Top Picks from the 36th Annual CPW Mopar Spring Fling Show

For most folks across the country, the signs of spring’s arrival include obvious changes such as warming temperatures, flowers blooming, and the birds and bees chirping and buzzing respectively. Here in Southern California, where it stays relatively warm, blooming, chirping, and buzzing all year round, the signs are a bit more subtle to discern.

One clear, unmistakable indication that the season is upon us in Los Angeles though, at least for us automotive obsessed folks, is the arrival of one of the oldest classic Mopar shows in Los Angeles: Chrysler Performance West car club’s Spring Fling at the idyllic Woodley Park in Van Nuys.

Chrysler Performance West’s Spring Fling Mopar show. (Photo courtesy of Chrysler Performance West)

2024 Mopar Spring Fling

For those not in the know, the Spring Fling has been held 35 times in the last 37 years (only not occurring for two years during the coronavirus pandemic) and is the largest Mopar-only car show and swap meet west of the Mississippi. Held over a weekend in April, the show on average brings out 700 cars, 300 swappers and vendors, 550 manufacturers, and close to 20,000 spectators over the two day period. This year, the 36th Spring Fling was held on April 20th and 21st, and like I do every coming of spring, I went to see what cars and friends would be in attendance.

Here’s what I found.

Bill Craffey’s 1958 Plymouth Fury was an absolute stunner. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

The first car I came to that caught my attention upon entering the show field was Bill Craffey’s 1958 Plymouth Fury.

Being a former filmmaker and life-long movie buff, I was acutely aware that this was the car model that featured as the demonic boulevard cruiser in Stephen King’s book Christine, in addition to John Carpenter’s classic film adaptation. To be honest though, I was actually way more impressed by the condition Bill’s car was in than I was by any cinematic trivia.

Gold anodized trim was standard on the ’58 Fury. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

A flawless and factory correct example of a Fury in every way, I reveled in its Buckskin Beige paint with anodized gold trim, the only way the Fury was offered in real life despite Christine’s candy apple red pretentions.

Bill’s car packed the factory dual-quad 350 cubic-inch V8 Golden Commando, good for 305 horsepower, backed by a pushbutton controlled TorqueFlite automatic and 3.31:1 Sure Grip rear. His car was also loaded with convenience options including the original Search Tune radio, and power steering, brakes, windows, locks and seating. A truly stunning example of 1950s Mopar might.

Patrick Frano’s 1959 Coronet two-door had a 326 V8 and a pushbutton TorqueFlite automatic. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Not far away was another fabulous boulevard cruiser from the Eisenhower era. Patrick Frano’s 1959 Dodge Coronet was dressed in XX-1 Pearl white paint with CC-1 Star Sapphire accents over a white and blue interior, and gloriously represented a true survivor from the era of chrome and tail fins.

Believe me when I say his car had both in spades.

The Coronet’s rotating seats allowed for easy ingress/egress. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Sporting a 326 cubic-inch V8 mated to a pushbutton TorqueFlite transmission, the car was equipped with some nice options, including the roulette-wheel hubcaps. Patrick was thoughtful enough to display the car with the passenger door open so the rotating, easy access seat could be viewed. A very nice car.

Bob Glaspie’s 1968 Coronet R/T Hemi was a very rare, and perfectly preserved car. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Another Coronet captured my attention elsewhere on the show field, but this one was ten years older, born right in the heart of the muscle car craze. Bob Glaspie’s ’68 Coronet R/T was a very rare car. It featured the original, numbers matching, factory 426 Hemi and three-speed TorqueFlite that it left the factory with, one of only 219 such examples built that way.

The fact that it only had 22,000 documented miles on the odometer impressed me as much as the flawless HH-1 Light Gold Paint it wore, complemented by a black vinyl top, black double tail stripe and redline rubber. Of course, that big Elephant motor under the hood was flawlessly turned out too.

It’s a rare treat to see a car as scarce as this in such top condition.

Scott Cvijanovich’s 1968 Dodge Charger R/T was a dazzling example of the iconic muscle car. (Photo by Julie Graydon.)

Another flawless B-body sat close by, this one an example of the iconic 1968 Charger. Scott Cvijanovich’s R/T was a true stunner, not only because of it’s immaculate condition, but also owing to its color – a non-original shade called Coppersunset from DuPont’s line of Hot Hues.

Painted as such, Scott’s car truly dazzled, especially against its contrasting black vinyl roof and twin “Bumble Bee” stipes across the rear. Under the hood gleamed its enormous 440 Magnum V8 with not a smidge of dirt or grime on it.

The big 440 Magnum under the hood of Scott’s car. (Photo courtesy of Julie Graydon.)

Scott presented the car with a facsimile of the original window sticker on the driver’s rear quarter window, and it bore the car’s optional equipment, which included a center console, air conditioning, a tic toc tach, a 727 TorqueFlite, 3.23:1 gears, power front disc brakes and other niceties.

These brought the original MSRP of Scott’s R/T to $5,241.77. Quite a princely sum for 1968.

Mike Batanero’s 1970 AMX, painted in Bittersweet Orange. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

If you know me personally, then you’re aware of the fact that I love me some AMC, and since the company was at one time owned by Chrysler, American Motors cars are welcome at Spring Fling.

Representing the little car company that could in a fine manner was a 1970 AMX owned by Mike Batanero. Mike’s car was very unusual in that was painted in P79 Bittersweet Orange, a rare color more similar to copper than orange, with black C-stripes over a black interior.

On view under the hood was AMC’s most formidable weapon of choice at the time, the high performance 390 V8, which was good for 325 ponies and 420 lb-ft of twist, more than adequate for the diminutive AMX.

The interior was stock, save for a Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

On the outside, Mike’s car wore AMC’s “Group 19” parts division’s side exhaust pipes and Magnum 500-style wheels for an extra touch of muscle, while inside everything, aside from a Nardi wood rimmed wheel, appeared stock, including the optional leather seats and white, cue ball shifter.

All and all, a great example of AMC’s pocket rocket.

This 1970 R/T convertible was my favorite E-body Challenger at the show. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

It wouldn’t be a Mopar show without some E-bodies, and they were indeed legion at the Spring Fling this year, to the extent that I had a hard time picking out just two to review here.

Representing the Challenger side of the E-body coin for me was a standout 1970 R/T convertible. Painted in eye-popping J5 Lime Light green with black graphics over a black interior, this car was an absolutely magnificent testament to the aesthetics everyone wanted at the zenith of the muscle car era.

This Challenger didn’t just look the part, but also brought the grunt with its 383 Magnum V8 mated to a 727 TorqueFlite slushbox.

The convertible’s interior. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

It also wore some interesting optional parts, including bumper guards, Magnum 500-style wheels, dual body color mirrors, a luggage rack, power windows, and a Rallye gauge Cluster.

This is one heck of a cool Challenger.

Eric Vidmar’s amazing 1970 ‘Cuda convertible. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Picking the ultimate ‘Cuda was an even tougher task, as there were multiple fine examples on hand.

Ultimately though, I had to go with Eric Vidmar’s 1970 convertible not only owing to its rarity as an original convertible, but also because its combination of colors and equipment just hit a sweet spot for me. The car was painted in the High Impact FY-1 Lemon Twist over a white interior with a white top and Hockey Stick stripes.

The ‘Cuda’s rear haunches. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Eric had the original window sticker affixed to the windshield, and it revealed that this was an extremely well optioned car, sporting a 340 V8, an A-833 four-speed manual, 3.23:1 gears, leather seats, elastomeric front bumper, Rallye instrument cluster, front disc brakes, tinted glass, dual body color mirrors, air conditioning, power steering, power top, 14-inch Rallye wheels, Go-Wing, and an AM radio amongst other conveniences.

A very rare, and exceedingly well-pampered ‘Cuda.

A half dozen winged warriors were on hand. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

The Spring Fling has always been renowned for the number of winged NASCAR homologation cars it attracts every year, and this time was no different. A half dozen ’69 Daytonas and ’70 Superbirds were on hand. While each of these splendid machines deserves a mention, for my money the standout car in this group had to be Greg Vidmar’s Plymouth Superbird.

Greg Vidmar’s flawless 1970 Plymouth Superbird. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Flawless and striking in B5 Blue with a black vinyl top and a white interior, I found myself circling the car for quite a while, unable to take my eyes off it. The subject of a full rotisserie restoration that was completed in 2022, this numbers matching ‘bird was proudly displayed with its 440 Super Commando for all to see.

The equally immaculate interior. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Greg was keen to point out the fact that the car was one of 1,935 produced, one of 618 equipped with a 440 and an automatic transmission, and only one of 350 painted in that particular shade of blue. A sensational car that was perhaps the very best on the field.

While known for its display of vintage Mopar, Spring Fling also routinely brings out modern iterations of the company’s muscle cars too. Indeed, the field was populated by a variety of LX and LC models, but by far two were of a higher level of interest.

The 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

An unnamed attendee brought with him or her a brand, spankin’ new example of Dodge’s ultimate muscle car – the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170.

In case you’ve been living underground for the past year, you know that the Demon 170 is the final “Last Call” model of the Challenger that Dodge released to commemorate the end of the LC’s production run.

The Demon 170’s logo has yellow eyes, signifying that it reaches its full potential on ethanol (corn) fuel. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

It is the most powerful, quickest muscle car on the planet, with a 6.2-liter supercharged high output V8 capable of 1,025 horsepower on E85 fuel. This, combined with various tech features such as line lock, Torque Reserve, TransBrake, and a Power Chiller, enable the Demon 170 to achieve 2.004 Gs of acceleration, go from zero to sixty in 1.66 seconds, and blow past the quarter mile in an astonishing 8.91-seconds at 151.17 mph.

This Demon 170 was painted in TorRed with the optional matte black hood scoop, roof and trunk, and boy, did it look sinister.

Sam Taylor’s 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 Yellow Jacket. (Photo by Julie Graydon.)

The other modern Challenger that caught the eye was Sam Taylor’s 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 Yellow Jacket. A limited edition model that featured a Stinger Yellow exterior and numerous upgrades and appointments, the Yellow Jacket paid homage to a 1970 Dodge show car evolution of the Challenger.

Only 1300 Yellow Jackets were produced, making it quite a rare sight, and this one had clearly been taken good care of by Sam for the past thirteen years.

As always, the swap area of the Spring Fling was packed with vendors and shoppers looking for that rare part to complete their project. Given the extent of what was on offer, my guess is that plenty of those folks went home happy. Other stands afforded a wide variety of wares including Mopar signs, clothing, and scale models.

Innumerable parts were on offer in the swap meet area. (Photo by Rob Finkelman.)

Once again, the CPW’s Spring Fling proved itself to be a fine success, and a must-attend event for any Mopar fanatic. With a field full of superlative cars, a pair of good food trucks, as well as the sprawling swap area, you could do a whole lot worse than spend a portion of your weekend at the show. Jay Leno certainly thought so as he browsed the vehicles and signed autographs for attendees after arriving in his ear-shatteringly loud, aircraft engine-powered 1917 Botafogo Special.

My recommendation? If you live in SoCal and are a rabid Mopar fan like me, you should definitely make it a point to attend next year’s Spring Fling. I’ll be there for sure.



About the author

Rob Finkelman

Rob combined his two great passions of writing and cars; and began authoring columns for several Formula 1 racing websites and Street Muscle Magazine. He is an avid automotive enthusiast with a burgeoning collection of classic and muscle cars.
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