And Here’s To You, Mrs. Robinson
Quick, who are the real heroes of the Mopar hobby: Richard Petty? Ronnie Sox? Tom Hoover? Jeff Burk? How about none of the above? See, while all these household names—as great as they may be (some even are legends in their own minds)—pale by comparison to the real heroes (actually heroines) of the Mopar hobby—namely, little old ladies.
Surprised, huh? So were we when we sat down and sorted through all our voluminous files to check our records on the original owners of cool Mopars—Hemis, big block convertibles, and the like. In more instances than not, the record reads something like this: Joe Schmoe from Idaho always wanted a (check one): (A) HemiCuda convertible. (B) Super Stock Dodge. (C) Factory A/FXer. But he couldn't afford one on the money he was making working at the car wash. So he waited 30 years, made a fortune by inventing and marketing the bicycle back-up alarm, and went out to buy the car of his dreams.
After having the car documented, and the data plate decoded by Galen Govier, he traced back the previous owners to the original buyer. And guess what? Usually it was some little old lady that had walked into the dealership and signed on the dotted line for a really cool Mopar. Just think for a moment, where our hobby would be if these cars hadn't been sold, resold, put away in barns, resold again, restored and eventually put on display in car shows, and featured in magazine articles.
Frightening prospect, yes?
A good example of what I’m talking about is the first1970 HemiCuda convertible ever built. This zillion-dollar one-of-a-kind collectible is currently owned by noted collector, Bill Wiemann. Before it was sold to the public, this ‘Cuda was put into the Chrysler press pool, where it was thrashed by assorted lead-footed journalists. When what was left of the car was sold through a dealership, guess who the first registered owner of this rare, first-built of the breed was? Agnes Yates.
Another car in my files is a super 7200-mile, original condition '66 Hemi Charger that was originally bought by a Mrs. Henson. She always stored the car in an air-conditioned environment, making it absolutely the most well-preserved and correct original specimen of the breed, probably in the world. Imagine, what would have become of this car if some hot rod kid had bought it, beat it to a pulp, tubbed the wheel wells, put in a roll bar, maybe a velour interior with pom-poms and, heaven forbid, installed a replacement battery cable without giving it the correct look of factory overspray. Now what kind of magazine article would that make?
Or take Mrs. Elvira Robinson here. Virus, as she's called by her local Mah Jongg cronies, also was the original owner of another '66 Hemi Charger. Unfortunately, no one knows the whereabouts of this car today. But that doesn't detract from Elvira's fond memories of her leadfoot days in the '60s, when she showed that full-width Charger taillight assembly to more than a few bowtie and blue oval boys.
Elvira drove the car about 10 years, but her driving skills at the end weren't as sharp as they were at the beginning, and the once-virgin sheet-metal began taking on a likeness to the surface of the moon. Eventually, Elvira had the car fixed up and passed it along to a favorite nephew, Stephen. Steve started a serious restoration, ran short of funds and sold the Charger. And that's where the trail runs cold.
We could go on and on, but you get the idea. Right now, we're talking to the Chryslers at Carlisle folks to give these nice old ladies the recognition they deserve and bring together these original owners and their cars for the biggest reunion in the history of the hobby—truly a Mopar milestone event.
In the meantime, if you find yourself waiting at a traffic light, and some little old lady starts tottering across the street, pulling behind her a beat up old shopping cart with a bent wheel, and you're tempted to blast her off her feet—just for the fun of it—by honking your horn, please show some respect and restraint. You might just be beeping on one of the matriarchs of Mopardom, maybe even the original owner of your car. Of course, there's always the chance you might even be blasting the very Little Old Lady From Pasadena. And you wouldn't want to do that now, would you?