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