A 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T restomod, owned by Pete and Kari Cellini. Photo courtesy Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum.
Fans of vehicles from Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Ram, SRT, Jeep, De Soto and Imperial tend to be incredibly brand-loyal, and the phrase “MOPAR or no car” is more than just a catch phrase among this crowd. From June 17 through July 9, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will honor the Chrysler faithful with a special MOPAR or No Car exhibit, featuring performance and racing cars from the brand’s many divisions and decades.
MOPAR didn’t begin as a blanket descriptor for automobiles built by Chrysler subsidiaries. Though the history of the organization’s parts division (initially the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation) dates to 1929, the first official use of the MOPAR name (then, MoPar, a portmanteau of “Motor” and “Parts”) didn’t occur until 1937, when the moniker was created to help market a new line of antifreeze products.
In the postwar years, MoPar was often used interchangeably with the group’s official Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation name, at least within the trade. By the mid-1960s, Chrysler had succumbed to public pressure, officially changing the name of its multi-divisional parts branch to Mopar, then spelled with a lower-case “p.” The division’s involvement with racing, coupled with internal efforts to develop high-output parts for production cars, soon linked the Mopar name to high-performance, spawning the “Direct Connection” line of parts and accessories in the 1970s.
Over time, MOPAR (which went all-caps after a 2002 logo redesign) became synonymous with vehicles built by various Chrysler subsidiaries, particularly those targeted toward enthusiast drivers. The Simeone’s upcoming MOPAR or No Car exhibit reflects this, and the museum has targeted both private owners and dealerships for vehicles to display. Confirmed as of this writing are a pair of 1971 Dodge Challengers, a late model Viper and a 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Planned but not yet confirmed vehicles include Chrysler 300 series “Letter Cars” from the 1950s, additional muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s, drag racers, Trans Am race cars, NASCAR stock cars, and the 2004-‘06 Dodge Ram SRT-10, a full-size pickup powered by the Viper’s 8.2-liter V-10.
If you own one of the vehicles desired but not yet confirmed, contact the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum about opportunities to include your car or truck in the exhibit.