” But what keeps Steve and many others firmly planted in the classic Mopar Muscle Car world are the people. “These cars are my life and the friends I’ve met through this hobby are the best!” 

Here’s a small sample of the cool cars and parts Steve has amassed over the decades!



Steve is a genuine nice guy. He allowed us to use his dyno back in 2003 to run the engine for my Hurst SC/Rambler that was featured in the March 2004 Hot Rod Magazine built up article.


Amazing collection and respect Steve for driving and racing his cars like he does


Steve is living the Mopar dream!