In the past few years it has become a tradition for Martin Swanty Chrysler on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, to host a free lunch for the participants of Mopars on the Strip in Las Vegas as they roll through town from the south and east. Last year I was amazed by the diversity, the rare cars that were on display. This year I was overwhelmed.
There were Superbirds and hemi powered ‘Cuda convertibles, vintage Dodge trucks and station wagons, customs and antiques. The final tally was an astounding 115 vehicles!
I grew up in the era of the muscle car and worked on a used car lot during the age they had fallen from grace. Once we removed the spoiler and front nose from a Superbird just so we could sell it!
I appreciate any vintage vehicle that has been restored or that is a survivor. That appreciation doubles when the car is in its native habitat, on the road, and not a trailer queen.
Still, I am not a real fan of the muscle car and will never understand why a Superbird or Road Runner brings a higher resale price than an Airflow or letter series 300. The bottom line is this gathering of vintage Mopars really was amazing for its diversity, for the fact so many extremely valuable and rare cars were being driven long distances, and for the attention to detail some owners had given these cars during the restoration process.
As a judge I had a great deal of trouble picking just one car for best of show. I am partial to trucks and the meticulous attention to detail given to the restoration of a one owner 1966 Dodge truck really grabbed my attention.
Station wagons are another weakness. Here too there were some outstanding examples of Mopars finest from the 1960s and early 1970s.
Finally, I settled on the 1958 Chrysler 300. This car was gorgeous and rare. This car was on the road for the first time in 20 years and had been driven 300 miles without a hitch. This is one of those rare cars that looks as good on the road cruising at 80 miles per hour as it does parked.
It would seem I was not along in my selection. Nine of the ten judges chose this car as best of show, an honor for which the owner was bestowed a certificate and a $150 gift certificate at the Martin Swanty Chrysler parts center.
To tide me over until the return of the Mopars next spring I have the Route 66 Fun Run in May, the cars that cruise Route 66 throughout the spring and summer, the car show and street drags in September, and the big Halloween gathering in historic downtown Kingman.