What started as the All Chrysler Day; a one-day display of Australian and international Mopar vehicles hosted by the Chrysler Car Club of South Australia, has grown in recent years, with the first three-day event held in 2014 to mark the centenary of Dodge.
This year, in recognition of a show that now includes cruises, meet and greets, special guests, and a full weekend of activities, we rebranded the event as the ‘Adelaide Chrysler Festival’.
The 2017 Adelaide Chrysler Festival was held over three days from 24th to 26th March. Once again, we got lucky with the weather, and despite the threat of rain (or potentially hail!), the whole weekend ran very smoothly.
The Festival kicked off with the Friday cruise to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, which enticed 23 vehicles for a lovely run through the hills, followed by a BBQ and tour of the museum; not a bad turn out for a workday, and even better, a number of interstate visitors came along, too.
This was followed by the increasingly popular ‘meet and greet’ evening at the Tonsley Hotel’s Chrysler Bar, where, for the first time this year, we had a special guest speaker in John Whelan, who was very informative and entertaining.
Whelan, a former Chrysler engineer, came from a deprived childhood in Ireland and went on to become an electronics engineer and worked on many projects during his time with Chrysler Australia. Most notably, he was in charge of local tuning of the ELB (Electronic Lean Burn) ignition system, getting that US-developed system to work with our CM Chryslers’ Hemi motors and to meet our emissions standards.
Whelan was joined by a group of fellow former Chrysler Australia engineers, each of whom gave a short introduction and summary of their time at Chrysler. A number of long-standing myths were put to bed at this session! For example, the tales about Chrysler line workers knocking the grease nipples off suspension components was true, but this was to stop well-meaning dealership service staff introducing damaging dust and dirt into the suspension components when re-greasing, which shortened their life.
The myth about built-in obsolescence was well and truly debunked, too. Being the smallest player of Australia’s ‘Big Three’ (Ford, Holden and Chrysler), Chrysler knew their reputation lived or died on quality, so the engineering department did their utmost to produce the most robust and reliable vehicles they could, given the time and budgets they had.
Mega Cruise and Major Display
Saturday night’s Mopar Mega-Cruise proved very popular again, with the growth in numbers - 220 cars this year - meaning the start point for the cruise was moved to the Urrbrae oval, rather than the nearby school car park: a very well received move.
This year’s Mopar Mega-Cruise took in the inner hills and southern metropolitan area of Adelaide on a 75km trek that ended at Fulham Gardens.
Amongst the handful of interstate entrants this year was a CL Drifter panel van that came all the way from Tasmania – comfortably winning the ‘Furthest Distance Travelled’ award, while Victorian Terry Barker won the Best Displayed Vehicle award for his slick 1970 Plymouth GTX. A contingent from the Charger Club of WA also made the journey for the festival, but as spectators without their cars.
On Sunday for the All Chrysler Day, numbers were on par with past attendance, with 206 vehicles entered for judging. Our theme of “Then and Now” attracted the usual range of classic Mopars, plus a small number of modern vehicles. We hope the modern contingent will build over the coming years, so that the show encompasses all eras of the Chrysler marque, not just the classics.
A standout amongst the “moderns” this year was a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, which won the Best Modern Dodge award.
Of course, being a Chrysler display day, Plymouth, Dodge (and Fargo), DeSoto and Imperial are included, as well as the Chrysler-connected marques like Simca and the cars of the former Rootes Group.
There were many high quality vehicles on display, but equally this year, an increased number of ‘survivors’ were presented. Thirty trophies were awarded on the day, covering the spread of Mopar history, with special recognition given in the Charger category with the addition of a trophy named in honour of the late Clem Smith, which was presented on the day by his widow Heidi.
Our Mo-Parking area for non-judged vehicles was well patronized, too, with over 150 vehicles using this VIP area over the day. Mo-Parking has become very much a mini-show within the main show, with spectators just as keen to view the vehicles that aren’t officially entered for judging.
Swap and trader sites were down a little in number this year, but that was made up for in the quality of parts that were for sale.
Overall, we were very pleased with the attendance and response to this year’s rebranded Adelaide Chrysler Festival. The celebration of all things Mopar will be on again in 2018, to be held on the last weekend in March. Dates will be confirmed closer to the event.
Keep up to date with news and developments at: <a href="http://www.cccsa.net.au/">cccsa.net.au</a>
Words: Iain Carlin - Chrysler Car Club of SA
Photos: Andrey Moisseyev