Ah, spring in Los Angeles. Warm weather, cherry blossoms blooming, and best of all — the beginning of the car show season!
For several years running now, one of my absolute favorite car events is the Spring Fling hosted by the Chrysler Performance West Mopar club at Woodley Park in Van Nuys. As such, it was a no brainer for me to head over to the 33rd edition of the show on Saturday, April 13, to give you all a peek at what went on.
For those not in the know, the Spring Fling is the largest Mopar-only car show and swap meet west of the Mississippi and is held over two days of an April weekend every year.
With over 700 cars, 300 swappers and vendors, 50 manufacturers, and close to 10,000 spectators over both days, the Spring Fling usually proves to have something for everyone. Blessed with perfect California weather, and a very enthusiastic crowd of Mopar devotees in attendance, this year was no different.
As always at Spring Fling there is a wide variety of Mopar vehicles from all eras. To cover them all would be an impossibility, so here’s just a sampling of some that caught my eye.
I’m happy to confess I’ve always had a hard car crush on B-Body Plymouth Roadrunners and GTXs from the ’71-and-later model years. Before you flame me, I know the body style is considered less classic compared to the previous generation. By 1972, increasing EPA standards put the Hemi out to pasture, then hobbled the 440, and left the remaining car’s powerplant options neutered versions of themselves.
But there is just something about that body, those rear haunches, that monstrous (and by some folks’ standards, bizarre) looking grille that just hits me where it counts. And for sure, the Richard Petty connection doesn’t hurt one bit.
If I was in the market for a third-generation B-body, which I might just be one day, there’s no question I’d be looking for a car which looks like the one that Doug Schneider of Las Vegas, Nevada, was kind enough to bring to the Fling.
Doug’s car is an all numbers matching, Rallye Red example that has been treated to a peerless, concours-quality restoration. It is wonderfully optioned, with a 440 cubic inch four-barrel V8, a four-speed manual, the Dana 60 diff, an Air-Grabber hood, hood pins, 15-inch Rallye wheels, Goodyear Polyglas G60 rubber, and chrome front and rear bumper. Every must-have option from where I stand. Quite a car.
Continuing with the B-Body theme, Ray Miles’ 1969 Dodge Superbee was also quite a looker. Packing a conservatively rated 390hp and 490 lb-ft, the 440 Magnum Six Pack (denoting the three Holley 1350 CFM two-barrel carbs sitting atop an aluminum Edelbrock intake) is mated to a four-speed manual with Hurst shifter. A Dana 60 4.10 rear and the desirable Super Track Pack option make this ‘Bee is a very unique and special car for a few reasons.
For starters, it wears a special order “High Impact” factory color, known as Bright Green Metallic with a black vinyl roof and black Bumblebee stripe spanning the width of the trunk.
The car is also equipped with a flat-black fiberglass hood with a monstrous scoop featuring the engine call-out in red, which is held in place by four chrome hood pins. Other super-cool touches include the dual exhaust and painted wheels wearing Goodyear G70 x 15 rubber bolted on with chrome lug nuts. A mean machine, for sure.
In addition to being a Mopar guy, I’m also a Challenger nut. While I currently own a 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, the original E-Body cars also seriously get me excited.
Spring Fling never fails to supply a standout ‘Cuda or Challenger, and a 1970 Challenger T/A was the class of the field this year.
In blazing FM3 Panther Pink with a black vinyl roof and factory matte-black T/A stripes, this car is quite honestly nothing short of outrageous. A flawless restoration was performed on the car, down to an impeccably turned-out engine bay featuring one of the truly fabulous engines of the ’60s and ’70s — the 340 cubic inch Six-Pack V8.
While the Hemi and the 440 garnered the majority of the hullabaloo in the Chrysler engine lineup at the time, and the 383 was the default V8 on ‘Cudas and Challenger R/Ts, the T/A’s 340 was the free-revving and drivable powerplant.
Outfitted with high-flow heads, big ports, a two-level intake manifold, and that six-barrel carb, the engine combined high-revs and relatively light weight, as well as an actual output of roughly 60hp more than its 275 advertised ponies.
This car is optioned with the Torqueflite transmission, SureGrip differential, side-pipe exhaust, power steering, racing mirrors, dog dish hubcaps, and an interior console. I also liked that guy who sat behind the wheel while the car showed.
While my main interest in Mopars is focused, not surprisingly, on the muscle cars they produced over the decades, there was a car on display that didn’t fit that mold, but nonetheless piqued my interest simply owing to its cool factor.
James McLeod’s 1956 Chrysler New Yorker St. Regis is many things: huge, immaculate, possessing of unusual aesthetic colors and details. It was, quite simply, unforgettable.
Available only as a two-door hardtop, the St. Regis came equipped with a 331ci Hemi V8, good for 260 horsepower. Power was transmitted through a three-speed TorqueFlite equipped with a then-novel dashboard push-button system of gear selection.
Wearing what is a rather extraordinary Regimental Red and tan three-tone paintjob with a black roof, James’ car features a complimentary parchment interior with red trim, making this New Yorker hard to miss.
Chrome is in abundance everywhere on this ’56, and brightwork trim details, hood ornaments, and odd minutiae abound on its shapely and be-finned body.
Other interesting facets include a parchment leather interior with complementary details and seat piping, a color-keyed two-tone steering wheel, and full carpeting.
After perusing the rest of the cars on display, I decided to head over to the swap meet area.
There were many excellent redone cars for sale, as well as more than a handful of unrestored survivors waiting to find the right owner to come along and restore them to their former glory.
One particular car up for sale which caught my eye was a gorgeous 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda, resplendent in Rallye Red with a white interior, dog dish hub caps, and a correct color-matched shaker hood scoop. I didn’t bother to enquire about the price, as hearing it and knowing it was out of my league would have shattered the dream of possessing such a beauty.
Swap-meet stands offered a wide range of wares ranging from Mopar clothing, signs, scale models and a variety of parts for Mopars old and new. So extensive was the collection of swappers, you could very easily spend an entire day of the show solely combing through everything the vendors had to offer at this show.
A walk through Spring Fling’s vendor area revealed many manufacturer booths selling everything from aftermarket brake kits and exhaust,s to crate engines and complete transmissions for vintage Chrysler Company cars. These vendors included such tried-and-true Mopar support companies as Just Dashes, Layson’s Restorations, MrMoparts, Stephens Performance, and TTI Performance Exhaust.
Once again, the Spring Fling proved itself to be a success, and a quintessential event for any Mopar fan. With a field full of excellent cars, a nice variety of food trucks, and the vendor and swap areas, you could do a whole lot worse than spend a portion of your weekend at this show.
If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry, because the Chrysler Performance West Car Club also puts on a companion show later in the year, known unsurprisingly as the Fall Fling. This year’s Fall event will occur on October 26. You can find out more about the Spring and Fall Flings by going to the Chrysler Performance West Car Club’s website.
My recommendation? If you live in or around the Southern California area, and love yourself some Mopar, you should definitely come to Woodley Park this Fall and join in on the fun. I’ll be there for sure.