Unlike other parts of the country, the autumn in Southern California is just a slightly colder summer. No plummeting temperatures, no snow, and no leaves changing color. The differences here are more subtle.
Some changes do come though, especially for us car nuts, as the fall months see the voluminous number of summer car shows reduce to a trickle.
A handful of shows do still come our way in October though, and thankfully, one of them appeals especially to Mopar guys like me. I’m talking about the Inland Car Fest celebration of Mopar’s and other makes in Colton, California.
In its second year, this last gasp celebration of all things from the House of Pentastar and other manufacturers was held on Saturday, October 19. The show was presented by two notable SoCal Mopar clubs, 909 Mopars and Mopars 360. The get together was sponsored by Moss Brothers Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM, and all proceeds from the Car Fest benefited CHiPs for Kids, the California Highway Patrol’s children’s benefit fund.
I was lucky enough to attend this terrific show. Here’s what I saw.
The show was held on a gorgeous, 80º California day. The skies were blue, and a cooling breeze blew through all morning. Upon entering the show, I was greeted by officers of the California Highway Patrol, who had brought along with them one of their primary pursuit vehicles, a Dodge Charger R/T equipped with a 5.7-liter Hemi to help them chase down the baddies.
Just beyond this, I encountered my first show car, and what a superlative one it was – a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon in Yellow Jacket Yellow! Even though I have seen several Demons at past shows and a smattering in the wild on the streets of Los Angeles, I still get excited by them. Those hips, flares, scoops, and meaty radials never fail to impress.
This one was a stunner with that lemon-colored exterior over a black interior. Externally, the car seemed to be bone stock, and though I attempted to find the owner to see if the same was true mechanically, I couldn’t find him or her to verify this. I’ll go on the assumption that it was stock, as is common with Demons. Many owners don’t want to mess with their car’s originality, lest it take a hit in value down the road.
Next up was an amazing example of an original survivor. Doug Vura’s 1973 Plymouth Duster was originally purchased in 1972 by his mother. Today, the car is in nearly new condition, and yet is completely unrestored.
The paint, interior, 340 four-barrel V8, three-speed TorqueFlite transmission, and rear-end are all original. The car only has 27,000 original miles on it! In fact, the only parts that have been replaced are the tires and shocks.
The car left the factory with bench seats, Light Package, Sure Grip differential, air conditioning, remote mirrors, power steering, and tape stripes. Absolutely incredible.
Just a few cars down from the Duster was another fabulous vintage Mopar. Mike Counts’ 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner was quite simply, a bold, brash monster.
Mike’s car screamed early ’70’s muscle. It was my favorite car in the show. It was sporting blazing Tor-Red paint, an enormous 440 Six-Pack “Coyote Duster” engine, 4-speed A833 transmission with Hurst Pistol Grip Shifter, and a loaded options list.
I’ve always loved this generation’s “fuselage styling” and mammoth inset grille. I just couldn’t get enough of the original decals on the air cleaner and the super-cool hood callouts. What a car!
Next, I encountered what was undoubtedly the most outrageous car in the show. It looked like your typical 1970 Plymouth Barracuda restomod at a cursory glance. But, upon closer inspection, I realized the car was much more than that.
Lonnie and Robin Clabaugh’s ‘Cuda actually had the entire drivetrain and interior from a modern LC Challenger in it! I kid you not. This car had a modern 5.7-liter Hemi, a ZF five-speed automatic and a complete contemporary Challenger dash, seats, console, and upholstery in it!
I could hardly believe what my eyes were seeing. The level of work involved in doing this must have been extraordinary
In addition to the transplant, the car wore some pretty extraordinary grayish-bronze paint, aftermarket chrome wheels and a custom rear spoiler.
I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Before I knew it, it was lunchtime. I surveyed the offerings and decided upon some carne asada tacos. They turned out to be a very good choice.
After lunch, I took in some of the booths on hand. Included among them were several local automotive businesses showing their wares. There was also a kid’s zone, complete with ice cream, snow cone stands, and a bouncy castle.
Turning my attention back to the cars on display, I happened upon two non-Mopars that really stood out.
The first was a 2008 Shelby Mustang GT500KR. This Torch Red beauty with silver stripes really had me lusting after it.
The car was absolutely immaculate and had some very subtle aftermarket touches on it, including some beautiful 19″ chrome wheels and aftermarket badges and trim.
Man, I wish that Mustang was mine!
The other non-Mopar that really had me excited was Curtis Anderson’s Colbalt Blue 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle 396. This superlative restomod was the recipient of an incredible amount of work.
Other mods on this car included a Wilwood brake system, a 700 R4 four-speed transmission, QA1 coilovers, Hotchkis sway bars, Ridler Rims, Ring Brothers mirrors and door handles, Dakota digital gauges, Procar racing seats, a Kenwood sound system.
It was truly a showstopper.
I then took in the rest of the field. There was no shortage of Modern Mopar, including Challengers of every trim level from SXT up to Hellcats and Hellcat Redeyes, some custom LX Chargers, and a smattering of Chrysler 300Cs.
One modern Challenger that stood out was an Octane Red Challenger T/A 392. The combination of the dark red paint hue offset by the blacked-out hood and matte black trim was a great combo.
I had to leave before the best in class and best in show awards were handed out, but I made it a point to check out the trophies, which were very unique, consisting of a pair of genuine pistons and connecting rods atop a base with a plaque.
And thus ended my morning at the show. I enjoyed the atmosphere, crowd, and of course the fabulous cars immensely, and plan to be there next October. Hope to see you there!