Car Show Classics: Oddities of Moparfest

IMG_6008Moparfest, held in New Hamburg, Ontario, is the largest all-Mopar car show in Canada. Well over 1000 cars participate in the show. It is always held on the third weekend in August. Now that the 36th annual Moparfest is behind us, I sifted through my pictures of this and prior years I have attended to present some of the more unusual vehicles that I’ve photographed.


First up is a beautiful 1958 DeSoto Firesweep. As our contributor Laurence Jones pointed out, in 1958 Edsel actually outsold DeSoto.


There are usually a couple 1970 Chrysler 300 Hursts that attend Moparfest. I didn’t spot any this year, but I was only there on Saturday, and I didn’t get to see the entire showfield.


What I did spot this year were not one but two 1956 Plymouth Furies. They didn’t arrive at the same time, so it’s fortunate that they were able to find adjacent parking on the show field.


Here’s a 1955 Dodge Mayfair. This was a Canadian model that used the same body as the Plymouth Belvedere in the US.  This one is wearing British Columbia license plates, so it’s a long way from home!


However, the Mayfair wasn’t as nearly as far from home as this Australian 1970 Chrysler Valiant ute, powered by a 245cid Hemi-6 with a 3-speed stick on the floor. It made an appearance at the show in 2013, advertised for sale for $9500.


Here is a Canadian market 1964 Chrysler 300 Saratoga 4-door hardtop.


Here’s another Canadian market car, a 1966 Chrysler 300 four door sedan. These were basically a Windsor sedan with a 300 front clip. Some literature indicates that Chrysler Canada intended to call this a “300 Saratoga” as in previous years, but must’ve changed their minds.


The Dude was a “lifestyle truck” offered by Dodge in 1970-71. In addition to the decal package, the Dude came standard with a 383 engine and bucket seats. But wait, this isn’t a Dodge, it’s a Fargo! Dodge trucks were rebranded as Fargos when sold through the Chrysler-Plymouth sales channel in Canada. There can’t be more than a handful of Fargo Dudes left in existence. In researching for this article, the only reference I could find was to an old ad for one in Alberta. The owner of this truck obviously knows what he has; “RARE DUDE” indeed.


You’ve probably heard of the Li’l Red Express, and maybe you’ve heard of the Warlock, but have you ever heard of the Midnite Express? There’s a dearth of information available on these trucks. From what I gather, they were likely a package assembled by dealers: order a Warlock in black, then order the parts to make it look like a Li’l Red Express, and the Midnite Express decal set.


Unlike the Li’l Red Express, which only came with a 360cid engine, the Midnite Express could have a variety of engines right up to the 440, as this one has. However, with reproduction decal sets available, it’s difficult to know if one of these trucks is real or a “tribute”.


The denim theme was pretty popular in the 70’s, and the 1978 “Jean Machine” tried to cash in on that. This was basically just a paint and decal package on a regular Dodge pickup. The seats weren’t even covered in denim, but they did have orange piping around the edges.


Continuing with the “lifestyle truck” theme, here’s an even more recent entrant. The 1989-90 Dodge Dakota Sport is the only ragtop convertible pickup truck manufactured post-WW2. The trucks were sent over from the assembly line to ASC to have the steel roof hacked off and the convertible top fitted.


Across from the Dakota Sport this year was this early Ramcharger. This one was originally equipped with a 400 big block, though it’s now got a built 440 with dual 4-bbls under the hood. It’s currently on its second owner, is stored indoors, and has never seen a winter. The story goes that the first owner only used it to tow a large boat up to their cottage in spring, and tow it home in the fall. The owner says that it does have a substantial trailer hitch welded to the frame, and when it was purchased the engine was tired but the transmission was completely burned out.


This van, converted to 4 wheel drive, would probably be a decent choice of vehicle in the event of a zombie apocalypse. A regular attendee of Moparfest, I spotted it there this year, but this picture was taken back in 2009. To my knowledge, Dodge never made a factory 4×4 van, but there are several companies that make conversion kits or perform conversions.


Here’s a more extreme one-of-a-kind conversion. This custom 6-wheeled 1986 pickup has been converted to mid-engine, with a 360cid V8 mounted between the frame rails just behind the cab. The gas tank has been relocated up under the hood.


There are always several 1978-79 Dodge Magnums in attendance at Moparfest. This one is a 1979 Magnum GT with its 360cid engine enlarged to 408cid and a custom air cleaner decal to match.


This year I also photographed this Chrysler Cordoba LS, a successor to the first gen Cordoba-based 300 and the Dodge Magnum.


Here’s another relative of the second gen Cordoba, a bustle-back 1981-83 Imperial. Don’t ask me if this still has the troublesome fuel injection system under the hood, but if I had to guess I’d say probably not.


Here’s another one of Lee Iacocca’s ideas that didn’t go over so well, a Chrysler TC by Maserati. There are usually one or two of these at Moparfest, often painted bright red. I photographed this uniquely coloured example this year, and I don’t recall seeing it before. It was a bit weathered and appears to be enjoyed regularly by its owners.


This 1971 Sport Fury is unusually well-optioned, with vinyl roof, sunroof and bucket seats, and a console shifter if I remember correctly. It also has a 383 under the hood. Another regular attendee, I spotted it this year but this picture was taken back in 2005.


Here’s a 1975 Sport Fury, having been downsized onto the B-body platform.


…and a 1975 Road Runner with its “Star Wars” trunk lid decal, sharing the same body as the Sport Fury. This is the only year that the Road Runner would use this body. For 1976 it was moved to the Volare bodystyle.


The 1978 Aspen and Volare “Street Kit Cars” were an attempt to capitalize on Richard Petty’s fame. Unfortunately, Petty switched to running GM cars before these came to market. This is a Volare; the Aspen version got a two-tone red paint job. Approximately 247 Volare Street Kit Cars and 145 Aspen Street Kit Cars were built.


Here’s a Dodge/Travco motorhome, photographed in 2012.


I could keep going at this almost indefinitely. I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t find any pictures of the Dart Sport Hang-10 that regularly shows-up. I may do a followup article just on cars that were invited to be displayed in the indoor arena area. I opened with a Forward Look car and I’m going to end with one, a 1961 Imperial Crown 4-door hardtop.