2018 DODGE LX SPRINGFEST

WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU COM­BINE 1,600 MOD­ERN MOPARS AND 4,000 EN­THU­SI­AS­TIC FANS WITH VISI­TORS FROM FCA’S AUBURN HILLS HEAD­QUAR­TERS?

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY RICH TRUES­DELL PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY BOB MEHLHOFF AND RICH TRUES­DELL

What do you get when you com­bine 1,600 Mod­ern Mopars and 4,000 en­thu­si­as­tic fans with visi­tors from FCA’S Auburn Hills Head­quar­ters?

Celebrating Chrysler’s LX/LC/ LD rear-wheel-drive cars, the Spring Fes­ti­val of LX had hum­ble beginnings, with a group of just four en­thu­si­asts in 2004. Now in its 14th year, it attracts more than 1,600 cars to AAA Auto Club Race­way in Pomona, Cal­i­for­nia — in spite of driz­zle, rain, and over­cast skies that did lit­tle to dampen the en­thu­si­asm of more than 4,000 driv­ers, fam­ily, mem­bers, en­thu­si­asts, and ven­dors. They trav­eled from many states and sev­eral Cana­dian prov­inces (we saw one plate from Que­bec) to at­tend this year’s event.

Growth has been steady over the last 14 years: 2005 saw at­ten­dance grow to 100 par­tic­i­pants, 2006 at­tracted 300 ve­hi­cles. And the event hasn’t looked back, over the years need­ing larger and larger venues to host the event. As the event has grown, or­ga­niz­ers have been for­tu­nate to at­tract the sup­port of Chrysler, Dodge, Mopar, and SRT brands in both the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Busi­ness Cen­ter and in Auburn Hills, where those work­ing on Chrysler’s rear­wheel-drive cars are happy to in­ter­act with en­thu­si­ast own­ers (and es­cape the win­ter weather of South­ern Michigan).

This year, de­sign­ers from Auburn Hills brought with them color choices be­ing con­sid­ered for 2019 and beyond. Thanks to Mark Tros­tle Head of De­sign for Dodge and SRT, at­ten­dees were able to vote on the choices. Six lucky at­ten­dees went home with a lim­ited-edi­tion poster (one lucky en­thu­si­ast won one of the eight-foot ban­ners hang­ing in the de­sign tent color clinic).

One of the ca­su­al­ties of the dread­ful weather — for South­ern Cal­i­for­nia — was the fun on Pomona’s fa­mous dragstrip that re­cently hosted the NHRA Win­ter­na­tion­als. There was an area that hosted thrill rides in a va­ri­ety of Dodge SRT ve­hi­cles, which weren’t im­pacted by the rain. There was also a shut­tle that ran from the

event to the other side of the com­plex where sev­eral historic Mopar drag cars were on dis­play in the NHRA Mu­seum.

But at its core, this was an event about the cars. While there were dozens of Chrysler 300s on dis­play, which have de­vel­oped quite a fol­low­ing over the years with a wide va­ri­ety of own­ers. Many of these own­ers have low­ered their rides, while oth­ers have bolted on the front clip of a Chrysler 300 to the body of the Dodge Mag­num sport wagon, em­u­lat­ing the Chrysler 300 Tour­ing that was built and sold in Europe. But in Pomona the show field was dom­i­nated by Dodge Charg­ers and Challengers, es­pe­cially the Challengers, many ex­ten­sively mod­i­fied (see side­bar on why so many Challengers).

We walked among acres of cars, some of it with the out­go­ing Dodge In­te­rior De­sign Stu­dio Man­ager Dan Zim­mer­man. Dan and I go back to 2004 when, as the in­te­rior de­signer of Jeep Res­cue Con­cept, we first met. Dan was happy to share his thoughts of hav­ing spent the last decade hav­ing his hand de­sign­ing the in­te­ri­ors of many Dodge ve­hi­cles. Dan also had a big hand in the de­sign of the sin­gle-seat in­te­rior pack­age for the 2018 Dodge Chal­lenger De­mon drag pack­age and gave us a walk-through of Ronald Silva’s rare Chal­lenger De­mon that was driven to the event from Pasadena … in the rain. Dan noted that less than 100 of the sin­gle-seat Demons have been built. Most in­ter­est­ing? The prob­lems of how the De­mon foam in­sert for the trunk kit had to appear to not be de­signed, fit ev­ery­thing you needed to go to the track, and still be small enough to fit through the trunk open­ing.

One cus­tom that caught our col­lec­tive eye was a blue ’06 Charger, sport­ing its own wide­body rear three-quar­ter fend­ers that in­te­grated the 2011-and-later race­track rear tail­lights. Built by Damian Pi­menteo, the car had a pro­duc­tion-ready look, all while just skirt­ing be­ing over-the-top. Take a look at the pho­tos and judge for your­self.

In the ven­dor area, in the Liq­uid Gold booth, Mr. Norm’s Garage had on dis­play a 2018 Hurst Her­itage Edi­tion Hemi Clas­sic GSS Dodge Chal­lenger, sport­ing a Hemi Un­der Glass-in­spired retro paint scheme that brought back mem­o­ries of the now-re­tired Bob Rig­gle wow­ing crowds for the past five decades.

Check out more of our cov­er­age on­line avail­able on hotrod. com and mark your cal­en­dar for next year’s event in March when or­ga­nizer John For­tuno has set a goal of at­tract­ing 3,000 rear-wheel-drive Mopars in 2019. Thank­fully the venue is big enough to ac­com­mo­date that many rear-wheel-drive Chrysler and Dodges.

CHAL­LENGER PRO­DUC­TION

For more than a decade, the Dodge Chal­lenger has led a charmed life. The ba­sic ex­te­rior de­sign pre­miered at the 2006 North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show. De­signed out from the

A-pil­lar and cowl from the ’05 Dodge Mag­num form by stylist Michael Castiglione, it was a huge hit, and there were im­me­di­ate calls for a pro­duc­tion ver­sion. It reached pro­duc­tion as an Srt8only model in the spring of 2008 with 7,209 built for the U.S. and Cana­dian mar­kets just as Chrysler was slip­ping into bank­ruptcy. Look­ing back, it was some­thing of a mir­a­cle that the Chal­lenger ac­tu­ally reached pro­duc­tion as the Daim­ler­chrysler era ended.

In 2009, with a more com­plete model lineup, in­clud­ing base and R/T mod­els added to the SRT8, pro­duc­tion rose to 34,854 (plus 305 for Mex­ico), and up to 57,822 units (plus 179 for the Mex­i­can mar­ket) in 2010. With Chrysler in bank­ruptcy in 2011, Chal­lenger sales plum­meted to 26,379. Dur­ing this time Fiat started buy­ing up the parts of Chrysler that it didn’t al­ready own at the time, as the auto in­dus­try bailout moved for­ward. By 2014 Fiat and Chrysler were fully in­te­grated as Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles, now known as FCA, was born.

While Fiat con­sol­i­dated its own­er­ship with Chrysler, Chal­lenger sales con­tin­ued to rise from the 2011 low, al­most dou­bling to 46,585 in 2012 (plus 295 for Mex­ico), 51,462 in 2013 (plus 491 for Mex­ico), 51,462 in 2013, and 51,611 in 2014. Af­ter Chrysler’s painful bank­ruptcy, with the sup­port of FCA man­age­ment and the en­thu­si­as­tic Chal­lenger fan base, the in­te­rior re­ceived a sorely needed up­date with much more pre­mium ma­te­ri­als as well as re­ceiv­ing the 8.4-inch ucon­nect in­fo­tain­ment

sys­tem. The 2015 model year saw a healthy bump in sales to 66,365 units. Then, 64,443 in 2016, and 64,537 with an­other 116 units for Mex­ico for a grand to­tal of 430,663. If you won­der why you see so many Challengers on the roads and their pop­u­lar­ity with the af­ter­mar­ket, if Dodge sells an ex­pected 65,000, to­tal pro­duc­tion will rise above a half-mil­lion. Not too bad for the best-known ex­am­ple of Mod­ern Mopar Mus­cle.

re­stored L.A. From the nearby NHRA Mu­seum was this Eldridge. Chal­lenger drag car driven in pe­riod by Mary

Sub­tle mod­i­fi­ca­tions give this Charger a stealth look.

A dis­tinc­tive twotone paint gives this Chal­lenger Hell­cat a men­ac­ing look.

This Mr. Norm’s Garage Chal­lenger, sport­ing a Hemi Un­der Glass paint booth. scheme, was in the Liq­uid Glow

With its 201-mph top speed ca­pa­bil­ity, this Hell­cat-pow­ered Charger SRT8 is like a two-ton sledge­ham­mer.

Bold col­ors stood out in the early morn­ing driz­zle and were the or­der of the day for this group of Charg­ers.

All SRT8 Grand Chero­kees are wel­comed at the Spring Fes­ti­val of LX.

As seen on this Chal­lenger, two-tone paint schemes are trend­ing.

There’s some­thing about yel­low ac­cents when ap­plied to the stripes and brake calipers on this gray Chal­lenger.

One of the trends we spot­ted at the Springfest was bold tire let­ter­ing, as seen on this Charger.

Bold black stripes over white with red ac­cents give this Charger SRT8 a dis­tinc­tive look.

Many Dodge own­ers use side bill­boards to an­nounce their Srt8-pow­ered Challengers and Charg­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.