It's grizzled old man and greenhorn speed-squirrel all shoved together. It is burnout-happy primer Dart and zillion-buck R/T convertible resto-clone parked side-by-side. Most of all, it's all about rear-wheel-drive Mopars and leaving your Neon at home. Or not even owning one. A minivan is OK as long as you cut tubs into it and plumb in a 340.
These guys are the South Bay Mopars, and you can meet them at the Stick and Stein on Sepulveda in El Segundo, California, for breakfast once a month and share what's new. Starting back in 2001, President Mark Fink nurtured the club from a mix of Mopar hangers at Costco and Ruby's Diner cruise nights, and now they even have real events at Ricky and Ronnie's cruise-in and at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. There are 20-30 cars at the meetings, even in the middle of winter, so there's always something to see. It's what we like about car clubs. Meet some of the members here, and see more at southbaymopar.com.
Aby Nazario, O.G. Member Since 2001
'69 Dodge Coronet R/T With A Super Bee Hood
"In November 1969, the month I bought the car, I wanted to buy a '70 Hemi 'Cuda. But it was 5,900 bucks and I couldn't afford it. Not only did I not have the cash, but I would also be buying a gas hog. Right before I left the dealership, the salesman threw me the keys to a green '69 R/T. I left my '67 Fastback VW at the dealership and drove it home. That night I went street racing and beat a '67 Fairlane GT 390. I didn't want to race, but this guy followed me from the A&W all the way to the freeway. Then he called me chicken so I said, 'you punch yours and I'll punch mine.' I just left him there. The next morning the speedometer was stuck at 70 mph in the driveway so I went back to the dealership and told them to sign me up! Had the car ever since."
Luke Preece, Green Member
'70 Dodge Dart
"I bought this thing when I was 16-I'm 22 now-from a friend of the family at a Moto Guzzi shop. It was a Grandma Green Slant Six/auto on the column car with rubber floor mats. The first thing I did was peel the rest of the vinyl roof off and primer it. It was all glue and shredded green stuff. I have horrible pictures of the car when I first bought it. That was ugly too, so I primered the rest of the body to make it match. The next step was to put some 14-inch Cragar SS rims on it that I scored from a garage sale for 100 bucks. Then, without my parents' permission, I drove to San Diego for an AC/DC concert, but I got busted when the six blew up all over everything. It was insane, this was at 2 a.m. and it was just sitting there smoking. I really beat on this car." Luke built a 360 after the six went away, but it grenaded after 100 miles. Now the car has a 380hp Mopar crate engine. He's on his third TorqueFlite 727, and he swapped the rear for an 831/44 with a 3.23:1 Sure-Grip when the 711/44 clunked.
Doug Baird, Member Who Is Completely Gonzo Over His Fury
'70 Plymouth Sport Fury GT
"I looked for 8 years to find a Fury. Well, it was more like 25 years because that's how long ago my original car got wrecked and went to the junkyard. One day I was on moparts.com and there was a guy selling a Fury GT for a widow in upstate New York. They wanted a lot for it. It was more than I wanted to pay until I saw that it was exactly like the car I had in high school, so I had to have it. I drove to New York from California and towed it home. People always say that they had one of these cars, but that's impossible. There were only a few made like this one."
Jim Bellissimo, Member That Has Help
'70 Dodge Coronet Convertible R/T Clone
"I bought this car in 1999 because I needed a new work car and I wanted to drive something that was old and wasn't a truck. Then I found this guy in New Jersey who had a burnt-orange Coronet 500 convertible, so I bought it for $15,000, shipped it to California, and had it appraised for a lot more. It had a 440 in it and the numbers didn't match, but I didn't care-numbers don't mean anything to me. Besides, I was going to drive it. Eventually it blew a head gasket and that repair snowballed into what you see here. I'd never done anything like this before. Sure I worked on cars but nothing like this. Club members came over and helped me put the engine back in so this was a group project.
Dan Hegybell, Member With The eBay Score
'68 Dodge Dart GT Convertible
"I bought this car off eBay from a kid in high school. His grandfather gave it to him and when he drove it to school, his friends teased him for not driving a Honda and convinced him to sell it. He put it up while I was looking for a car to duplicate a '72 340 Dart that I owned years ago and regretted selling. My winning bid was $5,800. I just couldn't resist for that price."
John Payne, Member Headed For Pro Street
'69 Dodge Charger
"I drove by this car on the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped to talk to the guy who owned it. It had a rollbar in it and was covered in stickers. It was painted white and very thrashed. I've since spent most of my time and money trying to make it more classic and less Pro Stock. The engine was junk too. I don't feel guilty about modifying the car because it was a green 318 car with a column shift. I would feel bad if it were a 440 four-speed car or a real R/T. Eventually I am going to put the normal Charger badges on it. When I bought it, it was wearing Hemi badges. Pulling those off was the first thing that I did."
Bob Barnes, Member Who Bought Instead Of Built
'64 Dodge Polara 500
"We were going to build a musclecar, but we found out how expensive it was so we decided to buy one instead. The previous owner had put about 30 grand into restoring the car and I bought it for $12,000. It had a fuel cell and a 500-inch stroked 440 with ported iron heads. The only thing I did to it was add an exhaust cutout that works with an electric switch. It's just bitchin'. I just flip the switch and it sounds like a Pro Stock car, then hit it again and it closes up."
Mike Urso, Member With The Grandpa-Fresh Ride
'70 Dodge Challenger R/T
"I've owned this car since 1974, when I found a guy down the street who advertised it every weekend, continually dropping the price. Eventually I bought the car for $1,100 when my van broke down. After I started driving it, I thought it was cool and kept driving it. Back then no one knew that these would become collectible. Otherwise I would have bought every one I could find. I've actually turned down some rare cars because they needed work and I didn't want to repair them. I still have the van, a '73 Dodge with 323,000 miles on it. The Challenger is an original 383 Magnum car with a 727 and a slapstick. Everything on the car is original and I plan on slowly restoring it with original parts. It has about 100,000 miles on it now, and I still love to drive it."